Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

A Tedious Task

Before having dug very far into the bank of the river, we came to understand that something in the way of timbers would be necessary to hold up the earth at the top, otherwise we should have it tumbling about our cars, and father took upon himself the work of hewing logs, while mother and I dug and dug, throwing the loose sand directly at the mouth of the opening to make there a roadway to the river below.

Before we had made what might be called a good beginning of the task, I came to believe that it could not have been much harder work to build a house of logs; but we had already expended so much strength, that it would have been foolish to drop the plan then in favor of something else.

Besides, nearly all those who had come over in the ship with us were making the same kind of dwellings, having been led to do so by the example set by Edmund Lovett and father; therefore we were seemingly bound to finish the task, or give our fellow passengers good reason for calling us simples.

It grieved me to see my mother doing such work; but how might it be otherwise, since there were none who could be hired to perform the labor, because of all who had come ashore digging caves in which to shelter themselves?

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

When we were so far inside the bank that it was no longer possible to throw the sand out with a spade, mother carried it in a huge piece of bark as I scraped it away, and we were nearly ready for the timbers that were to support the roof, when father appeared with such as he had cut.


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