Front Matter Why This Story was Written The Leaking Speedwell Searching for a Home After the Storm Wash Day Finding the Corn Attacked by the Savages Building Houses Miles Standish The Sick People The New Home Master White and the Wolf Inside of the House A Chimney Without Bricks Building the Fire Master Bradford's Chimney Scarcity of Food A Timely Gift The First Savage Visitor Squanto's Story Living in the Wilderness The Friendly Indians Grinding the Corn A Visit From Massasoit Massasoit's Promise Massasoit's Visit Returned The Big House Burned The Mayflower Leaves Port Setting the Table What and How we Eat Table Rules A Pilgrim Goes Abroad Making a Dugout Governor Carver's Death Bradford Chosen Governor Farming in Plymouth Cooking Indian Corn The Wedding Making Maple Syrup Decorating the House Trapping Wolves and Pigeons Elder Brewster The Visit to Massasoit Keeping the Sabbath Holy Making Clapboards Cooking Pumpkins A New Oven Making Spoons and Dishes The Fort and Meeting-House The Harvest Festival How to Play Stoolball On Christmas Day When the Fortune Arrived Possibility of Another Famine On Short Allowance A Threatening Message Pine Knots and Candles Tallow From Bushes Wicks for the Candle Dipping the Candles When James Runs Away Evil-Minded Indians Long Hours of Preaching John Alden's Tubs English Visitors Visiting the Neighbors Why More Fish are not Taken How Wampum is Made Ministering to Massasoit The Plot Thwarted The Captain's Indian Ballots of Corn Arrival of the Ann Little James Comes to Port The New Meeting-House The Church Service The Tithingmen Master Winslow Brings Cows A Real Oven Butter and Cheese Settlement at Wessagussett The Village at Merrymount The First School Too Much Smoke Schools Comforts How Children Were Punished New Villages Making Ready for a Journey Clothing for Salem Food for the Journey Before Sailing for Salem Beginning the Journey The Arrival at Salem Sight-Seeking in Salem Back to Plymouth

Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Making Clapboards

It is true indeed that there is very much work to be done. First comes the planting and tending of the crops. Then there is the fishing and the hunting that we may have meat. Lastly is the making of clapboards, which task was begun soon after the seed had been put in the ground, for Governor Bradford believed we should make enough with which to load the first vessel that came to us from England.

It was all we could do, just then, in the way of getting together that which might be sold to the people in the old country, and father said the men of Plymouth must be earning money in some other way than by trying to gather furs, for already were the animals growing more timid and scarce.

It is not easy work, this clapboard-making, and I cannot wonder that the men complain at being forced to continue it day after day. First an oak tree is cut by saws into the length necessary for clapboards, which, so father tells me, should be about four feet long. Then a tool called a "frow" is used to split the trunk of the tree into slabs, or clapboards, making them thin at one edge and half an inch or more thick at the other.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

This "frow" is shaped something like a butcher's cleaver, and a wooden mallet is used to drive it into the log until the splint is forced off.

Our people made many clapboards during the time between planting and harvest, so that we had enormous stacks under the trees ready to put on board the first vessel that should sail for England.