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Picture of James B. ElmoreJames Buchanan Elmore
(1857 - 1942)

Hoosier Connection: James Elmore was born near Alamo, Indiana, on January 25, 1857. He taught school in the winter and farmed in the summer for twenty years. Upon retirement, he began to compile and publish his poems. At the time of his death in 1942, Elmore had published 5 books of poetry.

Works Discussed: Selected poems from Autumn Roses and Love Among the Mistletoe and Poems

Hailed by his friends as the Bard of Alamo, and by critics as "the worst poet ever", Elmore was a down to earth writer who took his inspiration from things and occurrences from his daily life. Elmore compiled, published and even peddled his books himself. He wrote mainly poetry, although his published volumes have a few short stories included. His poems are focused on Indiana life and are unsophisticated, folksy and romantic. Any one of his five volumes of poetry contains descriptions of things seen in or around his hometown. His subject matter is varied, going from reflections on young love to writing about sugar-making time, to praising Wabash College. He even praises the plants that are commonly found in Indiana in the chorus of "The Golden-Rod" from Autumn Roses:

On hill and dale it flourishes.
And spreads its golden fringe…
The golden-rod, the golden-rod,
Its monarch and its power;
The golden-rod, the golden-rod-
O, what a beautiful flower! (114)

In one poem, Elmore takes his inspiration from a certain rock that juts out over Sugar Creek. Elmore’s descriptions, although quaint and overly romantic, are vivid and easily recreate the subject of the poem. For example, in "The Scenes of May," he writes:

The greenwood in the month of May
Is decked with buds and flowerets gay…
The haw tree by the babbling brook
Takes on a wholesome pretty look;
And birds that sing and love to trill
Sweet echo from the field and hill… (89).

Later in the same volume of poetry, Elmore contrasts this with "Winter Scenes."

Although the poet’s inspirations are widespread, they are all from the same source: his home state of Indiana. The Bard of Alamo best sums up his surroundings in the poem "Indiana" from Love Among the Mistletoe and Poems:

On the plains of Indiana,
Where the wild flowers gently wave,
There the farmers in their splendor
Do the golden cereals raise.
There is lands of various dimensions,
From the valleys to the hills,
Many streams that are rippling
Near by which we build our mills.
We have prairies, we have woodlands
Richest treasures ever stored;
And far down in the interior
Natural gas we have in hoard…
Through the center runs the Wabash,
With its rich alluvial soil;
From its source unto its ending
Many sturdy farmers toil… (64).

Elmore wrote what about what he saw, heard and experienced in a small Indiana town. His poems are inspired by things familiar to mid-Westerners, like storms, rivers, and farm life. Although some consider Elmore’s writing to be terrible and unsophisticated, there is also a large group of admirers of his writing. His work is enthusiastically sought after, and as a result, locating his texts is difficult.



Banta, R.E.." Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1816-1916. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1949.

-----. Hoosier Caravan: a Treasury of Indiana Life and Lore. Bloomington, IN: Indiana, 1975.

Elmore, James Buchanan. Autumn Roses. Alamo, IN: Self-Published, 1907.

-----. Love Among the Mistletoe and Poems. Alamo, IN: Self-Published, 1927.

-----. Twenty-five years in Jackville. Alamo, IN: Self-Published, 1904.

Shumaker, Arthur Wesley. A History of Indiana Literature. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1962.