The Boone Books Explained

Boone County, Images of American is from the very popular Arcadia Publishing. This “history in hand” book is loaded with more than 200 old photos, many from private collections–never published before. Inside you’ll also discover lots of facts and short stories behind the photos.(pub 8/15/2016)
The State of Boone from small press Knocking River is a compilation of stories, info, quips and idiosyncrasies found nowhere else but Boone County Indiana. Here you’ll read about Pioneer Doctors, The Near-Lynching on Court House Square, the moral standards wars from the times of brothels and wood alcohol poisonings, the Thorntown Gorilla scare, being cured by a petrified hairball (among other things) and several Who’s Who lists of Boone Queens, bygone schools, extinct towns, Extension Homemakers, Copperhead Confederates and Horse Thief Detectives. There’s even a little grave robbery and a couple other creepy tales along the way. This is the smorgasbord of Boone lore that just screamed for more than a small caption below a photo. (pub 9/15/2015)

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*Order from the Mix-or-Match (more than one book) option, and pay the lower price per title.

Boone County, Images of America $21.99   Mix-or-Match $17.50  (Save $4.49 on this title)

Boone County is an image laden, “History in Hand” book containing 200+ old photos with captions. Published in 2016 by Arcadia Publishing to coincide with Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration
Buy Now Button Single Copy 21.99
Buy Now Button Mix-or-Match 2 or more books 17.50

Boone County Indiana History Images of America
Mix-or-Match any 2 or More $17.50


The State of Boone $18.99  Mix-or-Match $15.50  (Save $3.49 on this one)

The State of Boone is 150 pages of stories, facts, and explorations of people, places and events that molded a frog infested swampland into the lovely place we call home. This is the storyteller’s version of Boone County
Buy Now Button Single Book 18.99
Buy Now Button Any 2 or More books (Mix-or-Match) 15.50

Boone County Indiana History Stories Legends
Mix-or-Match price $15.50 when you buy any 2 or More

*If you have any questions, or want custom-signed or unsigned copies, please email me at Kassie at Writing With Mom dot Com

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It’s Interview Time for Mom!

Being interviewed by your old hometown newspaper sure feels like a big deal. Both “Boone County, Images of America” and “The State of Boone” release next month. I sat down last week with Elizabeth Pearl of The Lebanon Reporter at the “Tornado Starbucks” for a chat. Here’s the article she wrote from our 30 minute convo–clearly I yack as verbosely as I write

When Kassie Ritman was a senior in high school, she and a group of friends decided to sneak out one night and paint graffiti on the Lebanon water tower.

The girls asked a group of guys to come climb the ladder and paint “79” — their graduating year — over the “Friendly City” logo emblazoned across the water tank.

But the guys never showed up, so around one in the morning Ritman and her friends gave up and went home.

Years later, while researching a forthcoming book about Boone County, Ritman learned a disturbing truth about the land the water tower stood over. Beneath the grass and soil lay the unmarked graves of Lebanon’s earliest citizens.

“We had no idea,” Ritman said, “but we were standing over a thousand of bodies.”

Ritman was born at Witham Hospital in 1960, and grew up in what she calls “the last house in Boone County” before the Hendricks County line. She attended Lebanon schools and was a 4-H member. Until she started working on the book, titled “Boone County,” she thought she knew all the legends about the area.

She quickly found out that she was wrong.

“I would challenge anyone to see if some of the things in there don’t surprise them,” Ritman said. “Because a lot of it threw me for a loop.”

Ritman has lived in Indianapolis for most of her adult life, but she still comes to Boone County for the annual fair, and to get her hair cut by a high school classmate. She feels a strong bond with the place where she was raised and where she still has many friends, she said.

So when the opportunity came to write a book about the area, she leapt at the chance. Ritman, who worked as an interior decorator and owned a coffee shop in Broad Ripple, has always loved to write and explore family history and genealogy. Last year she approached Arcadia Publishing about a historic house in Indianapolis.

The publisher said no, but told Ritman about a few other projects they needed someone to work on. Ritman quickly agreed when they mentioned her home county.

“I told them I grew up in Boone, and I’d love to do it,” she said.

The book, which will be released Aug. 15, is part of the ubiquitous “Images in America” series, which publishes works on small towns and special topics across the country. Until now, the series includes 117 books on Indiana, none of which covered Boone County or any of the towns within it.

Ritman began working on the book, which will be largely pictorial, in September. Over the course of her research she visited the Heritage centers and libraries in Lebanon, Thorntown and Jamestown and spoke with longtime area families who knew the legends and had photos of the county.

“This has been several months in the works,” said Phyllis Myers, genealogy and local history librarian at the Thorntown Public Library. “We went through all the photos we have and the written documents in the library. A lot of that stuff has not been included in a book before or anything like this.”

The book includes more than 200 photos and covers the years 1840 to the 1980s, Ritman said. In it, people can find information on many facets of life in Boone, including details about famous and interesting graves and the history of medical care in the county. One early hospital shown in the book refused to treat “the insane or contagious.”
The Water tower boasts the slogan “The Friendly City” keeping watch over the hundreds of pioneers buried at its feet.

The story behind the lost cemetery beneath the water tower is also included in the book. The cemetery, called Cedar Hill, was opened in the 1830s. By the end of the Civil War, it was overflowing and unkempt, and eventually abandoned after the opening of Oak Hill Cemetery in 1872.

In 1954, the James Hill chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution took over the cemetery and removed the grave markers, most of which were broken, lost or illegible. The gravestones were available for the public to take, and those unclaimed were taken to the dump. By most accounts, 1,000 of Boone County’s earliest residents were buried in the old cemetery, Ritman said.

Ritman’s book — which she is publishing with a companion piece, “State of Boone,” that focuses on stories rather than photos — comes at a good time for the county, said Eric Spall, local history specialist at the Lebanon Public Library’s Heritage Center. The last book about the county was published in 1984.

“We told her it was definitely time for a history book,” Spall, who helped Ritman with the library’s vast archives, said. “There should be a lot of interest in the county on history of this type, with that local flavor. You won’t find the more detailed stuff on people’s lives in histories of the whole state.”

One of the things Ritman enjoyed about researching Boone was the amount of unique information and people to come out of it. She herself grew up surrounded by that history, and most of the time didn’t know she was surrounded by it. As a child, she remembers finding Native American arrowheads in fields and showing them to her friends.

“We traded arrowheads like town kids traded marbles,” she said. “We had no idea these were from 5,000 years before Christ.”

For Ritman, part of the fun of writing a book like this is that she gets to learn about the place where she was born, and in the process hopefully teach current residents about their home. The book is on-order at the Thorntown and Lebanon libraries, and Ritman said it will likely be available other places around the county as well. She plans to do signings and events around the county a few weeks after the book is released.

“This is such a unique place. People from Lebanon are different from people from Zionsville, who are different than people from Jamestown,” she said. “To play on what Vonnegut said, everywhere you go there is a Hoosier doing something. It’s the same for Boone County. Everywhere you go there is a someone from Boone County doing something, usually something really cool.”

How to buy it

The book “Boone County” is available at and

A List of To-Dos for March

this little cutie is from the image collections available on The Old Design Shop web page

This is not my favorite month.  Maybe its a wee bit’o jealousy because the only Irish in my family’s DNA runs through my husband’s side of the equation.  St Patrick’s Day has always been a fun day of green beer and sheepish pretense.

I’m not Irish, but kiss me or pinch me anyway!  I do have green eyes though…the better to be “pea green with envy” with my dear…

Perhaps my disdainful attitude toward March is more about the weather here in the heartland.  Good Lord what a ride!  I, like many Hoosiers, dream of retirement in the desert, any desert.  A place where the humidity level rarely flinches.  Here, my sinus cavity is under a constant state of attack with it’s little faucet running full on, then suddenly dried up to a painful pinching sensation, only to find a tortured relief in the post-nasal agony of the drip..drip..drip.  Yep, Indiana weather~ if you don’t like it ~ stick around for an hour, it’ll change.

Regardless of the snow, no snow, shorts and t-shirt weather and/or tornado laden skies outside, we Family Historians must push on.  For that end, I offer you a list of  To-Dos for March~

1.  Do something really nice for yourself this month~ begin a little achievement journal.  Nothing big and fancy (unless you just crave that kind of candy…I don’t judge).  This can be as simple as making a to-do list on your calendar at the beginning of the week, and then checking off the “done-did-its” as you go.  It’s a gift to give yourself.  Mark down exciting (to you) stuff that happens on that day:  Found cousin Dehlia’s Christmas card with her contact info under the sofa cushion…bonus…also cleared the underside of all sofa cushions!

During points of drought over the seeker’s field, these can be reviewed to help you re-inspire yourself..  RahRah Me!

2.  Start getting the kids involved.  This is a great time to plan and gather.  Spring break car travel-time looms, or being stuck at home with “bored” loved ones.  Instead of hiding inside your head, invite them to start their own spiffy project. Call in the cousins for support and reinforcement.   If you would like to see a shining example of what a kid’s book can look like click the link and visit Raelyn of Telling Family Tales…all her little book projects are fringed with magnificence.  You don’t have to be this elaborate, just drink it in for inspiration ~

3.  Toward the end of the month, prepare and send out another “mailing” to let everyone know you are still working on this project (call it the “story of us” or something clever and inclusive).  Include a little crumb of “reactive bait” like a photo, or a couple of little questions (does anyone recall the name of the road Grandfather’s farm was on? Was it named? Was it always paved?). If you have been lucky enough to elicit a response or two from the last letter binge…build on it.  I find that others are kinda generous with sharing scans of photos, and that they love telling me about how much fun it was “digging through the dusty boxes with mum” but, they don’t really convey the meat of that to me~without direct and subtle inquiry 🙂

 Human nature…sigh!

So, I then start feeding back to them…hey, that pic of Granny and Harry, where do you think that was taken?  Do you know about when?  What the heck were they doing there in that place? Wonder who took the picture? That looks like the 60’s to me (when clearly it’s more like the 20’s…trust me on this one…try it!).

Then, it never hurts to throw in something utterly stupid (this is a great technique to get info…everyone loves “correcting” me). Ask a questions that you are sure you know the answer to ~

Say something really, profoundly, ignorant…”Did Harry have any bothers?”  This would be a good one if in fact, Harry comes from a brood of 10-12 assorted gender children, or was the younger brother of a famous prize-fighter, or was taken in as an infant or purchased from Gypsies (as my family generally insists about me)

Everyone loves to be right. Everyone likes to “school those fools who have it wrong.” So say your dumbest stuff, and listen to every little utterance that comes at you as fall-out. That’s YOUR pot o’ gold! Have fun with March where ever the weather and the “stupid questions” land you, and I hope you get kissed on St Paddy’s day too!



ps…definately make sure that Someone writes this down!

Hello Black Sheep, it’s been a while…

PD_0161You may recall my recent proclamation:  “Sis Hit the Jackpot.”  Toward the end of last year Sharon managed to score a half dozen tubs full of “stuff” from an elderly Aunt’s house.  So far the “yield” has not disappointed.  All sorts of photos and memories are crammed into the boxes within boxes.  The other day, gold was struck in the bottom of Tub #3.  It was there that a cousin we had lost was suddenly found and accounted for.

Danny’s disappearance from our home state (and pretty much the face of the earth) was explained with the contents of a worn legal sized envelope.   A wad of old newspaper clippings from the 60s unfolded the story of what must have been a terribly painful chapter for one branch of our family. 

Mom note: I don’t think Aunt SueEllen cared a wink about “concealing” this family skeleton.  I really believe she just never got around to looking through this insurmountable pile of “stuff.” Besides, I don’t think “Danny” ever won any familial popularity contests.

At first glance under current  standards of morality, the whole ruckus seemed kinda silly. Danny hadn’t fallen into a mysterious sink hole or been filched by space monsters, he was in fact removed (relocated might be a nicer way to put it) for his own good.   To a modern observer, banishment could seem like an “over reaction” on the part of his staunchly Republican, cigar smoking, politically influential and highly conservative dad.  But once put into context the horrific story became crystal clear.

Let me explain

Revealed on those crumbly old pages was that daddy’s little darling was involved in one of those “Hippy sit-in protest things.” It was a distasteful act~ rife with disrespect of his family and their social standing.  But hey, come on, he was barely out of his teens. And, granted, this took place at Dad’s Alma Mater~ which Danny probably wasn’t smart enough to get into on his own merits (and thus rode the coattails of his father’s Magna-Cum-Status).

So what if Danny’s little “episode” was embarrassing to his family and mocked all that assured him the right to behave so ridiculously in the first place?  How could it have possibly been made into such a big deal?  Well, for that we look to the back story and the facts of the matter:   Danny’s father was very big in politics.  And as the History Channel now tells us the Cuban Missile Crisis  actually panned out to be a big deal…

Seriously?  Danny’s family all lived on farms in Indiana for Pete’s sake.  The Indy 500 sure was a far cry from Fidel’s rockets or those Kennedy boys.

The simple truth was that Danny was in a little deeper than a disruption at the country club. Seems ol’ Danny had always been quite the loose canon.  Growing up he could have been easily described as a boy of privilege who never really appreciated what had been handed to him.  He left small town Indiana for the fancy far away University at a time in history when free love and “self expression” squared off with a nasty oversees war. In those times the emotional gauge of our nation was running  hot.   Hair was long and even “peaceful” tempers were short.  The Indochina “conflict” in Vietnam was  devouring young men by the thousands. Meanwhile many of their own high school classmates were safely in dorm rooms on campus protesting for “peace.” Everything and everywhere was a powder keg politically.

Danny wanted a little attention, a shot at campus fame.

When he decided to join a league of “enlightened individuals who sought peace for the downtrodden” he was pledging allegiance with a bunch of other rich kids who were flirting with the 1960s era equivalent of the Taliban.  The “sit in” that they orchestrated at their prestigious University garnered national attention.  What soon followed involved arrests and charges of treason and other not-so-nice accusations. Danny put his own life and that of his family in real danger.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Danny had made a “scene.”  He had rolled past several earlier brushes with the law. Petty little embarrassments like possession charges, under age drinking and reckless driving and motorboat operating.

Within family circles there were always whispers of some darker happenings too~about some poor girl at a party and Danny being…well…Danny.

I recall seeing him once when he was “secretly” within our state boundaries for my Great Grandpa’s birthday.  When I asked one of my young aunts who he was she commented:

“That’s Danny, he’s a real Creep. Stay clear of him if you know what I mean.” 

I didn’t know what she meant, but it sounded bad, so I took her at her word and stayed glued to my Dad’s side for the duration of the day’s festivities.

Turns out that my Uncle was able to pull some strings and cut a deal with the FBI.  Yes, I said that.  It went that far.  Indiana didn’t want him around, so it was agreed that Danny would be better suited to a life outside of the Hoosier state.  As far away as land could separate him, his dad sent him off to a remote little coast to set up trade as an asparagus farmer.  Back to his agricultural roots.  Somewhere far enough away from everybody else that he would have to “sit” pretty loudly for anyone to notice he was protesting something.  It was for his own good.  It kept him out of prison.

Stupid kid.  Powerful Dad.  Lucky break.  Sort of.

There are many ways a parent can lose a child.  All of them are dreadful.  No matter what the situation is, no matter how quick or protracted, the pain of losing a child  is said to be immeasurable.  I think that loosing one to their own hurtful decisions, choices, or madness is probably the worst loss of all of the unthinkable tragedies. No amount of help ever helps, they just keep on that troubled path, almost like they are made for hurting themselves and everyone around them.  As I see it, to be cast out by your family,  to be written off and sent permanently away, must bitterly sting at your marrow.  But to be the parent who is forced to take that desperate action, well…that truly must hold down the floor in one’s own earthly corner of hell.

After we found this info in the box, I did quite a bit of Google searching to see if there was any additional info around.  Crazy as it sounds, a bit of the court transcript is posted on the internet.  Also, the bunch of nuts he was running with at the time apparently still host “reunions” from time to time.  At least one of the guys involved is an avid blogger~go figure!   As far as I can tell, Danny’s still farming asparagus on that remote coast.  So Karl Danny, if you happen to read this and feel you want your side of the story told, it’s solely up to you cousin…you know what they say~

Maybe someone should write that down…

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