Books that Take Place in Ohio – Ohio Fiction – Novels Set in Ohio

Vintage Ohio Novels


Dark Laughter

Anderson, Sherwood
Boni & Liveright 1925       

Bruce Dudley is “the spoiled child of industrialism, longing to create with his brain or with his hands, but balked by a country that asks for neither sound handling of tools nor true worlds. And Bruce leaves his newspaper and his short-story writing wife and goes drifting down the river, scarcely knowing what he wants, unless it is to see what life really is like and put it into poetry.” – Sat R
Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941), self-educated, rose to become a successful copywriter and business owner in Cleveland and Elyria, OH. In 1912 Anderson had a nervous breakdown that led him to abandon his family and business. He became a writer and moved to Chicago, where through the 1920s he published short stories, novels, memoirs, poetry and essays. “Dark Laughter”, inspired by his time in New Orleans, was his only best-seller. -Wikipedia

Poor White

Anderson, Sherwood
Huebsch 1920       

This novel “describes the changes occurring in a Midwestern town when industrialism replaces the old agrarian, craft-centered society. The town itself is the protagonist of the early part of the book. and Anderson successfully depicts its shabbiness. isolation. and sterility. Hugh McVey, the central character. is an introverted inventor who does not become aware until it is too late that his own genius contributes to the corruption of his environment.” Reader’s Ency

Cousin Sadie

Anderton, Daisy
Boston: Stratford 1920

“The scene is a college town in Ohio to which the heroine, Sara Dickinson, descendant of a long line of Calvinistic forebears, returns after a long absence. She thinks she has shaken off the teachings of her childhood, but in a crucial situation, involving love between herself and the husband of a young cousin, the sharp sense of distinction between right and wrong reasserts itself.”
“The atmosphere of an Ohio college town is well done.”
– The Book Review Digest.

Johnny Appleseed

Atkinson, Eleanor
Harper 1915       

Story of the picturesque, half legendary character, John Chapman, ‘the Saint of American Orchards’, who planted his apple seeds throughout the Ohio Valley a century ago.” -Cleveland.

The Bandits of the Osage: A Western Romance

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: Robinson and Jones 1847

Emerson Bennett (1822-1905) was born in Massachusetts, left home at 16, and lived in various cities, including Cincinnati, Lawrenceburg, IN and Philadelphia. He published his first short story in 1843, and by 1880 had published more than 30 books and hundreds of short stories. His adventure stories about the west were very popular from the 1840s to the 1860s with an emerging mass market of readers.

Leni Leoti; or, Adventures in the far West. A Sequel to “Prairie Flower”

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: James 1852

See the brief biographical sketch of Emerson Bennett at the novel The Bandits of the Osage, on this webpage.

The Prairie Flower

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: James 1852

See the brief biographical sketch of Emerson Bennett at the novel The Bandits of the Osage, on this webpage.

The Phantom of the Forest: A Tale of the Dark and Bloody Ground

Bennett, Emerson
Philadelphia: Potter 1868

See the brief biographical sketch of Emerson Bennett at the novel The Bandits of the Osage, on this webpage.

Plain People: A Story of the Western Reserve

Branch, Edward P.
New York: Publishers’ Print. Co 1892

The Bishop’s Son: A Novel

Cary, Alice
NY: Carleton 1857

Alice Cary (1820-1871) was born near Cincinnati in 1820. She grew up on Clovernook farm; land that her grandfather received in lieu of pay as a Revolutionary War veteran in 1803. The Cincinnati press first published her verse when she was 18, to an enthusiastic reception. Alice remained at Clovernook until 1850, when she and her sister Phoebe moved to New York. In the same year her first volume of poems was published, launching a highly successful literary career.

Clovernook; or Recollections of our Neighborhood in the West

Cary, Alice
NY: Lovell 1852

See the biographical note of Cary at The Bishop’s Son, on this page.

Chronicle of an Old Town

Cunningham, Albert Benjamin
NY: Abingdon 1919

“A Methodist minister who has grown old in the service of an eastern church is turned out by his trustees with rather callous cruelty, because after a long period of domestic affliction he has lost much of his earlier vigor. The men in authority in his denomination also seem to have little use for him now that he has grown old, but by pure luck he is assigned to the church in a little Ohio town. His congregation is composed of simple, easy-going country people who show him and his family the greatest kindness.

The Broad Aisle; A Realistic Tale of Early Ohio

Daggett, Mary Stewart
London: Neely 1899

Tales and Sketches of the Queen City

Drake, Benjamin
Cincinnati: Morgan 1838

This volume contains thirteen tales or sketches, several of which were published in the Hesperian and other periodicals in the 1830s.

The Hunter’s Cabin; An Episode of the Early Settlements of Southern Ohio

Ellis, Edward Sylvester
NY: Beadle 1862

Ned on the River

Ellis, Edward S.
Philadelphia: Porter & Coates 1884

An adventure story that takes place in 1789 on the Ohio frontier and includes fighting Indians. Author Edward S. Ellis (1840-1916), was a teacher and school administrator who published hundreds of books and magazine articles under his own name and more than a dozen pseudonyms.

The Bounty Lands

Ellis, William Donohue
World 1952

“Alone in a cabin clearing with his wife and child, Tom Woodbridge was a law unto himself, as rugged and self-centered as only a frontiersman could afford to be. When the town of Hosmer’s Village [Ohio] began to grow around him, he fought all improvements: the court, the school, the church and even the town government, each a threat to his own continuing independence.”
“It is apparent that the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure just how the people lived in that day and that land. The research must have kept him busy for a long time, for nowhere in the book could this reviewer find an anachronism or a descriptive line that did not ring true.” -Chicago Sunday Tribune.

The Brooks Legend

Ellis, William Donohue
Crowell 1958       

“The third in the author’s chronicles of the Ohio frontier covers the years following the War of 1812. Saul Brooks, the central figure, is a medical practitioner whose efforts to become a trained M.D. are thwarted repeatedly not because of lack of skill but because he is either tricked into staying in a community desperately in need of his services or he is caught in the conflict over systems of medication and medical opinion. Although interest focuses on medicine, many other aspects of the frontier life are realistically detailed. Characters reappear from the preceding Jonathan Blair and The Bounty Lands.” -Booklist.

George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman; Or, ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship.’

Flint, Timothy
Boston: Hilliard Gray 1829

Timothy Flint (1780-1840) 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.

The Spirit of the Border: A Romance of the Early Settlers in the Ohio Valley

Grey, Zane and J W. Davis
New York: A.L. Burt 1906

See the biographical note of Zane at Betty Zane, on this page.

East and West: A Story of New-Born Ohio

Hale, Edward E.
New York: Cassell 1892

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) was a child prodigy in Boston who graduated from Boston Latin School at age 13 and enrolled immediately afterward at Harvard College. There he was elected Class Poet and graduated second in his class, then went on to study at Harvard Divinity School. In the second half of the 19th century he was prominent in the American literary scene through short stories in periodicals, novels, and a variety of non-fiction works. He was at the same time a Unitarian minister at a Boston church and an active social reformer.

Legends of the West

Hall, James
NY: Putnam 1832

James Hall (1793-1868) lived in Ohio and Illinois, editing a magazine in Cincinnati. He authored many stories of adventure on the western frontier and was considered one of the most talented writers in the West.

Tales of the Border

Hall, James
Philadelphia: Hall 1835

See the biographical note at Legends of the West, on this page.

The Wilderness and the War Path

Hall, James
London: Wiley & Putnam 1846

See the biographical note at Legends of the West, on this page.

Early Engagements: and Florence, (a sequel)

Hayden, Sarah Marshall
Cincinnati 1858

Sarah Hayden was recognized at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago as Illinois’ first woman authoress. She wrote Early Engagements at the age of 16 in 1842, but that story and the sequel, Florence, were not published until 1854. Hayden was born in Shawneetown, IL, and after her marriage in 1843 she and her husband lived in Cincinnati, where she wrote poetry and prose for periodicals. Some of her works were published under the pen name Mary Frazaer.

Eoline: or Magnolia Vale

Hentz, Caroline Lee
Philadelphia: Peterson 1869

Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz (1800-1856) was a major author of her day, and noted for her outspoken opposition to the abolitionist movement and her rebuttal to the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Born and raised in Massachusetts, after marrying she and her family moved several times, living in North Carolina, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Alabama and Georgia. While in Cincinnati she was friends with Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The Ward of Tecumseh

Marriott, Crittenden
Philadelphia: Lippincott 1914

Crittenden Marriott (1867-1932) was born in Baltimore and began his career in Louisville, KY. He was a writer for the Associated Press and a reporter and correspondent for various newspapers, traveling worldwide. He wrote books, magazine serials, short stories, non-fiction, and motion picture scenarios.

‘The ward of Tecumseh’ finds the reader transplanted to the scenes attendant upon the war of 1812. At the death of the rich Count Telfair of France the succession falls to Estelle Telfair, daughter of the count’s brother, M. Delaroche, who settled early in Ohio and became a trader with and a close friend of, Tecumseh, chief of the Shawnee Indians. At her father’s death, the girl is raised by the Indians, as Alagwa, without knowledge of her royal blood until she Is seventeen, when Brito Telfair, an English representative of a branch of the Telfair family comes to Tecumseh and demands the girl.

Ansel’s Cave: A Story of Early Life in the Western Reserve

Riddle, Albert G.
Cleveland: Burrows 1893

Albert Gallatin Riddle (1816-1902) was raised in Newbury, OH, in the Western Reserve. He was a prosecuting attorney in Cleveland and a U.S. congressman, and also served as U.S. Consul at Matanzas, Cuba.

Bart Ridgeley; A Story of Northern Ohio

Riddle, Albert G.
Boston: Nichols and Hall 1873

See the biographical note about Riddle at Ansel’s Cave, on this page.

Drayton: A Story of American Life/h3>

Shreve, Thomas H.
NY: Harper 1851

Thomas Hopkins Shreve (1808-1853) was a Quaker journalist who lived in New Jersey and then Cincinnati before moving to Louisville, KY, where he became an editor of the Louisville Journal. From 1847 to 1850 he was one of the Unitarian editors of the antislavery newspaper The Examiner, in Louisville. The group’s goal was to put an emancipation clause into the Kentucky state constitution.

Clinton Bradshaw: or, The Adventures of a Lawyer. Two volumes in one

Thomas, Frederick W.
Cincinnati: Robinson and Jones 1847

Frederick William Thomas (1806-1866) lived in Cincinnati as a young man, working on his father’s newspaper. His career included spells as a literary editor at newspapers, professor of literature at the University of Alabama, lawyer in Maryland, and Methodist Episcopal minister in Cincinnati.

The Emigrant: or, Reflections while Descending the Ohio. A Poem

Thomas, Frederick W.
Cincinnati: Drake 1833

See the biographical note of Thomas at Clinton Bradshaw, on this page.

Figs and Thistles: A Romance of the Western Reserve

Tourgee, Albion Winegar
NY: Fords, Howard & Hulbert 1879

Albion Winegar Tourgee (1838-1905) was born on a farm in Williamsfield, OH. He left college to enlist at the beginning of the Civil War, fought in several major battles, was wounded twice, and was a POW for a time. After the war he farmed in North Carolina and was appointed a Superior Court Judge, where he began a long career of activity on behalf of civil and voting rights for African Americans. In 1891 he was the lead attorney for Homer Plessy in the historic Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case, challenging a Louisiana “Separate but Equal” law.
-from Wikipedia

Night and the Stars: A Tale of the Western Reserve

Vincent, Clarence A.
Chicago: Winona 1906

This story begins in a farming community in the 1850s.

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