Chronology of Ruth Suckow's Life

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.

All three of these folks were key leaders in the RSMA.

Many apologies for the belated acknowledgment of sources!

Ruth Suckow, 1892-1960






Ruth was born August 6 in Hawarden, Iowa.

Her parents were William John Suckow and

Anna Mary Kluckhohn.

View her birthplace on the Hawarden page.

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.

The Suckow Family returned to Hawarden to live.

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

There Ruth attended Central School.

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 historic Calliope Village. Ruth referred to

her birthplace as "the prairie cottage with the long windows.

Father accepted the pastorate at Algona, Iowa.

Ruth attended Central School there.



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

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

This pastorate was held for one year.

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.

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.

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.

Ruth left Grinnell College in June.

While a student at Grinnell, she spent one summer working

as a waitress in Yellowstone Park.

Emma moved to Colorado for her health.

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.








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.

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

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.




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

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


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.








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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

it was taken during the mid to late 20s.

Iowa Interiors published.

Ellan Mcllvaine becomes Ruth's literary agent.

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

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.

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 an activist.




















He 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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Folks published: A Literary Guild selection.

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.

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,

married Wells Barnett.

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.

New Hope published.

Ruth is associated with the University of Wisconsin Writers' Institute

during the summer.

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.

Set up residence in Tucson, Arizona.

They moved west for health reasons.

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.

"Friends and Fiction" published in Friends Intelligencer; it was a review

of Robert Elsmere in The Georgia Review.

"The Surprising Anthony Trollope" appeared in The Georgia Review

The John Wood Case was published.

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.


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.

A group of people, including Ruth's husband, Ferner Nuhn, and

Georgeanna, established the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association.

I now know that "Amy" was Irma Potter,

my friend Mary Potter Kenyon's mothers





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

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

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

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.


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






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.


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.

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.

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.

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


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



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.


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,

Last updated September 25, 2020