Biography

Mrs. KingLouisa Yeoman was born in Washington, New Jersey in 1863. Her father was a Presbyterian minister from Massachusetts and her mother was from Baltimore. Her parents valued highly reading, religion, and music, but had no particular interest in gardening. In 1890 Louisa married Francis King, whom she had met through friends in Chicago. Francis was the son of a wealthy Chicago couple and the newlyweds purchased a home in Elmhurst, Illinois, near Francis' parents.The marriage was durable and blessed with three children, but Francis' health was poor. In 1902 he sought relief in a sanitarium located in Alma, Michigan. The cure proved successful and in 1903 the couple, along with their three children, decided to remain in Alma.

Francis was involved in several manufacturing enterprises in Alma. He also served the community as mayor and was one of the important members of the state Republican party. Over time he became interested in the emerging automotive industry. In 1913 he organized and became president of the Alma Truck Co. which eventually became Republic Truck. Republic proved very successful and by 1920 it had become one of the major truck manufacturers in the nation. The substantial income made possible by Republic's success enabled Mrs. King to indulge her interests in gardening and to develop a subtantial garden around their home. The unexpected and untimely death of Francis in 1927 left his widow financially unable to maintain the lifestyle she had enjoyed for many years. Although she was by no means destitute, the house and garden were sold and Mrs. King left Alma for Europe.

Francis King
Francis King, 1908


After an extended tour of Europe, Mrs. King returned to the States in 1928 to campaign for Herbert Hoover. Traveling by train from a radio address in Schenectady, New York, she happened upon a conversation with two women who spoke so highly of their town of South Hatford, New York, that Mrs. King chose to investigate a house for sale in the community. She was charmed by a "sweet and stately little white house" which she promptly purchased. There she began a new garden, naming it Kingstree.

Mrs. King continued to write in her new home, although at a lesser rate than in her years in Alma. She published The Story of the Garden in 1932 and Planning Your Planting for Montgomery Ward in 1943. Until the very end of her life she continued to lecture and give gardening advice. Following World War II she became a strong supporter of the United Nations and the proposed idea of the International Horticultural Society.

Upon her death, in January 1948, Mrs. King's ashes were spread over her garden at Kingstree.