Written By: John
A reference question came to us recently about the author Stephen King and the exact location of his childhood residence in Fort Wayne, Indiana. King, who was born in Portland, Maine, in 1947, was the son of Donald and Nellie Ruth (Pilsbury) King. The father was born “Donald Pollock” in Peru, Indiana, and later changed the family name to King, and he separated from Stephen’s mother not long after Stephen’s birth. At the age of two Stephen moved to Delafield, Wisconsin, with his mother and brother, and later, about 1949, they came to Fort Wayne to live with relatives. But where specifically did they live?
David King, Stephen’s older brother, provides some sketches details in an account published in George Beahm’s Stephen King Companion: Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror (p. 9). “After Wisconsin, we then went to live with my father’s sister Betty, and a lady she lived with named Rudy. We have a picture of that, too – Stevie and I sitting on a lawn in front of a house. That was in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area. Aunt Betty was a schoolteacher … After that we lived in an apartment of our own in Fort Wayne … We shared the apartment with a number of cockroaches. It was an apartment house, but I’m not sure if it was a single-family dwelling or if there were a number of apartments in it.”
Most references to Stephen’s childhood lack specifics due to the family’s difficult economic circumstances. However, from the above account and other biographical references, we have enough information to identify Donald Pollock and his sister Betty on the 1920 census. Going forward and looking at the Fort Wayne city directories, we can locate Betty L. Pollock in 1951, living at 1227 Lake Avenue in Fort Wayne and working as a teacher at the Hamilton School. In 1954, she resided at 3529 Lake Avenue, then outside the city limits, and was teaching at the Hanna School. Undoubtedly, the Kings spent time at these two addresses, but the identity of their apartment house remains uncertain. The 1954 directory lists a Mrs. Ruth King living at 1234 Ewing Street, but this was a residence, not an apartment house, and it is not certain this was Stephen’s mother. The family later moved to Stratford, Connecticut.
It is worth noting that none of King’s residences are marked or celebrated in Fort Wayne’s historical literature. Perhaps more specific information will come to light about his time here. We were able to find an image of the 1227 Lake Avenue house. It is a multi-family home.