At the turn of the century, before the advent of movies and radio, the most widely read family magazine in America was The Youth's Companion, and C. A. Stephens was indisputably its most popular writer. Over a period of 55 years, he contributed more than 1,500 stories, but the stories that gained the most fervent readership were fictionalized versions of his recollections of growing up on a small farm in New England.
Stephens's stories about six orphans who found a home after the Civil War with their grandparents in rural Maine won critical acclaim both when they were first published one hundred years ago and later when a collection was published as Stories from the Old Squire's Farm. "Some of the very best stories of New England life and character that have ever been written," said the Hartford Daily Courant.
In this new collection of 28 stories, a bank gets robbed, someone steals the Old Squire's new potato hybrid, wolves trap the children overnight, and the Old Squire's mend-all tonic finds a larger, happier audience when a salesman livens up the mixture.
Although The Youth's Companion ceased publication in 1929, people still write to the librarian in Norway, Maine, or stop by on their summer trips to inquire of the whereabouts of the Old Squire's farm and whatever happened to Addison and Theodora. Such is the enduring power these simple tales have for America's readers.