American Renaissance Man

Charles Fletcher Lummis was born near Bristol, New Hampshire, in 1859 and received an extraordinary education at the feet of his father, Henry Lummis, an erudite Methodist minister. This homeschooling was so effective that, by the time young Charlie got to Harvard, he found that he had already read through its then-rigorous classics curriculum. Bored with his studies, he became a "campus prankster," which led to outrageous behavior that occasionally resulted in suspension. The unchastened rebel finally dropped out in his senior year, but not before striking up a friendship with another strong-willed undergraduate, Theodore Roosevelt.

Following a short stint as a reporter for the Chillicothe, Ohio, Leader, Lummis decided to make a national name for himself after landing a job at the fledgling Los Angeles Times. In September 1884, Lummis—newly married to Boston University medical student Dorothea "Dolly" Rhodes—set out alone to walk from Chillicothe to Los Angeles. The "tramp," as he called it, spawned widely reprinted newspaper dispatches written en route and, later in life, a book. The vagabond slept in railroad section houses, hunted antelope on the prairies, and crossed the Rockies in frigid weather. His 3,500-mile meandering journey took him four months. In Los Angeles, Lummis soon became the Times' overworked star reporter. Two years later, he suffered a...

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