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Introduction to
Chillicothe in Story and Song

by Tom Thomas

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.

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