Otis Colonial Series

Authors: James Otis (Kaler)
Publisher: American Book Company, New York
Dates: 1910–1912

James Otis
JAMES OTIS (KALER) 1848-1912
James Otis, a prolific writer of children's books around the turn of the century, produced a series of books of historical fiction written for young children. The protagonist of each book is a young child who is one of the earliest settlers of a region or colony. The point of the series is not to deal in detail with political events, but rather to show the manner in which the children of early settlers and colonists lived in their every day lives.

The following is from the introduction to Richard of Jamestown.

"The purpose of this series of stories is to show the children, and even those who have already taken up the study of history, the home life of the colonists with whom they meet in their books. To this end every effort has been made to avoid anything savoring of romance, and to deal only with facts, so far as it is possible, while describing the daily life of those people who conquered the wilderness whether for conscience sake or for gain.

That the stories may appeal more directly to the children, they are told from the viewpoint of a child, and purport to have been related by a child. Should any criticism be made regarding the seeming neglect to mention important historical facts, the answer would be that these books are not sent out as histories,—although it is believed that they will awaken a desire to learn more of the building of the nation,—and only such incidents as would be particularly noted by a child are used."

Richard of Jamestown   by James Otis   68 credits
This book follows the life of Richard, a poor boy from London, who finding himself homeless and alone in the world, sets sail with Captain John Smith for the Jamestown colony in the new world. The book closely follows the historical events recorded by John Smith, but they are relayed from a young boys point of view and emphasis issues related to daily life, such as hunting and building fortifications, as well as historical events.

Ruth of Boston   by James Otis   67 credits
This book follows the story of Ruth, a Puritan girl of ten who travels to the new world and is one of the earliest settlers of the New England colony that formed around Boston. The book emphasizes episodes from the daily life of a Puritan settler, such as preparing food, attending church and school, and doing household chores. Relations with the Indians and historical events are all portrayed from a Puritan's viewpoint.

Peter of New Amsterdam   by James Otis   64 credits
This book tells the story of Peter, an orphaned Puritan living in the Holland who is sent as a worker to New Amsterdam (now New York), in the New World. He comes of age during the Anglo-Dutch war that led to the Dutch colony falling into the hands of the English, and the story of his life introduces students to contemporary customs and historical events.

Stephen of Philadelphia   by James Otis   69 credits
This book follows the life of a young Quaker boy from London whose goes to settle the New World with a group of colonists sent by William Penn. The story covers the earliest days of the settlement that would grow to became Philadelphia and emphasizes both the industry and resourcefulness of the settlers and the complicated religious and political differences between the Quaker and other colonists.

Seth of Colorado   by James Otis   60 credits
This book tells the story of Seth, a young man who travels to Colorado with a family intent on homesteading in the area. After farming for a short time, Seth opens a store in the pioneer town of Auraria, across the river from an outpost at Denver. The families survive fires and flood and eventually see Denver grow into a substantial town.

Hannah of Kentucky   by James Otis   62 credits
This book recounts the story of Hannah, whose family is closely associated with that of the great pioneer, Daniel Boone. Her father follows Boone to the wilderness fortress at Boonesborough and shares in many of his adventures. The story emphasizes the daily activities of pioneer life in a remote fortification, but also touches on historical events related to the siege of Boonesborough in 1778.

Benjamin of Ohio   by James Otis   64 credits
This book follows the story of Benjamin who joins the exploration and settlement party of Rufus Putnam and helps to establish the Marietta, the first American settlement in the Ohio River valley. The settlers have to combat weather, Indians, and raging rivers as they travel on flatboats to their destination.

Mary of Plymouth   by James Otis   63 credits
This book follows the life of Mary of Plymouth, a young girl who arrives with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and shares in their difficulties and adventures. It is very authentic in both in portraying the daily life and work of the early settlers, and in depicting the attitude of many of the pilgrims towards Indians, other settlers, and Englishmen with less than orthodox Puritan views.

Antoine of Oregon   by James Otis   60 credits
This book follows the story Antoine, son of a French trader who first traveled over the Oregon trail with his father. After his father dies he is hired as a young guide for a group of settlers who seek to cross the Rockies in covered wagons. Even at a young age, he has more experience in unsettled regions than most of other travelers, and his conflicts with older members of the party provide considerable drama on the journey.

Calvert of Maryland   by James Otis   68 credits
This book follows the life of Calvert, who together with his father settles in the newly established Catholic colony in Maryland. Although they have many adventures with Indians, conflicts with other colonists provide much of the action in the narrative.

Martha of California   by James Otis   58 credits
This book follows the life of Martha, a young girl from Missouri who travels to California by way of the Oregon trail. The story is told in the first person by a young lady who travels with her family in a covered wagon and relates the adventures encountered on the trail, including confrontations with Indians, night time travel over deserts and salt fields, hunting excursions, and difficulties with livestock and provisions.

Philip of Texas   by James Otis   60 credits
This is one of a seris of twelve book in a series by James Otis that features dramatic stories of American pioneer children. It is written in an easy-to-read style and tells the story of a young man who homesteads with his parents in North Texas during the 1840's. His family raises sheep and deals with a number of difficulties including a severe flood, an attack by wild boars, and complicated relations with suspected smugglers. Events in Texas leading up to the Mexican-American War are portrayed from the point of view of an American pioneer family and are told with personality and passion that will hold the interest of younger children.

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