Hannah of Kentucky - James Otis

The Hominy Block

No sooner was the hand mill set up than father decided we would make a hominy block, so that it might not be necessary for us to call upon the neighbors for theirs.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis

First, he took a block of wood about three feet high, and so large around that I could barely clasp it with both arms. In the top he burned a deep hole, and afterward scraped it out until it was almost as smooth as the inside of a gourd. He made the hole wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, so that when the corn is pounded with a pestle, it is thrown up on either side in such a manner that it will fall again to the bottom and thus be cracked evenly.

Some people use a hand pestle with which to bruise the grain; but father put up a slender pole, rising as high as the flooring above, with the butt end resting against the lowermost log in the side of the house. This pole was held in position by two forked sticks standing perhaps eight feet from the butt, and on the upper end was a piece of sapling long enough to come down within twenty inches of the bottom of the hole.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis

On the sapling he fastened, by a wooden pin, a pestle, which is nothing more than a piece of maple wood fashioned to fit the hole in the block. Billy and I have only to tie a bit of wild grapevine to the upper end of the pole, and, having placed the corn in the hole, pull the pestle down and let it fly up again, which, as can readily be understood, is far less labor than raising the heavy block of maple by hand.

The same man who sold us the hand mill gave mother his corn grater, no one in the fort being willing to buy it. Just then it would be of little service, but I understood that later, when we had raised a crop of corn, it would be of great value, even though such a tool may be used only when the grain is too soft to be ground.

This grater is nothing more than a half-round piece of tin with holes punched through it in such manner that the ragged edges of the metal are on the outside. It is nailed to a piece of puncheon after the fashion of a horse's hoof, and the ears of corn are rubbed over the rough edges of the holes, allowing the pulp to fall through on the puncheon, from which it can be scraped into a dish.


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