The enchanted ground and the spirit room of this book’s title was a 16’ X 12’ cabin built by Jonathan Koons in the 1850s. There, Koons, a farmer in Athens County, Ohio, and his eight children gathered up to 20 people attracted by spiritualism and his reputation as a medium to seances accompanied by a cacophony of musical instruments where they heard voices or saw visions or communicated with the dead or found new strength. What sets this book apart is that the author, Sharon Hatfield, a retired professor, author, editor, and long-time resident of Athens County, puts Koon’s story in the context of the religious and political movements of the time. “This is a marvelous book. It reads like a novel or a screenplay but also functions as a prism that opens up into dozens of other important aspects of nineteenth-century American religion: spiritualism, Johnny Appleseed, Swedenborgianism, atheism, social reform, women’s rights, psychometry, and so on. Perhaps most significantly of all, the author’s rare combination of humanistic sympathy, intellectual generosity, and healthy doubt is a model of what this kind of historiography can be.”—Jeffrey J. Kripal. “The work of Jonathan Koons, and, indeed, midwestern Spiritualism in general, has often been overlooked, so Enchanted Ground is a welcome contribution to the field. The book has many strengths, not least of which are its evocative descriptions. Hatfield’s skill as a researcher, writer, and story-teller make this book appropriate for both scholarly and general readers."—Nova Religio. “An unbiased, rich story that situates the historic and consequential acts of ‘the Venerable Jonathan Koons’ and the events that took place in southeast Ohio in wider modern spiritualist and reform movement contexts. Hatfield clearly illustrates the comfort, hope, and sense of community Koons’s supporters found in his séances, imaginative stories, and ostensible ability to connect the living with the dead.”—Brianna Treleven.
Athens: Swallow Press/ Ohio University Press, a 2022 paperback edition of a 2018 release. 342 pages with Index, Notes, Bibliography and illustrations. Trade paperback.