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Indians.

Sarah Orne Jewett

Age 8 or 9

 The following school essay by Sarah Orne Jewett is produced in two versions.  First appears a “clean” transcription of our best guess at the final intended text.   We have not, however, corrected errors, such as missing punctuation and spelling. Second is a more formal transcription with annotations, indicating how we believe the text was revised.

 

Indians.

Clean version

             The Indians were the first inhabitants of America. When America was discovered they were in a totally uncivilize and barbarous state. They lived in tents which they moved from place to place. Their food was roots and berries which they found in the woods, and fish and other game which they killed with their bows and arrows. They call their children pappooses, and carry them strapped to their backs. When they are at work they hang them on the trees.  I should think to see a half dozen pappooses slung round on the trees must be a funny sight. The Indians had very few useful utensils and those were rude; their hatchets &c were made of stone. There are a great many stories told about the Indians  I will tell some. A great while ago, at a garrison at York, when some Indians were in the neighborhood, they attacked the garrison one morning while the women were making soap. The men were all out in the fields, and the women did not know what to do, but they did not have much time to think for the Indians were already breaking the door in, so they took their ladles and poured the hot soap out on the Indians’ heads. They went off howling and I guess they did not attack the garrison again when they smelt soap. The women lost their soap but saved their lives. The Indians had various arts to surprise the whites. Once in Dover some hay-makers had made some hay up on the river. They piled it up and left it. One warm day when the men were absent from the garrison and the doors were left open for air. the hay came floding down the river. The women noticed it and wondered who had done it but none of them paid any more attention to it except one and she, as she sat carelessly at the door was surprised to see them coming towards the shore. They looked more closely. and found there was an Indian under each one. They shut the the doors hastily which secured their lives from the savages. Many people have lost their lives by the hands of the Indians  The Indians have been driven from their lands by the whites and have now become a feeble race.

Sarah O Jewett

 

 


Annotated transcription

Indians.

            The Indians were the first inhabitants of America. When America was discovered they were in a totally uncivilize [sic.] and barbarous state. They lived in tents which they moved from place to place. Their food was roots and berries which they got ^found^ [changed by another hand?] in the woods, and fish and other game which they killed with their bows and arrows. They call their children pappooses, and carry them strapped to their backs. When they are at work they hang them on the trees.

[Page 2]

I should think to see a half [originally haff?] a [deletion by another hand?] dozen pappooses slung round on the trees must be a funny sight. The Indians had very few useful utensils and those were rude; their hatchets &c were made of stone. There are a great many stories ^told^ [told inserted here probably by another hand] about the Indians [no clear punctuation]  I will tell some. A great while ago, at a garrison at York, when some Indians were in the neighborhood, they attacked the garrison one morning when ^while^ [change probably by another hand] the women were making soap. The men were all out in the fields, and the women did not know what to do, but they did not have much time to think for the Indians were already breaking the door in, so they took their ladles and poured the hot soap out on [deletion probably by another hand] the Indians’ [apostrophe appears added by another hand]

[Page 3]

heads. They went off [of appears changed to off by adding an f in another hand] howling and I guess they did not attack the garrison again when they smelt soap. The women lost their soap but saved their lives. The Indians had various arts to surprise the whites. Once in Dover some hay-makers had made some hay up on the river. They piled it up and left it. One warm day when the men were absent from the garrison and the doors were left open for air. the hay came floding [floating?] down the river.* The women noticed it and wondered who had done it but none ^of them^ [probably inserted by another hand] except one [deleted probably by another hand] paid any more attention to it ^except one^ [inserted probably by another hand] and she, as she sat carelessly at the door was surprised to see them coming towards the shore. They looked more closely. And and [sic.] found there was an Indian

[Page 4]

under each one. They shut the the [sic.] doors hastily which secured their lives from the savages.* Many people have lost their lives by the hands of the Indians [no clear punctuation] The Indians have been driven from their lands by the whites and have now become a feeble race.

Sarah O Jewett

[Signed also on the bottom right hand side of page 4 - vertically]

Sarah O Jewett
No. 2

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Notes from the Original Transcriber (name unknown)

Sarah Orne Jewett
A Childhood
Essay on “The Indians.”

This four page piece was written, judging from the handwriting, when Sarah was 9 or 10 years old. Not content with a simple historical piece, the young author embellished her narrative with humor and some tales of local events. Written in ink, with several pencil corrections. Signed in pencil and in ink, “Sarah O. Jewett” in her early hand (cf, for example, the signature in her New Testament in the KB Collection).

Second Transcribers' notes

We have worked with a transcription in the Maine Women Writers Collection and with a photocopy of the original manuscript, which presented several problems in our revision of the first transcription.  Changes and corrections to the essay appear to have been made in another hand, and we have attempted to make these clear in our revision and annotation.  However, the photocopy is not clear enough to be certain about the content of the additions or the hand that produced these changes.

The manuscript of this poem is held in the Sarah Orne Jewett Collection, 1801-1997 of the University of New England's Maine Women Writers Collection: 1, Manuscripts and Notes, 008.  "Indians" early handwritten essay by SOJ.

floding down the river:  It seems clear that Jewett revised this passage after writing it.  The first state would appear to be as follows.

                ... doors were left open for air.  /  The women noticed it and wondered ...

Jewett seems to have noticed that she left out a line.  Perhaps she was copying from a draft?  She then produced this final state by inserting a line between her previous lines.

              ... doors were left open for air. / the hay came floding down the river. / The women noticed it ...

In the process of making these changes, she seems not to have changed the period placed after "air."

secured their lives:  In Penhallow's Indian Wars (1726), by Samuel Penhallow (1665-1726) appears an account of a woman fending of an Indian attack with hot soap (p. 11).  However sources for the exact stories Jewett provides of defenses against Indian attacks and Indian uses of hay as camouflage at Dover have not been located.  It is not clear whether Jewett heard or invented these stories.  She presents a story of Indians approaching a York garrison twice in her professional career, in her story, "The Orchard’s Grandmother," (1871) and in her poem, "York Garrison: 1640" (1886).  Also connected with this childhood piece is her sketch, “Tame Indians” (1875).


York

York Garrison house: Illustration from Jewett's "The Orchard's Grandmother."

 

Transcription revised and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College, with assistance from Linda Heller.


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