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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Shop > Books Listed by Topic > The Indiana Historian > Gene Stratton-Porter > A New Life in California A New Life in California

In California, Gene Stratton-Porter began a new life in many ways. She wrote to friends with some humor,

I have lain aside boots and breeches and put on crêpe and beaded chiffon and a French bonnet with roses and a veil; and I stand up and speak my little piece with the best of them (Meehan, 220).

The natural scenery in California was very different from Indiana, and it affected Mrs. Porter strongly:

I see so much on the desert, in the cañons, and on the mountains that other writers have failed to mention . . . . I have no words in which to express what the ocean does to me, and the cañon does a bit deeper, and the desert deepest of all (Meehan, 218).

She continued writing--including editorials for McCall's magazine and poetry. After working with the motion picture industry, she formed Gene Stratton-Porter Productions in January 1924, working with the young director, James Leo Meehan, who had married her daughter Jeannette in June 1923.

Mrs. Porter realized that the only way to translate her work to the screen her way was to do it herself. Her first production was Girl of the Limberlost. She commented to one correspondent,

Every dollar of money that went into this picture I earned myself, most of it in the fields and woods and in the swamps . . . . It is the extent to which I am willing to go in order to prove that our young people are being shown the wrong kind of pictures (Meehan, 244).

In 1923, she offered to sell Wildflower Woods to the State of Indiana. In 1924, she began building two California homes--one of which was on five acres of land on Catalina Island. She began again to create the natural environment she required:

On the mountain I am going to set my workshop, fashioned much like Limberlost Cabin in size and arrangement, but differing from it in architecture, as it must to conform to this location; and around it I am going to begin growing the wild flowers of California. I want it, also, as I want any spot on which I live, to become a sanctuary for the birds (Meehan, 278).

Mrs. Porter did not complete this dream. She was killed in an automobile accident on December 6, 1924.