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Chronology of Ruth Suckow's Life

Updated and Expanded, Summer 2012
 
Here are highlights of Ruth's life, based in part to materials from the Ruth Suckow Newsletter, Fall 1999. Bob McCown selected the photographs from the archives at the University of Iowa. Much of the biographical information comes from work done by Leedice Kissane and Margaret Omrcanin. Many apologies for the belated acknowledgment of sources!
 

Ruth Suckow, 1892-1960
 
 

Ruth was born August 6 in Hawarden, Iowa, to William John Suckow, son of John and Caroline Suckow, natives of the dukedom of Mecklenburg, Germany,and Anna Mary Kluckhohn, whose father, the Reverend Charles Kluckhohn, a Methodist minister, came from the small city of Lippe-Detmold in the province of Lippe.


View her birthplace on the Hawarden page.

 1892

 

Ruth's father accepted the pastorate of the Congregational Church in LeMars, Iowa, a town of 5,000, which he held for one year. 


During this time, Ruth and her sister, Emma, lived with an aunt in Paulina, Iowa, while their mother was receiving medical treatment, first in Hawarden, then in Kirksville, Missouri, and later in St. Paul.

 1894

 

The Suckow Family returned to Hawarden to live.

 1896

 

Ruth's Father accepted the pastorate at Algona, Iowa.

There Ruth attended Central School.

 1898

 

The old parsonage in Hawarden was moved about 1900 and served as a private residence for a hundred years. In January 2000, it was moved again to Calliope Village in Hawarden.


The parsonage where Rev. Suckow and his family lived is now part of a historic
 
Ruth referred to her birthplace as "the prairie cottage with the long windows.  

 1901

 

Father accepted the pastorate at Algona, Iowa. 


Ruth attended Central School there.

 1901
 


Ruth dressed up  a Martha Washington costume at age 10.
 1902
 

The family moved to Manchester, Iowa, the county seat of Delaware County.

This pastorate was held for one year.

 1906

 


Ruth's father began a three-year field service for Grinnell College, where he raised funds for the school.

The girls attended school there.

After Ruth's graduation from high school at Grinnell, the family moved to Davenport where the Reverend Suckow became pastor of the Edwards

Congregational Church. Ruth matriculated at Grinnell College

and specialized in English. Here she is, dressed up for a performance.

 1907

 

While Ruth was at Grinnell, Emma married Edwin Hunting, a Grinnell College

classmate. 


They had two children, Robert Suckow Hunting and Judith Ann Hunting.


Here is Ruth dressed up in costume for a play at Grinnell College.

 1910

 


Father resigned from the ministry to take position writing lectures for the Victor Animatograph Company, the manufacturer of stereopticons and moving pictures, in Davenport.

Father purchased forty acres of land twenty miles west of Mobile, Alabama.

 1912

 

Ruth left Grinnell College in June. 

While a student at Grinnell, she spent one summer working as a waitress in Yellowstone Park.

 1913

 

Emma moved to Colorado for her health.

 1914

 

Ruth graduated from the Curry School of Expression in Boston and came home to be with her father who had returned to the ministry.

He accepted his second pastorate at Manchester, Iowa in January.

 1915
  Ruth spent a month with her mother and Emma in Colorado Springs.

She enrolled in the University of Denver.


 

Father's church building in Manchester destroyed by fire on November 24.

 1916

 

Ruth received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Denver.

 1917

 

For one year, Ruth was assistant to Dr. Ida Kruse McFarlane, Head of the

Department of English, University of Denver.


After receiving her degree, Ruth spent one winter as employee of a

map company in Denver. She wrote material for automobile guide books.

 1917-1918

 

First published poem, "An Old Woman in a Garden," appeared in Touchstone in August.

"Song in October," poem, published in The Midland, September-October.

 1918
 

Learned the apiary (bee-keeping) business from Miss Delia Weston in Denver.

Mother died and was brought to Garner, Iowa, for services in the Congregational Church and for burial.

Father's resignation from the Manchester pastorate to be effective in October.

  1919

 
William (her father) and Ruth made a trip to Mobile, Alabama. Later he accepted a pastorate at Earlville, Iowa.

Ruth moved to the parsonage with him and established her "Orchard Apiary" at the edge of town.

See pictures of Earlville.
 

Ruth's sister, Emma, lost her son.

 1920

 

First published story, "Uprooted," in the Midland for February.

Her father began his pastorate in Forest City, Iowa, May 1, 1921.

Her poem "by Hill and Dale," poem, published in Poetry, June

 

 1921

 

 

Ruth served as the editorial assistant on The Midland for six months.

 1921-1922

 

William Suckow married Mrs. Opal Swindle in Cedar Falls, Iowa on January 25

She had two sons, Earl and Duane Swindle.

During the winter of 1922-1923, Ruth lived with them.

 1922

 

Country People first published serially in The Century Magazine; later by Knopf.

From 1924 to 1935, Ruth lived in New York City in the winters and kept bees in Earlville during the summers.

 1924

 

The Odyssey of a Nice Girl published

Here is a newly discovered photo of Ruth with a cat; I don't know the precise date but am guessing the mid to late 20s.

 1925

 
Iowa Interiors published.

Ellan Mcllvaine becomes Ruth's literary agent.

At Miss Mcllvaine's death, Marie F. Rodell became Ruth's agent.

 

 1926

 

 

The Bonney Family published. 

Father accepted his last pastorate at Alden, Iowa.

Ruth met Ferner, after he contacted her in Earlville. 

He drove over for an afternoon of conversation and a friendship developed.

 

 1926


 

On March 1 in San Diego, California, Ruth married Ferner Nuhn, son of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Nuhn of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

He was described as a writer and a literary critic. He was also a teacher, a businessman, a journalist, and something of an activist.

He had read her work, admired her writing, and decided to get acquainted while she lived in Earlville.

He wrote a book review of her novel The Bonney Family.

Later, they saw each other in New York City, and in spite of an age difference, discovered that they had much in common.

(Ruth was in her mid 30s and Ferner was in his mid 20s when they met).

 

 1929

 

Ferner and Ruth lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, until November 1929. 

Cora published. 

The 1999 Newsletter states that this snapshot was taken in Colorado.

 1929

 

The Kramer Girls published. Ruth received an honorary degree from Grinnell College.

Here is a recently discovered picture of Ruth visiting the farm of Mr. E. O. White. On the back it says that this was after a day of cider making and scouting afield, and that Ruth seemed to always find a cat, if one was around.

 

 1930

 

 

 


Children and Older People published. 

Ruth and Ferner lived in McGregor, Iowa, part of the year.

This photo is dated 1931 and was just discovered the summer of 2011 by President Barb Lounsberry.

 1931

 

 

 

 

Ferner and Ruth lived in Cedar Falls. 

Did some "guest instruction" gave talks at Iowa State Teachers College 

(now the University of Northern Iowa), the University of Iowa, and Indiana University.

 

 1931-1932

 

Spent part of the winter in Des Moines, Iowa, and part in Altadena, California.

They spent the summer at Yaddo, the artists' colony in Sarasota Springs, New York. 

They also went to the MacDowell Memorial Colony at Peterborough, New Hampshire.

 1933

 

The Folks published: A Literary Guild selection.

 1934

 

Residence in Washington, D.C. 

They lived for one year in Fairfax Court House, Virginia, while Ferner was connected with the Department of Agriculture for which he wrote pamphlets and other material.

 1934-1936

 

 

Ferner and Ruth lived in Cedar Falls; they took an active part in community life. 

He helped to found the Supper Club, a gathering of men from the community and the University, sometimes called the No name Club, or Town and Gown. 

Noted local historian Dorothy Grant (wife of Martin, one of the other Supper Club founders, and also a long time member and Board member of the RSMA) wrote about Ferner and Ruth, her friends, in several articles published in Suckow Newsletters. 

Ferner helped with his father's business in Cedar Falls.

He also helped to establish the Cedar Falls Art League in the early 1940s, which became the Hearst Center for the Arts.

During this time her sister's child, Judith Ann Hunting, was married to Wells Barnett.

 1935-1940

 

Ruth's Father died.

He was buried in Greenwood Cemetary in Cedar Falls, April 6. 

Ruth and Ferner traveled to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and England.

 1939

 

New Hope published.

 1942

 

Ruth is associated with the University of Wisconsin Writers' Institute during the summer.

 1945

 

During World War II, the couple visited Civilian Public Service Camps, units in mental hospitals, fire-fighting units, starvation units under the combined sponsorship of the Service Committees of the Friends, Church of the Brethren, and the Mennonites. They opposed the war.

Ruth spoke on literary subjects, talked with young men and read manuscripts.

 1940s

 

Set up residence in Tucson, Arizona. They moved west for health reasons.

 1951

 

 

Ruth and Ferner moved to Claremont, California. 

They purchased a home which she retained as her permanent residence until her death on January 23, 1960. 

After moving there, spent part of one summer and early fall in Moylan, near Media, Pennsylvania.

Ferner studied at Pendle Hill and taught at Claremont College. 

Affiliation with Friends Society began about this time, but their interest had preceded this date.

 

 

Some Others and Myself was published.

 

 1952

 

"Friends and Fiction" published in Friends Intelligencer; it was a review of Robert Elsmere in The Georgia Review.

 1955

 


"The Surprising Anthony Trollope" appeared in The Georgia Review

 1958

 


The John Wood Case was published.

 1959

 

Ruth dies January 23 in Claremont, Califomia.

She is 68 years old; she is buried next to her father in Greenwood Cemetary in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

1960
 

The Earlville Library was renamed the Earlville-Ruth Suckow Memorial Library, largely thanks to the efforts of Ferner Nuhn, her husband--and Georgeanna, her cousin, who married Ferner.

 1964

 

A group of people, including Ruth's husband, Ferner Nuhn, and Georgeanna, established the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association.

 1966

 

Suckow was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1978.

http://www.women.iowa.gov/about_women/HOF/iafame-suckow.html

Iowa Commission on the Status of Women website

“Ruth Suckow is especially interesting to young feminists because of her own life and because of her portrayal of many strong, independent women who refused to be placed in a mold."--Margaret Matlack Kiesel, 1978

  1978

 


The group established the Ruth Suckow Park in Earlville at the site of her former home there.

 1982

 


Ferner Nuhn died on April 15, at age 85. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetary in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

However, there was no marker for him from 1989 until 2009. Then, his extended family, living out of state, made arrangements for a stone that matched Ruth's, and the mystery of his burial site was solved.

Ruth is buried between the two men who were so important to her: her father, William, and Ferner.

1989
 


A plaque was placed on Suckow's birthplace in Hawarden, Iowa.

 1996

 
Work begins on restoring the Birth Place in Hawarden, which is then open for the public as part of the historic Kalliope Village.

 

 

Ruth Suckow gets her own website--and later, a blog. Michael Dargan was the original webmaster of the website, and later turned it over to Cherie. Cherie began the blog.

The Courier sent out a reporter to Greenwood Cemetery to interview Michael and Cherie, along with Barbara Lounsberry, about Ruth Suckow and the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association. An article on Ruth Suckow & her grave appeared in the newspaper, along with a picture. 

 2006

 

  2005-2010

Various members of the group purchased copies of Ruth Suckow's books online and donated them to the special collection of Iowa Books at the Cedar Falls Library.

These books were also then listed on the State Library's website, as being available for use by book clubs.g with a picture.

 

The Blog comes along in 2007 and serves as an easier way to keep members informed of events.  However, Facebook has now taken over!

 

 

 

Ferner finally gets a tombstone in the spring of 2009, after a search for his California obituary reveals he was buried next to Ruth Suckow in Greenwood Cemetery in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

 

 2009

 

We expand the T shirt sales, offering them in both Tan and Pink.

We have bookmarks produced, both in a give away version and a fancier one, laminated, for sale.

We redo the brochure.

 2008-2010

 

Former President Barbara Lounsberry discovered this wonderful picture of Ruth for sale on Ebay, and soon we had a whole new face of Suckow for our materials. 

Know about other pictures of Ruth Suckow that you don't see on our website?

We would love you to send them to us.

 2010

 

The new website is unveiled--and a new image for the T shirts, now in pink and orchid.

2011


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Suckow

Mike Dargan gets the Wikipedia article written; we can still edit and add more documentation.

 

 2011

 

 2012/2013

Cherie wrote the Wikipedia article on Ferner Nuhn.
We recognize the 120th Anniversary of Ruth Suckow's birth!
We make a Road Trip for our Annual Meeting and go to Hawarden for the weekend.
 
 
 Sources
 
Kissane, Leedice.  Ruth Suckow. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc.  1969.
 
Omrcanin, Margaret. Ruth Suckow: A Critical Study of her Fiction.  Philadelphia: Dorrance and Company, 1972.
 
The Ruth Suckow Newsletter, Fall 1999.  Editor, Martin Mohr.  Printed at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with photos selected by Bob McCown from the University of Iowa Special Collections.
 
Do you have pictures or information about Ruth or Ferner? We'd love to see them! 
Send them to Cherie Dargan, webmaster, cheriedargan@gmail.com 
 
 
 
 Last updated June 14, 2015
 
 
 


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