Richard of Jamestown - James Otis
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.
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.