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L. Frank Baum, The Goose Man of Macatawa

L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born on May 15, 1856. The Holland Sentinel has an excellent feature on Baum’s Michigan connection, explaining that this multi-talented man was Louis F. Baum as an actor and playwright, L.F. Baum as a newspaper editor, and (of course) L. Frank Baum as one of the most popular children’s book authors ever. In the resort community of Macatawa, however, Baum was known by another name:  “The Goose Man.”

The Wizard of Oz rolled off the presses on May 17, 1900, but Baum actually had the top selling children’s book of the year one year earlier:

In 1899, Baum published “Father Goose: His Book.” The collection of children’s poems exploded in popularity and provided Baum with wealth and prestige for the first time in his life, his great-grandson, Bob Baum, recalled.

The author used the profits from his book to rent a large, multi-story Victorian summer home nestled on the southern end of the Macatawa peninsula on Lake Michigan.

The home, which he eventually purchased, came to be known as the Sign of the Goose, an ever-present reminder of the fame that came along with “Father Goose.”

Definitely read on for more, including a little about Baum’s 1907 novel Tamawaca Folks: A Summer Comedy, lampooning the resort community. You can also read the complete text of Father Goose right here.

If you’re looking to celebrate the Wizard of Oz, consider the Wizard of Oz Festival in Ionia. It’s scheduled for June 17-18, 2016! Also see the Oz Club Facebook page for all kinds of photos & history.