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You are HERE >>  Language Arts : Literature : Grade 7 - 8

Geneva Stratton-Porter
By Elaine Ernst Schneider
April 2, 2001 Revised Feb. 2005

Freckles (The Library of Indiana Classics)
A Girl of the Limberlost (The Library of Indiana Classics)


Geneva Stratton Porter

Geneva (nicknamed Gene) Stratton was born on a farm in Indiana. Her favorite spot as an adult, however, was the Limberlost Swamp in Wabash Township, pegged today by locals as a part Adams and Jay counties. She often trekked into the Limberlost with camera, notepad, and glass plates, photographing the birds and wildlife and then developing the photos herself, sometimes tinting them with watercolors.

As a married woman, Gene Porter lived with her husband and daughter Jeanette in the Limberlost Cabin situated just at the edge of the swamp. Gene created a Limberlost character named Freckles – an orphaned boy who has only one hand. As the plot unfolds, the reader learns that Freckles feels he is “absolutely nothing” and that this is all he is ever destined to be. A kind owner of a lumber camp and the Swamp Angel prove otherwise. 

The book Freckles was so popular that Ms. Porter decided to follow it with another Limberlost tale. The next book was entitled A Girl of the Limberlost and told the story of Elnora Comstock who collected butterflies from the depth of the swamp. Elnora’s father had died in the swamp, and for this, Elnora’s mother carried an unyielding hatred for the Limberlost. Ironically, it was the Limberlost that gave Elnora comfort and solace. This was by far Gene Stratton-Porter’s most famous work.

When the real Limberlost Swamp was drained for cropland, Ms. Porter lost her laboratory and her inspiration. However, the State of Indiana declared the area a Historic Site. Today, the lands have been restored to marshlands. Travelers may take swamp tours, see the bird sanctuary, and tour the Porter cabin.

Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist. She desired authenticity for her writing and studied independently, gleaning her own information from the swamp. Her books are fascinating, as was her life. Ms. Porter died in a streetcar accident in Los Angeles. She was in Los Angeles, arranging movie rights to her books.

You may order both Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost by clicking on the icons on the left of this page. The links will take you directly to the Amazon order information for those specific books. 


Write a letter of introduction as if you are Gene Stratton-Porter. The letter should tell interesting information that would make Gene a candidate for membership in the Limberlost Conservation Association (this association does exist, by the way!) You may wish to do additional research so that you can include facts that make your letter believable. Start your letter:

Hi. My name is Gene Stratton-Porter. 

Links of Note

Submitted by:  © Elaine Ernst Schneider  entered the classroom as a special education teacher in the 1970's. Since then, she has taught mainstream English Grammar, Literature, music K-12, deaf education, psychology, Algebra, creative writing, social studies, law, and science in both public and private schools. Presently, Elaine is a curriculum author for multiple educational publishers and is the managing editor of Lesson Tutor, a lesson plan website found at Her most recent books, 52 Children's Moments (Synergy Publications) and Taking Hearing Impairment to School (JayJo Books and the Guidance Channel) can be found at She is currently working on a project with Pearson Prentice Hall as an author of an on-line teacher's professional development course for the Council for Exceptional Children.
Send your feedback to Elaine
Dear Sirs:
  Your biography of Gene Stratton-Porter is full of untruths.  She was born the youngest of 12 children on a farm in Wabash County. She had little formal schooling as her mother became ill when she was 5 but being outdoors alot she developed an interest in nature. The family moved to the city of Wabash when she was 11 and her mother died the following year. It was in Wabash she began attending school on a regular basis until the last term of her senior year. Limberlost Swamp is not in Wabash County.  She married a druggist, Charles Porter, from Geneva, Indiana and they built a home near the Limberlost Swamp in Adams County. Her excursions into the Limberlost Swamp to take photos were after she was married. 
Sincerely, D
Former elementary teacher and university professor and native of Wabash, Indiana.
Dear D;
   I have spoken with Ms. Schneider re: the references used for her article 'Geneva Stratton-Porter 1863-1924'  Her primary sources for the information were the Limberlost Foundation, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the biographical stats given in Stratton-Porter's books.  She also states that she wrote to the Limberlost Conservation Society directly in order to get first-hand information and confirmation. We do apologize if we have been misled, and would appreciate your input regarding better sources. Please feel free to contact us anytime. 
Joanne Mikola
[email protected]
D is correct there is many things in article, that needs more research.  Mrs.Porter lived in California, had already produced two movies, at the time of her death in 1924.  M 

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