Two of 20th-century literature’s most iconic characters guard this humble gravestone. They honor not just the story, but the young child who inspired Dorothy’s name.
Author L. Frank Baum named the lead character in his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz after his niece, Dorothy Louise Gage. His reason for doing so is perhaps more somber than you might think.
Tragically, only five months after her birth in 1898, the young girl died from a pneumonia-like illness called “congestion of the brain.” She was buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois. To comfort the family, Baum bestowed the name Dorothy upon his fictional heroine.
In 2018, an oak tree adjacent to Gage’s small grave died. Rather than have it cut down, the cemetery hired a tree carver to sculpt into the oak’s remains a likeness of Baum’s Dorothy alongside Toto and the Yellow Brick Road.
Know Before You Go
There's no admittance from dusk to dawn. The cemetery is closed on major holidays. The grave is towards the back of the cemetery. Drive to the back path and you should be able to see it