In this collection of articles describing the people, places, and folkways of southern Illinois, John W. Allen provides entertaining and informative glimpses into the region's past. Included here are sketches of the early pioneering days when wolves were literally chased from the door, stories about the many Indian artifacts discovered among the rolling hills and valleys of the area, and articles pertaining to the strategic role the region played during the Civil War. Allen also describes the activities of such infamous outlaws as Samuel Mason and the Harpe brothers as well as the famous Illinois-born heroes "Bat" Masterson, "Wild Bill" Hickok, and Wyatt Earp. In his warm and friendly style, Allen reminisces about the self-sufficient and satisfying rural life of a previous generation with its oxcarts, pie suppers, threshing machines, kerosene lamps, and blacksmith shops. Any reader interested in southern Illinois and its history will delight in this collection of stories from John W. Allen's popular newspaper column, "It Happened in Southern Illinois."
Born in an Illinois log cabin in 1887, John W. Allen grew up in Hamilton and Saline counties. After graduating from the eighth grade at Hardscrabble School, Allen served as a teacher and an administrator in southern Illinois public schools for twenty-seven years, and as the historical director of the University Museum at Southern Illinois University for sixteen years. From 1953 to 1967 Allen wrote a weekly series of articles about southern Illinois that were circulated by more than three hundred newspapers.