An Ambrose Bierce book, as found in an independent bookstore in Ventura, California

Ambrose Bierce in Elkhart County

If you feel like exploring well beyond Indianapolis, we have one city on our Indiana literary trail that is almost 200 miles away from the city: Bristol. The Elkhart County Historical Museum in Bristol has map-making tools and maps created by author Ambrose Bierce for the Civil War because Bierce lived in Elkhart for about a year in 1860 when he was around 18 years old. Read about this itinerant, mysterious writer at

Bristol and Elkhart County

In the year Bierce lived in Elkhart County, it was only a tenth of the population size the area is now, but the population of Bristol, within Elkhart County, remains very small.

Elkhart County is known for its proximity to Amish and Mennonite communities, including notable higher education Mennonite schools, such as Goshen College and Anabaptist Biblical Mennonite Seminary.

His Writing

If you like the writing style of Bierce’s friend Mark Twain, when it was dark, melancholy, and humorous, then you may like some of the short stories and books of Bierce. Like Twain, he began his writing career as a journalist, but he also had a military career that took him down to Mexico. He died there, though no one knows for certain how or where.

Bierce’s Write It Right (“A Little Black List on Literary Faults”), which is a free e-book we found through the California Digital Library site, is a fast-reading guide, organized like a dictionary, on how to choose words with more precision, like using “backward” instead of “backwards.”

The Elkhart County Historical Museum is the final stop on our Indiana Author Adventures Trail. It can also be added onto our Michigan Author Adventures Trail, since it’s close to the Indiana-Michigan border.


Find information on Mark Twain landmarks here:

Patricia Smart