My Sweet Ohio

Hello friends,

To hear this new song, follow this link.

I wrote “My Sweet Ohio” many years ago after I’d read Grace Snyder’s memoir No Time On My Hands¹ about her life on the Nebraska sandhills living in a sod house. I remember when my parents moved us from New Mexico to Nebraska when I was fourteen and we nearly lived in a sod house! But the local school only had about thirty children all in one school room and my parents worried this wouldn’t prepare my sister and me for college. So, we moved into a 1930s house in Omaha with sidewalks, trees, and great schools.

A sod house in Saskatchewan, Canada. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

I was sorry that we didn’t move to the sod house though the reality of living in one may not have lived up to my imagination. As a child, I had read all of the Little House on the Prairie books just as soon as my reading ability had allowed. Then there was Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna, too. All of these books had their own way of making me dream and imagine worlds very different from the built up world of concrete, cars, and television that I knew.

Spending summers with Mawmaw up in the Appalachian mountains was also like stepping into the worlds of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Grace Snyder. With a gravel road, water from a cistern, and vegetables from a garden in the wilderness, Mawmaw’s world was more like my favorite storybooks than I even realized at the time. After all, it was just Mawmaw’s house to me. But now I can see the line running from my great-grandmother’s furrow to the British and Irish settlers who populated our mountain.

My great-great grandparents John Rufus and Susie Ella Smith who farmed and fed their family of eleven children in Southwest Virginia. I sing about their fruit trees in the song Damson and Peach.

“My Sweet Ohio” celebrates the self-determination and hope of agrarian families and small-holders. In my story a widowed woman weds herself to the land. In college, I had studied about women saints and visionaries who wedded themselves to Christ and I know this influenced my songwriting. Ohio is one of those beautiful states in the upper part of the Appalachian mountain range which stretches from Alabama to Maine and “Ohio” is a lovely word to sing. This song is also a prayer. All of these things come together in “My Sweet Ohio.”

My birthday is coming up in less than two weeks (!!!!! Yay!!!!) and it feels fitting to share a song with you which has a kinship with books I’ve loved since I was a child. My sister and I always had books at the top of our wish lists for birthdays or Christmas. I will forever love stepping into other worlds by opening a book or hearing a song. That’s definitely one reason I love writing songs because I get the chance to create a world that lasts a few minutes in the listening, but hopefully long in the imagination.

Even though I wrote this song seventeen (!) years ago, I’ve never performed it live. So, you are the first to hear it.

I hope you enjoy my heroine’s prayer for sunlight, rain, and willing ground.

With kindness and friendship,


Red then and red now! Always my favorite!

My Sweet Ohio

I will go to Ohio and I will be alone.
I will leave familiar things and seek another home.
For I have lost my one true love –
to God he’s gone in peace.
So while I walk upon this earth, Ohio, pray, welcome me.

I’ll learn to live in Ohio. I’ll learn to farm the land.
I’ll give my hand to Ohio. Ohio will be my man.
I’ll take the plow into my hands
and I will sow the seed.
I will grow in Ohio and I will be received.

I’ll pray to God in Ohio. I’ll pray for weather fair.
I’ll be heard in Ohio and God will meet me there.
Oh God, Oh God, please hear my prayer.
Oh God, I pray you do
and send the rain to Ohio, and send your sunlight too.

Some day I’ll meet my one true love – I’ll meet him in the sky.
‘Til he comes to take me home, Ohio, I’ll be your bride.
I’ll take your hand in rich and poor.
We’ll walk through fire and flood.
God bless you my sweet Ohio and God bless my one true love.

I had the chance to record this song in Sam Inglis’ studio in Hull a few years ago. Brother Alfred added instruments and harmony vocals to my voice and guitar from his home studio in York. 

Jeni Hankins, vocal and rhythm guitar.
Alfred John Hickling, harmony vocal, octave mandolin, banjo, and guitar.
Mixing by Jeni Hankins.
Written by Jeni Hankins, Lulu Wall Music, BMI. ©2007

Tips for my song or for buttons and string are much appreciated at PayPal or Ko-fi.

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Read more about me on my website or here.

What have I made lately? The Emotional Support Chicken from Annette Corsino at the Knitting Tree in Los Angeles. Oh, I love this chicken. She is truly soft and comforting to hold! Great practice on doing short rows in garter stitch as well. I call my hen Henrietta Penny. I highly recommend making her and there’s a full tutorial on YouTube! I’ve also recently written an article for Modern Daily Knitting.


The words “no time on my hands” begin my song “Seventeen of My Own.” That’s a nod to Grace who like many of the women in my family was a quilter. Grace was a very famous one!

Bye, for now!


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