Kipling's Michigan Twins Today



Among the new buildings of Rudyard one of the newest is the busy Rudyard Post Office. The postmaster, who kindly undertook to cancel our post cards by hand with a big stamp reading "Rudyard, MI", told us that he did not get any inquiries about Rudyard Kipling's connection with the place, though he had heard that people used to ask. The Rudyard library was closed on the day that we were there, so I had no chance to find whether Kipling is represented in the local collection.
So far as is known, Kipling never saw his "sons in Michigan," as he called them. There is a small mystery about this matter, however.

In 1922 the inhabitants of the town of Rudyard published a book of local history called Tales of Rudyard as Told by the Folk, n.p. [Rudyard, MI], n.d. [1922], and sent a copy to Kipling himself. In acknowledging it, he wrote:

"I have not been in Michigan since a trifle more than thirty years ago, and in those days big stretches of the State were hardly settled up, and the trade at the small stores in Schoolcraft county, if I recollect aright, was nearly all barter. There certainly did not seem to be any prospect of hay for export in those days and it is hard to realize that all the lumber round you must be cleared by now. (15 January 1923: British Library).


There is no other record of Kipling's ever having been in Michigan. His sole opportunities were his trip from San Francisco to New York in 1889, and the outward bound and return journeys from the American east coast to Japan that he made in 1892. There are gaps in the records of both these trips, so that we cannot positively say that he had not been in Michigan. Schoolcraft County, Michigan, mentioned in the letter of 15 January, is in the Upper Peninsula, adjacent to Delta County, in which the town of Kipling lies.

But how he might have visited the Upper Peninsula is by no means easy to understand, for it lies off all the main rail routes, by which Kipling traveled.

Thomas Pinney, Claremont California, August 2000