Hannah of Kentucky - James Otis

Tanning Leather

Tanning leather, whether you do it in the white man's way or work it down by rubbing and smoking after the Indian fashion, is wearisome labor, yet Mrs. Boone is very clever at the business and keeps our family well supplied when the hunting is good.

For a vat she uses such a trough as I have just spoken of, and we children are set at gathering and drying bark, after which we pound or scrape it into fine fragments such as can be soaked readily. She uses hard-wood ashes instead of lime for taking off the hair, and bear's grease or fat because of the lack of fish oil. One of the men curries it with any kind of knife that is at hand, and we children make a blacking of soot and hog's lard, rubbing it in well with blocks of wood.

[Illustration] from Hannah of Kentucky by James Otis

When we were on the Yadkin, I saw shoes which had been put together by a man whose trade it was to make them. The leather was beautifully black and glossy, but mother doubted if it would wear as well as that which we make with so much hard labor.

Father and the boys came back with all the game they could stagger under, and went off again next day with two of the horses to bring in the meat that had been left hanging in the forest. Two bears, seven deer, and six big turkeys, to say nothing of many squirrels, made up such a store of food that it did not seem possible we could eat it all during the short time we might stay there.

Every one of us except Johnny Boone, the baby, set about curing the meat, expecting to carry it with us into Kentucky. Yet the days went by, sometimes slowly, and sometimes, when we felt reasonably safe against the Indians, rapidly, until winter had come and gone, our fathers all the while thinking that it would be dangerous to lead us across the mountains.

It must not be supposed that we had nothing to do. The men spent the greater part of their time in ranging through the woods in order to hunt or to learn what the savages were about. We children were forced to scrape away the snow here and there that the animals might feed upon the grass of the last summer, and our mothers were kept , busy from sunrise to sunset at one household duty or another.


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