Remembering Ben Logan…

“Once you have lived on the land, been a partner
with its moods, secrets, and seasons, you cannot leave.
The living land remembers,
touching you in unguarded moments, saying,
‘I am here. You are part of me.'”
~Ben Logan (1920-2014)
The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and Its People, 1975

Author Ben Logan relaxes in his old family farmstead near Steuben in Crawford County in 2006 Photo Credit-Gary Porter, Journal-Sentinel

GAYS MILLS – Ben Logan, the author of the memoir “The Land Remembers,” died very peacefully on Sept. 19, 2014, in Viroqua. He also wrote “Christmas Remembered,” “The Empty Meadow,” and other works.  “Ben was born in Seneca in 1920. He grew up on a ridge top farm his mother called “Seldom Seen.” He spent most of his life away from Wisconsin, but carried Seldom Seen and the people who were part of it with him wherever he was. In his writing, Ben brought the stories and feel of a place he loved to many thousands of readers. It was his hope that readers could carry this feeling beyond one small corner of Wisconsin, to build a broader appreciation and care for the land and its people.”

“Ben’s writing about the land had a touch of romance – but it was never sentimental. He had the hard, honest insight of someone who grew up knowing how a falling tree limb could kill a person, how the wind bit on a long winter day of working outside. There is a small valley – Ben called it Lost Valley – running southeast from the farm house at Seldom Seen. Ben often told the story of a time when he was wandering there as a boy, hearing the distant cry of a wolf, finally seeing it loping across the valley, paying him no attention – raw, solitary, majestic nature. And so the boy, who saw the last wolf through the blowing snow down in Lost Valley, is going home for the last time. ”   Read more

“Ben Logan leaves a legacy of both words and actions.  That legacy will live on in the land and farm he worked to protect. And it will live on in the stories he told of the family farm and stories told by the generations to come who will farm the land.  In his obituary, Logan’s family writes that his connection to the land and his community were two things that helped him survive his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. When he was in college, Logan studied under the preeminent conservationist of the time, Aldo Leopold, who Logan said bristled against his emotional attachment to the land.”  Read more.

The family suggest memorials be made to Valley Stewardship Network .
Services will be held Oct. 26, 2014 at the Gays Mills Community Center. Visitation will be held from 2 to 3 p.m., when a celebration of life begins.

Seldom Seen Farm, the beloved ridgetop landscape in Wisconsin’s southwestern corner that was the setting of the “The Land Remembers,” will be forever protected as part of an agreement signed with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

‘The Land Remembers’ still resonates with readers

Caroline Beckett, publisher with Itchy Cat Press of Blue Mounds, said her organization became the eighth publisher of the book in 2006. “‘The Land Remembers’ continues to interest and affect readers from all over,” she said. “We get many orders from book clubs, bookstores and individuals curious about life on Seldom Seen hilltop farm in the Kickapoo River valley of southwestern Wisconsin. Logan’s connection to the land and nature’s rhythms are a welcome relief to today’s wired and jangling world.”  Read more.


Living Books for Education

“The Land Remembers” is what educator Charlotte Mason would call a “living book”.A living book is a “whole” book,  one rich in thoughts and nutrition – with ideas that reach out to you.   A living book feeds the spirit, without having to be highly spiced or  dumbed-down for the masses.

A few years ago, we used “The Land Remembers” in our homeschool studies in a unit on local Wisconsin history.  I have since heard that local high schools used it in their Literature classes.

Maybe it’s time for us to pull it back out and give it another reading.

Some friends of ours hiked down to Lost Valley four years ago when it was put in the Mississippi Conservancy, and met Ben Logan there, even took photos of him with their kids…
For those of you near Seldom Seen Farm, relish your part of the land and the memories.And please be gracious in directing strangers looking for it’s location.

It may be just a homeschool family on a field trip finding their way to Lost Valley to be immersed in the land.

The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and it's People: Ben Logan

The Land Remembers by Ben Logan Book Photo: Stock Image

“The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and its People” by Ben Logan is the heartwarming autobiographical story of Logan’s early life in the 1930s on Seldom Seen Farm, located on a hard-to-reach ridge near Gays Mills in Crawford County. The book, originally published in 1975, has an eighth edition released in 2006 with an afterword from Logan.

The New York Times Book Review:
“What drew me so irresistibly through The Land Remembers?… You feel nostalgia when the details of the world are so precisely concrete and right that by the time the author tells you his own reactions to that world you feel you already know it just about as well as he does. . . . It’s not nostalgia for my own past that The Land Remembers made me feel; it’s nostalgia for a world he makes me wish I’d known.”

Hoard’s Dairyman
Book Review: “This book creates an urge to go back to the time that author Ben Logan references. Logan grew up in the southwest Wisconsin hill country. After a strong career writing in New York City, he returned to his home and now resides in Viroqua at the age of 90. The Land Remembers explains what life was like in the “driftless area,” where the glaciers were unable to flatten the land to resemble neighboring Iowa and Illinois.”

Book reviews of The Land Remembers were originally posted in 2011.


2 responses to “Remembering Ben Logan…

  1. Our book club “Ladies of the Lake in Port Washington” are reading “Christmas Remembered” for our December read.
    We are each to share our Christmas traditions in the discussion.
    We enjoyed reading “The Land Remembers” and I personally
    purchased the book as a gift to friends and relatives who I
    knew would appreciated its beauty. He was a wonderful


    • Thanks for the response, Kathy. As a newbie to the Driftless Region myself, I love sinking into the details of the area, and go out of my way to find books about it. Ben Logan had a way of writing that was real. Truly one-of-a-kind. Just like he was.


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