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Julia Gage Carpenter

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Julia Louise Gage Carpenter (1851 – 1931) was the sister of Maud Gage Baum and sister-in-law of L. Frank Baum. Baum borrowed details from the life of the Carpenter family when he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

After Julia Gage married James D. "Frank" Carpenter in 1882, the couple attempted to homestead in La Moure County, North Dakota, at a site about twenty miles outside of the tiny town of Edgeley. The location was isolated, bleak, and treeless; the wood for their cabin had to be brought to the site by wagon. Baum exploited this detail to paint the gray bleakness of the Kansas prairie at the start of his most famous novel: the wood for the cabin of Uncle Henry and Aunt Em also had to be transported by wagon to its desolate location. Like Henry and Em, the real-life Carpenters eventually had to abandon their homestead. Frank Carpenter worked at several jobs, including blacksmith, in Edgeley between 1899 and 1901; then the couple and their surviving children, daughter Magdalena and son Harry, moved to Fargo. The family eventually settled in Chicago while the Baums were living in the city.

The Baums were especially close to Magdalena Carpenter; at one point Maud even attempted to adopt her niece, though sister Julia would not consider it. Baum borrowed from the Carpenters once more for literary effect: when he wrote The Twinkle Tales he chose the setting of Edgeley for the stories. Magdalena Carpenter is said to have been intelligent and independent; arguably, the character of Twinkle has some resemblance to her.

Julia Gage Carpenter kept a diary of her homesteading experience, which has been used by scholars and historians as a source for the subject.

Julia and Magdalena Carpenter were the witnesses for Baum's last will and testament.


  • L. Frank Baum. Twinkle and Chubbins: Their Astonishing Adventures in Nature-Fairyland. Introduction by Michael Patrick Hearn. Escanaba, MI, The International Wizard of Oz Club, 1987.
  • Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.

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