Hannah of Kentucky - James Otis

Broom Making

One who had never lived in the wilderness might suppose that on days when it was too stormy to work out of doors or to hunt, a boy could pass the time in the house as best suited him; but not so in Kentucky.

While clearing the land, whenever father came upon a small, straight-grained, hickory sapling that seemed fitted for the purpose, he brought it home with him at night, so that Billy might make brooms and brushes on stormy days, when he was forced to remain indoors.

I have seen my brother sit hour after hour splitting with infinite care the tiny fibers of wood from one end of the sapling up to the length of eight or ten inches, until he had made as perfect a brush as one formed of coarse hairs, save for the heart, or core, which was cut out because it was too brittle to split well. Around the fibers, within an inch or two of the top, a green withe was bound so tightly as to force outward the lower ends of the splints. If to be used as a broom, the handle, or upper part of the sapling, was left long; but as a brush around the fireplace, it was cut off much shorter.

It seemed as if we were living industrious, peaceful lives in Kentucky, and so we were during all too short a time. Even though it was probable the Indians were lurking about, our hunters were ever ready to take their lives in their hands in order to supply us with food, and hardly a day passed that we did not have turkeys, pigeons, or squirrels, and so many deer that I dreaded the time when once more we must set about the work of tanning, as we had done on the Clinch River.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis

The knowledge that we were making a home for ourselves at the same time we bore our share in building up a town in the wilderness, really seemed to lighten the labor, severe though it was.


Front Matter

At Boonesborough
Beginning of the Story
Boone on the Yadkin
Boone Moves his Family
Ready for the Journey
What we Wore
Driving Cattle and Sheep
Camping at Nightfall
The Long Halt
Jimmy Boone Goes to Clinch
Murder of Jimmy Boone
A Time of Mourning
The Faint-hearted Return
A New Home
Making Moccasins
Tanning Leather
Governor Dunmore
Our Home on the Clinch
Household Duties
Attacked by a Wildcat
Fighting the Wildcat
Boone and Father Return
The Wilderness Road
Building the Forts
Gathering Salt
Our Home in the Fort
Ready for Cooking
Furnishing the House
The Hominy Block
The Supply of Water
Sports Inside the Fort
Wrestling and Running
Religion of the Indians
Indian Babies
Colonel Callaway Arives
News from Eastern Colonies
Venturing Outside the Fort
Dividing the Land
Who Owned Kentucky?
Ready to Build a Home
Billy's Hard Lot
Preparing Flax
Spinning and Soap Making
Broom Making
More Indian Murders
Indian "Signs"
Woodcraft and Hunting
Pelts Used as Money
Petition of the Settlers
Making Sugar
Building Fences
Capture of the Girls
My Willful Thoughts
Finding the Trail
The Pursuit
The Story Told by Jemima
Elizabeth's Heroism
Rescuing the Girls
Alarm Among the Settlers
Indians on the Warpath
The First Wedding
The Wedding Festivities
The Brides Home
The Housewarming
Attacks by the Indians
Besieged by the Savages
In the Midst of the Fight
The Assault by the Indians
Failure of the Assault
Watchfulness of the Indians
The Sortie
My Father Wounded
Our Wounded