Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Our Cave Home Completed

It would be dry reading if I were to set down what we did day after day until we had what might be called a home, therefore I will say that we were near to a week in building the shelter, and when the task was finished we had a roomy cave, with logs stretching across the top, held in place by other logs set on end.

At one side was a hole which extended entirely through the sand to the surface, and when this had been fiited with a chimney of bark, cut from a huge tree in two sections, and of sufficient height to cause a free draught of air, we had the possibility of a fireplace.

I spent three days searching for flat stones with which to make the fireplace, and since, of course, we had no mortar with which to hold the stones together, I plastered them plentifully with mud until the whole stood fairly firm. It was nothing more than a clumsy box, open in the front and at the top; but it had been built by me, without any aid from either father or mother, and right fine did it look in my eyes.

We had our beds at the farthest end of the cave, where the wind might not come at us, and very comfortable they were. Father made of small tree trunks two frames, like unto bedsteads, with poles to form the bottoms, and these I filled high with the small ends of pine and sassafras boughs, after which mother covered the whole with quilts, putting on the very top beds of feathers.

At the mouth of the cave, on a ledge which had been formed by shoveling away the earth, was a sort of hut, built of small tree trunks and stout branches, which served as a storeroom for such goods as might not come to harm by being wet, and also as a sitting room for mother in fair weather.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

By the time our house was finished, and the outer room roofed over with sods, there were no less than twenty of these cave homes near at hand, the dwellers in which, like ourselves, were waiting until it should be known where the city was to be built.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

There were, however, a dozen or more places in which to live that were not so snug and comfortable as ours. More than one of the men, believing the other vessels would arrive within a few days, refused to spend so much labor on a shelter that might be abandoned within a week, and these made tiny cabins of sods, Indian-like huts of trees and bushes, or simply shelters of bark just as' it had been peeled from the trees.

Those who neglected to make good provision for the winter repented of their indolence, however, for many a weary day passed before all the company that were to live in the city had come together in America.


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