The physical setting for this singularly creepy story is a settlement a few miles outside of Cincinatti, Ohio. The year is 1830. The settlement had been hewn from the "immense and almost unbroken forest" in which it stood, and was sparsely settled, as most of the people who'd finally managed to create some form of homestead had decided better lives were to be made further westward, and thus had moved on.
The most specific setting is the home of one of the original inhabitants of this settlement. It is a home made entirely of logs, with one door and one window. The window has been boarded up, and few people know why it is boarded. The man lives a reclusive life "surrounded on all sides by the great forest, of whose gloom and silence he seemed a part." The climax of the story takes place within his cabin.