Jim Kjelgaard's Milwaukee Home

1336 N 31st, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was Jim and Edna Kjelgaard’s first home together after their marriage on July 15, 1939. Their only child, Karen, was born while they lived in Milwaukee. In an essay Karen wrote about her father she said, “Looking back, I’d consider it far from Dad’s natural habitat.” But her mother, who preferred Eddy to Edna, was a “city girl” and living in Milwaukee “was one of the compromises of their marriage.” Another compromise Jim made: no dogs were allowed in the house. Karen recalled they always had dogs, “even if they did have to stay outside.” She continued:

“The first dog I remember is Mac, a golden cocker spaniel. A few years later, I got Sheila, an Irish Setter shipped to us by Rudd Weatherwax, Lassie’s trainer. We had Sheila some years, and I wish I could say she was Big Red personified, but she wasn’t.”

It was in this home that Jim wrote his first young adult novels: Forest Patrol (1941), Rebel Siege (1943), Big Red (1945), among others. According to Karen, Robert Bloch—the writer of Psycho—often visited their Milwaukee home:

“A tall, rangy man, [Bloch] would wrap his long form around a chair and talk books and writing with my father until I had to go to bed and presumably long after I was asleep.”

Kjelgaard and Bloch collaborated on four horror stories published by the pulp Weird Tales in the mid-1940s. The tales were written by Kjelgaard and revised by Bloch. Three of these stories—“The Thing from the Barrens” (Sep. 1945), “The Fangs of Tsan-Lo” (Nov. 1945), and “Chanu” (Mar. 1946)—have been republished in an omnibus edition titled Tales of the Macabre / The Black Fawn. You can read more about these stories here.

The Kjelgaards lived in Milwaukee until Karen was in the fourth grade, likely in 1949 or 1950, and then they moved to the small farming community of Thiensville, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee.

The photograph of the Kjelgaards’ Milwaukee home is from Google Maps (dated 2021).




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