Hannah of Kentucky - James Otis

Household Duties

It is not to be supposed that we were idle after curing the deer meat and making ready the skins for tanning. We had three cows, twelve sheep, two horses, and three dogs, all of which it was necessary to care for and prevent from straying.

The best that could be done was to pasture the live-stock in the woods near by, where they found plenty of green food. Each cow wore a bell; therefore, as long as the herd kept together there was little difficulty in finding them at night, but we had a task when any of them strayed.

Soon after our fathers went away Israel and Billy made a rail fence inclosing a small bit of land in the rear of the cabin, where the animals could be kept together during the night; it was the duty of Jemima Boone and me to drive the herd home before sunset. Of course the other children helped us when they were really needed, for there were times when we were forced to go two miles or more from the house to find the beasts, and then my heart seemed to be in my mouth, because of the fear that the Indians might attack us.

The first duty of Israel and Billy in the morning, before any one ventured out, was to look carefully through the crevices between the logs in the loft, to make sure that no Indians had crept up during the night and were waiting for us to open the door so they could rush in and kill us all.

When, after ranging in the woods near by until they were certain there were no Indians in the neighborhood, Israel and Billy told us girls that we might venture out, we often made merry, gathering hackberries, paw-paws, plums, haws, and . honey-locust pods, on all of which we feasted until it was impossible to eat more; then we filled dishes made of leaves or bark, to carry home.

Sometimes we gathered winter grapes, piling them up outside the cabin on the south side, where they would ripen in the sun and then be exposed to the first frost, for until they have been chilled by the weather they are much too sour to be eaten.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis

Now and then we gathered a store of seeds from the coffee bean tree, of which our mothers would make a brew that we fancied tasted like real coffee. We found crab apples in abundance, and marked the location of the walnut and hickory trees that we might get the nuts when the frost had tumbled them to the ground.

Because we expected each day, after two weeks had gone by, that our fathers would come back to take us into Kentucky, we made no provision for the winter, either for ourselves or for the stock. We bitterly regretted such neglect when the snows came and we were shut up in that log house.

One day before the frosts, when the boys declared there were no Indians around, we ventured farther and farther into the woods until we had wandered two or three miles without thinking of harm.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis


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