Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

The Town of Boston

The first thing which was done by the governor and his advisors, after we had moved from Charlestown, was to change the name of Trimountain to that of Boston.

As you must remember, Boston in England was near to the home of Captain John Smith, who explored so much of this New World and planted in Jamestown a prosperous settlement. It was also in Boston that the Lady Arabella, and the preacher, John Cotton, who had promised to come here to us, had lived; therefore did it seem as if such were the proper name for a town which we hoped would one day, God willing, grow to be a city.

It is true our new village is built in a rocky place, where are many hollows and swamps, and it is almost an island, because the neck of land which leads from it to the main shore, is so narrow that very often does the tide wash completely over it; but yet, after that time of suffering in Charlestown, it seems to us a goodly spot.

Our dwellings, except the Great House, are made of logs, and the roofs thatched with dried marsh-grass, or with the bark of trees. That each man shall have so much of this thatching as he may need, the governor and chief men of the village have set aside a certain portion of the salt marsh nearby, where any one may go to reap that which is needed for his own dwelling; but no more.

In time to come, so father says, we shall have chimneys built of brick or stone, for when our settlement is older grown some of the people will, in order to gain a livelihood, set about making bricks, and already has Governor Winthrop sent out men to search for limestone so we may get mortar. But until that time shall come, we have on the outside of our houses what are called chimneys, which are made of logs plastered with clay, or of woven reeds besmeared both as to the outside and the inside with mud, until they are five or six inches thick.


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