The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

A Bear Hunt

We had not been troubled by the heasts during the winter, because of their not leaving their dens often when snow is on the ground; but as soon as we had pigs and sheep, as was speedily the case after the ships began to arrive with those who had agreed to settle in William Penn's city, the bears came out in great numbers.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

One big brown creature seized a pig at which Jethro's father was looking, leaping into the pen and out again with the squealing fellow in his jaws, and made good his escape, owing to the fact that William Norris had nothing near at hand which would serve as a weapon.

Therefore it was decided that three full days should be spent in ridding the land of bears and wolves, and we lads made great preparations for the sport, thinking to prove ourselves heroes at the outset; but, unless I am much mistaken, we did nothing of the kind.

On the morning of the hunt, at early daybreak, thirty men were sent out to form a line straight across from one river to the other, and at the same time twice as many more were ordered to range themselves along the bank near where were our caves. Then the two companies marched in the line of a crescent toward the meeting place of the two rivers.

Back of these, and close in the rear so that there might be no danger from their fire, came all the others, Indians as well as white men, who cared to take part in the hunt, and I dare venture to say there were none who remained at home just then.

The line began to move forward about sunrise, and nothing was heard or seen of the bears until a full hour had passed, when three or four shots from the further end told that one had been brought down.

Of course, in thus sweeping the country we routed out rabbits, partridges, porcupines, and a host of small game; but the orders were that no powder should be wasted on anything except bears or wolves.

It seemed to me as if I saw on that day game enough to feed all the people in England for a full twenty-four hours; the earth was literally covered with it after we had been moving forward slowly three or four hours, and in that time, judging from the reports of firearms, more than one bear or wolf had been put past the power to do mischief.

Jethro and I counted on taking home at least two good skins that night, and yet, although upward of forty bears and twenty-two wolves were killed, we lads never had an opportunity of discharging our guns.

The Indians captured most of the game, and, save for our not being able to say that we had killed so many bears, we lads need not have been very greatly down at the mouth, for a pelt freshly taken from the animal could be bought of the savages for almost any trifling trinket.


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