Chillicothe's contributions to Ohio and to the United States instill a keen sense of pride in its residents, and this heritage is reflected throughout the community and in articles describing it. Chillicothe also lends its name and character to fictional settings, due in part to its place in history but more probably to its distinctive name and presumed Midwestern innocence and integrity. As
many entries in this collection suggest, Chillicothe can be seen as a special Everytown USA.
Chillicothe in Story and Song features fictional accounts from novels, short stories, motion pictures, songs, newspaper and magazine commentaries, print and animated cartoons, folk tales, television programs, fabricated news reports, and a Broadway play. Most of the authors specifically refer to Chillicothe, Ohio, and not to one of its counterparts in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, or Texas, but in other than historical novels it not always is clear why their characters reside in, pass through, or mention Chillicothe. A few authors give Chillicothe a fictional name, but their specific references to landscape features and landmark structures clearly reveal the town's identity.
Present-day Chillicothe, founded in 1796, was not the first town of that name in what is now Ohio. Several authors refer to an earlier Chillicothe, known also as Chillicothe Town and Old Chillicothe, on the Little Miami River near present-day Xenia in west-central Ohio. It was the largest of at least seven Shawnee villages named Chalagwatha, meaning "village" or "gathering place." One of them was on the site of today's Chillicothe, and another was near present-day Frankfort.
Entries are coded chronologically, as are the commentaries later in the report (e.g., C-1934), and are arranged in order except where two or more logically belong together. The following nine have been added since the January 2010 edition: 1940a, 1983b, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2011a, 2011b & 2011c. Persons who provided leads or assisted in obtaining needed documents are acknowledged in brackets with the entries.
Ohio University-Chillicothe has on permanent display in the Learning Commons of Stevenson Center about sixty of the items cited in this report.
Publicity afforded the project by Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library, Chillicothe Gazette, Chillicothe High School Alumni Association, Chillicothe-Ross Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Dispatch, Ohio University-Chillicothe, Phoenix Fire Company No. 2, Pump House Center for the Arts, Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau, Ross County Historical Society, Rotary Club of Chillicothe, and WOUB (Athens) generated leads to possible
Please share suggestions for Chillicothe in Story and Song with Tom Thomas at
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1908, 1923 & 1952 William "Billy" Ireland (1880-1935) was born and raised in Chillicothe and at age nineteen started his thirty-six-year career as editorial cartoonist for The Columbus Dispatch, rejecting offers over the years from "big city" papers because he wanted to be near his native Ross County, which he frequently visited and where he is buried in Grandview Cemetery. Other papers often reproduced his cartoons, but his real pride for nearly three decades was his full-page The Passing Show that appeared in color every Sunday. The more than 1,200 of them typically consisted of ten to twenty illustrated commentaries on happenings around the state, travel notes, anecdotes about the human condition, and curiosities that amused him. Ross County frequently appeared on this page, including reports on autumn foliage and foxes with bobbed tails along Paint Creek, tributes to the troops at Camp Sherman, announcements of the Farmers' Fall Festival in Chillicothe, experiences of diverse characters in the fictional town of Tick Ridge, and the highly unlikely predictions of "Deb Parsons, the Chillicothe Prophet." He often featured the Great Seal of Ohio as a backdrop in his cartoons and drawings, and his interest was instrumental in creating Great Seal State Park.
Ireland in 1908 published Teck Haskins at Ohio State, an unusual booklet consisting of a two-page introduction to the fictional Teck, followed by seventy-six full-page cartoons portraying his experiences at the university. Teck was raised in Yellowbud, a community twelve miles north of Chillicothe, but he devoted far more attention to activities on the wharf along the Ohio & Erie Canal than to chores on the family farm, so his father sent him to OSU to take a course in agriculture. The cartoons start with his arrival on campus in the autumn of 1908, where he renewed his friendship with a student athlete from Chillicothe, joined Si Eta Alfalfa fraternity, called often at the women's dormitory, and became an ardent and vocal football fan. He visited Yellowbud for the 1908 presidential election with plans to see friends in Chillicothe,
and he delivered the Yellowbud election returns by canal boat to Chillicothe. When the football season ended, the university called Teck to task for neglecting his studies, and he reluctantly returned home. [Allan Pollchik]
 A Passing Show in 1923 depicted an inscribed tombstone that he suggested might be found in the Scioto Valley: "He was a hale and hearty man / Who trusted in the Lord, / But he drove to Chillicothe / In a nineteen seven Ford. / His nervous system wilted, / Too heavy was his load; / He rattled through the pearly gates / Upon a gravel road." Lucy Caswell's Billy Ireland (2007) handsomely reproduces over 100 each of his cartoons and Passing Shows, including the ones mentioned here.
 James Thurber related in his Boy from Chillicothe article for The New Yorker in 1952, included the same year in The Thurber Album, a story Ireland told him when Thurber also was at the Dispatch in the early 1920s. "[A farmer] drove over to a preacher's house in Chillicothe one day, with the mother of his five children and the kids themselves, running in age from six months to eleven years. 'Me and Elviry want to git married,' he said. The parson was surprised and said, 'These, I take it, are the children of a previous marriage.' The farmer shook his head. 'No, they ain't, Reverend,' he said. 'Y'see, me and Elviry's been plannin' to drive over here an' git hitched ever since I met her at the huskin' bee back in 1909, but the roads has been too bad.'"
1917 Roy Pritzen wrote the lyrics and music to I'm Going Down to Chillicothe in 1917 as a tribute to the young men reporting for basic training at Camp Sherman. He ended its two verses with the chorus, "I'm going down to Chillicothe / I'm going down there right away / I'll get myself a suit of khaki / And fight for the good old U.S.A. / And when we get into the trenches / We'll make the Kaiser's hair turn grey / Conscript or not I'll be Johnny on the spot / I'm going down to Chillicothe." [Tom Castor]
1923 See 1908
1926 George S. Kaufman made a young hotel clerk from Chillicothe, Ohio, the title character in his Broadway play The Butter and Egg Man (1926), a comedy in three acts that premiered in 1925 for an impressive 243 performances. Louise Berliner in her Texas Guinan: Queen of the Night Clubs (1993) wrote that a wealthy high-roller from the Midwest at one of Guinan's clubs in New York City during Prohibition identified himself only as "a big man in dairy produce." He became known as the butter-and-egg man, an expression that later came to mean a local yokel in the big city likely to be fleeced by sharp operators. The likeable and unpretentious Peter Jones lived in Chillicothe with his mother and grandfather, who died and left Peter some money but not enough to buy the hotel where he worked, so with his mother's blessing he set out for New York to invest his money in some sure-fire enterprise. He had helped with two charity shows in Chillicothe, one of which had earned over 100 dollars, so naturally enough he thought that show business would be his ticket to success.
Former vaudevillian Joe Lehman and his partner Jack McClure were producing a new dramatic play, but rehearsals of Her Lesson were not promising, and they had trouble finding financial backers, so they were delighted to meet Peter and high-pressure him into paying 20,000 dollars for a forty-nine percent interest in the production. Lehman responded to Peter's saying he is from Chillicothe, Ohio, with "Great place! I never played it myself, but they all tell me." Kaufman didn't intend this as sarcasm. George Tyler in his Whatever Goes Up-- (1934) wrote of observing minstrel parades on Chillicothe streets and theater performances by "a steady stream of touring companies" when his hometown of Chillicothe was a community of 10,000 in the early 1900s. (C-1934) Indeed, as Malcolm Goldstein noted in his George S. Kaufman: His Life, His Theater (1979), "The choice of Chillicothe was not lacking in special meaning; it was there, in 1867, that George C. Tyler was born." Kaufman first collaborated with the celebrated theatrical producer in 1917, but Tyler was not involved in The Butter and Egg Man. (See C-1934 & C-1938)
The three partners took the show to Syracuse for a tryout, but it fared no better than in rehearsals. During a conference designed to fix the show's weaknesses, Lehman became irritated at Peter's comments, called him "nothing but a butter-and-egg man," suggested that he return "to your sap town," and fired Jane Weston, his secretary, for siding with Peter. She thought Peter commendably simple and sweet and better suited for the hotel business in Chillicothe than for the theatrical business in New York. Offended by Lehman's attacks on his character and ability, and emboldened by the fact he already had sent his mother a telegram declaring the show a big success, Peter impulsively purchased his two partners' shares for 10,000 dollars. To raise the money, he sold a forty-nine percent interest in the show for 15,000 dollars to Oscar Fritchie, the Syracuse hotel's assistant manager who knew even less than Peter about producing shows, but who fit Peter's need for a butter-and-egg man of his own.
Peter and Oscar evidently did something right because Her Lesson opened in New York to favorable reviews. A lawyer informed Peter the next day that the author of a short story on which the play was based wants two-thirds of the show's profits. This distressing news was countered by Lehman's wife telling Peter that the police want to close the show because it includes a brothel scene and that the publicity "means you'll be hanging them on the rafters." Lehman and McClure also heard that rumor and secured 100,000 dollars, hoping to use part of it to repurchase the production, but Peter, letting them believe the lawyer waiting in an anteroom was an eager investor, held out for the entire 100,000. Peter tells Oscar that Chillicothe is "a wonderful place--wonderful," that he and Jane are going to purchase a hotel there, and that "with your money too it could be made into one of the greatest hotels in the world--anywhere." The curtain falls as Peter excitedly outlines plans for the hotel and offers to sell Oscar a forty-nine percent interest. [Ken Breidenbaugh]
1932 Jean Harlow at age 21 in her first movie with top billing, Three Wise Girls (1932), plays soda-fountain worker Cassie Barnes at the Chillicothe Drug Store, a name conspicuously displayed in block letters across its front windows, in an unnamed small town. Cassie follows her close friend Gladys Kane (Mae Clarke) to make her fortune in New York City. Gladys warns Cassie about falling for men who then claim their wives won't grant them a divorce, but Cassie as a fashion model in a department store falls for tycoon Jerry Dexter (Walter Byron), and he gives her the same story when she learns he is married. The third woman in the title is Cassie's roommate in New York, played by comedian Marie Prevost, who helps keep the plot moving. Cassie, heartbroken and disillusioned but still in love with Jerry, returns to serving customers behind the store windows with the prominent block letters. Jerry, now divorced, surprises Cassie by coming to the drugstore and proposing marriage, and her ready acceptance provides the film's happy ending.
If the store's name reflects the town's name, its location with respect to New York argues that it is in Ohio, although there was no store by that name in Chillicothe. Also, the screenwriters based the script on Blonde Baby (1931) by Wilson Collison, who was born in rural Ohio fifty miles from Chillicothe and worked as a drugstore clerk in Columbus before becoming a successful author. In his book, the unnamed drugstore is in fictional Blair, Ohio, and is mentioned only in passing. The movie was a box-office failure, and Harlow wasn't pleased with it, either.
1936 & 1953a P. G. Wodehouse, the incomparable English humorist, in Laughing Gas (1936) recounts the experiences of twelve-year-old movie star Joey Cooley, who was kept on a strict diet in Hollywood while dreaming all the while of the fried chicken his mother used to cook for him in Chillicothe, Ohio, his hometown, "where hearts are pure and men are men" and he was taught "the difference between right and wrong." Wodehouse cites Chillicothe no fewer than eleven times in this short novel. He then in Ring for Jeeves (1953), published in the United States the next year as The Return of Jeeves, introduced readers to "Rosalinda Banks of the Chillicothe, Ohio, Bankses, with no assets beyond a lovely face, a superb figure and a mild talent for vers libre, [who had] come to Greenwich Village to seek her fortune and had found it first crack out of the box." (See C-2009)
1937a The song Hooray for Hollywood premiered in Hollywood Hotel (1937) and has become a standard soundtrack as Hollywood's unofficial theme song at events such as the Academy Awards. Richard Whiting's music is catchy and memorable, but Johnny Mercer's lyrics are not what the title might suggest. Rather than a tribute to what made Hollywood great, the song is a spoof on the types of entertainment and entertainers the town attracts, as in "Come on and try your luck / You could be Donald Duck / Hooray for Hollywood!" His third verse tells us "They come from Chillicothes and Padukas [sic] / With their bazookas [several possible interpretations] / To see their names up in lights / All armed with photos / From local rotos / With their hair in curlers / And legs in tights / Hooray for Hollywood!" Rather than having any one of the five Chillicothes in mind, Mercer probably needed a town's name of four syllables and hit upon a distinctive one to represent communities likely to nurture star-struck candidates for Tinsel Town. [David Butcher]
1937b Tatum Young for over half a century hires himself out as a seasonal agricultural worker in The Quiet Shore (1937), Walter Havighurst's novel about life on a large farm near Sandusky, Ohio. Young is hired there in the 1880s, but this talented and conscientious worker also is a roamer who eventually works at various jobs on farms in more than half the counties in Ohio. Havighurst lists nine towns where Young spends his wages between the seasons, with Chillicothe named first, although it is not first alphabetically. He provides no details about Young's visits, but we can be confident that Chillicotheans appreciated his one-man economic stimulus packages.
1940a W. C. Fields as a young man appeared in music halls and on the vaudeville circuit in towns large and small before becoming a star on stage and radio and in motion pictures. He also wrote humorous essays, radio scripts, Ziegfeld Follies skits, reviews of his own performances (always decidedly favorable), and movies, some popular still today (e.g., Never Give a Sucker an Even Break and The Bank Dick). His only book, Fields for President (1940), is a collection of photographs and earlier comedic writings that highlight his qualifications to lead the country.
Fields rated etiquette highly and revealed that he first appreciated its importance in 1908 while playing the Onyx Theater in Chillicothe, Ohio, in a show that featured a trained seal that stayed with its trainer in an adjoining room in the Iroquois House. One warm evening he entered the bath-between for a refreshing session in the tub, only to find the seal relaxing there between two cakes of ice. Fields made it clear that he considered the incident an imposition and stalked back to his room in high dudgeon. He later heard water sloshing in the bath-between and found the seal scrubbing the tub. With tears pouring down his face, Fields discovered in a flash that true etiquette is consideration for others. [The Onyx and the Iroquois are as imaginary as the story itself.] James Curtis provides background for the book and reasons for its lack of popular success in W. C. Fields: A Biography (2004), as does Michael Taylor in the 1971 edition of Fields for President. [Tom Castor]
1940b Titles of the novels in Conrad Richter's The Awakening Land trilogy--The Trees (1940), The Fields (1940), and The Town (1950), the latter a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1951--refer to the changing landscape as settlers transformed the Ohio Valley in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The key characters are Sayward and Portius Wheeler and their children, she a daughter of pioneers and he a Massachusetts lawyer who ventured west under suspicious circumstances.
Portius was in the Northwest Territory capital of Chillicothe in The Fields when Sayward at home gave birth to the first of their ten children. Upon returning, he excitedly reported that "The convention has ratified the constitution!" and "I was present at Chillicothe and witnessed it" and "I heard the speeches and saw the document signed." "You now live in Ohio [and] that means a new county with our own seat of justice and government!" Portius in time became the county judge, and a son of theirs became Ohio governor in The Town, but by then Chillicothe no longer would have been the capital. NBC aired a three-part The Awakening Land mini-series in 1978 starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Hal Holbrook, which is not commercially available. [Ken Roberts]
1942a Gary Cooper portrayed Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees (1942), an acclaimed depiction of his life from a schoolboy playing baseball in New York City back-lots to a baseball star becoming a legend with the New York Yankees. During a practice session when Gehrig was a stand-out on Columbia University's baseball team, a sportswriter told him the Yankees would like to talk with him. Gehrig unthinkingly responded, "The Yankees? You mean the New York Yankees?," to which the sportswriter replied "Not the Chillicothe Yankees," an amusing contrast between a dominant metropolitan team and an imaginary small-town one, regardless of which Chillicothe the scriptwriters might have had in mind. Gehrig later dropped out of Columbia to join the Yankees and went on to set numerous records from 1923 until 1939, when he was stricken at age thirty-six with the incurable degenerative nerve disease known today in the United States as Lou Gehrig's disease. The movie received eleven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress (Teresa Wright as his wife). [David Watkins]
1942b, 1946a & 1946b Three young women in The Harvey Girls by Samuel Hopkins Adams (1942) head west by train in the 1890s to a rough frontier town to join Harvey Girls already employed at one of the Harvey House restaurants along the Santa Fe Railroad. One of the three, Alma Seelye, had attended the Methodist Young Ladies' Seminary in Chillicothe, Ohio, for two years, where dancing was not allowed and she surreptitiously read dime novels. The restaurant's and employees' influence help lead the town to prosperity, and Alma in due course becomes the governor's wife.
[1946a] Johnny Mercer wrote the song On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe, with music by Harry Warren, for a 1946 movie as a rollicking tribute to the railroad that opened much of the southwest to settlers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Some verses were revised and some were added for the movie (next entry), as by having several passengers sing of their hometowns, including "Oh, I'm from Chillicothe--Ohio! / My middle name's Hi-a-wah-ee--Ohio! / I'm gonna git the gold in them thar hills / So I said good-bye-o, Ohio!" [Stan Planton]
[1946b] The Harvey Girls (1946), a gala movie musical with an all-star cast based upon the Adams novel, stars Judy Garland as Susan Bradley, who travels west by train from "a little town in Ohio" to meet her mail-order husband-to-be in the frontier town. She is befriended by a group of women on the train who are headed there to staff a new Harvey's restaurant as Harvey Girls. One of them, Alma (Virginia O'Brien), offers Susan an "award-winning Chillicothe sandwich" based on her aunt's secret recipe. Susan graciously says she always wanted to try a Chillicothe sandwich, and happily observes that it tastes like chicken. Susan becomes a Harvey Girl when she and her intended husband agree they aren't right for each other. Virginia O'Brien as Alma sings the "Oh, I'm from Chillicothe--Ohio!" hometown verse accompanied by a male chorus
(preceding entry). Alma never reveals her surname, but being from Chillicothe strongly suggests she is Alma Seelye of the Adams novel. The movie ends with Susan marrying a reformed dance-hall owner with the Harvey Girls as bridesmaids.
1947a Nelson Algren's short story, The Captain Has Bad Dreams in his collection The Neon Wilderness (1947), depicts an alleged marijuana dealer admitting simply to a Chicago police officer that he recently had been incarcerated in Chillicothe, Ohio.
1947b When the Navy discharges Lt. David McDermott at age forty-five near Chicago in 1945, he has little money, no family, no plans, and a latent aspiration to become a painter or illustrator. Charles Allen Smart tells us in Sassafras Hill (1947) that McDermott once worked in New York City, but no berth is available on direct trains, so he goes to Cincinnati to connect with one from
St. Louis. The wooded September landscapes of southern Ohio rekindle his thoughts of becoming a painter, and on the spur of the moment he leaves the train at a scheduled stop in Massieville. Readers learn that this town of about 20,000 has two paper mills, a Veterans Hospital with broad lawns and brick buildings, and a historical museum housed in a former residence, and that Great Serpent Mound and at least two wooded state parks are nearby. Everything in the novel about the town and surrounding area suggests that the fictional Massieville really is the Chillicothe founded by Nathaniel Massie. [Chillicothe Paper and Mead Paper were separate companies then.]
McDermott discovers that the town is old enough and far enough from larger cities to have a subtle and civilized character of its own, and he frequently walks from his downtown hotel to paint scenes on the outskirts of town. After seeing photographs in the museum of stately houses in the country, he finds the one named Sassafras Hill and starts to paint it. He introduces himself to Ariane Brown, a widow about forty who lives in the family home with her mother and brother and three school-age children. Their conversations in due course lead to his being hired as handyman and house servant with a room over the stable and a schedule that allows adequate daylight hours for his painting, and they soon consider themselves informally engaged.
Encouraged by the sale of some cartoons to magazines, McDermott goes to New York and does well as a freelance artist of cartoons and illustrations. A friend that summer offers to let Ariane use her cabin on Cape Cod, and she stops in New York to surprise McDermott. They leave the next morning for the Cape, where they marry, and they soon return to Sassafras Hill. [Smart moved to Chillicothe from New York in 1934 and in the best-selling R.F.D. (1938) described the real-life challenges and rewards of living on a farm near Chillicothe in the 1930s.]
1947c Ervin Drake, Jimmy Shirl, and Irving Fields declare in their song Chillicothe, Ohio (1947) that other towns in Ohio are just fine but "on that map there's a tiny dot / In my book it's the garden spot! / Chill-chill-chill-chill-chill-CHIL-LI-COTH-E O-O-hi-o," where a certain justice of the peace soon will send a couple "hon, hon, hon, hon-ey moonin'." The "Chill-chill-chill-chill-chill" phrasing appears two other times, once in rhyme with the singer's anticipated "thrill, thrill, thrill" at seeing the town again. The popularity of this song in the late 1940s and early 1950s might have brought Chillicothe to mind when other authors needed an unusual name. [Joy Gough, Tennent Hoey, Pat Medert, and Lloyd Savage]
1949 In the action movie Battleground (1949), a chaplain portrayed by Leon Ames begins a service in the field for battle-worn American soldiers during World War II's Battle of the Bulge in Belgium by asking, "Any of you from Ohio?" After receiving several affirmative replies, he adds "I'm from Chillicothe." The film won two Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay,
an honor no doubt prompted largely by that line. [Dan Marsh, Jackie Story Hummel, and Nelson Coleman]
1951a & 1961a Rex Stout is best known for creating Nero Wolfe, that cerebral and corpulent stay-at-home detective who loved fine food and rare orchids nearly as much as solving mysteries. He is nearly as well known for creating Archie Goodwin, the street-wise and witty younger detective who teamed with Wolfe as his live-in employee in a New York City townhouse and followed Wolfe's instructions and applied his own talents to help solve many of those mysteries. More importantly, Goodwin also narrated them for readers in an unequaled style admired by literary critics. It seems altogether fitting that a person of such caliber was born and raised in Chillicothe. In the novella The Cop-Killer (1951), published with two others in Triple Jeopardy (1952), a married couple illegally in the United States consulted Goodwin about leaving New York because they feared their status would be discovered. When they declared their love for this country, Goodwin replied, "Wait till you see Chillicothe, Ohio, where I was born. Then you will love it." Archie tells us in The Final Deduction (1961) that "I walked three blocks [from the district attorney's office] to a place I knew about, called Mary Jane's, where someone makes chicken pie the way my Aunt Anna used to make it in Chillicothe, Ohio, with fluffy little dumplings." [Anna Stout and Mary Glascock]
1951b Dale Van Every's The Captive Witch (1951) focused on an alliance between the British and the Shawnees to drive settlers from Kentucky. Elements of the Continental Army under George Rogers Clark, augmented by local Kentucky militias, implemented the strategy of confining the Shawnees to the area around the original Chillicothe on the Little Miami River. They succeeded in 1779 and 1780 to keep the Shawnees disorganized by burning their town, destroying their crops, and appropriating their horses. Adam Frane had spent eight of his twenty-four years on the frontier, serving with Clark in the army and then reporting directly to him in conducting reconnaissance missions at Chillicothe. The book's title refers to a young woman orphaned on the frontier and raised by Cherokees until Frane discovered her. A white preacher pronounced her a witch for espousing supernatural beliefs of the Cherokees, and she was captive to circumstances, not to anyone who restricted her freedom. [Marilu Sapashe]
1952 See 1908
1953a See 1936
1953b & 1954a The second of Marguerite Allis's three novels about the Field family's experiences on the American frontier, To Keep Us Free (1953), opens in 1797 with Ashbel and Faith Field and their five children aboard a flatboat on the Ohio River between Pittsburgh and Marietta. Fellow passengers Thomas Worthington and Edward Tiffin think Field would be a resourceful and learned addition to their new community between the Scioto River and Paint Creek, and they suggest he would find Chillicothe convenient and profitable. Worthington says he has plans in his saddlebag for a mansion to be built on land overlooking the town. Field explains that he had exchanged his Connecticut farm for a land grant in the state's Western Reserve and that he will locate his land in the wilderness abutting Lake Erie after settling his family in Marietta.
Field spends winters working as a law clerk in Marietta and summers surveying for the government and developing his property in the village that will become Cleveland. He detours to Chillicothe on one trip when he thinks a run-away nephew might be nearby. He seeks out Tiffin, who suggests they visit Worthington at his estate named Adena, and he accepts Worthington's invitation to spend the night in the temporary cabin being used until his mansion is built.
Mrs. Worthington later tells Field that Adena means Paradise. Although he is not a delegate, Field visits Chillicothe for the constitutional convention in 1802 as Worthington's guest. The two men observe the sun rise above a mountain, and Worthington presciently asks, "What symbol could be more fitting for the seal of our new state?" Speculation on Ohio's future appears in area newspapers, including Chillicothe's Scioto Gazette. Field later visits Chillicothe to take the bar exam and soon thereafter permanently moves his family and law practice to Cleveland. [Tiffin (1766-1829) became Ohio's first governor and later a U.S. senator, and Worthington (1773-1827) served as one of its first two U.S. senators and its sixth governor.]
[1954a] Brave Pursuit (1954), Allis's sequel to To Keep Us Free, picks up the story in 1815 and focuses on the life of the Fields' youngest child. Constitution "Connie" Fields was born in 1802 on the eve of the constitutional convention in Chillicothe and, in keeping with the occasion of her birth, she grows up to become an independent teenager, but Ashbel Field believes that a woman should limit her interests to husband and household. Inflamed by his refusal to allow her to attend school, and by his arranging her marriage to a widower with ten children, Connie cuts her long hair, dons boys' clothes, and at age seventeen leaves the family home in Cleveland penniless and on foot for Athens, where her brother Mal teaches at Ohio University.
Living off the land, she reaches Zanesville, where she is astonished to see her brother Zeke, who is headed west by wagon to Chillicothe on unstated business, and they travel together as far as Lancaster. When she arrives in Athens, Mal insists that she return to Cleveland, but she travels to Cincinnati, where with good fortune she becomes a domestic servant for her third brother, Jed, and starts attending school. While she is there, Jed receives a letter from their father announcing her disinheritance if she doesn't return immediately, but this doesn't deter her from pursuing her goals. She responds to a newspaper notice from a congressman in Chillicothe seeking"a young lady of education and refinement" as governess for his daughters. Duncan McArthur replies by suggesting an interview when he visits Cincinnati. That meeting goes well, and they depart the next morning on a five-day coach trip to Chillicothe, where Connie takes up residence in Fruit Hill, the McArthurs' mansion on their estate west of Chillicothe and adjacent to Thomas Worthington's Adena. The girls' father expects a formal education for them, but their mother prefers an education more consistent with the family's place in Chillicothe society. Regardless of the challenge, Connie loves the girls and the comfort of Fruit Hill, and she enjoys visiting downtown, where the streets are lined with stately houses with "pillared porticoes or wide verandas overlooking sunny gardens gorgeous with bloom."
When Connie had been at Fruit Hill for about a year, she overhears one of Duncan McArthur's business guests report on progress toward the "big ditch" between Cleveland and Portsmouth by way of Chillicothe, the Ohio and Erie Canal, in which he notes with sadness that many notable citizens would not be alive to witness its opening, including Ashbel Field, whom he said had been incapacitated by a stroke several months earlier. With the McArthurs' blessings, Connie returns to Cleveland after six years' absence in the hope of regaining her father's love and forgiveness but learns that his will disinherits her. Connie inquires in a letter to Duncan McArthur whether her return to Chillicothe would be welcomed, but his wife replies that her position has been filled "by an older woman skilled in the art of embroidery." The novel ends with Connie and her mother moving to Cincinnati, where Connie becomes engaged to a childhood acquaintance and with his wholehearted encouragement prepares to attend college. [Duncan McArthur (1772-1839) served in the house and in the senate of the Ohio General Assembly and in the U.S. House of Representatives and as the eleventh governor of Ohio. His estate included parts of present-day Brewer Heights. Fruit Hill was destroyed by fire in 1928.]
1954b Morton Thompson in Not as a Stranger (1954) traces the life of Lucas Marsh from a childhood of dreaming about becoming a doctor to a successful career as physician in small-town America after graduating in 1930. During his first year in medical school, Lucas receives a letter from his father, Job Marsh, in an envelope postmarked Chillicothe, Ohio, explaining that he is managing a harness store there after experiencing financial unpleasantness in the town where they had lived, when in fact he is a temporary clerk filling in for an ill employee. Lucas later learns that Job was bankrupt after spending all the money in a college fund his mother had set aside for him, borrowing heavily from townspeople, and forging Lucas's signature to sell property his mother left him. A second letter postmarked Chillicothe informs Lucas that Job now owns the harness store, and that is the last we hear of Chillicothe. An impoverished Job years later unexpectedly visits Lucas and asks for money. He leaves for the train station with fifty dollars, and that is the last we hear of Job.
Readers are not told in what state Lucas was born or studied medicine or practiced his profession, and the nearly twenty other towns named in the novel are fictitious and not in any named state, yet we are told that the real town of Chillicothe is in Ohio. Perhaps that was to suggest that Job moved across a state line to avoid creditors, but why specify Chillicothe? Screenwriters assigned Job a minimal role in the 1955 movie of the same title and didn't mention Chillicothe, which probably explains why so few VCRs and no DVDs were produced, despite a first-rate cast led by Olivia de Havilland and Robert Mitchum. [Lesley Howson Stavola]
1958 Science-fiction author Robert Heinlein reported in Methuselah's Children (1958) that humans in a centuries-long project on selective breeding were over 200 years old with expectations of living much longer. To escape persecution by persons not part of the experiment, one of their leaders traded his personal spacecraft for a much larger one named City of Chillicothe that could transport the participants and their progeny to safety elsewhere in the galaxy. He guided his loaded ship to an orbiting giant starship, which he high-jacked, and then sent that ship's crew to Earth in City of Chillicothe. Passengers in the pirated ship spent nearly seventy-five years in a futile search for safe refuge before most of them agreed to return to Earth, where they discovered that other humans had succeeded in greatly extending their lifetimes through periodic injections of artificial blood. [Randy Runyon]
1961a See 1951a
1961b Melly Scott documented Poke-Bonnet Kate, A folk yarn from Ross County, Ohio for the Ohio Valley Folk Research Project (Ross County Historical Society, 1961). In it, Ezra and his brother Sam are raised in the Krider's Creek community, where Ezra becomes infatuated with
local beauty Jenny, but her protective mother Kate shakes her fist and glares at any boy who approaches the house. Ezra moves to Chillicothe, but Jenny frequently is on his mind. During a visit with Sam in Krider's Creek, he learns that Jenny's mother was buried at the family home, where Jenny now lives alone. Ezra visits the house that evening and enjoys a long conversation with Jenny, whom time and toil had transformed into a stooped and rough-skinned woman. As he walks away from the house, he sees a flash of light in the woods, which he attributes to imagination, but then sees another flash accompanied by an apparition of Kate with her poke-bonnet surrounding a face covered with grave mold. It silently shakes a fist at him, and he runs all the way to Sam's place. [Perhaps the apparition was attending to business elsewhere and couldn't accost Ezra when he approached the house, or perhaps it wanted Ezra to see the aged Jenny, or perhaps this is just a ghost story and not a logic exercise.] Chris Woodyard included Poke Bonnet Kate in her book Spooky Ohio: 13 Traditional Tales (1995).
1961c & 1964 While interviewing Chad Gates (Elvis Presley) for a job as tour guide in Honolulu, the company president in the movie Blue Hawaii (1961) tests him by asking, "Now then, I am a tourist from Chillicothe, Ohio, and I want to see some night-blooming blossoms: where would you take me?" Chad's correct answer impresses the president and secures him the job, but he later starts his own tourist business. In the romantic musical Viva Las Vegas (1964), casino swimming-pool manager Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret) tells race-car driver Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley) that she was born in Las Vegas but has lived in Dubuque [Iowa]; Chillicothe, Ohio; and Helena, Arkansas. Jackson repeats "Chillicothe, Ohio" and says he never has been there. Noted screenwriter Sally Benson offers no clue to why she selected those cities. [Karen Lancaster, Don Marsh, and Anonymous]
1966a On his first day in New York City to begin life as a street hustler, a confident but soon-to-be disenchanted Joe Buck from Texas was swindled by "Ratso" Rizzo and found himself alone in a grimy hotel room with an apparently deranged evangelist. James Leo Herlihy in Midnight Cowboy (1966) wrote that the Bible-quoting preacher's voice "had some old-fashioned
element in it--a riverboat orator's elongated vowels, a medicine man's persuasion--but mostly he sounded like a plain person from Chillicothe or some such place." [The one in Texas, let's assume.] The dismissive reference to Chillicothe didn't survive the transition from paper to celluloid in the 1969 movie of the same title. Excluding that line from the movie probably contributed to its three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
1966b MAD Magazine in October 1966 sorrowfully reported the demise of Donald Duck, thirty-six, when two hunters mistook him for a wild canvasback. The short obituary noted that "Duck was born in a marsh near Chillicothe, Ohio," and became an orphan at the age of five when his parents strayed too close to a pillow factory. It acknowledged his eccentric nature and savage bursts of temper but emphasized his clever wit, "all of which was unintelligible." The notice listed survivors as his uncle Scrooge and three nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and ended solemnly by observing, "In accordance with the wishes of the family, Duck's body will be sautéed over a low flame at 300 degrees." [Henry Herrnstein and Allan Pollchik]
1966c The protagonist in Walker Percy's The Last Gentleman (1966) tries to get his bearings upon driving into an unfamiliar town in Alabama, "but there was only an old tin arrow pointing north to Chillicothe Business College, Chillicothe, Ohio, 892 miles." Percy provides no hint for the sign's puzzling existence.
1966d & 2011c Fess Parker starred in the television adventure series Daniel Boone, whose 165 episodes NBC aired over six seasons from 1964 through 1970. Much of the action centered on Boonesborough, a settlement and fort that Daniel Boone (1734-1820) founded in 1775 about fifteen miles southeast of present-day Lexington KY. Nearly every fifty-minute episode was a morality play whose producers weren't overly concerned with geographical or historical accuracy. In The Fifth Man (episode fifty-one, February 1966), the governor of Virginia during the American Revolutionary War reminded Boone that "Fort Cumberland is strategically located on the Chillicothe River," told him British troops are marching there from Detroit, and ordered him as a captain in the militia to prevent the British from taking the fort. Boone suggested that a small party of men destroy a key footbridge across the river before the British cross it and minutes later told his men "it's a long trip up the Chillicothe River" to the bridge. A scriptwriter wishing to grace a river he created couldn't do better than by calling it the "Chillicothe." [We note for the record that the real Daniel Boone disliked coonskin caps. He wore a cloth hat.]
(2011c) Daniel Boone clearly deserved his reputation as a living legend in recognition of his varied experiences on the frontier, such as the one James Murray retells in Cornerstone (2011), his novel of Americans gaining independence and opening the Ohio Valley to settlement. To replenish Boonesborough's supply of meat and salt for curing it, Boone led a group of thirty men in January 1778 to Blue Licks, an expanse of salt outcroppings that also attracted game. Shawnee warriors captured Boone and nearly all the others in February and took him and eleven men to their town of Chalagwatha where Paint Creek enters the Scioto River. All were adopted by Shawnee families, Boone by Blackfish, a tribal chief who named him Big Turtle. The captives lived as Shawnees until Boone learned in late April that the tribe was planning to attack Boonesborough that summer. He planned and executed their escape, and they returned home safely. [Boone truly was captured at Blue Licks in 1788 but was taken to a Chalagwatha on the Little Miami River, where Blackfish adopted him.]
1968 Hanna-Barbera's animated cartoon series Wacky Races aired on television between September 1968 and September 1970, introducing Saturday morning audiences to the villainous Dick Dasterly, the vivacious Penelope Pitstop, and nine other individuals or teams who race their vehicles across various parts of the United States. Two of the thirty-four episodes aired in each half-hour program, but we are interested here only in Hot Race in Chillicothe (episode sixteen, November 1968). The racers are not averse to taking shortcuts and playing dirty tricks to impede others as they "zip their zany way toward the finish line in Chillicothe, Ohio," with Penelope Pitstop finishing a few yards behind the winner. [Anonymous]
1971 A cartoon by Joseph Farris in an October 1971 issue of the former Look magazine depicts a disappointed man consulting a bearded sage high on a mountain peak and complaining, "I travel all the way from Chillicothe, Ohio, and your only advice is 'Keep your options open'?"
1978 In Thobqueh's Tale, a story by Jack Matthews collected in his Tales of the Ohio Land (1978), a young preacher named Elias travels north on horseback to Chillicothe with Roberts, a guide who assures him that "I could have worn a footpath along the Scioto bottoms all by myself, I've come to Chillicothe so many times." They are visited that evening by the title character, an aged, eccentric, and friendly Shawnee known to Roberts and many other settlers. Thobqueh was born during a solar eclipse, which he was told in a dream imbued him with supernatural powers ("strong medicine"), which he thinks he posesses. He departs the next morning, and the travelers head north to Chillicothe, where they enjoy rum and venison pie at a tavern before Roberts moves on to other business, leaving Elias to meet his new congregation and reflect on his experience with the enigmatic Thobqueh.
1979 James Thom's Long Knife (1979) deals with George Rogers Clark's military actions to keep the Ohio Valley safe for the growing number of settlers in the late 1770s. Clark regretted that independent militias opted to attack the Shawnees in original Chillicothe to retaliate for raids and massacres, rather than join his forces and attack the British at Fort Detroit. After one militia
blundered in its reckless attack against Chillicothe, Clark led a concerted offensive and soundly defeated the Shawnees when they abandoned old Chillicothe and defended their companion village Piqua, thirteen miles to the north.
1982 Helen Santmyer's ". . . And Ladies of the Club" (1982) chronicles life in fictional Waynesboro in southwestern Ohio from 1868 to 1932. Chillicothe Street as the main thoroughfare ran through downtown and was busy with buggies and wagons before arrival
of the automobile, was a standard route for political parades and demonstrations, and was the first street in town to be paved with bricks. Santmyer refers to but doesn't name Chillicothe in a somber reference to the influenza epidemic of 1918, when in "Waynesboro the railroad station platform was piled high with crated caskets waiting trans-shipment to Camp Sherman." [The fictional Waynesboro represents Santmyer's hometown of Xenia. She later wrote in her nonfictional Ohio Town (1962) that the older houses on Main Street in Xenia probably were built when it still was called Chillicothe Street, "a wide spot in the trail from Chillicothe west."]
1983a Hermit is one of fifty brief tales by Scott Sanders in Wilderness Plots (1983) about people and events in the Ohio Valley from about 1780 to 1860. A shaggy and apparently ferocious hermit lived in a cave overlooking the Scioto River eleven miles south of Chillicothe and never answered shouted greetings from river travelers. He was the subject of many rumors, including speculation that he had been raised by wolves, and most people doubted he could speak. As a group of ministers headed to Chillicothe by river passed the hermit's cave one day, he "suddenly leapt to his feet and screamed at them in a fierce unintelligible language." The ministers agreed among themselves not to tell anyone in Chillicothe about their experience in fear that residents might try to goad the hermit into other outbursts, perhaps to their detriment.
1983b Jack Matthews wrote Sassafras (1983) as Thaddeus Burke's memoir, starting with his birth in 1825 about fourteen miles from Gallipolis, Ohio. His father and other adults frequently chided him for "having too much sass" or "being full of sassafras" because of his breezy and outspoken personality. Times were tough, as Thad emphasized in writing that "a bank near Chillicothe [in 1837] listed a walnut table for its [total] capital assets." Soon after a drifter beat and sexually assaulted Thad's mother, his father heard that the man might have arrived on a stagecoach bound for Chillicothe, but he did not find him there. Thad's father, crazy with grief when his wife died as a result of the beating, sends Thad at age twelve to live with an aunt and uncle near Cincinnati. Thad attends a lecture on phrenology there, and within days at age twenty joins the phrenologist as his assistant on a tour of eastern states. He continues the lectures and demonstrations after his employer dies in an accident, extending his travels west of the Mississippi. In one impromptu display of sass, he fascinates an audience of tavern-goers in Kansas Territory with anecdotes, including "how I'd analyzed a man's cranium one night in Chillicothe, Ohio, telling him his Bump of Constructiveness was remarkable, and five years later I learned he'd invented a new type of steamboat whistle." The book concludes in 1853 when Thad at age twenty-eight joins a wagon train for Santa Fe.
1989 James Thom in Panther in the Sky (1989) depicts the Shawnees' struggle to retain their homeland and preserve their customs in the face of advancing white settlement. Much of the action in Thom's narrative centers on the original Chillicothe and on the life of the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh, whose birth sign "Panther's Eye" provided the book's title. In his story, Chillicothe in the years 1780 through 1784 was torched twice, first by the Shawnees to prevent its falling under white settlers' control, followed by its reconstruction and reoccupation by the Shawnees, and then by the settlers, followed by their reconstruction and permanent occupation as the Shawnees were forced westward. [Jim Smith]
1990 A popular story can live through retelling over the years even if historically suspect as a blend of truth and romanticized lore. An example is the account of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh's proposal of marriage to Rebecca Galloway, the teen-aged daughter of a white settler, in the late 1700s in the original Chillicothe. They were in love, each had learned the other's
language, and he had presented her many valuable gifts. She accepted his proposal on condition that he forsake his native ways and live as a white man, a condition he could not accept. They parted, never to see one another again. Canadian singer, songwriter, and guitarist James Keelaghan described in haunting lyrics and music Rebecca's feelings upon their parting in Rebecca's Lament on his album Small Rebellions (1990). Tecumseh is not mentioned by name, and Rebecca's name appears only in the title, but the album's liner notes explain why she is mourning. Each of the four verses ends with the harsh mispronunciation of the village's name, which appears in the lyrics as "Chilicote." Consider, for example, how much more pleasing this splendid line would be if it ended with a correctly pronounced "Chillicothe": "The chill that went through me is the chilled wind that blows through the soft midnight stillness of [CHILL-a-koth (long 'o')] town." Allan Eckert, the creator of Chillicothe's outdoor drama Tecumseh, in his A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh (1992) presents evidence that "the supposed romance had no basis in fact and was a whole-cloth fabrication that evidently sprang from [Rebecca Galloway's] imagination in her later years."
1994 Collin Raye left little doubt which of the five Chillicothes he had in mind while writing To the Border and Beyond as performed on his CD Extremes (1994). A "purebred hill country kicker [who] loved to drink his liquor" held up the Chillicothe Flyer [stagecoach?] and with Texas Rangers on his trail probably headed for the border on horseback. [Stan Planton and Rick Butturini]
1995 In her comedic novel Moo (1995) about academic life on Moo University's rural campus in the American midlands, Jane Smiley has a research scientist refer to a possible career move as being "sent down to the minors, but only to, say, Omaha, not to, say, Chillicothe." [Let's credit another Chillicothe (Missouri?) with this one.]
1999 The movie Chillicothe, written and directed by Todd Edwards (1999), concerns the travails of young male college graduates who ponder the meaning of life in this uncertain world. Chillicothe is mentioned only once in passing as the site of a chance meeting of a man and a woman, and its name is seen once later on a highway sign in a young man's imaginary reenactment of that meeting. Some reviews of the movie suggest it was set in Oklahoma, which would make Chillicothe, Texas, the likely town in the title.
2001 Roxie Dockery, the twelve-year-old narrator of C. L. Davis's delightful children's book The Christmas Barn (2001), lived with her parents and five siblings in a log house nearly twenty miles from the nearest post office in the North Carolina mountains. A snow storm isolated them just before Christmas in 1930, and it toppled a large pine tree that damaged the house so badly that the family moved into the barn. Mail for local residents was delivered one day a month to a church five miles from their home. December's delivery included a letter from her mother's sister who hadn't written since leaving the mountains six years earlier. She wrote that she and her husband "have settled near the town of Chillicothe, in Ohio, [which is] a good size town with a lot of people [and] there are enough families here that haven't been wiped out by the Depression to keep the store going [where I work selling] dresses and hats and such." [Debbie Dowler]
2002 A movie filmed in Chillicothe without identifying the town would not be included in this collection, just as a novel would not be included merely because its author wrote it while in Chillicothe. However, a scene filmed here might depict Chillicothe as a setting for some of the
action, even though its name is not mentioned or seen. In A Little Inside, an independently produced movie released in 2002, a professional baseball player for the Columbus Clippers portrayed by Benjamin King balances his career aspirations with the responsibilities and pleasures of a single father raising his young daughter played by Hallie Kate Eisenberg. The dialogue never mentions Chillicothe, and the name is never seen, but the camera reveals that
it captured the action at two Chillicothe sites.
Several crowd scenes and some of the action during ball games were filmed at VA Memorial Stadium, home field for the professional Chillicothe Paints. Some of the stadium's design features identify it, as does the view from the stadium past center field. John Wend of the Chillicothe Paints' organization was on hand during filming at the VA stadium, and he confirmed in a conversation (24 March 08) that many of the ball players in the film were active players on the Paints' roster. Two brief scenes were filmed in a restaurant, which viewers familiar with Dock on Water immediately will recognize, although its name is not seen or mentioned. The film's credits recognize the cooperation of the Chillicothe Paints and the Dock on Water Restaurant. [Anonymous and Stan Planton]
2004 The first episode of the three-year serialized HBO movie Deadwood in 2004 introduces two merchants newly arrived in that lawless, booming, gold-mining camp in Dakota Territory in 1876. A young man they pay to safeguard their merchandise at night volunteers that he is from Louisville, Kentucky, and the merchant played by Timothy Olyphant replies that he is from Ontario, Canada. His business partner played by John Hawkes says he was "born in Austria and grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio," before moving west and meeting his partner in Montana Territory. [Dan Marsh and Doris Rapp]
2005 (Multiple entries) Various reporters at the website unconfirmedsources.com have published hundreds of short political satires, imaginary news reports, and parodies of current events and political intrigue (each about 150 to 600 words) since January 2004. Chillicothe, Ohio, is featured in six of them and mentioned in twenty-one others through August 2011.
The authors often describe Chillicothe as beautiful, charming, fine, historic, and picturesque, all worthy compliments without a hint of satire or parody.
The website announced in January 2005 that "U.S. Marines Prepare to Liberate Falluja's Sister City: Chillicothe, Ohio" (item 588), explaining that Chillicothe once had been linked with Falluja, Iraq, through a Sister Cities program, which was sufficient reason for the Pentagon to announce plans for ridding Chillicothe of insurgents. The site a month later revealed that Chillicothe had developed seven nuclear weapons in its program of nuclear deterrence to enhance the town's safety (905), followed by an account of the FBI's investigation into this revelation (1180). It also reported that Chillicothe had changed its policies and agreed to give up its weapons and sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1186). Item 1016 described how Chillicothe was leveled to provide needed space for a mega-church's parking lot, and item 4246 announced that the trial of an international terrorist had been moved to Chillicothe from New York City.
The other items include reactions of Chillicothe residents to natural and predicted disasters (942 & 1577), congressional legislative antics (967, 984 & 1108), presidential nominations and confirmation hearings (983, 1226 & 1227), prevalence of off-color jokes (1013), corruption in the governor's office (1140), political parties and campaigns (1324, 3726, 3727 & 4320), outsourcing of a secret CIA facility (1368), bias in television news coverage (2301), quality of imported electronic products (2617) and automobiles (4044), and unanticipated effects of high oil prices (3315). In other items, a Chillicothean replaced a disgraced television evangelist (1151), and long-term resident Joseph "Joe" Sixpack offered some thoughts on an uncertain national economy (3703). [Anonymous & Stan Planton]
2006 When his wife abruptly left him, forty-year-old Starbuck in Frederick Krider's The Hurdy Gurdy Man (2006) hit the skids with a predisposition for "slipping on cosmic banana peels." The high-school English teacher's downfall became all the more precipitous when in a drunken rage he used a rifle to silence a civil-defense siren whose shrillness during routine tests evoked his wrath. News services carried an account of his arrest, and he found himself a reluctant folk hero of many across the land who thought civil-defense sirens symbolized all that is wrong with mankind, one of whom went on a cross-country campaign of shooting similar sirens before visiting Starbuck to bestow on him the nickname "The Hurdy Gurdy Man," a song written and published in 1968 by Scottish songwriter Donovan, who like Starbuck and Laszlo used only a surname.
Krider sets his novel in Anderson, Ohio, in 1989, but he lets local readers know it really is Chillicothe by revealing that the town is south of Columbus and ninety miles northeast of Cincinnati and is home to a paper mill on the south side with a tall red and white smokestack, an Elks lodge with a replica of the Statue of Liberty on Second Street, a church at the intersection of Main and Brownell streets, a popular city park with a stone bridge across a lake, and with Mound City, a VA hospital, Amish farms, North Fork creek, and the Scioto River nearby. A series of events with repercussions both comedic and distressing cost him his teaching position, but Krider assures us that Starbuck became "a different man, one hopefully better able to swing the bat at those cosmic curveballs when they are pitched his way." But we never learn if he finished his book of original poems titled How Much Is That Doggerel in the Window? [Mike Ater]
2007a, 2007b, 2007c, 2009, 2010a & 2011b Saundra Crum Akers in Tempest Rider (2007) relates that Dayton school-teacher Slate Morgan abandoned his abusive wife without notice, moved into a ramshackle house trailer in Pike County, Ohio, started teaching school in the village of Peebles, and planned to continue hiding from his wife while he filed for divorce.
He was befriended by fellow-teacher Silvia "Silver" Black, who was being stalked and harassed by her cousin Bo. As a break from their troubles, another cousin drove Silvia and Slate to Bainbridge for an evening of local music at Paint Valley Jamboree. In describing the theater's décor, Akers notes a sign on the stage announcing that the evening's performance is "sponsored by Cooper Glass Company in Chillicothe."
[2007b] Readers meet the title character in Akers' The Smelly Man (2007) as he burglarizes Faith Roberts' house near the village of Bainbridge. Locals call Zip Collins "smelly man" because of his acute sense of smell. While in Faith's house, Zip reads some pages of her dairy, which leads to their becoming friends and to his giving up the criminal life and concentrating on the legitimate aspects of his job at a salvage yard. When a murdered man's body is found in the local landfill, Zip suspects that his unscrupulous employers hid it under trash in the dump truck he uses to deliver wastes there. The action extends to the county seat and population center: the murdered man used to visit Chillicothe on unspecified business, Zip shops for groceries in Chillicothe, his son spends ten days in jail there for wildlife violations, his mother takes genealogy classes at the library, Zip's deceased brother once worked at the paper mill there, and medics take Zip to the hospital in Chillicothe when he is injured at work. Faith also shops in Chillicothe for groceries and for a Christmas gift, her closest neighbor used to cook in a restaurant there, and her son and family live in Chillicothe. Faith enjoys exploring Chillicothe's residential streets where the houses offer many fine examples of diverse architectural styles.
[2007c] The title of Akers' Spooked (2007) refers to Victory England and others who discover that Victory shares an old house she purchased in Waverly, Ohio, with two resident ghosts. Trying to discover the ghosts' identities when still alive, and why one of them resorts to violence in trying to evict Victory, occupies much of Victory's time, but she has other interests. When her mother visits from Portsmouth, Victoria defends Waverly and notes there "are also interesting things going on" in nearby Chillicothe. Victory and her female cousin go shopping in Columbus, with a stop for breakfast in Chillicothe on their way and for dinner at another Chillicothe restaurant on their return. When she and a male friend set out on a trip to Lebanon and Cincinnati, they also stop in Chillicothe for breakfast, and Chillicothe is where Victory later purchases a Christmas present for this new friend.
 Akers in The Abandoned Ghost (2009) relates the experiences of Marvin Sims's ghost that never left the barn near Greenfield where he died in 1930 until some weathered boards in which it resides are used to panel the farmhouse's family room in 2008. After seventy-eight years of isolation in the barn, the ghost learns much about the persons who share the house, and readers learn that the owner's mother and four brothers earlier had moved to Chillicothe, his grandson and a friend work at Kenworth in Chillicothe and spent an evening in a bar there, his grandson's wife considered looking for work in Chillicothe, and that the owner and a lady friend occasionally visit there.
[2010a] Chillicothe makes cameo appearances in five of Akins' novels, but the town takes center stage in Dream Buster (2010). When eighteen-year-old Holly Marx comes across old letters in the family's Chillicothe home, she discovers that she was adopted in 1991 and, even more unsettling, that Daniel and Natalie Marx purchased her for $55,000 because Daniel was ineligible to adopt a child legally. Thus starts a long search for her biological parents and an explanation of why they sold her. Holly and two investigators assemble sufficient evidence to alert the Chillicothe Police Department and the FBI, which leads to the capture of a serial killer living in Chillicothe who deals in potential adoptees for whom a middleman and lawyer in Chillicothe forges birth certificates. Holly learns that the trafficker is her father, who killed her mother, sold Holly, and raised her older brother, whom she has unwittingly known in Chillicothe for years. Readers learn along the way that Grandview Cemetery affords a fine view of town and that the Majestic Theatre served as an emergency morgue for Camp Sherman during the influenza epidemic of 1918-19.
[2011b] Zip Collins and Faith Roberts from The Smelly Man (2007) return as key characters in Akers' Whispers on the Wind (2011). Zip now lives in his only son's house in Hillsboro, and Faith, his girlfriend, lives in Zip's house in Bainbridge. Zip's son, Boyd, is in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Henrietta Davis, and Zip, Faith, and mystery-fan members of a local book club take it upon themselves to investigate a diverse range of other persons with motives to kill Henrietta. Indirectly as a result of their efforts, the real killer is discovered, and Boyd is released from prison. Faith's son lives in Chillicothe, as does Zip's widowed mother's boyfriend; a physician on the group's list of possible suspects practices medicine there, and Zip visits him in search of information and physical evidence; Zip plans to ask Faith to dinner in Chillicothe, but she is unavailable; Faith and a friend tentatively plan a shopping trip to Chillicothe; and Henrietta and a friend once visited Chillicothe for unstated reasons. The title reflects Zip's obsession with community gossip about his ancestry, past criminal behavior, and social status.
2007d U.S. Senator Corey Grace is a presidential candidate in The Race (2007), best-selling author Richard North Patterson's chronology of political distortion, deceit, and duplicity. Grace is a Republican frequently at odds with his party on scientific, human rights, and environmental issues, and many political observers think the "candidate of candor" is too independent to receive his party's presidential nomination. In considering whether to run for the Senate years earlier, he kept asking himself what purpose his election could serve. While fielding questions during an appearance leading up to the primaries, a woman in Chillicothe emphatically informed him that his purpose would be "to run our government according to a literal interpretation of the Bible" and "to save America from sin." Several months before the presidential election, the party's convention is deadlocked among three announced candidates and three governors with political aspirations, and the back-room maneuvering that follows is convoluted in the extreme. Other than Cleveland and Toledo, Chillicothe is the only community cited by the author. [Cheryl Stone]
2008a & 2011a The eighteen loosely connected stories in Donald Ray Pollack's Knockemstiff (2008) describe a range of sordid activities perpetrated, witnessed, or experienced by residents of that unincorporated area in Ross County about twelve miles southwest of Chillicothe. Knockemstiff is a real place, as are the nearly twenty other communities cited in the book, with one exception: Chillicothe is known as the fictional Meade, a nearby town where characters live or visit, but references in the stories reveal its true identity. Doubters need only look at the book's frontispiece, a map of where much of the action takes place, which shows Meade at the intersection of US 23 and US 50. Or they could read the author's "Acknowledgments," where he remembers "all my old friends and co-workers at the paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio." The paper mill is mentioned in seven of the stories. In response to a question at a book signing in Chillicothe (Book World, 22 March 08), Pollack said he referred to Chillicothe as Meade to acknowledge the Mead Paper Company's longtime contributions to the town's economy and to its role in his family's employment history, including the thirty-two years he worked at the mill, now owned by Glatfelter.
[2011a] Pollack followed his collection of short stories in Knockemstiff with The Devil All the Time (2011), a novel also set largely in Knockemstiff and Meade, Ohio, that town in Ross County with a paper mill, familiar street names and places, and distinctive surrounding landmarks. Readers are treated to two decades' worth of nefarious or criminal wrongdoing by phony preachers, philandering paramours, pandering pornographers, and other deluded or depraved deviants in Ohio, West Virginia, and on the road in many other states.
2008b Ohio poet Jack Burgess included two free-verse epitaphs that refer to Chillicothe in his collection of twenty-two poems, It's Always Gettysburg (2008). Residents of typical towns mourn the death of John F. Kennedy in November22: The Last Yankee: "Meanwhile, in the streets of Dallas, / in all the Detroit's, Dubuque's and Chillicothe's [sic], / everyone stands silent, holding their breath, / brushing tears, until the television / tells us he's dead." In Early Spring, All Over the Earth, a tribute to a man "who loved life and his fellow human beings," Burgess notes spring's arrival in "all [the planet's] exotic places, like Samarkand, Rothenberg, Des Moines, and Chillicothe."
2009 See 2007a
2010a See 2007a
2010b Glenn Karshner in Tschinque (2010) combined family folklore about his ancestors' move to frontier Ohio with factual American history and fanciful fiction. Daniel Kershner, a farmer in central Pennsylvania, hears reports of up to one-hundred acres being available free to settlers who clear at least twenty acres for productive use in the "buffer zone" between Indian lands
established by the Greenville Treaty in 1795 and the settlements of Marietta and Chillicothe. Kershner visits the land office in Chillicothe in 1796 and witnesses the town's growth during periodic visits over the next ten years as he clears land he has claimed in the Salt Creek Valley east of town. On his trip in 1797, he travels by flatboat down the Ohio River with Thomas Worthington to the Scioto River and then journeys up the Scioto Trail to Chillicothe. He easily makes friends with Worthington and many other leaders in Ohio, including William Henry Harrison, Nathaniel Massie, Duncan McArthur, and Edward Tiffin.
Shawnee chief Tecumseh was the only major chief not to sign the Greenville Treaty, and settlers were well aware of his animosity toward them. Kershner could speak Algonquin, a language better known in Ohio as Shawnee, and when political leaders learn in 1796 that Tecumseh will participate in a powwow in Salt Creek Valley with six other chiefs, Kershner agrees to spy on the proceedings. Tecumseh at the powwow argues that the tribes should present a united front against white settlements, but the other chiefs prefer to honor the treaty. While traveling to Chillicothe to report on what he had seen and heard, Kershner saves Tecumseh's nine-year-old son Elkhart and uncle Blackfish from an attacking panther at Old Man's Cave. When he learns what had happened, Tecumseh proclaims that Kershner henceforth would be known as "Tschinque" [T-chink-wa, meaning large lion]. Kershner and Tecumseh soon become fast friends, with Tecumseh assuring Kershner that he could live peacefully in Salt Creek Valley.
Kershner with his wife and children on his sixth trip to Ohio join a wagon train to their new home in 1807. He later that year serves as translator when Tecumseh and three other chiefs meet with Worthington at Adena to discuss encroachment by settlers into Indian lands, discussions that end favorably with sharing of a peace pipe, evidently the one on display today at Adena Mansion and Gardens.
2010c Humorist and book author Jim Mullen offered readers of his syndicated newspaper column in March 2010 several satirical examples of what happened to recipients of a chain letter who did, or didn't, relay the letter to twenty others as instructed. Those who did in Chain of Fools reaped fabulous financial rewards, while those who didn't "believe in the power of the chain" suffered unexpected financial reverses. Unfortunately, "Todd B. of Chillicothe, Ohio, [who] thought chain mail was something nerds wore at Renaissance fairs," broke the chain and consequently lost all the money in his retirement account, and the lender foreclosed on his house. Mullen in an email later that month said he chose Chillicothe as Todd's hometown because he was in military service with a fellow from Chillicothe and thinks it is a name "just fun to say out loud" [Josh Jarman]
2011a See 2008a
2011b See 2007a
2011c See 1966d
** Pearl R. Nye was born on a family boat docked in Chillicothe on the Ohio and Erie Canal in 1872 and became a canal boat captain who wrote and collected songs of the times. His Chillicothe opens with "In Chillicothe where I was born" and continues for forty lines to describe his life on the canal and activities on the waterfront, emphasizing that "Chillicothe was a great canal town, / Yes, she drew everything for miles around." The lyrics appear in various historical publications, including John Grabb's authoritative The Canal--Its Rise and Fall in Ross County (1985). Several verses of "Chillicothe" and of two other songs by Nye that briefly mention Chillicothe, The Old Canal ("Chillicothe, ah so grand") and Canal Towns ("Chillicothe is a lively place"), are included in Folk-Song Sampler (Lyrics) of People, Places and Events of Ross County, compiled by Lloyd Savage for the Ross County Bicentennial Commission (1998). [Lloyd Savage and Joy Gough]
** Country singer and songwriter Johnny Paycheck (born Donald Lytle), in a concert while confined in the Chillicothe Correctional Institute (CCI) in 1989 for wounding a man with a firearm, sang Chillicothe,You Got a Hold on Me, which included that title line followed by "There's a lot of places I'd rather be." It appears that songwriter Billy Don Burns wrote it for Paycheck's sole CCI performance, and it never was recorded or published, but Paycheck's fans keep the lyrics alive. [Rick Butturini]
** Ohio celebrates Statehood Day on March 1 to commemorate the first meeting of its General Assembly in 1803 in the capital city of Chillicothe. In 1984, the Chillicothe Kiwanis Club celebrated the day by announcing that Chillicothe, with lyrics and music by J. D. Jewell, had won its Chillicothe Song Contest. Jewell copyrighted and privately published the song as sheet music in 1986, unofficially declaring it "The Official City Song." The twenty-six-line Chillicothe starts with the sun rising over Mt. Logan to shine on the Scioto River and the "garden spot of O-hi-o" and concludes with the assurance that "I'll always have this longing for my Chillicothe home." Lloyd Savage, a Kiwanian and the Chillicothe High School music director at the time, noted in a July 2009 conversation that club members sang the song on at least two occasions, probably Statehood Days, and that he had written two arrangements of it. Unfortunately, neither Kiwanis Club records nor Ross County Historical Society files include an account of the contest, and nothing about it appears in February or March issues of Chillicothe Gazette.
C-1934 George Tyler (1867-1946) in his memoir of decades in the theater business, Whatever Goes Up-- (1934), wrote that the Chillicothe of his boyhood "was the finest little place in the world [but] not even well enough known yet for the wise-cracker to have got busy with its good old Indian name the same way they used to get funny about [other towns' names]," which might suggest that the wise-crackers used it to their advantage later. He confessed to thinking in later years that "Chillicothe sounded too small and a little comic," so when asked while working in California where he was raised "I always said Cincinnati." (See 1926 & C-1938)
C-1938 Authors of the Federal Writers' Project of Ohio in its guide Chillicothe and Ross County (1938) observed that Chillicothe is "proud of its beginnings and of its progress in the new American scene" and that "[t]he word Chillicothe is a part of the American language [and] has come to have definite meaning, particularly to persons who have never been in Chillicothe." What meaning, they didn't say, but they added that Chillicothe "is a funny word and has been used as a sure-fire laugh in some of the plays produced by George Tyler, a Chillicothe boy." What plays, they didn't say, and neither did Tyler (See 1926 & C-1934).
C-1942 Novelist and short-story writer Philip Wylie (1902-1971) turned his imaginative mind to social criticism in Generation of Vipers (1942), a lengthy examination of the human condition, which he found sadly lacking in nearly every respect. He reminded his readers that the men and women responsible for this "horrid mess" were "from an environment as modern as that of Chillicothe, or my own city of Miami Beach." The context in which he wrote that line makes clear that it was not a denunciation of Chillicothe, but rather an insightful recognition that not even a community as stable and upstanding as Chillicothe could curb the regrettable tendencies of our species toward hypocrisy and self-delusion. Wylie did not explain in his annotated edition of Vipers in 1955 why he chose Chillicothe as his estimable American town. [Tom Burke]
C-2009 The introduction to this report and assorted entries note the frequent uncertainty about why authors associated their characters with Chillicothe. Let's engage in some literary speculation about two of them, P. G. Wodehouse and Rex Stout. Wodehouse in Laughing Gas (1936) recounted the experiences of a child movie star who in Hollywood dreams of the fried chicken his mother used to cook for him in Chillicothe, Ohio, his hometown, which Wodehouse cited eleven times in that short novel (1936). In Ring for Jeeves (1953), Wodehouse introduced readers to a young woman from Chillicothe, Ohio, who finds her fortune in Greenwich Village (1953a).
Wodehouse scholar Norman Murphy in his A Wodehouse Handbook (2006) could not suggest a specific reason why Wodehouse selected Chillicothe as the hometown of Joey and Rosalinda, other than perhaps to further a private joke or to contrast Chillicothe to the bustling life of Hollywood and New York. Any small town could satisfy the second possibility. If a private joke, could it have been shared with Rex Stout, who created Chillicothe native Archie Goodwin? (1951a) Stout's biographer, John McAleer, knew Stout well and in Rex Stout: A Biography (1977) related that Stout's maternal great- great-grandfather in 1805 purchased 1,200 acres of the original tract on which Nathaniel Massie founded Chillicothe in 1796, that his mother's family in the 1890s had known Chillicothe well for ninety years, and that Stout had been in Chillicothe at least once as a child. McAleer quoted Stout as saying that "Chillicothe is a funny word, without being silly." (See 2010c, C-1934 & C-1938 also)
These two authors thought highly of each other's literary achievements. Wodehouse, for instance, wrote the introduction to McAleer's book about Stout. It would seem reasonable to assume that Stout referred to Chillicothe first because of his family's connection to the area, but Stout didn't mention the town until fifteen years after Wodehouse published Laughing Gas. Archie Goodwin tells readers in Over My Dead Body (1939) that he is from Ohio, but he doesn't reveal until The Cop Killer in 1951 that he was born in Chillicothe (1951a). We might speculate that Stout's use of Chillicothe was triggered, consciously or subconsciously, by Wodehouse's repeated reference in Laughing Gas to the town Stout already knew. But what prompted Wodehouse to use Chillicothe in the first place?
One possibility is Wodehouse's friend George S. Kaufman, whose highly successful Broadway comedy, The Butter and Egg Man, premiered in 1925 (1926). The title character is a young hotel clerk from Chillicothe, Ohio, who profitably invests in a play in New York and returns to Chillicothe to purchase the hotel. Malcolm Goldstein noted in his George S. Kaufman: His Life, His Theater (1979) that Kaufman chose Chillicothe because it was the hometown of George C. Tyler, the celebrated theatrical producer, as noted in C-1934, with whom Kaufman first collaborated in 1919, although Tyler was not involved in The Butter and Egg Man. It seems safe to think that Wodehouse as a literary critic, Broadway lyricist, and friend of Kaufman would have seen the play or read the script sometime in the decade between its opening and his publication of Laughing Gas. Wodehouse many years later adapted The Butter and Egg Man for his novel Barmy in Wonderland (1952), in which Chillicothe becomes the fictional Bessemer, Ohio. He split the royalties for that book evenly with Kaufman, and he dedicated the same book published that year in the United States as Angel Cake to Mr. G. S. K.
Or perhaps Wodehouse just passed through Chillicothe on one of his six cross-country train trips to or from Hollywood in 1929 through 1937. But he didn't have to be in Chillicothe, of course, or even to have heard of it. All he needed was a map of the Midwest to discover Chillicothe, Dubuque, Kalamazoo, Kokomo, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and other unusual names.
A shorter version of this commentary appeared as Why Chillicothe? in Plum Lines, the quarterly journal of the Wodehouse Society (Fall 2009), concluding with the observation that "those of us here in Joey's and Rosalinda's hometown would be delighted to hear from readers who might point us toward the answer." None did.
Authors and Publications Cited as Primary Sources for the Entries
(Bold-faced identifier refers to date of publication and chronological order of appearance in text.)
A Little Inside (movie, 2002)
Adams, Samuel, The Harvey Girls (1942b)
Akers, Saundra, Dream Buster (2010a)
____, Spooked (2007c)
____, Tempest Rider (2007a)
____, The Abandoned Ghost (2009)
____, The Smelly Man (2007b)
____, Whispers on the Wind (2011b)
Algren, Nelson, The Captain Has Bad Dreams (story in The Neon Wilderness, 1947a)
Allis, Marguerite, To Keep Us Free (1953b)
____, Brave Pursuit (1954a)
Anonymous, Donald Duck Killed in Hunting Accident (MAD Magazine "obituary", 1966b)
Battleground (movie, 1949)
Blue Hawaii (Elvis Presley movie, 1961c)
Burgess, Jack, It's Always Gettysburg (two poems, 2008b)
Daniel Boone, (Fifth Man episode in television series, 1966d)
Davis, C.L, The Christmas Barn (2001)
Deadwood (serialized television movie, 2004)
Drake, Ervin, Jimmy Shirl & Irving Fields, Chillicothe, Ohio (song, 1947c)
Edwards, Todd, Chillicothe (movie, 1999)
Farris, Joseph, (Look magazine cartoon, 1971)
Fields, W.C., Fields for President (1940a)
Havighurst, Walter, The Quiet Shore (1937b)
Heinlein, Robert, Methuselah's Children (1958)
Herlihy, James, Midnight Cowboy (1966a)
Ireland, William, Tech Haskins at Ohio State (1908)
____, Passing Show (Columbus Dispatch weekly feature, 1923)
Karshner, Glenn, Tschinque (2010b)
Kaufmann, George, The Butter and Egg Man (play, 1926)
Keelaghan, James, Rebecca's Lament (song in Small Rebellions album, 1990)
Krider, Frederick, The Hurdy Gurdy Man (2006)
Matthews, Jack, Thobqueh's Tale (story in Tales of the Ohio Land, 1978)
____, Sassafras (1983b)
Mercer, Johnny & Richard Whiting, Hooray for Hollywood (song, 1937a)
Mercer, Johnny & Harry Warren, On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe (song, 1946a)
Mullen, Jim, Chain of Fools (syndicated newspaper column, 2010c)
Murray, James, Cornerstone (2011c)
Patterson, Richard, The Race (2007d)
Percy, Walker, The Last Gentleman (1966c)
Pollack, Donald, Knockemstiff (eighteen stories, 2008a)
____, The Devil All the Time (2011a)
Pritzen, Roy, I'm Going Down to Chillicothe (song, 1917)
Raye, Collin, To the Border and Beyond (song in CD Extremes, 1994)
Richter, Conrad, The Fields (1940b)
Sanders, Scott, Hermit (tale in Wilderness Plots, 1983a)
Santmyer, Helen, . . . And Ladies of the Club (1982)
Scott, Molly, Poke-Bonnet Kate (1961b, story in Chris Woodyard, Spooky Ohio, 1995)
Smart, Charles Allen, Sassafras Hill (1947b)
Smiley, Jane, Moo (1995)
Stout, Rex, The Cop-Killer (1951a, novella in Triple Jeopardy, 1952)
____, The Final Deduction (1961a)
The Harvey Girls (Judy Garland movie, 1946b)
The Pride of the Yankees (Gary Cooper movie, 1942a)
Thom, James, Long Knife (1979)
____, Panther in the Sky (1989)
Thompson, Morton, Not as a Stranger (1954b)
Three Wise Girls (Jean Harlow movie, 1932)
Thurber, James, Boy from Chillicothe (The New Yorker magazine article, 1952)
Van Every, Dale, The Captive Witch (1951b)
Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley movie, 1964)
Wacky Races (Hot Race in Chillicothe episode in multiyear television series, 1968)
Woodhouse, P.G., Laughing Gas (1936)
____, Ring for Jeeves (1953a, aka The Return of Jeeves, 1954)
Unconfirmed Sources (website, multiple entries starting 2005)