Naomi of Ohio: An American Pastoral

Naomi of Ohio: An American Pastoral

This post belongs here as part of the continuing saga of the Pounds family of Lincoln County. Naomi was the sister of Benjamin Pounds, who died in Jewell County, Kansas, in 1896. Both Benjamin and Naomi were born in Guernsey Co. OH. Ben's son Thomas Pounds died in Lincoln County in 1907.

This book is a historical novel in which the protagonist recounts her life, begun in the simplicities of the Ohio frontier of 1820 and ending in Kansas in 1909 with the complexities of a newer world dominated by railways. Naomi is a strong-minded woman who has married three times but remains childless, devoting herself to raising the orphans she's adopted. The long journey of her life comes to an end when at the age of 80 in Jewell County, Kansas, she marries her third husband, a former cavalry soldier who still wears cavalry boots and keeps a sword-- and who has never taken orders from a woman. It's not that she means to give him orders, but he needs someone to tell him what to do and by God she's the woman to do it. 

The last chapter of the book is told from the third husband's point of view, that of a man whose personal trek began in New York state and passed through the Civil War. He suffers from epilepsy, a malady whose visionary ecstasies and maddening descents he is only beginning to understand. He recounts the final episodes in the lives of himself and Naomi, as on a dark night he picks up a symbolic sword of command and stops his wife's nagging once and for all. Found innocent by reason of insanity, he spends his last years in Parsons State Hospital in Labette County, Kansas, not far from where the notorious Bender family slew so many trusting travelers twenty years before. There at last he receives proper medication and struggles to understand the forces that have determined the chaos of his life.

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