The Thornton W. Burgess “Mother Westwind” Stories

The Wilson family lived in Stuart, Iowa, during the 1920s. Twins Dale and Darlene were born there in 1921. The older children were Delbert (born in 1915), Donald (1916), and Doris (1918).

Leora had her hands full, and in the evening, her husband Clabe left for his job as Stuart’s night watchman. The one before him had been killed during a bank robbery attempt.

After Leora put the twins to bed, Doris was next, in a room just off the dining area. Leora left her door ajar so little Doris could hear her mother reading Mother Westwind stories to Delbert and Donald. An oil lamp glowed in the center of the round table, where they gathered. Doris, in her dark room, could picture each character–Sammy Jay, Reddy Fox, Jerry Muskrat, and all the many others. 

Did your mother read bedtime stories to you? Which were your favorites?


What were these stories my mother remembered from the 1920s? Stories of common animals, revealing their natures with charm and fascination, were the imagination of Thornton W. Burgess. Nature’s Ambassador by Christie Palmer Lowrance is a complete biography and legacy of Burgess, including several photos, comments by others, notes, a bibliography, and an index. This gem of a book is about an prolific author who wrote so many stories treasured for decades by children and adults alike.

Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots



  1. Wonderful post! I love how you describe the bedtime reading hour. It is a magical time and something children so look forward to. It is surely a time we remember for the rest of our lives. Now, I absolutely love reading to my grandchildren. We read a Beatrix Potter pop-up Peter Rabbit book over and over. They never get tired of it. They each have favorite books that they like me to read with them. In time, the stories grow to chapter books…but, from their earliest days, books are so important. (I am sorting through some of my mother’s books that are quite old.)

    • Oh, how delightful! I envy that you can read to your grandchildren. We have one grandchild, 5-year-old Kate, but she lives four hours away. Books are a favorite gift to share with her, though, (and the Leora books are dedicated to her).

  2. I can’t remember my parent reading to me, though they certainly must have – I’ve been a reader my whole life! As soon as I could read for myself, I devoured all kinds of things, but we did not have any of these Burgess books. I rad the Arbuthnot Anthology, chock full of fairy tales, mythology, poetry and classic short stories and fables.

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