The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

#TriviaTuesday - From West Elm Street, Monroe, to the American West : The Impact of Legendary Author Merle Constiner

Look up the name, Merle Constiner, in any library and be prepared to read a while.

The inscription on the inside cover of "Sumatra Alley" is from Merle Constiner to Middletown area historian Wilfred Vorhis dated August 10, 1971  It reads :To Fred Vorhis, my long time historical friend," signed "Merle."  This book is available in the Ohio Room of the MidPointe Library Middletown.

The inscription on the inside cover of "Sumatra Alley" is from Merle Constiner to Middletown area historian Wilfred Vorhis dated August 10, 1971

It reads :To Fred Vorhis, my long time historical friend," signed "Merle."

This book is available in the Ohio Room of the MidPointe Library Middletown.

One of America’s most prolific authors, whose fictional works brought the American West to life for millions, was a native of Monroe, Ohio.

When Constiner died at Otterbein Home on September 24, 1979, “his Monroe friends, many whom had known him a lifetime, realized they had lost their most famous resident,” wrote local historian George Crout in his 1992 book, “Monroe, A Developing City.”

Constiner, Crout wrote, was “nationally known as a popular novelist. His short stories had appeared over the decades in hundreds of magazines, including the nation’s leading publication -- the Saturday Evening Post.”

Although known for specializing in American western adventures, Constiner was also a prolific writer of mystery and crime novels as well as works for the juvenile market, Crout reported.

Crout noted that a “novel of special interest to the [Southwest Ohio] area, published in 1966, was set in 1846 in southern Indiana and Ohio.” Titled “Merry Fifer,” the story centered around a teenage orphan traveling the backwoods to Cincinnati. Crout pointed out that Constiner made a reference to this area when he referred to the “Blue Ball Stage Coach Company” in the story.

To this day MidPointe Library carries many of Constiner’s novels. One of them, “Sumatra Alley,” located in the MidPointe Library-Middletown Ohio Room, contains an inscription on the inside front cover from Constiner to the Middletown area historian Wilfred Vorhis. It reads “To Fred Vorhis, My long time historical friend.”

Born in 1902 at 27 West Elm Street, Monroe, Constiner visited Middletown in his youth, studied at Vanderbilt University and received  a master’s degree in journalism, Crout wrote.

He and his wife eventually returned to Ohio, living at his father’s home at 38 Main Street, Monroe, during his father’s illness. Around 1950 the couple moved to 351 Lebanon Street, “a modest white brick home,” Crout wrote.

From Main Street, Monroe, to Main Street, America, Merle Constiner was the quintessential American original.

  • Learn more about Merle Constiner and his hometown of Monroe, Ohio, in the 1992 book, “Monroe: A Developing City” by George Crout, available for check-out in the Local History and Genealogy Gallery at MidPointe Library, Middletown, 125 South Broad Street.

  • Stop by MidPointe Library-Middletown’s Ohio Room and read several of Constiner’s books.