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Picturing a World

Hargus Creek

Jeanette Palmer, the central character in Where the Light Falls, is from Circleville, Ohio. One of my readers was surprised to hear that Circleville is a real place. It is and, as far as I can tell, lives up to its perfect name as the quintessential Midwestern small town. A paragraph in a 1909 diary I'm reading describes a late-June storm in Circleville so dark that fireflies came out at 5:00 p.m. The diarist and the people she is visiting play bridge, escort another visitor to the streetcar, "and then took in the picture show but declined to go with the crowd to see Hargus Creek out of bounds."

Hargus Creek: I wondered whether it could be located today. Yes! And a crumbling bridge over it is being replaced this very year! What tickled me most, however, was finding it on an 1876 bird's-eye map. That's earlier than 1909, of course, but helpful in placing the creek geographically and understanding its size. Mattie Palmer, moreover, the central character of my work-in-progress set in 1908, is Jeanette's sister, so this can help me if I ever try to write about their girlhoods.


A different printing lacks color but adds an earlier map and drawings of churches and other landmarks. Altogether, the Library of Congress's collection of aerial views is a great resource for historical fiction writers.

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