There is something more horrible than hoodlums, churls and vipers, and that is knaves with moral justification for their cause. — Thomas More

Richard of Jamestown - James Otis




Turpentine and Tar

To us in Jamestown the making of anything which we may send back to England for sale, is of such great importance that we are more curious regarding the manner in which the work is done, than would be others who are less eager to see piled up that which will bring money to the people.

Therefore it was that Nathaniel and I watched eagerly the making of turpentine, and found it not unlike the method by which the Indians gain sugar from maple trees. A strip of bark is taken from the pine, perhaps eight or ten inches long, and at the lower end of the wound thus made, a deep notch is cut in the wood. Into this the sap flows, and is scraped out as fast as the cavity is filled. It is a labor in which all may join, and so plentiful are the pine trees that if our people of Jamestown set about making turpentine only, they might load four or five ships in a year.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

From the making of tar much money can be earned, and it is a simple process such as I believe I myself might compass, were it not that I have sufficient of other work to occupy all my time.

The pine tree is cut into short pieces, even the roots being used, for, if I mistake not, more tar may be had from the roots than from the trunks of the tree. Our people here dig a hollow, much like unto the shape of a funnel, on the side of a hill, or bank, fill it in with the wood and the roots, and cover the whole closely with turf.

An iron pot is placed at the bottom of this hollow in the earth, and a fire is built at the top of the pile. While the fuel smolders, the tar stews out of the wood, falling into the iron pot, and from there is put into whatsoever vessels may be most convenient in which to carry it over seas.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

Contents

Front Matter
Review

Who I am
Left Alone in the World
An Idle Boy
Captain Smith Comes to London
Meeting Captain Smith
Captain Smith Speaks to Me
Plans of the London Company
The Vessels of the Fleet
How I Earned my Passage
When the Fleet Set Sail
The Voyage Delayed
Nathaniel's Story
We Make Sail Again
The First Island
Captain Smith Accused
Captain Smith a Prisoner
I Attend My Master
Several Islands Visited
A Variety of Wild Game
The Tempest
The New Country Sighted
The Leader Not Known
Arrival at Chesapeake Bay
An Attack by the Savages
Reading the Company's Orders
Captain Smith on the Council
Smith Remains Aboard
Exploring the Country
People Land from the Ships
Captain Smith Proven Innocent
We Who were Left Behind
Baking Bread without Ovens
Unequal Division of Labor
Building a Home of Logs
Keeping House
Lack of Cleanliness
Cave Homes
The Golden Fever
Ducks and Oysters
Roasting Oysters
Leaning to Cook
The Sweet Potato Root
A Touch of Homesickness
Master Hunt's Preaching
Neglecting the Future
Surprised by Savages
Strengthening the Fort
Sickness and Death
Smith Gains Authority
Disagreeable Discipline
Signs of Rebellion
Second Proclamation
Building a Fortified Village
Trapping Turkeys
A Crude Kind of Chimney
Cooking a Turkey
Candles or Rushlights
The Visit of Pocahontas
Captain Kendall's Plot
Death of Captain Kendall
Captain Smith's Expedition
An Exciting Adventure
Taken Before Powhatan
Pocahontas Begs for Smith
Captain Smith's Return
A New Church
Captain Newport's Return
Gold-Seekers
A Worthless Cargo
Condition of the Colony
Tobacco
Captain Newport's Return
Gazing at the Women
Hunt Brings Great News
Captain Newport's Instructions
The Story of Roanoke
The Crowning of Powhatan
Preparing for the Future
Stealing Company Goods
What the Thieving Led To
Fear of Famine
The Unhealthful Location
Gathering Oysters
Sturgeon for Food
Turpentine and Tar
Making Clapboards
Providing for Children
Dreams of the Future
A Plague of Rats
Treachery During Smith's Absence
Captain Smith's Speech
The New Laws
The Accident
Captain Smith's Departure
The "Starving Time"
Our Courage Gives Out
Abandoning Jamestown
Lord De la Warr's Arrival
The Young Planters