Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

An Unknown Country

By such use of my ears I learned much that seemed to me strange, chief among which was the fact that my father and the other men who had taken passage on the John and Sarah had bought land in a city which was yet to be built, but had already been named Philadelphia.

At the time, however, no one knew in what spot that city would be made, therefore never one could tell where this land was that he had paid for, except that it was to be within the grant made by the king to William Penn.

Not until after we had arrived in America, and had spied out the land, to learn where it was wisest to build this Philadelphia of ours, could we say which were our acres.

Another matter which caused me no little thought was that William Penn had not come with us, nor was it his purpose to come until after the town was well started. I knew full well that he had been imprisoned and fined again and again, because of preaching, or writing down his pious thoughts for others to read, and I failed to understand why he did not flee at the earliest moment from that England whose people and rulers were so cruel.

It was explained by our friends in the old home, that after we had crossed the ocean we would find the mouth of a big river, up which we were to sail until coming to the place best suited for a city; but we were also told that there were many people living on the shores of the river, and I asked myself how we could, in that wild country, say where was William Penn's land which he had sold to us, and where that portion of the country owned by those who had already made homes there.

It is not to be supposed that I, a lad, vexed my father by asking him the questions which came into my mind; but I puzzled over them more than once without coming to any answer, even after we were in the very midst of the country which, it was said, the king himself had named Pennsylvania, meaning "the woods of Penn," or, as some sav, the head of the woodlands, for the name Penn in the Welsh language means "head."

I have also heard it said that Penn would have called our country New Wales, but King Charles would have it his way and none other; therefore Pennsylvania it is, and a very good name, I think, if you decide that it means Penn's woods.


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