Biographies & Memoirs of Ohio People – Life Stories

Free online biographies & memoirs of people from Ohio; many famous & some lesser-known but interesting people. Includes Authors, musicians, social activists, politicians, entertainers, presidents, entrepreneurs, pioneers and more. There are also ‘collective biographies’ of hundreds of men and women throughout Ohio.

Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.

Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Quite often they have two or more copies.


Go Down to Collective Biographies


Ohio Biography Collection

About 250 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Ohio Biography”. Be patient as the page loads.

Roger Ailes Off Camera: An Inside Look at the Founder and Head of Fox News

Chafets, Zev
Sentinel 2013       

“Roger Ailes is the quintessential man behind the curtain. He more or less invented modern political consulting and helped Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush win their races for the White House. Then he reinvented himself as the creator and leader of Fox News, the most influential news network in the country. To liberals, Ailes is an evil genius … To conservatives, he’s a champion of free speech and fair reporting whose values and view of America reflect their own.” – Book cover

Ailes, Roger Eugene (1940-2017)

See our Biography Page for free online biographies of many historical figures

Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees

Sugden, John

“Blue Jacket (ca. 1743-ca. 1808), or Waweyapiersenwaw, was the galvanizing force behind an intertribal confederacy of unparalleled scope that fought a long and bloody war against white encroachments into the Shawnees’ homeland in the Ohio River Valley. Blue Jacket was an astute strategist and diplomat who, though courted by American and British leaders, remained a staunch defender of the Shawnees’ independence and territory. In this arresting and controversial account, John Sugden depicts the most influential Native American leader of his time.” -Book jacket

Contents: Blue Jacket’s People — Beginnings — Defending the Dark and Bloody Ground — The Second War for Kentucky — Trouble Is Coming upon Us Fast — The War for Ohio — Tomahawks and Tobacco — We Are Determined to Meet the Enemy — General Blue Jacket and Arthur St. Clair — All the Nations Are Now of One Mind — Just Rights and an Uncertain War — The Expedition to Fort Recovery — The Final Battle — We Must Think of War No More — Living with Peace — Uneasy Retirement — Voices from the West.

Bluejacket (ca. 1743-ca. 1808)

Erma Bombeck: A Life in Humor

Edwards, Susan
Avon 1997       

“A housewife turned beloved, nationally known humorist, Erma Bombeck first began focusing a wry critical eye on the American family back when June Cleaver, not Roseanne, was the accepted model for middle-class motherhood. For more than three decades, she charmed a nation with her sassy irreverence for long-held traditions, tempered by delightful good humor…and, always deep, abiding love.” – Book jacket

Bombeck, Erma Louise (1927-1996)

Books and articles about work, medical care, business & industry, etc. at Ohio Economic History

Early Years on the Western Reserve: With Extracts from Letters of Ephraim Brown and Family, 1805-1845

Wing, George C.
Cleveland: Clark 1916

Ephraim Brown was apparently a wealthy and well-educated man who bought a large plot of land in Trumbull County in the Western Reserve in 1814; moving his family there in the following year from New Hampshire. This book is a biography making use of extended quotes from Brown’s correspondence. That correspondence doesn’t contain many details or description of Dayton, or even of the material aspects of the Browns’ lives. The correspondence instead contains commentary on the political issues of the day, advice from father to children on career, education and other subjects, and in general provides a window into the mental perspectives and preoccupations of people of that class and era.

Also see histories of Cleveland and the Western Reserve in: History of Ohio Cities, Counties & Regions

Brown, Ephraim (1775-1845)

A Righteous Cause: The Life of William Jennings Bryan

Cherney, Robert W.
University of Oklahoma 1994       

“Three times the Democratic Party’s nominee for president (1896, 1900, and 1908), and Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryan voiced the concerns of many Americans left out of the post—Civil War economic growth. In this book, Robert Cherny traces Bryan’s major political crusades for a new currency policy, prohibition, and women’s suffrage, and against colonialism, monopolies, America’s entry into World War I, and the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Drawing on Bryan’s writings and correspondence, Cherny presents Bryan’s key role in the Democratic party’s transformation from a proponent of minimal government to an advocate of active government.” – Book cover

Bryan, William Jennings (1860-1925)

Johnny Appleseed, a Voice in the Wilderness: The Story of the Pioneer John Chapman. Centennial Tribute

Hatcher, Harlan, and Marshall, Leslie
Paterson, N.J: Swedenborg Press. 1945

John Chapman (1774-1845), often called Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as the northern counties of present day West Virginia. He became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples. He was also a missionary for The New Church (Swedenborgian) and the inspiration for many museums and historical sites such as the Johnny Appleseed Museum in Urbana, Ohio and the Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center in between Lucas, Ohio and Mifflin, Ohio. -Wikipedia entry “Johnny Appleseed”

Chapman, John (1774-1845)

The Life of Philander Chase: First Bishop of Ohio and Illinois, Founder of Kenyon and Jubilee Colleges

Smith, Laura C.
NY: Dutton. 1903

Philander Chase (1775-1852) grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from Dartmouth. He worked as a missionary in western New York, had a church post in New Orleans, and then was rector of Christ’s Church in Hartford, Conn. He went to Ohio in 1817 to build up the Episcopal church, becoming Bishop of the church there in 1819. In 1824 he founded and became the president of Kenyon College and Bexley Hall seminary in Gambier, OH. In his last years he founded Jubilee College in Peoria, IL.

Chase, Philander (1775-1852)

Salmon Portland Chase

Hart, Albert H.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. 1889

Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873) was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States.

“It is not the purpose of this volume to give a detailed account of Mr. Chase’s private life, nor even to describe fully his long, eventful, and varied public career, but rather to present him as the central figure in three episodes which are of great historic importance, – the Western political anti-slavery movement, the financial measures of the Civil War, and the process of judicial reconstruction.”
-author’s Preface

Chase, Salmon Portland (1808-1873)

Works of Fiction set in Ohio

“The Original Diary of Mrs. Laura (Downs) Clark, of Wakeman, Ohio; from June 21 to October 26, 1818”

The Firelands Pioneer XXI 1920 2308-2326

Clark, Laura (Downs)
Norwalk, OH: Firelands Historical Society

Mrs. Clark and her husband Dr. Hermon Clark were the second or third family to settle in Wakeman, arriving June 19, 1818, where they lived in a log cabin. In this diary she recorded her daily activities as well as her unhappiness with the isolation of the frontier.

Clark, Laura Downs (1798-1863)

Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad …

being a brief history of the labors of a lifetime in behalf of the slave, with the stories of numerous fugitives, who gained their freedom through his instrumentality, and many other incidents

Coffin, Levi
Cincinnati: Western Tract Society. 1876

Levi Coffin (1798-1877) was a Quaker who, with his wife Catharine, sheltered over a hundred escaping slaves per year while living in Fountain City (then Newport) in Wayne County, IN from 1826 to 1847. Their home was known as ‘Grand Central Station’ on the Underground Railroad because of the scale of their work. He then moved to Cincinnati, OH where he continued to be very active in the Underground Railroad. One of the slaves they helped was immortalized as Eliza, the heroine of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
– From Indiana Historical Society

Also see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

For biographies of people in the American abolition movement, see:
– Swift, Lindsay, William Lloyd Garrison in Century Past Biographies: G & H
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, Frederick Douglass in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F;
Haviland, Laura S. , A Woman’s Life-Work in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Coffin, Levi (1798-1877)

Find 14 more subject pages of books and articles about Ohio at the History of the Great Lakes States Directory.

The Life, Journals, and Correspondence of Manasseh Cutler, LL.D.

Cutler, William Parker, and Cutler, Julia Perkins, eds.
Cincinnati: Clarke 1888

Manasseh Cutler (1742-1823) was a Massachusetts clergyman when he became a founding member of the Ohio Company of Associates and played a role in the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. He negotiated with Congress for the Ohio company to purchase 1.5 million acres of land in Ohio for 8 cents per acre, then led the first group of settlers to Ohio. In 1888 the group established Marietta. In the following year Cutler returned to Massachusetts, where he was involved in state government for the next two decades.

Cutler, Manasseh (1742-1823)

“Dr. Daniel Drake’s Memoir of the Miami Country, 1779-1794”

Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, Quarterly Publications XVIII (April-Sep 1923) 45-94

Drake, Daniel. edited by B. W. Bond
City, Publisher

This link takes you to a list of journals, not directly to the article. Click on “Quarterly Publication of the HPSO 1906-1923” and go to volume 18, no.2-3.

This is an historical account of the early history of Cincinnati and its region.

For more works by Dr. Daniel Drake, see the Ohio Social History page of this website. For more information about Dr. Drake, see Daniel Drake and his Followers, by Otto Juettner on this page, and also see the biographical sketch “Dr. Daniel Drake, the Franklin of Cincinnati”, p. 299 in Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley, by W. H. Venable, on the Ohio Cultural History: Education, Recreation, the Arts page of this website.

Drake, Daniel (1785-1852)

Daniel Drake and his Followers: Historical and Biographical Sketches, 1785-1909

Juettner, Otto
Cincinnati: Harvey. 1909

Daniel Drake (1785-1852) was a physician and writer who established a medical practice in Cincinnati in 1807. He helped organize the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati in 1819, and in 1827 founded the Western Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences, which he edited until 1848.

This volume is a history of the medical profession and medical colleges in Cincinnati and Ohio that also contains numerous brief biographical sketches.

Also see:
– Dittrick, Howard, “The Equipment, Instruments and Drugs of Pioneer Physicians of Ohio” in Ohio Economic History
Kemper, G. W. H., A Medical History of the State of Indiana in Indiana Economic History;
Zeuch, Lucius H., M.D., compiled, History of Medical Practice in Illinois in Illinois Economic History;
Michigan State Medical Society, Medical History of Michigan (Volume 1) in Michigan Economic History
Frank, Louis Frederick (Dr.), The Medical History of Milwaukee: 1834-1914 in Wisconsin Economic History

Drake, Daniel (1785-1852)

The Ohio Hunter; or, A Brief Sketch of the Frontier life of Samuel E. Edwards, the Great Bear and Deer Hunter of the State of Ohio

Edwards, Samuel E.
Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald 1893

Edwards, Samuel E. (1810- ?)

Mike Fink; A Legend of the Ohio

Bennett, Emerson
Cincinnati: James 1853

Fink (1770/1780 – c. 1823) “called “king of the keelboaters”, was a semi-legendary brawler and river boatman who exemplified the tough and hard-drinking men who ran keelboats up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.”
– Wikipedia entry

Fink, Mike (1770/1780 – c. 1823)

General histories and works that don’t fit the descriptions for other pages are in The History of Ohio

Timothy Flint, Pioneer, Missionary, Author, Editor, 178O-1840: …

the story of his life among the pioneers and frontiersmen in the Ohio and Mississippi Valley and in New England and the South

Kirkpatrick, John Ervin
Cleveland: Clark 1911

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.

“Timothy Flint was a conspicuous man at the end of the eighteenth and in the early decades of the nineteenth centuries. He was preacher, pioneer, editor, and novelist, and contributed to the London ‘Athenaeum’ the first sketch of American literary history. What drew the attention of the religious world of the day to this versatile genius was the fact that his chemical studies led his parishioners to think that he was counterfeit, just as Pope Sylvester II, for somewhat similar reason, was accused of being in league with the devil.
… It throws considerable light on the history of our country, its literature, and its press in the period between 1780 and 1840, particularly as regards the pioneer and frontiersmen in the Ohio and Mississippi valley, in New England and Virginia.”
– The Book Review Digest

You can find books that Flint authored on this website, on these pages: Ohio Novels and Historical Fiction, Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction, Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes, and Great Lakes General History

Flint, Timothy (1780-1840)

Reminiscences of James A. Garfield

with notes preliminary and collateral

Fuller, Corydon E.
Cincinnati: Standard 1887

Garfield, James A., U.S. President (1831-1881)

Ulysses S. Grant

Bunting, Josiah III
Times 2004       

Grant is generally portrayed as a highly successful General but an inept President, whose administration was characterized by scandal. “But this assessment, Josiah Bunting III argues, is both caricature and cliché. Grant came to Washington in March 1869 to lead a country still bitterly divided by the legacy of the Civil War. . . Grant committed himself to reunite and reforge the Union, and to resurrect and strengthen Abraham Lincoln’s greatest legacy: full citizenship for the former slaves and their posterity. In these missions he succeeded.” – Book jacket

Grant, Ulysses S. (1822-1885)

Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Vol 1

Volume 2

Grant, F. D., ed.
Century 1909

DDC: Biography

“Grant’s simple record of his own life is a true classic. Covers his life to the close of the Civil War.”
— A.L.A. Catalog 1926
When one considers that the writer was a man of action, altogether without experience in literary work, one is surprised at the remarkable skill with which the narrative is written. The sentences often have the same pithy directness and brevity that marked his despatches from the field of battle. As a general he mastered details but was not overwhelmed by them: so here, he sees the whole field and leads the reader easily along from one principal event to another. The native simplicity and lack of affectation so characteristic of the author are noticeable features of the work.”
– Standard Catalog for Public Libraries : Biography Section (1927)

Grant, Ulysses Simpson, U. S. President (1822-1885)

Zane Grey: Romancing the West

May, Stephen J.
Ohio University 1997       

“His novels are legendary: Riders of the Purple Sage, Betty Zane, The Vanishing American, and his characters are unforgettable: Jim Lassiter, Bern Venters, Lew Wetzel, Buck Duane, and Madeline Hammond. His settings are colorful, austere, and filled with romantic mystery. In the early twentieth century, Zane Grey not only defined the cowboy hero and captured the Western landscape, he created one of the most elaborate and memorable bodies of folklore in American literature. Who was the man behind the legend?” – Book jacket

Grey, Pearl Zane (1872-1939)

Books and articles on Native American tribes in historic Ohio

“The Life of Charles Hammond. The First Great Journalist of the Old Northwest.”

Ohio History XLIII (1934) 337- 427.

Weisenburger, F. P.
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society

Charles Hammond (1779-1840) was a politician, attorney and journalist. Raised and educated in Virginia, he moved to Ohio in 1803 and began practicing law. He served in the state legislature from 1813 to 1822, and from 1823 to 1838 served as the reporter of the Ohio Supreme Court. He practiced law throughout this time. He also edited the Ohio Federalist from 1812 to 1818, and the Cincinnati Gazette from 1826 to 1840.

Hammond, Charles (1779-1840)

Warren G. Harding – The Man

Chapple, Joe Mitchell
Boston: Chapple 1920

Harding, Warren G., U.S. President (1865-1923)

The Life of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Vol 1

Volume 2

Nineteenth President of the United States

Williams, Charles Richard
Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1914

Hayes, Rutherford Birchard, U.S. President (1822-1893)

Recollections of Life in Ohio, from 1813-1840

Howells, William Cooper
Cincinnati. 1895

This is a narrative of William Cooper Howell’s life to age 37 and a portrait of life in early eastern Ohio, written at the end of his life and completed by his son, the literary figure William Dean Howells. William C. Howells immigrated to the U.S. with his parents from Wales as a boy, and the family eventually made its way to a farm in Ohio. Much of this book is about life as a farmer, but also includes the author’s various attempts at making a living as a teacher, printer, and editor. An unusually literate and reflective memoir of rural life.

Howells, William Cooper (1807-1894)

My Year in a Log Cabin

Howells, William Dean
NY: 1893

William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was an American realist author and literary critic. Nicknamed “The Dean of American Letters”, he was particularly known for his tenure as editor of the Atlantic Monthly as well as his own prolific writings, including the Christmas story “Christmas Every Day” and the novel The Rise of Silas Lapham.
Wikipedia entry for “William Dean Howells”

This short book is a recollection of when, in 1850, his father moved the family to a new town where they lived in an old log cabin. It is filled with anecdotes about small-town and rural life in Ohio. Also of interest is the autobiography of Howells’ father, William Cooper Howells, found on this web page.

Howells, William Dean (1837-1920)

Years of my Youth

Howells, William Dean
NY: Harper and Brothers 1916

William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was possibly Ohio’s greatest literary figure. His father migrated to Ohio by flatboat and keelboat, and moved about within Ohio often as he followed his trade of printer and editor. William Dean was born at Martin’s Ferry on the Ohio River, and lived at Hamilton, Dayton, Columbus and Jefferson. He published over 100 books in his lifetime and served as editor of Atlantic and Harpers; probably the most significant literary magazines in the U.S. at the time. See the books by William Dean Howells and his father, William Cooper Howells, on this page.

See also: Howells, William Dean, Stories of Ohio in Ohio Novels and Historical Fiction

“This volume of reminiscences has Ohio for its scene. It begins with his childhood, but the incidents that made up “A boy’s town” are passed over lightly. Youth with Its ambitions and dreams are dealt with more fully and we see the author setting type, writing sketches for the Ohio Farmer and poems for the Atlantic Monthly, rejoicing equally over an acceptance by either. During the critical years preceding the civil war he was serving on the staff of the Ohio State Journal and taking a part in vital events. The autobiography is carried only to the time when Mr. Howells went abroad as consul at Venice, this step marking his departure from his native state.”
– The Book Review Digest

Howells, William Dean (1837-1920)

“Samuel Huntington: A Connecticut Aristocrat on the Ohio Frontier”

Ohio History 89 (Autumn 1980): 419—38.

Brown, Jeffrey Paul
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society

This article traces Huntington’s career, and provides information about early Ohio state politics, during the period 1800-1812. “Born to one of Connecticut’s most prominent families, [Huntington] moved to frontier Ohio, became one of the leading figures in Great Lakes politics, and headed the coalition of conservative Republicans and Federalists that broke the liberal Republican hold in the state. An aristocratic leader in a democratic society, Huntington’s career illustrates the ease with which a prominent easterner could win high office in the sparsely settled West.” p. 419

Huntington, Samuel (1731-1796)

Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay

Coffey, Thomas M.
Crown 1986       

“In World War II he was so daring, ingenious, and effective, first against the Germans and then the Japanese, that he became America’s most famous air commander – in the minds of most experts the greatest this country has ever produced… He devised some of the most innovative aerial strategies of the Second World War, including the low-level B-29 attacks that devastated Japan. After the war LeMay instituted the Berlin Airlift … And later he developed the Strategic Air Command, America’s first line of defense and deterrence.” -Book jacket

LeMay, Curtis Emerson (1906-1990)

“Logan, The Mingo Chief 1710-1780”

Ohio History XX, April 1911/Number 2, 137-75.

Thwaites, Reuben Gold
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society

Logan (1723? -1780) was a war leader born in the Cayuga nation in the Iroquois Confederacy. He moved to the Ohio Country in the 1760s, and his revenge for the massacre of members of his family by American frontiersman in 1774 sparked a period of Indian wars along the border. “Logan’s Lament” was a speech supposedly made by him later that year, which became very well-known in American history.

This biography is from the collection of Lyman Draper manuscripts at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Also see: Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes and Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History

For more about prominent Native American leaders in the Old Northwest, see:
– Various books and articles on Tecumseh, The Prophet, Logan, Cornstalk, Bluejacket and Joseph Brant in Biographies & Memoirs in Great Lakes History
Cole, Cyrenus, I am a Man: the Indian Black Hawk in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Quaife, Milo Milton, ed., The Life of Black Hawk; Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Ellis, Edward S., The Life of Pontiac, the Conspirator, Chief of the Ottawas in Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes;
Turner, F. N. (Dr.), “Chief Okemos” in Native Americans in Michigan History;
Matson, Nehemiah, “Sketch of Shau-be-na, a Pottawattamie Chief” in Native Americans in Wisconsin History

Logan the Orator (1723?-1780)

Martini Man: The Life of Dean Martin

Schoell, William
Taylor 1999       

“Martini Man peeks beneath the cool veneer of one of America’s most beloved entertainers, detailing Dean’s professional highs and lows and the intimate secrets of his private life.” – Book jacket

Martin, Dean [Deano Paul Crocetti] (1917-1995)

Books and articles on War in historic Ohio

The Life of William McKinley, Vol 1

Volume 2

Olcott, Charles Sumner
Houghton 1916

DDC: Biography

Ohio politician and governor who was U.S. President from 1897 until his assassination in September 1901.
“The official biography based on correspondence and memoranda, devoted primarily to his political career.”
— A.L.A. Catalog 1926

For background histories, see also on this site: U.S. History; 1865 to 1920

McKinley, William, U. S. President (1843-1901)

Conversations with Toni Morrison

Taylor-Guthrie, Danille, ed.
University Press of Mississippi 1994       

“These interviews beginning in 1974 reveal an artist whose creativity is intimately linked with her African-American experience and is fueled by cultural and societal concerns. For twenty years she has created unforgettable characters in her acclaimed novels – The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Jazz. Morrison tells her interviewers that her goal as a writer is to present African-American life not as sociology but in the full range of its depth, magic, and humanity.” – Publisher

Morrison, Toni (1931 – 2019)

Jack Nicklaus: My Story

Nicklaus, Jack and Bowden, Ken
Simon & Schuster 1997       

“In 1988 Jack Nicklaus was honored by his peers as the Golfer of the Century…. During his more than forty-year career as champion amateur, dominating professional, and senior star, the Golden Bear has won almost one hundred tournaments around the world… ‘My Story’ is Jack Nicklaus’s complete and compelling inside, in-depth account …” -Book jacket

Nicklaus, Jack William (1940 -)

The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley

Riley, Glenda
University of Oklahoma 2002       

“With a widowed mother and six siblings, Annie Oakley first became a trapper, hunter, and sharpshooter simply to put food on the table. Yet her genius with the gun eventually led to her stardom in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The archetypal western woman, Annie Oakley urged women to take up shooting to procure food, protect themselves, and enjoy healthy exercise, yet she was also the proper Victorian lady, demurely dressed and skeptical about the value of women’s suffrage. Glenda Riley presents the first interpretive biography of the complex woman who was Annie Oakley.” – Book cover

Oakley, Annie [Phoebe Ann Mosey] (1860-1926)

Jesse Owens: An American Life

Baker, William J.
Collier Macmillan 1986       

“The tenth and last child of a dirt poor Southern sharecropper, James Cleveland Owens at 22 became the idol of millions worldwide, stunning Hitler’s Third Reich with the superlative athletic feats that won him an unprecedented four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics… Yet as William Baker shows in this, the most probing biography of Owens ever written, the great track star’s life was far from a rags-to-riches fable.” – Book jacket

Owens, Jesse [James] Cleveland (1913-1980)

Sketches of the Life and Adventures of Jacob Parkhurst: …

Written with His Own Hand When About Three Score and Ten Years of Age, Not for Speculation or Honor, but for the Benefit of the Rising Generation, Particularly of His Own Descendants: Adding a Few Facts to the Many Recorded Instances of the Sufferings of the Early Pioneers Along the Ohio River

Parkhurst, Jacob
Knightown, Ind: Knightown Home Journal Print 1842

As a child, Parkhurst lived with family in Washington county, PA (not far from Wheeling, WV), where they were under repeated threat of Indian attack until the end of the Revolutionary War. When he was old enough to leave home he migrated to Ohio. This short book contains many anecdotes and descriptions of hardscrabble frontier life.

Parkhurst, Jacob (1772-1863)

Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Sarah Peter. Vol 1

Volume 2

King, Margaret Rivers
Cincinnati: Clarke 1889

Mrs. Sarah Peters (1800-1877) was an Ohio Christian philanthropist. This biography was written by her daughter-in-law.

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

Peters, Sarah (1800-1877)

Books and articles on Great Lakes Sailors & Shipping in History

Life of Rufus Putnam, with extracts from his journal and an account of the first settlement in Ohio

Cone, Mary
Cleveland: Williams 1886

See the entry for The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam, compiled by Rowena Buell, on this page.

Putnam, Rufus, (1738-1824)

The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam and Certain Official Papers and Correspondence by Rufus Putnam

Buell, Rowena. comp.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1903

“Rufus Putnam (1738-1824) was a colonial military officer during the French and Indian War, and a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. As an organizer of the Ohio Company, he was instrumental in the initial settling of the Northwest Territory in present-day Ohio following the war. In 1788 Putnam led a group of Revolutionary veterans to settle the land in what became Ohio. These pioneers arrived at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers on April 7, 1788, where they established Marietta, Ohio as the first permanent United States settlement in the Northwest Territory.”
-Wikipedia entry for “Rufus Putnam”

See also the biography of Rufus Putnam by Mary Cone, on this page

Putnam, Rufus, (1738-1824)

Judith Resnik: Challenger Astronaut

Bernstein, Joanne E. and Blue, Rose
Lodestar 1990       

“History was made in 1978, when NASA accepted scientist Judith Resnik to be part of America’s space exploration program. One of only a few women in the program, Dr. Resnik went on to become the first Jewish person in space. And when the mission of the space shuttle Challenger ended in disaster on January 28, 1986, it claimed the life of this vigorous pioneer.” – Book jacket

Resnik, Judith (1949-1986)

Eddie Rickenbacker

Adamson, Hans Christian
NY: Macmillan 1946

Rickenbacker, Eddie (1890-1973)

Happy Trails: The Story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

Rogers, Roy, Evans, Dale and Stowers, Carlton
Guideposts 1979       

“Happy Trails is the deeply personal story of a man and woman whose off-screen lives have been every bit as exciting and interesting as those they portrayed on movies, radio and television – a couple who has supplied three generations with examples of talent, integrity, and faith. In Parts I and II, Roy and Dale remember their childhoods and early careers; with humor and candor they tell how Leonard Slye and Frances Smith came to be “King of the Cowboys” and “Queen of the West”. Then, in Part III, they chronicle their years as partners – the growth of their large and active family, their long and satisfying careers.” – Book cover

Rogers, Roy [Leonard Franklin Slye] (1911-1998)

Books and articles on education, the arts, journalism, recreation and architecture are in Ohio Cultural History

“Reminiscences of a Pioneer”

Ohio History XIX, January-April 1910, Numbers 1 & 2, 190-227.

Rogers, Thomas, ed. by C. L. Martzolff
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society

The author of this 35-page memoir was Thomas Rogers, a Highland County, OH pioneer who had lived for a time in Kentucky before moving his family in 1795 to Paint Creek, near Chillicothe. He wrote this account in old age. Footnotes with background information were added by a local historian.

Rogers, Thomas (1782- ?)

The White Tecumseh: The Life of William T. Sherman

Hirshson, Stanley, P.
Wiley 1997       

“General William Tecumseh Sherman is one of the most complex and fascinating figures in the history of the U.S. military. His fierce campaigns of the Civil War, climaxed by the burning of Atlanta and his famous march to the sea, are the stuff of legend. Yet, until now, much of Sherman’s life and troubled times have remained mired in controversy. In this superbly detailed, scrupulously documented account, author Stanley P. Hirshson presents the most vivid, revealing, and complete biography ever of the controversial general.” – Book cover

Sherman, William Tecumseh (1820-1891)

Personal Memoirs, Vol 1

Volume 2

Sherman, William Tecumseh
Appleton 1886

DDC: Biography

Admirably clear and direct. Free use of his letters, orders and reports gives great interest and value. Closes with great review in Washington, but concluding chapter on military lessons of the war full of knowledge, wisdom and sound sense.
— A.L.A. Catalog 1904

Sherman, William Tecumseh (1820-1891)

St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair, Vol 1

Volume 2

St Clair, Arthur and Smith, William H., ed.
Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co. 1882

Arthur St. Clair served as a British Officer in the French and Indian War, rose to the rank of Major General in the Continental Army during the Revolution, was a Pennsylvania delegate to the Confederation Congress in the mid-1780s, and was appointed the first governor of the Northwest Territory. When the territory was divided in 1800, he became the governor of Ohio Territory.

See histories of Ohio at: Ohio General History

For biographies and memoirs of early 19th century governors in the Great Lakes states, see:
– Edwards, Ninian Wirt, History of Illinois, from 1778 to 1833; and Life and Times of Ninian Edwards in Illinois History Politics & Government;
Esarey, Logan, ed., Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Alvord, Clarence W. ed., Governor Edward Coles in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Reynolds, John, My Own Times, Embracing also the History of my Life in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Hemans, Lawton Thomas, Life and Times of Stevens Thomson Mason in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
McLauglin, Andrew C., Lewis Cass in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

St. Clair, Arthur (1737-1818)

George: The Poor Little Rich Boy Who Built the Yankee Empire

Golenbock, Peter
Wiley & Sons 2009       

“No one is better equipped to delve into George Steinbrenner’s improbable, outsized life than Peter Golenbock, the undisputed king of baseball books. His latest is compulsively readable and chock-full of revealing anecdotes that are sure to make headlines. A fascinating account of a complex man who is both infuriating bully and beloved icon.” – Jane Heller

Steinbrenner, George Michael III (1930-2010)

The Education of a Woman: the Life of Gloria Steinem

Heilbrun, Carolyn G.
Ballantine 1996       

“Determined to discover the woman behind the headlines, Heilbrun explores the many facets of Steinem’s complex life, including her difficult childhood in Toledo, Ohio, caring for an incapacitated mother; the college that provided a safe haven from the anxieties of home; the formative trip to India and the influence of Gandhi’s teachings: the awakening that changed her from a political columnist for New Yorker magazine to the most famous feminist in the world; the triumphant creation of Ms. magazine and the long, hard struggle to keep it going; and, ultimately, the profound introspection she undertook in the ’90s. ‘The Education of a Woman’ heralds a refreshing departure from the conventional ways that women have been written about and perceived, answering the provocative question: how did Gloria Steinem become Gloria Steinem?” – Book cover

Steinem, Gloria Marie (1934 – )

Please visit our collection of 2,000+ selected online magazine and newspaper articles on 40 subjects, plus online map & vintage photo collections, at Century Past History Resources

Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe: compiled from her letters and journals

Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Boston: 1889

Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe (1812-1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut; the daughter of Dr. Lyman Beecher, a distinguished clergyman. The family moved in 1833 to Cincinnati. In 1836 Harriet married Rev. Calvin Stowe, who later became a professor at Bowdoin College in Maine. The couple was living in Maine in 1851 when she began publishing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in weekly installments. This depiction of life for African Americans under slavery was then published as a book in 1852. It was enormously popular, selling an unprecedented 300,000 copies in the U.S. in its first year. It was also widely dramatized on stage. The story energized anti-slavery forces in the North and had a powerful impact on the growing rift between north and south in the 1850s.

During her years in Cincinnati she wrote stories for the Cincinnati “Gazette” and other periodicals. A number of these were collected and published in a volume entitled “The Mayflower“.

Also see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

For biographies of people in the American abolition movement, see:
Swift, Lindsay, William Lloyd Garrison in Century Past Biographies: G & H
Coffin, Levi, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, Frederick Douglass in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F; and
Haviland, Laura S. , A Woman’s Life-Work in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Stowe, Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (1812-1896)

William Howard Taft

Duffy, Herbert S.
NY: Minton, Balch 1930

Taft, William Howard, U.S. President (1857-1930)

Tecumseh: A Life

Sugden, John
Henry Holt 1998       

“A charismatic leader with outstanding military and political talents, Tecumseh created a powerful pan-Indian alliance to replace intertribal conflict and indifference. A major figure in the War of 1812, he helped defeat American attempts to invade Canada, and his followers engaged U.S. armies across the entire frontier. . . The product of thirty years of research in North America and Europe, this comprehensive and authoritative biography offers new revelations about every stage of the legendary chief’s life by the leading scholar on Tecumseh and the Shawnees.” – Book cover

Tecumseh (1768-1813)

Reminiscences of the Last Sixty Five Years, Commencing with the Battle of Lexington. Also Sketches of His Own Life and Times, Vol 1

Volume 2

Thomas, E. S.
Hartford, Conn: 1840

Ebenezer Smith Thomas (1775-1845) was raised in Cambridge, MA and then lived in Charleston, SC for 20 years, working as a bookseller and newspaper editor. From 1816 to 1828 he farmed in Baltimore, MD and served in the MD legislature. In 1828, after losing a fortune in real estate transactions, he moved his family to Cincinnati, OH, where he was the proprietor of the Commercial Daily Advertiser, and later the Cincinnati Evening Post.
-biographical details from the website of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

Thomas, Ebenezer Smith (1775-1845)

Life of Edward Tiffin, First Governor of Ohio

Gilmore, William Edward
Chillicothe, OH: Horney 1897

Tiffin, Edward (1766-1829)

Please visit our Century Past Free Online Library, with thousands of books to read online or download

Experiences of Pioneer Life in the Early Settlements and Cities of the West

Walker, James B.
Chicago: Sumner 1881

James Barr Walker (1805-1887) was born in Philadelphia and went west as a young man. He started out professionally as a printer, spent four years studying at Western Reserve College, worked in the mercantile business, and then entered the ministry in 1841. He was pastor of the Congregational Church in Mansfield, OH for many years, where he established an orphanage, and was later a lecturer at theological seminaries in Oberlin and Chicago, IL. He published a number of theological or philosophical works and a volume of poetry, in addition to this memoir.

Walker, James Barr (1805-1887)

Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner Brothers Story

Sperling, Cass Warner and Millner, Cork
Prima 1994       

“The definitive family biography and intimate portrait of the four legendary Warner brothers. It unfolds and is told through the eyes of Harry Warner’s granddaughter, Cass Warner Sperling and in the voices of others who knew them.” – Publisher

Warner, Jack Leonard (1892-1978)

Forty Years of It

Whitlock, Brand
NY: Appleton 1914

Brand Whitlock (1869-1934) was the son of a Methodist minister who moved from town to town in Ohio. Brand started as a newspaper reporter and became a celebrated lawyer. He served four terms as mayor of Toledo (1906-1914) and then was appointed U.S. Minister to Belgium during WWI. Throughout his career he published many works, both non-fiction and fiction. This autobiography tracks his life and career from his childhood through his last term as Toledo mayor.

“Brand Whitlock was born in 1869. The incident described in the first chapter of this book occurred in his tenth year, so it follows that the book itself is an autobiography of the author from the age of ten up to the present, but it is more than that, a history of the progress of democracy in the middle west from 1879 to 1914. Urbana, the first election of Cleveland, Chicago, the hanging of the anarchists, the World’s fair, the nomination of Bryan, Eugene V. Debs, Cleveland, Toledo, Tom Johnson, Golden-rule Jones, are some of the places, events, and people who figure in Mr. Whitlock’s narrative. The last chapters are devoted to his own experience as mayor of Toledo and to a discussion of the problems of city government.
“From cover to cover ‘Forty years of it’ will be found an intensely graphic portrayal of American life and its social upheavals as viewed by a sturdy man who is not afraid to speak and to write as he thinks.”
– The Book Review Digest

See the entry for the Toledo’s Attic website in History of Ohio Cities, Counties & Regions

Whitlock, Brand (1869-1934)

The Wright Brothers

a biography authorized by Orville Wright

Kelly, Fred C.
NY: Harcourt, Brace 1943

Wright, Wilbur (1867-1912) Wright, Orville (1871-1948)

Collective Biographies

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940

Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress

This collection of life histories consists of approximately 2,900 documents, compiled and transcribed by more than 300 writers from 24 states, working on the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program that was part of the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1940. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents vary in form from narratives to dialogues to reports to case histories. They chronicle vivid life stories of Americans who lived at the turn of the century and include tales of meeting Billy the Kid, surviving the 1871 Chicago fire, pioneer journeys out West, grueling factory work, and the immigrant experience.
– From the Collection’s Website.

Online County and Town Histories Website

This website has links to numerous free online histories and biographical collections published in the late 19th and early 20th century. When the site opens you will see “New Hampshire”. Scroll down to
“Ohio”. There are 5 state-wide biographical collections, 4 regional collections, and histories, with biographies, of the all the counties listed below. For some counties there are several histories.

See histories of Ohio at: Ohio General History

For histories of the Ohio region before it became Ohio Territory, see: Great Lakes General History

A Biographical Cyclopedia and Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Men, Vol 1

Volume 2

with an Historical Sketch, of the State of Ohio. Illustrated with portraits on steel by the best American and English artists

Brennan, J. Fletcher, ed.
Cincinnati: Yorston 1879

A two-volume collection of biographies of over 700 Ohio notables, a majority of whom were still living at the time of publication in 1880. This also contains over 200 high-quality portraits. Due to the layout and print size, the size of this work is much greater than its 700 pages would indicate. Even the shorter entries contain an unusual level of detail about lives and careers.

See the list of resources on this website for: Genealogy & Local History Research

Please see our selection of articles about such topics as Clothing, Food, Recreation, and Customs in Popular Culture in History

Ohio Authors and Their Books. Biographical Data and Selective Bibliographies for Ohio Authors, Native and Resident, 1796-1950

Coyle, William, ed.,
Cleveland: World 1962

This mid-20th century reference work has 700 pages of biographical sketches of Ohio authors.

For more works on Ohio writers, see: Ohio Cultural History: Education, Recreation, the Arts

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Progressive Men of Northern Ohio

Plain Dealer
Cleveland: Plain Dealer 1906

Brief biographical sketches, with portraits, of over 1,000 living men.


Of nearly 250 webpages of books and other resources at Century Past History,

over 90 pages are in the group History of the Great Lakes States.


We also have hundreds of biographies of Americans and famous people worldwide on our Century Past Free Online Library. Visit the Biography Index.

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