1842-1899: L. FRANK BAUM’S ROOTS, CHILDHOOD, AND EARLY CAREER

1842

  • March 10 – Benjamin Ward Baum (1/3/1821-2/14/1887) and Cynthia Ann Stanton (10/28/1820-12/14/1905) elope. They settle in Truxton, Cortland County, N.Y., moving to Cortland in 1845, then to New Woodstock, Madison County, in 1849, and Chittenango in 1854, where he opens a barrel factory. Benjamin is the son of Rev. John Baum (5/12/1797-6/30/1854) and Magdalena (Lany) Elwood Baum (6/28/1799-7/2/1854). Cynthia is the daughter of Oliver Stanton (10/16/1780-11/30/1854) and his second wife, Rhoda Underwood Stanton (9/1789 – 12/3/1854). Rhoda’s sister Cynthia, Oliver’s first wife, died in 1806. The couple married April 15, 1807, and had six children. Cynthia is the only girl.

1855

  • Summer – Benjamin Ward Baum’s parents, Rev. John and Lany Baum, die.

1856

  • May 5 – William Wallace Denslow, Jr. is born in Philadelphia, Pa., to Jane Eva Evans (?-1910) and W.W. Denslow, Sr. (?-1868). As an illustrator, Denslow will collaborate with author L. Frank Baum on Father Goose: His Book (1899), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), etc.Denslow is the second of four children:
    LeGrand Norton Denslow, 1852-?
    W.W. Denslow, Jr., 5/5/56-3/29/1915
    Eleanora Consuelo, 1860-1864
    Ethel Hayes, 1867-1894Some of Denslow’s earliest drawings are of flowers in his father’s garden. The senior Denslow has many professional and personal interests, including botany. He eventually sells his herbarium to Amherst Agricultural College in Massachusetts.

May 15 – Lyman Frank Baum is born in Chittenango, N.Y., to Cynthia and Benjamin Baum. As an author, Baum will create Oz and serve as its first “Royal Historian.”

He is the seventh of nine children:
Cynthia Jane, 2/10/1843-6/27/1848;
Oliver Stanton, 5/23/1844-7/10/1848;
Harriet Alvena, 2/14/1846-9/18/1923;
Mary Louise, 4/22/1848-11/12/1933;
Benjamin William, 7/19/1850- 2/18/1886;
Edwin C., 9/26/1853-6/15/1856;
Lyman Frank, 5/15/1856-5/6/1919;
Henry Clay, 3/3/1859-8/6/1916;
George B. McClellan, 12/24/61-11/8/63.

He is named after one of his five Baum uncles, Lyman Spaulding.

1858

  • June 1 – Frank Ver Beck (a.k.a. Verbeck) is born. He will illustrate Baum’s The Magical Monarch of Mo (1900, a.k.a. Adventures in Phunniland and A New Wonderland).
  • Walt McDougall is born in Newark, N.J. A pioneer in the field of editorial cartoons, McDougall will illustrate Baum’s comic page, Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz (1904-05).He also will illustrate the first front-page editorial cartoon, “The Royal Feast of Belshazzar” (New York World, 10/30/1884), which is credited with influencing the presidential campaign and, therefore, history. He also produces the first full-color comic page of consequence, “The Possibilities of the Broadway Cable Car” (New York World, 5/21/93) and the first comic to tell a story, “The Unfortunate Fate of a Well-Intentioned Dog” (New York World, Feb. 1894). His autobiography, This is the Life (1926), is published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

1860

  • Nov. – Benjamin Baum moves the family from Chittenango to 1 Ryst Street in Syracuse. He closes the Baum Brothers Barrel factory and begins to pursue the oil business. He prospects for oil in Potter County, Pa., and develops a number of profitable wells near Titusville and Cherry Tree Run.

1861

  • Benjamin Baum purchases a 15-acre country home the family calls Rose Lawn. They alternate between their city and country homes.
  • Maud Gage, Baum’s future wife, is born in Fayetteville, N.Y., to Matilda Electra Joslyn (1826-1898) and Henry Hill Gage (?-1884). The couple had married in 1845 and had three children prior to Maud’s birth:

Helen Leslie (11/4/1845-5/5/1933), who marries Charles H. Gage;
Thomas Clarkson (7/18/1848-10/19/1938), who marries Sophie Jewell;
Julia Louise (5/21/1851-3/7/1931), who marries James D. Carpenter.

Matilda is a leading suffragette. In an upstairs study of the Gage home, Matilda will co-write The History of Woman Suffrage with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (published in four volumes, 1881-1902). With Stanton, she also co-founds the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. Matilda had been the youngest delegate at the 1852 National Woman’s Rights Convention in Syracuse. In 1890 she founds the National Liberal Union, a radical anti-church organization to support suffrage without the support of organized religion, which she claims is the largest impediment to woman’s rights. See Notable American Women 1607-1950 (1971).

1862

  • Oct. 26 – Frederick Richardson is born. He will illustrate Baum’s Queen Zixi of Ix (1905).
  • Benjamin Baum becomes increasingly successful in the oil business. He owns the Carbon Oil Co. and establishes the second National Bank in the Bastable Block, Syracuse.

1863

  • March 19 – Frank Kennicott Reilly is born in Grove, Ill. With partner Sumner C. Britton, his company will publish the Oz books from 1904 to 1963.

1865

  • Sumner C. Britton is born in Arkansas. He and his partner, Frank K. Reilly, will found the firm that will publish many Baum titles, including 39 sequels to Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

1866

  • Nov. 28 – Baum’s sister Harriet marries William Henry Harrison Neal (5/22/1839-1/3/1923), who forms Neal, Baum & Co. with his new father-in-law. The wholesale dry goods company operates at 17-19 Clinton Street from a block of stores built by Benjamin Baum specifically for the business.

1868

  • Baum is sent to Peekskill Military Academy, Peekskill, N.Y., for his only formal education outside the family home. He stays less than two years.
  • Denslow’s father dies.

1870

  • Baum and his younger brother Harry publish The Rose Lawn Home Journal for his family and neighbors. Baum probably received the printing press used to produce the paper as his fifteenth birthday present. The monthly paper lasts three years. It includes short stories, poems, riddles, epitaphs, scientific, and nonfiction articles and advertising for Neal, Baum & Co.On June 18 a subscriber writes: “Messrs. Baum Bros. Gentlemen: The first number of the Rose Lawn Home Journal, to which I subscribed, has just been received. Permit me to say that for persons your age, the enterprise reflects great credit upon you; and when we consider that the New York Herald was first published upon a sheet no larger than yours, and has now the largest circulation of any paper in the United States … Your friend, G. B. Gillespie.”Nov. 20 is the date on the second issue.
  • Dave Montgomery is born in St. Joseph, Mo. As an actor, he will star as the Tin Woodman in the first Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz (1902).
  • Denslow enrolls in the Free Night Schools at the Cooper Institute for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York City.

1871

  • Jan. 14 – Mary Cowles Clark is born in the Syracuse, N.Y., area. She will illustrate Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902).
  • June 28 – Ike Morgan is born. He will illustrate Baum’s The Woggle-Bug Book (1905).
  • Maxfield Parrish is born in Philadelphia, Pa. The most celebrated artist to ever illustrate a Baum title, Parrish provides black and white illustrations for Baum’s first children’s book, Mother Goose in Prose. It also is the first book to be illustrated by Parrish.

1872

  • Denslow works as an office boy at Orange Judd Company, publishers of American Agriculturist and Hearth and Home.
  • June 1 – Denslow’s first published illustration appears in Hearth and Home. He continues to provide additional illustrations for future issues.
  • Baum publishes a specialty newspaper called The Stamp Collector.

1873

  • Feb. 4 – Baum writes to the Young American Press, manufacturers of a newly received printing press, praising it over his earlier Novelty-brand model. His letter is printed in the company’s catalog.
  • April – A Denslow illustration appears in St. Nicholas magazine.
  • Aug. 19 – Fred Stone is born in Valmont, Colo. As an actor, he will star as the Scarecrow in the original Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz (1902). His autobiography, Rolling Stone, will be published by Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York, in 1945.
  • Benjamin Baum’s health is failing. He develops an 80-acre dairy, Spring Farms, and a 160-acre stock farm adjoining Rose Lawn, the family’s country home.
  • Baum and his brother Harry pool their resources to produce a local paper, The Empire, published by a friend, Thomas G. Alford, son of the lieutenant governor of New York State. Baum serves as editor. The three boys are listed in The Amateur Journalist’s Companion of 1873 by Frank Cropper.
  • Baum takes a job as a cub reporter for the New York World.
  • Baum’s Complete Stamp Dealers’ Directory is published by Baum, (William) Norris and Co.
  • Denslow enters the National Academy of Design, New York City.

1874

  • Oct. 21 – Baum’s sister, Mary Louise, marries Henry Davis Brewster (11/22/1842-10/23/1917). The couple eventually has three children.

1875

  • The Empire, of which Baum is editor, is discontinued.
  • Baum opens his own print shop in Bradford, Pa., and works for The New Era newspaper. The Chittenango city directory also lists him as a salesman for Neal, Baum & Co. Wholesale Dry Goods.

1876

  • Denslow leaves Orange Judd for a position on the art staff of the recently formed New YorkDaily Graphic. He eventually leaves that position to travel across Maine with Charles W. Waldron. They paint outdoor advertising for Wing’s Pills.

1877

  • Oct. 17 – Fanny Cory is born in Waukegan, Ill. As an illustrator, Cory will produce color plates and line art in her distinctive Art Nouveau style for Baum’s The Master Key and The Enchanted Island of Yew.
  • Nov. 12 – John Rea Neill is born in Philadelphia. As an illustrator, Neill will bring Oz to life by illustrating 32 Oz books. He also will write and illustrate three of his own original Oz titles.
  • Denslow visits the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, then travels through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York State.
  • Ralph Fletcher Seymour is born. As an artist, he will hand-letter the pages of Baum’s first successful children’s book, Father Goose: His Book (1899). His autobiography, Some Went This Way, is published in 1945.
  • Late 1870s – Baum works as an actor. He travels with Shakespearean companies, appearing on stage under the name George Brooks.

1878

  • Nov. 30 – Baum appears in a stage play, The Banker’s Daughter, using the name Louis F. Baum, at Albert M. Palmer’s Union Square Theater in New York City.
  • Baum actively raises and breeds chickens. Benjamin Ward Baum & Sons becomes the most famous breeder in the state. He helps found the Empire State Poultry Association and is elected its first secretary.
  • Denslow is hired to illustrate his first book. He provides more than 100 illustrations for I. H. M’Cauley’s Historical Sketch of Franklin County, Penn., published by D. F. Pursel, Chambersburg, Pa.

1879

  • Feb. 11-18 – Baum is responsible for the Empire State Poultry Association’s first annual fair. He also starts a journal, The Poultry Record, which is published by the Syracuse Fanciers Club.
  • Benjamin Baum retires from Neal, Baum & Co. The firm becomes Sperry, Neal & Hyde.

1880

  • Jan. 12-13 – Baum attends the Seventh Annual Meeting of the American Poultry Association in Indianapolis, Ind., and is elected to the club’s executive committee.
  • Jan. 31-Feb. 3 – Baum again is responsible for the annual fair of the Empire State Poultry Association.
  • March – Baum founds his own commercial journal, The Poultry Record.
  • Baum becomes manager of a string of theaters owned by his father in the New York State/Pennsylvania area.
  • With other artists, Denslow contributes illustrations to Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad.

1881

  • May – The Poultry World, a national poultry journal, publishes a photo of Baum describing him as “one of our most active and enthusiastic fanciers.”
  • Baum writes a melodrama called The Maid of Arran. It is based on William Black’s novel, A Princess of Thule (1874).
  • Christmas – Baum’s aunt Josephine Baum introduces him to Maud Gage, a student at Cornell, during a Christmas party at the home of Baum’s sister, Harriet Neal. Family legend recalls Josephine introduced them by saying, “This is my nephew, Frank. Frank, I want you to know Maud Gage. I’m sure you will love her.” “Consider yourself loved, Miss Gage,” was Frank’s reply. “Thank you, Mr. Baum,” said Maud. “That’s a promise. Please see that you live up to it.”

1882

  • Feb. 11 – Baum submits three plays, The Maid of Arran, Matches, and The Mackrummins, for copyright.
  • The Maid of Arran opens at Baum’s Opera House in Gillmor, Pa. Baum stars in the lead role of Hugh Holcomb using the stage name of Louis F. Baum.Songs include “The Legend of Castle Arran,” “A Rollicking Irish Boy,” “When O’Mara’s King Once Again,” “A Pair O’ Blue Eyes,” “Waiting for the Tide to Turn,” “Oona’s Gift,” “A Tuft from the Old Irish Bog,” and “Ships Ahoy.” A book of six titles is published by J.G. Hyde: Louis F. Baum’s Popular Songs as Sung with Immense Success in His Great 5 Act Irish Drama, Maid of Arran.Baum’s uncle John Wesley Baum (2/28/1835-10/26/1895) is its business manager. His aunt Catherine Adella Baum (6/15/1838-1/21/1889) plays the roles of the Prophetess and Mrs. Harriet Holcomb.
  • May 15 – First performance of The Maid of Arran at the Grand Opera House in Syracuse, N.Y. Premiering on Baum’s 26th birthday, the play provides him with a taste of financial and critical success.
  • May 18 – Matches opens on stage in Bolivar, N.Y.
  • June 3 – Matches opens on stage at Brown’s Opera House, Richburg, N.Y.
  • June 19-24 – The Maid of Arran runs at the Windsor Theater in New York City.
  • Following heavy stock losses, Benjamin Baum builds the Cynthia Oil Works in Bolivar, N.Y. Frank Baum runs a retail outlet for his father. The rich oil fields compete successfully against Standard Oil in Pennsylvania. In Baum’s Sea Fairies (1911), an octopus bursts into tears when he is compared to Standard Oil.
  • Oct. 9 – First of ten performances of The Maid of Arran at the Academy of Music, Chicago.
  • Nov. 9 – Baum marries Maud in the Gages’ Fayetteville, N.Y., home. They honeymoon in Sarasota Springs, N.Y., then travel with The Maid of Arran through Michigan; Indiana; Kansas; London, Ontario; Massachusetts; Connecticut; Pennsylvania; and New Jersey.
  • Nov. 30 – Denslow marries Annie McCartney (a.k.a. Anna M. Lowe, 1856-1908) in Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Baum writes a long article for The Poultry World that later becomes his first published book (The Book of the Hamburgs, 1886).
  • Denslow settles in Philadelphia with a business partner, Howard G. Woodard.

1883

  • March 26 – The Maid of Arran returns to New York at the Lee Avenue Academy of Music.
  • Baum writes a play, Kilmourn (or O’Connor’s Dream).
  • April 4 – Kilmourn (or O’Connor’s Dream) is performed at the Weiting Opera House in Syracuse, N.Y., by the Young Men’s Dramatic Club, a local amateur group.
  • May 19 – The Maid of Arran runs at the Opera House, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • June 7 – The touring company of the Maid of Arran folds in Richmond, Ind.Aug. 7 – Mary William Ethelbert Appleton (Billie) Burke is born in Washington, D.C. As an actress, she will star as Glinda the Good in MGM’s classic film, The Wizard of Oz (1939). Her autobiography, With a Feather on My Nose, is published by Appleton-Centure-Crafts, Inc., New York, in 1949.
  • The Baums rent a home at #8 (now #107) Shonnard Street in Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Dec. 4 – Frank Joslyn Baum is born to Frank and Maud Baum in Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Baum writes a play, The Queen of Killarney. It is commissioned by Joe Scanlon, who dies while the play is in rehearsal. It doesn’t reach the stage.
  • Baum’s Castorine Co. is organized by older brother Benjamin William and managed by their uncle, Adam Clark Baum (8/28/1832-10/15/1888). Baum works for the company as a traveling salesman.
  • Henry Hill Gage, Maud’s father, dies.
  • Costumes, scenery, and properties for The Maid of Arran are lost in a fire. (Note: this reference conflicts with last performance date. And another source says Baum’s Opera House in Richburg, N.Y., is what burns.)

1884

  • Aug. 20 – Annie Denslow leaves her husband, taking their infant son. A devout Irish Catholic, she refuses to grant him a divorce. He attributes her departure to “voluntary perverseness.” He never sees either of them again.

1885

  • Benjamin Baum sells Rose Lawn and his 160-acre stock farm to Jacob Crouse of Syracuse, and the family moves to 37 Shonnard Street in Syracuse, N.Y. Benjamin’s community involvement includes serving as a trustee of the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a senior partner in the oil producing firm of Baum, Richardson, & Co. of Gilmor City, Pa.
  • March 17 – The Maid of Arran is performed for the last time, in Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Oct. 18 – Benjamin Baum is involved in a serious accident when his horse is frightened and runs away. He is thrown from his carriage when it crashes and lands on his head in the cobblestone road. He remains a semi-invalid.
  • Denslow moves to New York City with his partner, artist Charles W. Lemon.

1886

  • Feb. 1 – Robert Stanton Baum is born to Frank and Maud Baum in Syracuse, N.Y. Maud becomes seriously ill with peritonitis following the birth and is bedridden for several months.
  • April 22 – Maud’s niece Matilda Jewell Gage is born to her brother Thomas Clarkson Gage and his wife, Sophie (Jewell) Gage. Baum teasingly writes the proud parents, “Can a girl of tender years cuss, chew terbacker, smoke corn-silk, run away to swim in treacherous waters, and follow a band innumerable miles? NO! Therefore, rear boys,” before ending his letter on a more affectionate note: “Let us … cling only to thoughts of the sweet, innocent child faces that will brighten our lives for years to come, and makes us thank God heartily that they have arrived at all. Ever thine, L. F. Baum.”
  • May – Denslow begins illustrating for The Theatre magazine.
  • Benjamin Baum travels to Germany for medical treatment, still hoping to recover from injuries received the previous year in a serious accident.
  • The Baums move to #43 (now #268-270) Holland Street, Syracuse, New York.
  • The first book credited to L. Frank Baum, a poultry manual titled The Book of the Hamburgs, is published by H. H. Stoddard, Hartford, Conn. Its content had been serialized in The Poultry World (July-Nov., 1882).
  • Denslow moves through Chicago on his way further west.

1887

  • Feb. 14 – Benjamin Ward Baum dies in Syracuse, N.Y.

1888

  • Spring – Baum discovers the clerk’s dead body at Baum’s Castorine Co. The suicide is attributed to gambling debts that have ruined the company’s finances.
  • June 20 – Baum visits Aberdeen, S.D. The local paper mentions his interest in amateur photography.
  • Sept. 20 – Baum moves his family to Aberdeen, S.D. Maud already has family living in the Dakota Territory: two sisters, Mrs. Charles H. Gage (Helen, who  married a man with the same last name) and Mrs. James D. Carpenter (Julia); and a brother (Thomas Clarkson Gage), sister-in-law, Sophie Jewell, and infant niece, Matilda Jewell.
  • Oct. 1 – Baum opens Baum’s Bazaar, a general store at 4th and Main, in a building he rents from Helen and Charles Gage. The Daily News reports that more than 1,000 people visit the store on opening day. Store records show that sales generate the promising sum of $60. Nonetheless, the store’s financial backing is weak and its stock of holiday goods sinks with the Susquhanna in Lake Huron, forcing a hasty reorder for Christmas.
  • The Hotel del Coronado is built on CoronadoIsland off the coast of San Diego, Calif. Baum and Maud will spend winters there for several years.
  • Denslow moves to Chicago at the invitation of James W. Scott, publisher of the ChicagoHerald.

1889

  • July 6 – Larry Semon born in West Point, Miss. As an actor, he will star as the Scarecrow in the Chadwick Picture Production of The Wizard of Oz (1925).
  • Nov. 16 – Baum opens a branch bazaar at Webster, a town 50 miles from Aberdeen. He advertises it as “Santa Claus Headquarters.”
  • Dec. 17 – Harry Neal Baum is born to Frank and Maud Baum in Aberdeen.
  • Denslow’s drinking habits have become a problem that jeopardizes his work. He is fired repeatedly from the Herald.

1890

  • Jan. 1 – Baum’s Bazaar closes as Aberdeen falls under economic hardship. The Daily News reports that Baum also has closed the branch store in Webster and has moved the goods to Aberdeen. The Charles Gages purchase the stock and goodwill for $772. They reopen the store under Helen’s management. Baum himself is responsible for many of the financial problems associated with the store. He has lost money because he refuses to accept payment from those who are destitute. He would ignore customers, preferring to sit on the curb outside telling stories to children. In two years, he had 161 strictly nonpaying clients.
  • The owner of the weekly Dakota Pioneer, John H. Drake, is appointed consul to Kiel, Germany, by President Benjamin Harrison. Baum takes over as editor/publisher for $20/week. Several local papers present competition.
  • Jan. 25 – Baum publishes his first issue of The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. During his time as editor/publisher, Baum wrote many pieces, including everything from descriptions of the elaborate costumes worn by members of a local girls’ marching troop to editorials supporting women’s suffrage, such as a Feb. 1, 1890, article that reads, “We must do away with sex prejudice and render equal distinction and reward to brains and ability, no matter whether found in man or woman.” More than half the eight-page paper uses boilerplate, or ready-to-print copy. The remainder endorses the Republican Party, includes locally produced reports on the Farmers’ Alliance, carries syndicated columnists Bill Nye and Thomas Nast, and editorializes. Baum writes about Theosophy, occultism, and the mysticism of Eastern religions. A May cyclone is reported. At the height of public hysteria fueled by the Indian scare that ended with the death of Sitting Bull and the killings at Wounded Knee, two editorials discuss Native Americans in a tone that is, perhaps, the least tolerant of Baum’s writings.At one point, Baum is challenged to a duel over a typographical error that his opponent considers an insult to his bride. At the last minute, both men run from the conflict.Baum develops a popular column, “Our Landlady,” which takes place in a fictitious boarding house run by Sairy Ann Bilkins, a widow and busybody. There boarders discuss the issues and personalities important to life in Aberdeen. “Our Landlady” also includes some of Baum’s earliest fantasy writing: columns speak of horseless carriages, flying machines, mechanical dishwashers, electric blankets, and concentrated foods. In one issue a farmer reports he has his horses wear green spectacles so they’ll think they are eating grass instead of wood shavings. The whimsy foreshadows Baum’s original Emerald City of Oz, where citizens and guests are issued green glasses at the entrance. “Our Landlady” continues for 48 columns of satire, broad comedy, and entertainment and criticism of his fellow Aberdonians. The column may have been modeled after a similar column in the Syracuse Standard of 1884, or others of the genre.
  • June 1 – Francis Philip Wupperman (Frank Morgan) is born in New York City. As an actor, he will star as the Wizard in MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • June – Baum performs in Everybody’s Friend, an amateur theatrical production sponsored by the Episcopal Church, which he joins. This is the only church membership of his adult life. His mother had been a devout Methodist; he often teased her by quoting scriptures that he made up to win arguments.
  • July – Baum visits Chicago, possibly because of advertising for the 1893 World’s Fair.
  • Sept. – Frank performs in The Sorcerer, an amateur theatrical sponsored by the Episcopal Church.
  • The Baums move to 512 South Kline Street, Aberdeen, S.D.
  • Baum plays the role of Father Time in The Year Old and New at the Presbyterian Church. Other local productions in which he appears during his years in Aberdeen include The Mistletoe Bough, The Insect and The Bud, and Little Tycoon. He also is involved in a variety of other community groups, including a bicycle club; the Equal Suffrage Club, of which he is secretary; and a group interested in séances. He supports a local baseball team, the Hub City Nine, which wins the territorial championship, and he publishes the program for the South Dakota State Fair.
  • Denslow works for the DenverRocky Mountain News. He also briefly supports himself as a cowboy and then as a miner in the Leadville, Colo., area.

1891

  • March – Baum has a ranula removed from under his tongue. This and other health problems, coupled with the struggling local economy, motivate him to begin job hunting in Minneapolis and Chicago. He has lost his printer and is setting his own type, laying out advertising, doing job printing for others, and selling magazine subscriptions in an effort to provide for his growing family.
  • March 21 – Baum loses the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer when the community economics can no longer support it. Circulation has dropped from 3,500 to 1,400 for the weekly paper. He returns ownership to Drake, who sells the equipment and disbands the paper.A man who advertised extensively in Western papers once wrote to Baum asking why his rates were higher than those of other papers, and wanted to know the circulation and where his papers were sent. Baum replied that the circulation had been about 3,500, then it was 3,000, then 2,000, and at that time it was about 1,400. The papers, he said, were sent to different parts of the West, some to the East, and one abroad, and it was only by the hardest efforts that he prevented the whole lot from going to hell. The advertiser was so taken with the reply that he renewed the contract.
  • March 24 – Kenneth Gage Baum born to Frank and Maud Baum in Aberdeen, S.D. Had son number three been a daughter, the Baums had selected the name Geraldine.
  • May 1 – Baum starts work for the Chicago Evening Post for $20/week. He quits when his salary is cut to $18.62.
  • Baum sells chinaware for Pitkin & Brooks as a traveling salesman. He quickly becomes the firm’s leading salesman. He also begins to help store owners build attractive window displays.
  • The Baum family moves to a Chicago house in CampbellPark, a short street with a park in the middle. Unlike other homes in the city, it has no bathroom or running water, and their lifestyle is less comfortable than it had been in Aberdeen. Maud gives embroidery lessons at ten cents an hour to help with expenses, and her mother, Matilda Gage, moves in with them.
  • July 15 – Alexander Melentyevich Volkov is born in Ust-Kamenogorski, Altai, Siberia. Translator and Oz author, he will write original stories that bring Oz as “the Magic Land” to the children of Russia.
  • July 27 – Ruth Plumly Thompson, the second Royal Historian of Oz, is born at her grandparents’ home in Philadelphia, Pa., to Charles Plumly and Amanda Shuff Thompson.
  • Denslow moves to San Francisco, Calif., to return to newspaper illustration. He heads the art department for The Call and spends a few months with both the Chronicle and the Examiner. His illustrations include land- and seascapes, illustrated stories, and portraits that accompany society and entertainment columns and news events. It is here that he first uses a sea horse (or hippocampus) with his signature.

1892

  • Jan. 18 – Oliver Hardy is born in Harlem, Ga. As an actor, he will star as the Tin Woodman in the Chadwick production of The Wizard of Oz (1925) before entering his legendary film partnership with comedian Stan Laurel.
  • Baum joins the Theosophical Society.

1893

  • April 6 – Denslow moves back to Chicago with his friend Charles Saalburg. He draws the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago as a front-page illustration for the Chicago Herald.
  • Sumner C. Britton, representing The Kansas City Star, visits the World’s Columbian Exposition. In July he moves to Chicago and becomes secretary to the Geo. M. Hill Publishing Company.
  • The Baum family visits the World’s Columbian Exposition. Many of the attractions there will influence Baum’s future writing. At one point, separated from Maud and the boys, Baum enters a crowded building by joining the celebrity procession of the Infanta of Spain. He ends up dining with the official guests as an annoyed Maud watches him from a balcony.

1895

  • March 4 – One of Denslow’s first significant posters is published. It is titled “Chicago Times-Herald Consolidated,” a.k.a. “The Marriage of the Times and Herald.”
  • June – Neill graduates from PhiladelphiaCentralHigh School and enrolls in the PennsylvaniaAcademy of the Fine Arts.
  • June – Charles Plumly Thompson, Ruth Plumly Thompson’s father, dies.
  • Denslow designs costumes and a lithographed poster for a Harry B. Smith musical burlesque, Little Robinson Crusoe, starring Eddy Foy and Marie Dressler at the Schiller Theatre, Chicago. His costume design work generates 50 watercolors.
  • June 23 – A Baum poem, “La Reine est Morte – Vive La Reine!” is published in the ChicagoTimes Herald.
  • Aug. 13 – Irving Lahreim (Bert Lahr) is born in New York City. As an actor, he will star as the Cowardly Lion in MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939). His biography, Notes on a Cowardly Lion, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, in 1969.
  • Denslow provides picture puzzles for a bicycle contest sponsored by the ChicagoTimes-Herald.
  • Sept. 6 – Denslow files for divorce from Annie (McCartney) Denslow. For at least five months she has been living with Oscar Low, giving Denslow grounds for the charge of adultery.

1896

  • Jan. 19 – Baum’s short story “Who Called Perry?” is published in the Chicago Sunday Times-Herald. He had entered it in a writing contest sponsored by the paper.
  • Feb. 2 – Baum’s futuristic article “Yesterday at the Exposition (From the Times-Herald June 27, 2090)” is published in the Chicago Times Herald. It wins third place in the paper’s writing contest.
  • Feb. 20 – Denslow is granted a divorce from his wife Annie (McCartney) Denslow. Later that day, he marries Ann Waters Holden (1874-8/22/43) in Milwaukee. They rent a home in Highwood on the shores of Lake Michigan. Denslow names the place “Hippocampus” after his well-known signature mark.
  • April 8 – Edgar Yipsel “Yip” Harburg is born in New York City’s Lower East Side. He will be the lyricist for MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939). His biography, Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz? Yip Harburg, Lyricist (1993), will be published by University of Michigan Press.
  • May 17 – A Baum poem, “Two Pictures,” is printed in the ChicagoSunday Times Herald. This humorous summary of the city’s reaction to recent baseball games reflects Baum’s love for the sport; he rarely misses a Sunday game at the old Cubs baseball park while he is living in Chicago.
  • Oct. 12 – Baum’s ghost story “My Ruby Wedding Ring” is copyrighted by the Bacheller Syndicate.
  • Nov.18 – Pierre Couderc is born in France. As an actor, he will appear in silent films of the Oz Film Manufacturing Company (1914).
  • Neill drops out of the Academy of the Fine Arts and starts working for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • At his mother-in-law’s encouragement, Baum writes down the stories he tells his sons when they question the logic of nursery rhymes.
  • June 17 – Baum applies for copyright on two books: Tales from Mother Goose (a.k.a. Mother Goose in Prose, 1897) and Adventures in Phunniland (a.k.a. A New Wonderland, 1900 and The Magical Monarch of Mo, 1903).
  • Denslow begins to write a monthly column, “Poster Art,” for the Bill Poster, a trade journal for printers. The feature continues for a year.
  • Denslow begins to work with Elbert Hubbard’s community, the Roycroft shops of East Aurora, N.Y. He will spend a few months each year with Roycroft for the next five years.
  • Denslow draws a laurel-wreathed skull on a book, Omar Khayyam, with the lettering “What’s the use?” The illustration becomes a best-selling postcard for 30 years and is pirated by a variety of printers.
  • Between 1896 and 1898 Denslow provides artwork for more than 100 book covers for Rand, McNally & Company. His success with posters also continues. His most famous poster, “Imitation of a Newsboy Selling the Herald to a Haughti Lady” for the Chicago Herald-Times, imitates the work of Will Bradley. Denslow even signs the poster “Will W. Denslow.”

1897

  • May 5 – A title for a Baum short story, “How Scroggs Won the Reward,” is copyrighted by the Bacheller Syndicate.
  • May 18 – Baum’s short story “The Extravagance of Dan” is published in The National Magazine.
  • July – Baum’s short story “The Return of Dick Weemins” appears in The National Magazine.
  • Sept. – Baum’s short story “The Suicide of Kiaros” appears in The White Elephant.
  • Nov. 1 – Baum publishes The Show Window, a trade magazine financed by C. L. Williams of Way & Williams, about effective window displays. In it, he suggests that a National Association of Window Trimmers be formed. It is, and he is elected secretary. As the magazine becomes successful, Baum is able to quit traveling. His work in this field will be cited in Land of Desire (1993) as a foundational influence in the American advertising industry.
  • Dec. – Baum’s short story “A Shadow Cast Before” is published in The Philosopher.
  • Baum’s first children’s book, Mother Goose in Prose, written in 1896, is published by Way & Williams, Chicago, with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish. This collection of short stories based on the traditional nursery rhymes also is Parrish’s first book. A little farm girl named Dorothy appears in the last story.In a copy of the book inscribed to his sister Mary Louise, Baum writes: “When I was young I longed to write a great novel that should win me fame. Now that I am getting old my first book is written to amuse children. For, aside from my evident inability to do anything ‘great,’ I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one’s heart and brings its own reward. I hope my book will succeed in that way – that the children will like it.”

1898

  • March 18 – Matilda J. Gage, Baum’s mother-in-law, dies.
  • April – Elbert Hubbard announces that Denslow will be contributing to The Philistine for six months. Denslow’s illustrations are so successful that they continue, with very few exceptions, for two years. Denslow also redesigns the cover.
  • May 7 – According to family legend, Baum discovers “Oz” as the name for his American fairyland when he spots his bottom file drawer – labeled “O-Z” – while telling stories to his sons and their neighborhood friends. The first printed account of this tale is found in the New YorkMirror (1/27/04). Maud, however, denies the story in a 1939 interview for The Syracuse Herald.
  • The Baum family is living at 2149 West Flournoy in Chicago. They move to 1667 Humboldt.
  • Sept. – Baum’s short story “The Mating Day” appears in Short Stories.
  • Nov. – Maud visits Aberdeen to attend the funeral of her brother Clarkson’s baby daughter. Maud, the mother of four sons, has always longed for a daughter and is so distraught by the death that she requires medical treatment. In a letter to her sister Helen she writes of the five-month old baby, “Dorothy was a perfectly beautiful baby. I could have taken her for my own and loved her devotedly.”
  • Duckworth & Company, London, publishes an English edition of Mother Goose in Prose. Meanwhile, publishers Way & Williams go out of business. Their stock is purchased by Herbert S. Stone and Co.
  • The Baums spend their first of twelve summers at Macatawa, a resort community by the shore of Lake Michigan.
  • Baum writes and – in his basement – hand prints and binds 99 copies of a book of verse, By the Candelabra’s Glare, for a group of friends. W.W. Denslow is one of its illustrators. Baum describes it as “one of my greatest treasures – a book I set in type out of my head without writing it, and which I personally printed and bound.”

1899

  • Jan. 12 – Milt Youngren is born in Baltimore, Md. As an artist, he will illustrate Frank J. Baum’s The Laughing Dragon of Oz (1935).
  • March 16 – Baum and Denslow register two titles at the copyright office for a book they are developing. They intend to call it either Father Goose: His Melodies or Father Goose: His Book.
  • Aug. 10 – Jack Haley is born in Boston, Mass. As an actor, he will star as the Tin Woodman in MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Sept. 25 – Baum’s Father Goose: His Book is published by George M. Hill Co., Chicago, with illustrations by W. W. Denslow. Author and illustrator pay for the printing plates themselves. At one point, they plan to publish it privately as either Fine Arts Publishing Co. or Picture Book Company. After an initial 5,700 copies sell, the book goes through additional printings and becomes the best-selling children’s book of the year. It is hand-lettered by Ralph Fletcher Seymour and an assistant, Charles J. Costello. Many department store windows feature displays of the new book, prompted by Baum’s own instructions for a Father Goose display published in his trade journal, Show Window. Father Goose has the distinction of being one of the earliest children’s books to acknowledge the racial diversity of America, though, like other books of the period, many of its references will be seen as racist by later generations.
  • Oct. 9 – Baum completes a new fairy tale and writes on a scrap of paper, “With this pencil I wrote the manuscript for The Emerald City. L. Frank Baum.” The paper and pencil are framed and hung on the wall of his study. The publisher believes books that include jewel names in their titles do not sell well. Several other titles, including The City of Oz, From Kansas to Fairy Land, and The Land of Oz, which is used for copyright application, are considered before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is selected.
  • Oct. 26 – Baum’s short story “Aunt Hulda’s Good Time” appears in The Youth’s Companion.
  • Dec. – Show Window features a two-color cover by Denslow.
  • Denslow’s wife sends a copy of Father Goose to an old family friend, author Mark Twain. He responds, “Father Goose has a double chance of succeeding: parents will buy him ostensibly for the nursery so that they may privately smuggle him out and enjoy him themselves.”