Title Reviewed:
A History of Sullivan County

Author Reviewed:
Thomas J. Wolfe

[Author Unknown]


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 103-104

Article Type:
Book Review

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[Thomas J. Wolfe, Editor. Illustrated. 2 v., pp. 384, 425. The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago. 1909.]

The Lewis Publishing Company is now in full swing of effort to exploit Indiana historically. It has reduced to a system the method employed sporadically by others. Each county taken up affords material for two large volumes—volume one a history of the county, and volume two a collection of the sketches of all who subscribe for the work. Both volumes must be bought together and both are sold by subscription before the work is published. The price charged is so high that it not only covers the value of the books but entitles the subscriber also to a biographical sketch among the notables of the county. The work has back of it, therefore, the three-fold force of whatever historical interest there may be in the community, the vanity of those who want to see their life story in print, and the business advantage of being included among the well-known citizens. It follows, of course, that volume one and volume two must be judged entirely separately, though they must be bought together. The Lewis Company, it must be said, usually secures the best qualified man in the county to write volume one. He is given free rein, and, to judge by the samples which have already been published, gives us, if not a history of the county, at least a fairly good lot of sketches of various things in the county. The biographical sketches which constitute the whole of volume two can not be improved on; they can always be taken as the absolute truth for they are practically written by the subjects of the sketches themselves though retouched by an employe of the publishing company. Volume one is seldom if ever illustrated at all. Volume two is profusely illustrated with portraits of distinguished citizens. From a technical point of view the work is to be criticised for containing no map and no index of illustrations.

The History of Sullivan county in volume one is largely the work of Thomas J. Wolfe, of Sullivan, now more than seventy-eight years of age, whose own memory extends over much of the ground he covers. This county is no exception to the genera; rule in Indiana, for all its early records were destroyed in the burning of the court-house (Sullivan, February 7, 1850.) Some of the imported facts in the county history, therefore, have been lost and accuracy in other matters can not be attained. Mr. Wolfe does not give a history of the county and its inhabitants, but a series of twenty-eight chapters upon various subjects chiefly institutions in the county, e. g., Military Annals, Education, Churches.

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.