HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Hills of Highland
Author: Elsie Johnson Ayres
Illustrator: Herbert K. Skinner Jr.
Publisher: H. K. Skinner and Son, 1971
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Ayres, Elsie Johnson. Hills of Highland (published in 1971 by H. K. Skinner and Son, Springfield, OH). The other book in my library on the history of Highland County, OH, which is my home county, besides the fairly recent Highland County, Ohio: A Pictorial History Celebrating 200 Years and the older Folklore of Highland County by Violet Morgan, is Hills of Highland by Elsie Ayres, whose husband Edwin B. Ayres (1891-1964) had been a well respected pharmacist in the county seat of Hillsboro. Mrs. Ayres was generally known as somewhat of a local historian. When I was a junior in high school (1970-1971), my English teacher, Mrs. Mildred McClusky, urged me to enter an essay contest conducted by some national English teachers organization. The theme of the contest was heroes, so I chose to write about one of our local Highland County heroes, “Mother” Eliza Jane Trimble Thompson, whose anti-saloon marches led to the formation of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W. C. T. U.). In the process of gathering my information, I did a rather lengthy personal interview with Elsie about Mrs. Thompson. Unfortunately, I did not win the contest.
Shortly after my interview, Elsie published two books, one of which was Hills of Highland. After an author’s Prelude and an introduction about “Our History and Heritage,” there are 22 chapters, dealing with various topics related to Highland County, including the Scioto and Paint valleys with their Indians and frontiersmen; the formation of Ohio; early roads and waterways; Highland as the 21st county in the state with its original seat at New Market; churches and schools; the temperance crusade; the history of Hillsboro; railroads; wars; post offices and cemeteries; newspapers; the histories of Greenfield, Lynchburg, and Leesburg; the Hillsboro library; historic mills; entertainment and entertainers; social clubs and other organizations; patriotic organizations; fraternal organizations for men and women; recreation, resorts, and Indian mounds; and finally Bob McKimie, a rather infamous son of Highland County who went west, became a stage and train robber, later returned home, and when pursued hid out in “The Seven Caves,” now a local Highland County attraction, for a while. Also, there are an Epilogue, a bibliography, and an index in the back of the book.
Knowing of my interest in local Highland County history, my mother purchased a copy of this book for me when it was published. I graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1972 and from Florida College, then a junior college, in 1974. Mrs. Ayres, who had been born in 1905, passed away in 1975. Hills of Highland was actually book two of a two volume set, the first volume bearing the title Highland Pioneer Sketches and Family Genealogies. She had earlier published a 79-page booklet, The Hillsboro Story: 150 Years of Progress 1807-1957, in 1957. I know that I have seen that booklet and thought that I might have had a copy, but if I ever did I cannot seem to find it now. My personal experience is that you may get the boy out of Ohio, but you will never get Ohio out of the boy.