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Picture of AuthorDorothy Hamilton

Hoosier Connection: Dorothy Hamilton, née Drummond, was born in 1906 in Selma, IN, where she spent the majority of her life. She is an alumna of Ball State University.

Works Discussed: Christmas in Metamora: an Indiana story; Daniel Forbes, a Pioneer Boy; Jim Musco; Settled Furrows.

Dorothy Hamilton was a Ball State University graduate who continued her education later in life by taking correspondence courses through Indiana University. She married Harry Hamilton in 1927 and became a homemaker and mother of seven children. After her children were grown, Dorothy became a private tutor for young children in her area. It was this experience, as well as the experience of being a mother, which led her to write books for children and young adults. She published her first children’s book at the age of 65. In addition to these, Hamilton also published several adult novels, including Settled Furrows, and numerous short stories and articles for religious magazines.

Dorothy Hamilton remained as attached to children and her home of Indiana in her fiction as she was in real life. Most of her books feature young adult main characters and the majority of them are set in Indiana. Hamilton’s primary focus in writing was to help children and young adults face such issues as homelessness, single-parent families, and unpopularity. Many of her works feature characters’ encounters with and reactions to nature and the environment. For example, Christmas in Metamora: an Indiana story, is a short book about a young girl forced to spend Christmas away from the place she considers home in order to be with the rest of her family. Even in this setting, however, we see glimpses of the natural environment and history of the area affecting the characters. In the following passage, Rita and her cousin are walking through the town and peeking in store windows around the frozen canal.

The water in the canal was frozen. “What happened at times like this, when the boats ran?” Rita asked.

“They couldn’t. I’ve heard that some got frozen in, if they tried. That’s probably one reason the railroads took over.” She went on to explain that the weather had a lot to do with the fact that the canal system didn’t work. “The banks were often caved in by floods….The water drained out and there they were setting in a sea of mud.” (67)

Hamilton also presents differing points of views in her different works. For example, in her book Daniel Forbes, a Pioneer Boy, Hamilton tells the story of a family of settlers who move from Lancaster, PA to the brand new state of Indiana in order to try their luck at farming. In it, she describes the family’s journey and their first few weeks setting up their new home. Hamilton uses the family’s unfamiliarity with the territory to discuss the natural landscape and climate and this settler family’s reactions to them.

The forest was like a green room. In some places the trees were so thick that not one glint of sunlight came through the branches. The ground was a spongy carpet, layers and layers of fallen leaves. (96)

The family’s first concern is clearing the land in order to make room for their homestead, but in this case, the settlers cannot take all the blame for deforestation. Hamilton’s Hoosier readers can easily recognize the reference to tornado damage in the following passage:

“Are we going to live bunched up, close together?” Rebecca asked. “Why did this Mr. Etchison cut down so many trees? All in one stretch [?]”

“…He didn’t cut them, Becky. Not near all of them. A storm went through here…”

“A wind? How strong would it have to be? To blow down those big trees?” (81)

Hamilton presents a slightly more earth-conscious view of settlers in Jim Musco, a book primarily about the problems a young Indian boy faces when his family is kicked out of the Delaware tribe for being too friendly with the white settlers. Mr. Lewis Reese is a neighboring settler on friendly terms with the Musco family.

“We sure are making these woods look neat and tidy,” Mrs. Reese said on the fifth evening. “They’re almost as pretty as our yards back in West Virginia.”

“It’s a good thing the Delawares are pulling out in a day or two. We’d run out of kindling wood,” Mr. Reese said. “And there are not many more trees in this strip I’d want to cut right now.”

“Why, Uncle Lewis? The wood is still full of trees,” David said.

“True. But some don’t have much size to them. And others are good for better things than burning on a night that’s only chilly….It’s bad to be wasteful.” (78)

Hamilton also presents a somewhat different view of Indians in this book as well, through Jim Musco, who does not feel comfortable killing and trapping animals.

The other Delaware boys had found a litter of young skunks and were beating them with clubs. When Jim tried to stop them Little Crow said, “They are no good to eat. They rob the other animals of food.”

“But you will kill the others and eat them,” Jim said.

“That is the Indian way,” Little Crow said (59)

Settled Furrows, first published in 1972, details the changing social climate of an area that is quickly transforming from rural to suburban. Hamilton uses the changes in the natural environment to mirror the growing social changes and tensions as a kind of visual metaphor.

She turned west at the end of the street, drove for two miles before crossing the state highway. The entrance to Candlewood Hills was a mile and a half west. She could easily recall when all this part of the township was farmland. Now the four-lane highway, the row of tapering utility towers, and the housing project had taken big chunks out of fields that once grew corn, oats, wheat, and soybeans (120).

By describing the change in Indiana’s original natural environment from dense forest to settled farmland, to suburban highways and housing divisions over the course of her works, Hamilton takes her readers on a journey that details mostly her human character’s reactions to and relations with these changes.In presenting varying viewpoints that defy stereotypes, Hamilton shows that not all groups of people think or thought alike and people of all groups have had a serious effect on Indiana’s natural landscape.



Hamilton, Dorothy. Christmas at Metamora: An Indiana Story. Daleville, IN: Barnwood Press, 1978.

---. Daniel Forbes, A Pioneer Boy. Daleville, IN: Barnwood Press, 1980.

---. Jim Musco. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1972.

---. Settled Furrows. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1972.

Links: Links to relevant sources