Wilderness Plots is made up of fifty brief tales that chronicle the period of settlement of the Ohio Valley, roughly 1780 to 1850. Beginning with the discovery of the Ohio River by La Salle and ending with the Civil War, this region was the West, the exciting new frontier. Written with the power and compression of folklore, these tales bring to life the unmemorialized common folks who carried out this epic adventure. In these pages, you will meet preachers and profiteers, the boy who saved Cleveland, a love-crossed carpenter, generals and journalists, a hermit and a lawyer, farmers and bone collectors, lovers, layabouts, and a host of other high-spirited characters the kind of people who, in all ages, have made history. These stories, which condense entire lifetimes into single paragraphs, come out of a distinctive tradition in American literature. For this book reflects the experience of settling our entire wild, raucous, dangerous, and glorious continent. Our ancestors went through very much the same trials everywhere, from New England to California and Alaska. They wrestled with the land and its inhabitants for more than two centuries before there were any cities or industries to speak of, and since we have all been shaped by that prolonged wrestling, this encounter with the wilderness is one of the deepest, truest, and most abiding subjects in our literature.