Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The settings for novels on this page were in the historic Great Lakes region. Many of the authors lived in the region. See the right column for more info about this website.

Stories of the Great Lakes: Retold from St. Nicholas

New York: Century 1909
Go to Book

This is from a series of volumes called “Geographical Stories retold from St. Nicholas Magazine”. Each of the stories in the collection is from a different author. Story titles are:

-The Great Lakes
-Life-Savers, Old and Young
-The Life-Savers’ Ride of a Hundred Miles
-A Little White Steamer, a Man in Gray, and Twenty Thousand Ships
-In a Forest Aflame
-A Boy’s Recollection of the Great Chicago Fire
-Dog Teams and Sledges in Michigan

A Herald of the West; An American Story of 1811-1815

NY: Appleton 1907
Altsheler, Joseph A.Go to Book

The author attempts to recreate attitudes and beliefs held by Americans in the West about Great Britain and Europe in the years before and during the War of 1812.

Joseph Alexander Altsheler (1862 – 1919) was born in Kentucky, worked on a Louisville newspaper and later for the New York World. He published the first of over 50 books and numerous short stories in about 1896. Included were an 8-volume series called “The Young Trailers”. He also published a six-volume series called “The French and Indian War series”.

See the resources on this site for: The War of 1812

For U.S. history of the War of 1812, see also on this site: Babcock, Kendric Charles, The Rise of American Nationality 1811-1819 in Section 973.5 on U.S. History; Constitutional Period to 1845

The Hunters of the Hills: A Story of the Great French and Indian War

NY: Appleton 1916
Altsheler, Joseph A.Go to Book|Audio Book

See Altsheler’s first book on this page for a biographical note.

The Wilderness Road: A Romance of St. Clair’s Defeat and Wayne’s Victory

NY: Appleton 1901
Altsheler, Joseph A.Go to Book

See Altsheler’s first book on this page for a biographical note.

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

Away in the Wilderness; or, Life Among the Red Indians and Fur-Traders of North America

Philadelphia: Caxton 1873
Ballantyne, R. M.Go to Book

Paul Bunyan and His Men

Rutland, VT: Tuttle 1955
Benson, IvanGo to Book

(title continued) ” … being exploits of the men in the logging camps of Paul Bunyan, lumberjack hero of the North”

Chapter headings:

1. Headquarters Camp on the Big Onion
2. The Big Blue Ox
3. The Seven Axemen of the Stoney River
4. Timber-r-r-r-r!
5. Daylight in the Swamp
6. Shadows on the Skidroads
7. Fog on the Kawishiwi
8. Big Business in the Timber
9. The Round River Drive
10. The Year of the Dry Rains
11. The Bull of the Woods
12. The Winter of the Blue Snow
13. The Battle of Copenhagen
14. The Hurry-Up Trail
15. Bull Frog Nights
16. Giants in the Underbrush
17. The Long Night on the Stoney
18. A Good Man Hits the Trail
Glossary of Lumberjack Terms

Zachary Phips

Boston: Houghton 1892
Bynner, Edward LassetterGo to Book

A story of a Boston boy who took part in the mysterious western expedition of Aaron Burr and in the war of 1812.


Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill 1901
Catherwood, Mary HartwellGo to Book

See Catherwood’s book Old Caravan Days on this page for a biographical note.

Old Caravan Days

Boston: Lothrop 1884
Catherwood, Mary HartwellGo to Book

Mary Hartwell Catherwood (1847 -1902) was a novelist born in Luray, Ohio and as an adult lived in several cities in the Midwest. She developed a signature style of incorporating Midwestern culture, dialect, and local color into her texts. Although most of her novels and stories are set in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, some are also based along the American border with French Canada and on colonial Mackinac Island.

See more of Catherwood’s works at: Illinois Novels and Historical Fiction and Michigan Novels and Historical Fiction

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Queen of the Swamp and other Plain Americans

Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1899
Catherwood, Mary HartwellGo to Book

See Catherwood’s book Old Caravan Days on this page for a biographical note.

The Crossing

NY: Macmillan 1904
Churchill, WinstonGo to Book

Winston Churchill (1871-1947) was one of the best-selling American novelists of the early 20th century. He is not to be confused with the British statesman of the same name.

The Mystery of Metropolisville

NY: Judd 1873
Eggleston, EdwardGo to Book

Edward Eggleston (1837-1902) was born in Vevay, Indiana. He was both a novelist and a historian, authoring several texts of U.S. history.

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Frontier Angel: A Romance of Kentucky Rangers’ Life

London: Routledge 1861
Ellis, Edward S.Go to Book

See the biographical note about Ellis at his other novel, Red Jacket, on this web page.

Red Jacket: The Last of the Senecas

New York: E.P. Dutton 1900
Ellis, Edward S.Go to Book

Juvenile fiction by Edward S. Ellis (1840-1916), a teacher and school administrator who published hundreds of books and magazine articles under his own name and more than a dozen pseudonyms, including “Colonel H.R. Gordon” the name used on this book.

The First White Man of the West: Or, The Life and Exploits of Col. Dan’l Boone

Cincinnati: Queen City 1833
Flint, TimothyGo to Book

Timothy Flint 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.

You can find a biography of Timothy Flint by John Kirkpatrick on the Ohio Biographies and Memoirs page of this site. One of his novels is on the Ohio Novels and Historical Fiction page.

See also: Thwaites, Reuben G., Daniel Boone in Biographies & Memoirs in Great Lakes History

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Boy Pioneer, Or, Strange Stories of the Great Valley

New York: Harper 1917
Grosvenor, Abbie J.Go to Book

Frontier life in the Ohio River Valley, for a juvenile audience.

The War-path; A Narrative of Adventures in the Wilderness: (title continued below)

Philadelphia: Lippincott 1872
Jones, J. B. Go to Book
(title continued) “… with minute details of the captivity of sundry persons; amusing and perilious incidents during their abode in the wild woods; fearful battles with the Indians: Ceremony of adoption into an Indian family; encounters with wild beasts and rattlesnakes, &c. “

See the entry for Jones’s Wild Western Scenes on this page for a biographical note.

Wild Western Scenes: A Narrative of Adventures in the Wilderness: (title continued below)

Philadelphia: Lippincott 1877
Jones, John BeauchampGo to Book
(title continued) “with Minute Details of the Captivity of Sundry Persons, Amusing and Perilous Incidents During Their Abode in the Wild Woods, Fearful Battles with the Indians, Ceremony of Adoption into an Indian Family, Encounters with Wild Beasts and Rattlesnakes, Etc.”

John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866) was a popular novelist (particularly of the American West and the American South) and a well-connected literary editor and political journalist in the two decades leading up to the American Civil War. Jones’s fiction and activities as an editor attracted the attention of other literary notables of the period, including Edgar Allan Poe and William Gilmore Simms. Jones’ early novels, Wild Western Scenes: A Narrative of Adventures in the Western Wilderness, Forty Years Ago (1841), The Western Merchant: A Narrative . . . (1849), and Life and Adventures of a Country Merchant: A Narrative of His Exploits at Home, during His Travels, and in the Cities; Designed to Amuse and Instruct (1854), capture the picturesque and generally edenic qualities of the West, where he spent his early years.
– Wikipedia entry on John Beauchamp Jones

Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Chicago: McClurg 1914
Judson, Katharine, ed.Go to Book

“This group of legends from the folk-lore of the Winnebago, Wyandot, Biloxi, Menomini, Ojibwa, Cherokee, and other tribes of the Mississippi valley is added to the other books in Miss Judson’s excellent series. This particular group has an especial literary interest, for it was the tales of the northern tribes that furnished Longfellow with his material for Hiawatha; while the legends of the southern Indians show interesting parallels with the slave stories given form by Joel Chandler Harris.
– The Book Review Digest

Myths and Legends of the Mackinacs and the Lake Region

Cincinnati: Editor Publishing 1897
Kane, Grace FranksGo to Book

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Frontier Fort, or, Stirring times in the North-west Territory of British America

Toronto: Musson 1880
Kingston, William H. G.Go to Book

William Henry Giles Kingston (1814-1880) was the son of a British wine merchant in Portugal who settled in England. He was secretary of a British colonization society, worked on the improvement of conditions for British seamen, and published translations of Jules Verne’s novels from French. He also traveled very widely. After 1850 he was chiefly employed in writing for young people. He published over 100 stories of travel and adventure, including fiction, biography and travelogues, and also edited periodicals for boys.
– Wikipedia entry for W.H.G. Kingston

The Story of the Trapper

NY: Appleton 1902
Laut, Agnes C.Go to Book

Agnes Christina Laut (1871-1936) grew up in Manitoba, Canada and worked in the late 1890s for a newspaper there. In 1901 she moved to the state of New York and began a prolific and very successful career writing historical novels about the western U.S. and Canada.

The Indian Drum

NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1917
MacHarg, William and Balmer, EdwinGo to Book

“It was an Indian superstition—that the drum, hidden somewhere in the woods at the northern end of Lake Michigan, tolled the passing of every soul lost on the lakes. Twenty years before, when the freighter “Miwaka” had gone down with all on board, the drum had beaten short. Twenty-five was the number of the lost, but the drum made the count twenty-four. And there were those who had waited many years for the return of a rescued man. The story opens with the disappearance of Benjamin Corvet of Chicago, veteran ship owner and best known man on the lakes. Coincident with this is the arrival In Chicago of young Alan Conrad of Kansas, who had been summoned by Corvet. Henry Spearman, youngest member of the firm Corvet, Sherrill and Spearman, insists that the senior partner is dead, but Constance Sherrill refuses to be convinced and encourages Alan in his search for the missing man.”
“An unusually good mystery story.”
“The power and tragedy of the Great Lakes in time of storm form an impressive background.”
– The Book Review Digest

Old Fort Duquesne: or, Captain Jack, the Scout. An historical novel with copious notes

Pittsburgh 1873
McKnight, CharlesGo to Book

Charles McKnight (1826-1881) was born in Pittsburgh, PA. A graduate of Princeton, he went into the iron business for a short time before becoming the editor and owner of the periodical The Chronicle. He sold that during the Civil War and began publishing and writing for several other periodicals in Philadelphia. In addition, he found time to write novels, publishing Old Fort Duquesne in 1873. This was well-received and was published in England and Germany soon afterward. He also wrote Simon Girty the White Savage, Our Western Border, and several other novels published serially.

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Prairie Bird

NY: Harper 1845
Murray, Charles AugustusGo to Volume 1|Go to Volume 2|Go to Volume 3

Includes a detailed account of the habits and customs of the Indians in Ohio and an account of the wars between the Delawares and the Osages, in a story about the adventures of some English people in the Far West.

The Sign of the Prophet: a Tale of Tecumseh and Tippecanoe

Akron, OH: Saalfield 1901
Naylor, James BallGo to Book

James Ball Naylor (1860-1945) lived in Morgan county, Ohio throughout his life. He was a physician, best-selling author of novels and short stories, and a poet. He was also a newspaper columnist, political candidate, and a popular speaker on the lecture circuit.

The Lady Angeline; A Lay of the Apalachians. The Hours, etc.

NY: Sheldon, Blakeman 1856
Noble, Louis Legrand Go to Book


Lake Breezes; or, The Cruise of the Sylvania

Boston: Lee & Shepard 1878
Optic, Oliver (Adams, William T.)Go to Book

Out West; or, Roughing it on the Great Lakes

Boston: Lee & Shepard 1877
Optic, Oliver (Adams, William T.)Go to Book

Westward Ho! A Tale

NY: Harper 1845
Paulding, James KirkeGo to Book

Two volumes in one.

The Man with the Iron Hand

Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1922
Parish, John C. Go to Book

About Henry de Tonty and his fellow French explorers, based on historical letters and documents of Tonty, Father Marquette, Joliet, La Salle and others.

See the resources on this site for: La Salle the Explorer

Beyond the Frontier: a Romance of Early Days in the Middle West

Chicago: McClurg 1915
Parish, RandallGo to Book

George Randall Parrish (1858-1923) grew up in Kewanee, Illinois and began a legal career in Wichita, Kansas. In the early 1880s he left his law practice and worked at a number of odd jobs throughout the west, eventually becoming a newspaper reporter. He wrote many novels.

Practically all of the action of the story is occupied with a long journey from Quebec to old Fort St. Louis (Starved Rock), on the Illinois river. Adele la Chesnayne, who tells the tale, has been forced into a marriage with Francois Cassion against her will. She accompanies her husband on the hazardous journey. She knows that reasons of state lie behind her marriage and knows that her departure from Quebec is due to Governor La Barre who sees a menace to his plans in her presence. But it is not until after many adventures that the proof of what she suspects comes to her hands. The death of Cassion sets her free from the marriage, which has been only nominal, and as the wife of Rene De Artigny, a follower of La Salle who has been her devotee and champion, she begins a new life in the new country beyond the frontier.
– Book Review Digest

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Bridge; A Story of the Great Lakes

NY: Century 1922
Pickthall, M. L. C.Go to Book

Blennerhassett or The Decrees of Fate; A Romance founded upon events in American History

Boston: Clark 1901
Pidgin, Charles FeltonGo to Book

This is about the infamous Aaron Burr episode, in which Burr was alleged to conspire with Spanish government officials in New Orleans to enable western frontier areas to secede from the U.S. Harman Blennerhasset, who settled on Blennerhasset’s Island in the Ohio River, was involved in the affair (1805) indicted for treason, and released in 1807. Pidgin was very well versed in the details of the Burr affair, and believed Burr to be innocent of the charges.

The Tory’s Daughter; a Romance of the North-west, 1812-1813

NY: Putnam 1888
Riddle, Albert G.Go to Book

A historical novel, following the fortunes of the contestants on both sides during our last war with Great Britain. The scene is for the most part laid out in northwestern Ohio, Detroit, and the points of General Harrison’s operations in the War of 1812.

See the resources on this site for: The War of 1812

For U.S. history of the War of 1812, see also on this site: Babcock, Kendric Charles, The Rise of American Nationality 1811-1819 in Section 973.5 on U.S. History; Constitutional Period to 1845

Myths and Legends of our Own Land (Vol. 2)

Philadelphia: Lippincott 1896
Skinner, Charles M.Go to Book

Volume 2 of this collection contains about 40 myths and legends from the Central States and Great Lakes. Some titles are “The Snake God of Belle Isle”, “Were-Wolves of Detroit”, “Hiawatha” and “Twelfth Night at Cahokia”.

Down the O-hi-o

Chicago: McClurg 1891
Roberts, Charles HumphreyGo to Book

Rural life among the Quakers on the Ohio before the Civil War

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

The Western Captive, or, The Times of Tecumseh

NY: Winchester 1842
Smith, SebaGo to Book

Elizabeth Oakes (Prince) Smith (1806-1893) was born and raised in Maine, and married Seba Smith, a popular humorist and editor of a Portland weekly journal, the Eastern Argus. In addition to raising their six sons and managing a household that included printers and apprentices, Mrs. Smith wrote poems and stories for the Argus. After her husband lost their fortune in the Panic of 1837 she began writing for leading ladies’ journals. The Western Captive first appeared in two “supplements” in the New World in 1842.

On the Trail of Pontiac or the Pioneer Boys of the Ohio

Boston: Lothrop 1904
Stratemeyer, EdwardGo to Book

Edward L. Stratemeyer (1862-1930) was a writer and publisher of juvenile fiction. He published dozens of series, some of which are still remembered today; for example, Tom Swift (volumes produced from 1910 to 1984), The Hardy Boys (1927-2005) and Nancy Drew (1930-2003). As a publisher, he instituted the practice of using a team of free-lance writers all working under the same pen name owned by his company. Because of this practice, it can be very difficult to determine the real author of any given title.

With Sword and Crucifix: Being an Account of the Strange Adventures of Count Louis de Sancerre, Companion of Sieur de la Salle, on the Lower Mississippi in the Year of Grace 1682

NY: Harper 1900
Van Zile, Edward S.Go to Book

Edward Sims Van Zile (1863-1931) was a New York newspaper editor, a poet, playwright, and an author of short stories and novels. His novels were well-received by the critics.

See the resources on this site for: La Salle the Explorer

The Young Shipper of the Great Lakes; A Story of the Commerce of the Great Lakes

Boston: Wilde 1912
Weir, Hugh C.Go to Book

A volume in the “Great American Industries” series.

Great Lakes Novels and Historical Fiction

Simon Kenton, or, The Scout’s Revenge; an Historical Novel

Philadelphia: Lippincott 1852
Weir, James Go to Book

Conjurer’s House. A Romance of the Free Forest

NY: McClure 1903
White, Stewart EdwardGo to Book|Audio Book

This story is about the rivalry between the Hudson Bay Company and the ‘Free Traders’ in the far northwest.

Stewart Edward White (1873-1946) grew up in Grand Rapids, MI and was a graduate of the University of Michigan. An avid camper and outdoorsman, Theodore Roosevelt said he was “the best man with both pistol and rifle who ever shot” at Roosevelt’s rifle range at Sagamore Hill. White wrote fiction and non-fiction about adventure and travel, with an emphasis on natural history and outdoor living. Beginning in 1922, he and his wife Elizabeth wrote a number of books about spiritualism.
– Wikipedia entry for White

The Silent Places

NY: McClure 1904
White, Stewart EdwardGo to Book

See the biographical note about the author at his book Conjurer’s House, on this page.

On the Frontier with St. Clair

Boston: Wilde 1902
Wood, CharlesGo to Book

This action-packed story is about St. Clair’s disastrous campaign against the Indians in Ohio country in 1792. The book was said to bring home vividly the terror and savagery of Indian warfare, and provides sketches of the notable Indian fighters of the day.

Charles Seely Wood (1845-1912) was born in Cincinnati and earned degrees from Miami University of Ohio and the Princeton Theological Seminary. He was a pastor in Wisconsin and New York in the 1870s before retiring from the ministry for health reasons. He then wrote books and articles on Ohio history.

You can find more works like these at our other History of the Great Lakes States ‘Fiction’ pages.

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We have 300 more works of fiction from the late 19th and early 20th centuries on our Century Past Free Online Library at the Fiction Directory.

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