Some of the dates listed below are provided quite differently in the novel; most, however, have been deduced by comparisons between events whose dates are known and events whose dates are not known. For example, the novel does not state when Jack Burden was born, but it does indicate that he was twenty-one in 1918; thus, he must have been born in 1897. In the following chronology, a question mark (?) beside a date indicates that no sure means of determining the exact date can be found in the novel.
1829? Cass Mastern is born.
1848? Gilbert Mastern takes charge of his brother and sister.
1849? Cass Mastern is given charge of a plantation.
1851 Cass Mastern begins college in Lexington, Kentucky.
1854 Duncan Trice shoots himself; Cass Mastern returns to Mississippi.
1856 Cass Mastern frees his slaves, studies law in Jackson.
1861 Cass Mastern enlists as a private.
1896 Ellis Burden marries the girl from the Arkansas mill town.
1897 Jack Burden is born (Jack’s mother and Monty Irwin have been lovers for at least nine months).
1903 Ellis Burden leaves his wife and child.
1907 Judge Irwin mortgages his property.
1910 Judge Irwin pays part of the mortgage.
1912 Judge Irwin fails to meet his interest payments.
1914 Foreclosure proceedings begin in March; Judge Irwin marries Mabel Carruthers; Judge Irwin pays the mortgage in full in May.
1915 Judge Irwin resigns as State Attorney General and becomes counsel for the American Electric Power Company; Jack Burden begins college in the fall.
1918 Jack, twenty-one, falls in love with Anne Stanton, seventeen.
1919 Jack attends law school.
1920 Jack begins working for the Chronicle. (When Jack begins his tenure as a graduate student in history and when he is married to Lois Seager are almost impossible to determine; there is some evidence that Jack was married to Lois after he left graduate school and that both of these events took place while he was working for the Chronicle; but that is all that can be determined.)
1922 Jack Burden meets Willie Stark for the first time; Jack covers the school bond scandal in Mason County; Willie Stark loses reelection as County Treasurer.
1924 The schoolhouse tragedy in Mason County occurs; Willie successfully campaigns for the defeat of Pillsbury’s candidate.
1926 Willie Stark’s first unsuccessful campaign for governor.
1930 Jack quits his job at the Chronicle; Willie Stark is elected governor; Jack begins working for Willie.
1933 Byram B. White accepts a bribe and thus ignites impeachment proceedings against Willie.
1934 Willie Stark is reelected governor.
1936 Willie Stark and entourage visit Mason City and Burden’s Landing; in August or September, Jack begins his search for evidence against Judge Irwin.
1937 In March, Jack finds damning evidence against Judge Irwin; Anne Stanton becomes Willie’s mistress; Adam Stanton becomes director of the hospital; Marvin Frey accuses Tom Stark of getting his daughter pregnant; Judge Irwin shoots himself; Willie Stark does business with Gummy Larson; Tom Stark is injured in a football game (in October?); Adam Stanton kills Willie Stark; Jack visits Sadie Burke in a rest home (in December?).
1938 Jack refuses to take a job with Tiny Duffy; in February, Jack meets Sugar-Boy in the library; also in February, Tom Stark dies; in May, Jack visits Lucy Stark and then returns to Burden’s Landing; Jack Burden and Anne Stanton are married; Jack brings the Scholarly Attorney to Burden’s Landing to live with them.
1939 Jack is telling this story, probably in February or March.