Florence Renfrow - Prairie Poet
Florence Mae Fandrick Renfrow: 1926 - 1996
Florence Renfrow was born and raised in the Turtle Lake area of McLean County North Dakota and she never lived anywhere else. Her maternal grandparents homesteaded south of what is now Turtle Lake in 1884. The area was still frontier. That was five years before North Dakota became a state. The nearest town at that time was Washburn - founded just two years earlier. Her paternal grandparents, Germans from Romania, immigrated to the United States in 1902 and were also able to homestead nearby. Her parents, John and Lulu Fandrick, were farmers all their lives. She had three sisters and two brothers.
Florence taught rural township school for three years before she married Charles Renfrow, a neighbor boy who had recently return from service overseas during World War II. Until Florence passed away in 1996, they lived on a farm fifteen miles south of Turtle Lake. They had four children and many grandchildren.
Florence and my mother were close friends. Like my mother, Florence was a writer and contributed to many periodicals. Florence was also a poet.
Her poems appeared in The Farmer, The REC Magazine, The Bismarck Tribune, The Washburn Leader, The McLean County Journal, and several were included in the workbook distributed to the public schools by the N.D. Department of Agriculture. Three books of her poems have been printed: Poems From North Dakota, Country Poems and Poems From Our Town. The last book grew out of the column that she wrote for the McLean County Journal during the Centennial year of North Dakota's statehood.
From time to time articles inspired by Florence will be published to this website and indexed from this page. It is my intent at this time, that each article will have two sections. One section will contain a poem written by Florence. The second section of each article will have a comment by myself.
Poems contain truths and images and memories. I'll try to expound, expand and hopefully do some justice for Florence's work and memory.
The poems authored by Florence are reprinted by the express permission of her children.
Her poems are her voice and her voice is the voice of rural America and of what is sometimes called fly-over country.
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