Front Matter Where I Was Born Alone in Holland An Important Introduction I Go My Way The Bargain Sailing for the New World A View of New Netherland The "Brown Men" or Savages Summoned to the Cabin Toys for the Savages Claim of the India Company Making Ready for Trade Braun and Gildersleeve Gathering the Savages Going Ashore Buying Manhattan Boats Used by the Savages Wandering over the Island The Homes of the Savages Master Minuit's Home Beginning the Work A Strange Kind of Craft Building a Fort In Charge of the Goods The Value of Wampum Buildings of Stone The Government A Prosperous Town Quarrelsome Slaves A Brutal Murder A Village Called Plymouth I Go on a Voyage A Lukewarm Welcome Two Days in Plymouth Forging Ahead The Big Ship Minuit's Successor Trouble with the English Van Twiller Discharged Director Kieft Unjust Commands Minuit's Return Revenge of the Savages Kieft's War Director Petrus Stuyvesant Time for Sight-Seeing How the Fort was Armed Village Laws Other Things about Town A Visit of Ceremony New Amsterdam, a City Stuyvesant Makes Enemies Orders from Holland Making Ready for War An Unexpected Question With the Fleet Driving out the Swedes Uprising of the Indians An Attack by the Indians Back to New Amsterdam Coaxing the Savages Religious Freedom Punishing the Quaker Other Persecutions Dull Trade Charge Made by Hans Braun Dismissed by Stuyvesant English Claims Idle Days On Broad Way Looking after the Ferry Coming of the English A Weak Defense Stuyvesant Absent Disobeying Commands Surrender Demanded A Three Days' Truce English Visitors Stuyvesant's Rage The End of Dutch Rule The City of New York

Peter of New Amsterdam - James Otis

The Homes of the Savages

This same Dutchman, seeing that the Indian houses excited my curiosity, offered to go with me inside one, and, on my agreeing eagerly, he led the way into the first building on our path, with no thought of asking permission, much as if entering his own dwelling.

It surprised me to see what flimsy affairs they were, and yet it was said that the savages lived in them during the winter when there is much snow on the ground. I have already told you that instead of having a roof laid on upright sides, the top was rounded like a huge log cleft in halves, and once inside I understood why they were built in such fashion.

[Illustration] from Peter of New Amsterdam by James Otis

The timbers were nothing more than small, young trees, the thicker ends of which were thrust into the ground, and the tops bent over until the whole formed an arch. On the outside of this was bark taken from the birch tree, sewed or pegged in place, and in the center of the floor, which was simply the bare earth beaten down hard, a fire could be built, the smoke finding its way out through a hole in the roof.

Why such frail buildings did not take fire from sparks, I could not understand, for it would have needed but a tiny bit of live coal to set the whole thing in a blaze.

There were no people in this house which we entered, and therefore it was that I could look about me more closely than would otherwise have been the case. I saw pots and kettles fashioned of what looked to be gourds, or baked clay; sharpened stones lashed to wooden handles, to be used, most like, as axes, and shells with an edge so sharp that one might have whittled a heavy stick into shavings, which shells, so the Dutchman told me, served the savages as knives.

There were many wooden bowls, which must have been formed by these same knives of shell, and one of them, half filled with a greasy looking mixture, was yet standing upon the embers, as if its contents had been heated in that vessel of wood over the fire.

[Illustration] from Peter of New Amsterdam by James Otis

The beds were not uninviting, save that they were far from being cleanly, and gave forth a disagreeable odor, for they were made of furs piled high upon a coarse kind of straw.