Title Reviewed:
A Home in the Woods: Oliver Johmon's Reminiscences of Early Marion County

Author Reviewed:
Howard Johnson

Richard H. Caldemeyer


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 198-199

Article Type:
Book Review

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A Home in the Woods: Oliver Johmon's Reminiscences of Early Marion County. As related by Howard Johnson. (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1951, pp. 92. Index, map, frontispiece portrait of Oliver Johnson. $1.00.)

Too often the interest of the reading public in local history has suffered because of the formal and pedantic style of certain writers. Unfortunately, such dull and uninspiring presentations of local histories have prompted an indeterminate number of readers to turn to the historical novel as a means of satisfying a natural curiosity concerning early local histories. While the results may be gratifying from the standpoint of entertainment, the fact remains that the novel embraces historical accuracy only as a matter of literary convenience. Between these two extremes in the presentation of local history lies the middle ground of offering an informal and interesting history, yet giving proper emphasis to accuracy. Such is the case in this account of the reminiscences of Oliver Johnson.

In presenting in written form the stories told to him by his grandfather, Howard Johnson has related a seemingly accurate history of the events and situations which attended the earliest settlers of Marion County, Indiana. The greater portion of the story deals with Oliver Johnson's experiences, observations, and impressions during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The author's use of dialect in relating this story adds charm to a style which is both smooth and informal. Occasionally, he has employed footnotes for the sake of clarity or documentation. A portrait of Oliver Johnson serves as a frontispiece and a comprehensive index comprises the final pages of this work. Following a brief introduction by the author, there is a map designating the location of those places mentioned in the story. Not only does this map serve as a geographic guide, but also it attests to the accuracy and authenticity of the narrative.

This thin volume of ninety-two pages represents a definite contribution to the local history of the Hoosier State. The author has succeeded in presenting in a simple yet vivid style a subject which can be summed up in the one word "refreshing." Finally, mention should be made of the contribution of Albert Fessler, nephew of Howard Johnson, and of the officers of the Indiana Historical Society. In a large measure it was their words of encouragement and their general assistance that prompted the writing and publication of this story.

Batl State Teachers College

Richard H. Caldemeyer

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.