Gene Stratton-Porter met and became friends with fellow writers. She found a true
kindred spirit in writer and poet Constance Lindsay Skinner. Constance was a British
Columbia native. Constance, like Gene, loved the outdoors and nature and both were born
in a rural setting. Constance was very much her own person, and loved to wear jewelry
and to dress in bright colors.
Constance, like Gene, wrote poetry, novels, and non-fiction books. Later she evolved into
a historian on pioneer life and wrote articles for newspapers. One of her novels “Good
Morning, Rosamond” was adapted to a comedy that was performed at the Shubert
Theatre in New York City. For a short time, she lived in California and in her later years
in New York City where she became a U.S. citizen in 1935.
After reading Constance’s poetry in “Poetry” magazine, Gene wrote to Constance. She
wrote, “in my estimation all of this work is wonderful.” She was especially fond of the
poem “The Song of the Search,” and stated “in my estimation the finest piece of work of
poetical quality that I ever have seen from the pen of any woman living or dead and at the
present minute I recall nothing from the pen of any man which makes so strong appeal to
me. This may be because from my life and work in the woods, I am peculiarly and
particularly receptive of such work as yours, and it may be, and I think it is, because it is
the finest thing of the mind I ever have read.” Gene asked for permission to use it in her
next book. She wanted to help Constance’s career and “put the poem before millions.”
In her book “Michael O’Halloran” Gene quote “The Song of the Search.” Her character,
Douglas Bruce, loved the poem and recited it. Constance’s maternal side, the Lindsays,
have a long and famous Scottish pedigree which also may be why Gene gave the Douglas
Bruce, one of the main characters, a Scottish surname.
Constance, like Gene, was an early environmentalist. She wrote many poems about
nature and Native Americans. She wrote a poem called “The Song of Cradle-Making”
about a Native American woman weaving a baby cradle for her child that is coming. She
won a literary prize for it in 1913 and she dedicated the poem to Gene.
Gene commissioned Carl Arthur Faille, who painted under C.A. Faille, to bring
Constance’s poem “Song of Cradle-Making” to “life.” In March 1920, he completed the
painting. Carl said that Gene called him her “painter man.” He credits her with launching
his career. He specialized in large nature landscapes. The painting hung in her Rome City
home and later in one of her homes in California. It was sold after her death.
When Gene’s secretary, Lorene Miller, married Frank Wallace at Wildflower Woods,
Constance wrote a special “Wedding Song” for the occasion. Gene read the poem at the
wedding. The Fort Wayne “Journal-Gazette” wrote that “no setting could have been more
appropriate for this exquisite song beginning.”
The poem began: “The pine trees shadow blessings.
The cedars drop odours.
Where love is the depth of the waters
And the light of the prairie’s smile.”
Constance and Gene shared a friendship until Gene’s accidental death at the age of 61 in
Los Angeles in 1924. Constance died after a brief illness in New York City in 1939 at the
age of 61. We will never know what more these two creative and engaging women would
have accomplished had they been granted longer lives.
Writer’s Note: A special thank you to historian, and Constance’s biographer, Jean
Barman for your generousity and support of my research. Thank you to Dave Reichlinger
for editing suggestions.