Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Indian Utensils and Tools

They have pots and kettles made of clay, and fashioned much like our own, save that the vessels have a rough surface, are very thin, and so soft that one can cut them with a knife.

These Indians make bread of meal from corn, and the grinding is done in mortars made by cutting a hollow in a smooth rock. Just fancy trying to scoop out the middle of a huge piece of stone by rubbing it with other stones! I have not been able to learn how much time it is necessary to spend in making one of these mortars, but verily I should say a whole life might be spent before the task was finished.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

It surely is astonishing to see the many articles which these brown men have made of stone, and with no other means of fashioning them save by rubbing one rock against another. Their arrow heads are of flint, and worked into shape by chipping off tiny pieces with a yet larger piece of flint, until a bit shaped like a spear head, no more than one inch long and a quarter inch thick, has been made.

Their hatchets are clumsy affairs, and I do not wonder that they are eager to trade with us for tools of iron. I have seen again and again stones shaped like a wedge, with notches on the biggest end, in which was fastened a split stick for a handle, and bound on with rope made from a kind of wild hemp which grows hereabout in great quantity.

The Indian women make this wild hemp into twine or rope by twisting the fibers between their hands, working it smooth around the trunk of a tree, and then they color it red, yellow, or black.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

Perhaps you will ask how, with hatchets of stone such as I have described, the savages can cut down a tree. They build a fire around the roots of whatever tree is to be cut down, and with a swab made of wild hemp, keep the upper portion of the trunk wet, so the blaze will not go above the circle they count on cutting. When the flames have eaten into the wood a certain distance, the charred part is scraped away with flint stones or shells, and again is the fire applied, the workmen scraping and burning until the tree has been cut completely through.

In the same way do they make the big boats; but, of course, in this case it is necessary to cut the tree to form the length, and then the log is hollowed by fire and by scraping, until it is a shell no more than an inch in thickness.

I have heard it said that two Indians, working ten full days, can make one of these big boats, which' look so clumsy, but are handled with such ease even in swiftly running water.


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