Ohio History Journal

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Hannah Fancher's Notes

Hannah Fancher's Notes

On Ohio Speech in 1824










edited by JOHN Y. SIMON

Hannah Fancher, of Brown County, Ohio, was a tireless uplifter of her

neighbors. In long letters prepared for the newspapers, she offered advice

on many topics: the length of sermons, behavior in church, how to sing

properly, the importance of keeping promises, even the best method for

killing bedbugs.1 In 1833 she made a public appeal for forty dollars to

have her "Rules of Politeness" printed, an appeal necessary because "the

losses she has met with in years past, by larceny, accident, and knavery,

has destroyed her pecuniary ability"--and apparently her grammar as


Of her personal life we know definitely only that in 1830 she lived in

Russellville, where the census-taker noted that she lived alone and was

aged between forty and fifty. By 1832 she had moved to Georgetown, the

county seat. A certain Silas, or Samuel, Bartholomew, married in Vermont

to Chloe Fancher, had come to Jefferson Township (in which Russellville

was the only town) in 1813, purchased a farm of a hundred acres, and

established a fruit orchard. His neighbors remembered that "Mr. Bar-

tholomew was a true type of Vermont Yankee, somewhat eccentric in

his manner of living and doing business, but withal an excellent man.

Mrs. Bartholomew also partook somewhat of the eccentricities of her

husband." Samuel Bartholomew, calling himself the "Woodland Rhymster,"

published a volume of doggerel decrying indulgence in the rearing of chil-

dren.3 It is only a guess that Hannah Fancher was his wife's unmarried

sister, but there is a certain family resemblance.

True to her reforming bent, in 1824 Hannah Fancher sent "A Criticism

on the adjacent spoken Language" to David Ammen, editor of the Ripley,

Ohio, Castigator. With the exception of a prefatory paragraph, in which

she alluded to rebuffs from other editors, her entire communication is

printed below as it first appeared.

Something of American speech in the early nineteenth century can be

discovered in contemporary dictionaries, guides to pronunciation, treatises