He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met. — Abraham Lincoln

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

What a Bake Oven Is

By this time we had not only mortar, but bricks, and men among us who knew how to lay them up; therefore father had hired a mason to make a bake oven, wherein could be cooked at one time food enough for two or three families.

We had built to this house of ours a big chimney of stones, well laid in mortar. It was on the back end, where the logs of the building were cut apart to give room for a fireplace, and father decided to have the oven on the outside of the dwelling, so that it could be joined directly to the chimney without danger of setting fire to the house.

When it was done, he counted to have built over it a small shed, and thus mother could do a week's baking without making too much of a clutter in the kitchen.

Already had I fashioned a most beautiful peel of laurel wood for mother, and I dare venture to say that in all America you could not find one more to your liking.

What is a peel? Why neither more nor less than a wooden shovel with a long handle, on which bread can be thrust into the oven, else how could the housewife push the dough into a pit eight or ten feet long, when it was heated almost red-hot?

Perhaps you do not even know what a bake oven is, therefore I will try to describe ours, which was as large as any in Philadelphia, excepting, of course, those to be found in the taverns, where they had need to cook a large amount of food at one time.

Imagine a huge box, with a rounded top, made of bricks, set fairly against a big stone chimney, and connected with it by an uptake, or hole, for the smoke to pass through. This box has a floor of three thicknesses of bricks, laid as smoothly as possible, and an iron door in which has been made an opening with a sliding covering to serve as a draft hole.


Front Matter

The Name of My City
My Own Name
Why We Went to London
Bound for America
On Board Ship
Unknown Country
The End of the Voyage
Going Ashore
Our First Shelter
A Tedious Task
Our Cave Home Completed
How We Kept House
Savages Come to Town
What the Savages Wore
Game in Plenty
Sea Food
News of the Factor
Arrival of the Amity
Going to Meet the Factor
A Tiresome Journey
Meeting Old Friends
Roasting Turkeys
Turning an Honest Penny
A Place for the City
Building the City
A Bear Hunt
The New Home
Penn's Care for Colonists
The First Baby
How the Indians Live
Indian Utensils and Tools
Canoes of Bark
Making Wampum
The Beehive Huts
Finishing the Cure
Starting a Fire
Cooking Indian Corn
News of Penn's Arrival
Our Humble Preparations
The Welcome to Penn
A Day of Festivities
Penn Joins in the Sports
More Serious Business
What a Bake Oven Is
Baking in the New Oven
Penn Plans to Buy Land
Penn and the Indians
The Price Paid for Land
Gratitude of the Indians
Trapping Wild Turkeys
New Arrivals
Government by the People
The Promise of a School
Dock Creek Bridge
The Nail Business
Buying Iron in New York
No Merrymaking after Dark
Busy Days
Enoch Flower's School
End of Our School Days
Settlement of Germantown
New Laws in Our Own Town
A Division of Opinion
A Matter of History
Boundary Lines
The Governor's Following
A Proud Departure
The Settlement of Chester
Dining in State
Anchored off New Castle
An Uncomfortable Night
A Dull Journey
In Lord Baltimore's City
A Splendid Home
A Question of Duty
Amy of Maryland
The Shops of Maryland
The Result of the Visit
Philadelphia Progresses
Penn Goes Back to London