Flyfisher's Letterboxes
Horace Mann

Horace Mann
Near Yellow Springs, Greene Co, OH
Difficulty: 1.5 (short walk in the park)
Placed 1 Dec 2001
By Flyfisher (

Mann (1796-1859) was a pioneer in the reform of public education.  He was a successful lawyer and politician in Massachusetts, establishing the first State Board of Education.  It is likely because of this man's dream, fulfilled in the common form of the strong local public
school district, that most of us learned how to read and write.  

Mann's political career abruptly changed in 1850 when he was defeated in a bid for the MA governorship.  Within the year, he was recruited to become the first president of a university in the wilderness of Ohio.  So it was that Mann became the president of Antioch College in Yellow Springs. 

Never very popular with the majority of the faculty, Mann served out the rest of his life at Antioch, dying in office.  Much of his energy was spent just getting the college to build a house for his family. (Sound a little like the King and I?)

An alum of the college brought to fulfillment the long held notion of a monument to Mann in 1937.  He owned the original Mann farm and had a bronze statue on a granite dais erected on the site of the old  farm.  Then he donated the land to the university.  This is where we
get involved in the letterbox - because the monument to Mann is in the middle of the woods, miles from the campus!

The monument is still there, much worse for the wear, with generations of vandals upsetting much of the dais (and recently having painted his shoes red for some reason!)   Saplings grow between the cracks in the granite stones.  It has looked forlorn for many years, and was the germinal protoform for one of Rod Sterling's Twilight Zone episodes "Changing of the Guard."  (Sterling was a 1950 graduate of the college.)

Park in a lot in John Bryan State Park.  You can park at the office, or if the campground is not busy, you may be able to park there for a short time.  Walk SW on John Bryan Park Road.  Turn left (SE) at the second road on the left.  A gate blocks this drive.  Walk across the field and you will see the statue rising from the field against the trees at the far side of the meadow.   Coordinates are N39.7855 W83.8700.  You can download a topographic map of the area at using these coordinates.  The monument is clearly
marked on the map. 

To find this box, approach the statue with a mixture awe and confusion.  Take in the stern countenance of the president, and the inexplicable red shoes.  Pass the statue and exit the dais on the rear steps.  Take the small path in front of you and 21 paces past the statue (1 pace = 2 steps) down the path stop at the first sizable tree. 

The Horace Mann letterbox lies at rest under the rock beside that tree.

Take a moment to think about the resources invested in this relic from years gone by the small esteem now afforded to men that loomedlarge in their day and the consequences of nearly inevitable historical obscurity.   For me, these thoughts show the folly of neglecting family while working too much overtime to make a name for myself.

Perhaps this unique "twilight zone" will bring other truths to your understanding.  If you learn anything else, feel free to email me  your insight at

Before you set out read the waiver of responsibility and disclaimer.

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