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Great Lakes Novels – Books that Take Place in the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Fiction Free. Books Set in U.S. Great Lakes Region.

Many free Great Lakes novels. Books that take place in the Great Lakes, mainly historical fiction. Nearly all are vintage, in public domain.

Stories of the Great Lakes: Retold from St. Nicholas – Great Lakes Fiction

New York: Century 1909

This is from a series of volumes called “Geographical Stories retold from St. Nicholas Magazine”. Each of the stories in the collection is from a different author. Story titles are:

-The Great Lakes
-Life-Savers, Old and Young
-The Life-Savers’ Ride of a Hundred Miles
-A Little White Steamer, a Man in Gray, and Twenty Thousand Ships
-In a Forest Aflame
-A Boy’s Recollection of the Great Chicago Fire
-Dog Teams and Sledges in Michigan

See the Menu at the top of every page for Directories of Free Online Fiction and NonFiction Books, Magazines, and more, on 400 pages like this at Century Past

A Herald of the West; An American Story of 1811-1815

Altsheler, Joseph A.
NY: Appleton 1907

The author attempts to recreate attitudes and beliefs held by Americans in the West about Great Britain and Europe in the years before and during the War of 1812.
“The hero is a young Kentuckian in the Government service, who is sent as a messenger to the Eastern States. He returns in time to be present at the battle before Washington, where the British are victorious and the American capital is taken. Later he is present at the battle before New Orleans where the British are defeated.” – Guide to Historical Fiction, 1914

Joseph Alexander Altsheler (1862 – 1919) was born in Kentucky, worked on a Louisville newspaper and later for the New York World. He published the first of over 50 books and numerous short stories in about 1896. Included were an 8-volume series called “The Young Trailers”. He also published a six-volume series called “The French and Indian War series”. Great Lakes fiction.

See the resources on this site for: The War of 1812

For U.S. history of the War of 1812, see also on this site: Babcock, Kendric Charles, The Rise of American Nationality 1811-1819 in America in the Early 19th Century – 1809-1861

The Hunters of the Hills: A Story of the Great French and Indian War

Audio Book

Altsheler, Joseph A.
NY: Appleton 1916

See Altsheler’s first book on this page for a biographical note.

Free Historical novels that take place in Canada or countries in Latin America

The Wilderness Road: A Romance of St. Clair’s Defeat and Wayne’s Victory

Altsheler, Joseph A.
NY: Appleton 1901

See Altsheler’s first book on this page for a biographical note.
“The first American settlements beyond the Alleghany Mountains, and the struggle of the early Kentuckians against the league of the Northwestern Indians. The important historical events described are the terrible defeat of the Americans under General St. Clair by the Northwestern Indians, and the subsequent victory of the Americans under General Wayne over the same Indians.” – Guide to Historical Fiction, 1914. Great Lakes fiction, books set in Great Lakes.

Away in the Wilderness; or, Life Among the Red Indians and Fur-Traders of North America

Ballantyne, R. M.
Philadelphia: Caxton 1873

Books set in Great Lakes.

See our collection of Short Stories PDF Free

Paul Bunyan and His Men

being exploits of the men in the logging camps of Paul Bunyan, lumberjack hero of the North

Benson, Ivan
Rutland, VT: Tuttle 1955

Chapter headings:

1. Headquarters Camp on the Big Onion – 2. The Big Blue Ox – 3. The Seven Axemen of the Stoney River – 4. Timber-r-r-r-r! – 5. Daylight in the Swamp – 6. Shadows on the Skidroads – 7. Fog on the Kawishiwi – 8. Big Business in the Timber – 9. The Round River Drive – 10. The Year of the Dry Rains – 11. The Bull of the Woods – 12. The Winter of the Blue Snow – 13. The Battle of Copenhagen – 14. The Hurry-Up Trail – 15. Bull Frog Nights – 16. Giants in the Underbrush – 17. The Long Night on the Stoney – 18. A Good Man Hits the Trail – Glossary of Lumberjack Terms. Great Lakes fiction, books set in Great Lakes.

Sweetwater, Storms, and Spirits: Stories of the Great Lakes

Brehm, Victoria, ed.
University of Michigan Press 1990

Books set in Great Lakes.

Zachary Phips

Bynner, Edward Lassetter
Boston: Houghton 1892

A story of a Boston boy who took part in the mysterious western expedition of Aaron Burr and in the war of 1812.


Catherwood, Mary Hartwell
Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill 1901

See Catherwood’s book Old Caravan Days on this page for a biographical note.
“Lazarre is the Dauphin (Louis XVII, d. in Temple) who is imagined to have been smuggled across to America as an idiot. He regains his reason, and has to decide whether he shall reassert his claims to the throne or sacrifice all to love. Very romantic, and a delicate study of complex motives: the supposed Dauphin tells his own story.” – Guide to Historical Fiction, 1914. Great Lakes fiction.

Old Caravan Days

Catherwood, Mary Hartwell
Boston: Lothrop 1884

Mary Hartwell Catherwood (1847 -1902) was a novelist born in Luray, Ohio and as an adult lived in several cities in the Midwest. She developed a signature style of incorporating Midwestern culture, dialect, and local color into her texts. Although most of her novels and stories are set in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, some are also based along the American border with French Canada and on colonial Mackinac Island.

See more of Catherwood’s works at: Illinois Novels and Historical Fiction and Michigan Novels and Historical Fiction

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

The Queen of the Swamp and other Plain Americans

Catherwood, Mary Hartwell
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1899

See Catherwood’s book Old Caravan Days on this page for a biographical note.
“Short stories illustrating life in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.” – Guide to Historical Fiction, 1914. Great Lakes fiction.

The Crossing

Churchill, Winston
NY: Macmillan 1904

Winston Churchill (1871-1947) was one of the best-selling American novelists of the early 20th century. He is not to be confused with the British statesman of the same name.
“The great western movement during the American Revolution and after, across the mountains from Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, into Kentucky and Tennessee. The story is of a boy, David Ritchie, who makes the journey over the Wilderness Trail with certain Scotch-Irish immigrants, and serves as a drummer-boy in the campaign of George Rogers Clarke against the British. Deals later with the Louisiana Territory and its acquisition from France. The scene shifts to St. Louis and New Orleans, and the early French settlers are contrasted with the enterprising men of Scotch and English blood who carry all before them. The intrigues of the time come into the story, and besides Clarke we have Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone, Sevier, and minor historical characters.” – Guide to Historical Fiction, 1914. Great Lakes fiction.

We have thousands of free novels online in many collections

The Mystery of Metropolisville

Eggleston, Edward
NY: Judd 1873

Edward Eggleston (1837-1902) was born in Vevay, Indiana. He was both a novelist and a historian, authoring several texts of U.S. history. Great Lakes fiction, books set in Great Lakes.

The Frontier Angel: A Romance of Kentucky Rangers’ Life

Ellis, Edward S.
London: Routledge 1861

See the biographical note about Ellis at his other novel, Red Jacket, on this web page.

Red Jacket: The Last of the Senecas

Ellis, Edward S.
New York: E.P. Dutton 1900

Juvenile fiction by Edward S. Ellis (1840-1916), a teacher and school administrator who published hundreds of books and magazine articles under his own name and more than a dozen pseudonyms, including “Colonel H.R. Gordon” the name used on this book. Great Lakes fiction.

A brief history of the U.S. Great Lakes region

The First White Man of the West: Or, The Life and Exploits of Col. Dan’l Boone

Flint, Timothy
Cincinnati: Queen City 1833

Timothy Flint was one of the most significant literary figures in the early history of the Old Northwest. He was a minister and graduate of Harvard who went west in 1815 to carry out missionary work. For the next ten years he traveled in the Mississippi Valley, publishing in 1826 a memoir called Recollections of the Last Ten Years. In 1833 he published Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone, which did much to develop the Boone legend. He also founded and edited the Western Monthly, a literary magazine in Cincinnati from 1827-1830.

You can find a biography of Timothy Flint by John Kirkpatrick on the Ohio Biographies and Memoirs page of this site. One of his novels is on the Ohio Novels and Historical Fiction page.

See also: Thwaites, Reuben G., Daniel Boone in Biographies & Memoirs in Great Lakes History

The Boy Pioneer, Or, Strange Stories of the Great Valley

Grosvenor, Abbie J.
New York: Harper 1917

Frontier life in the Ohio River Valley, for a juvenile audience. Great Lakes fiction, books set in Great Lakes.

The War-path; A Narrative of Adventures in the Wilderness:

with minute details of the captivity of sundry persons; amusing and perilious incidents during their abode in the wild woods; fearful battles with the Indians: Ceremony of adoption into an Indian family; encounters with wild beasts and rattlesnakes, &c.

Jones, J. B.
Philadelphia: Lippincott 1872

See the entry for Jones’s Wild Western Scenes on this page for a biographical note.

Wild Western Scenes: A Narrative of Adventures in the Wilderness:

with Minute Details of the Captivity of Sundry Persons, Amusing and Perilous Incidents During Their Abode in the Wild Woods, Fearful Battles with the Indians, Ceremony of Adoption into an Indian Family, Encounters with Wild Beasts and Rattlesnakes, Etc.

Jones, John Beauchamp
Philadelphia: Lippincott 1877

John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866) was a popular novelist (particularly of the American West and the American South) and a well-connected literary editor and political journalist in the two decades leading up to the American Civil War. Jones’s fiction and activities as an editor attracted the attention of other literary notables of the period, including Edgar Allan Poe and William Gilmore Simms. Jones’ early novels, Wild Western Scenes: A Narrative of Adventures in the Western Wilderness, Forty Years Ago (1841), The Western Merchant: A Narrative . . . (1849), and Life and Adventures of a Country Merchant: A Narrative of His Exploits at Home, during His Travels, and in the Cities; Designed to Amuse and Instruct (1854), capture the picturesque and generally edenic qualities of the West, where he spent his early years.
– Wikipedia entry on John Beauchamp Jones

Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Judson, Katharine, ed.
Chicago: McClurg 1914

“This group of legends from the folk-lore of the Winnebago, Wyandot, Biloxi, Menomini, Ojibwa, Cherokee, and other tribes of the Mississippi valley is added to the other books in Miss Judson’s excellent series. This particular group has an especial literary interest, for it was the tales of the northern tribes that furnished Longfellow with his material for Hiawatha; while the legends of the southern Indians show interesting parallels with the slave stories given form by Joel Chandler Harris.
– The Book Review Digest

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