Primary Resource

"Of ther Tounes & buildinges"; an excerpt from "Relation of Virginia, 1609" by Henry Spelman (1613)

In this section of "Relation of Virginia, 1609" titled "Of ther Tounes & buildinges," the Jamestown colonist Henry Spelman describes Virginia Indian towns, house types, and hunting practices as he encountered them living with the Algonquian-speaking Powhatan and Patawomeck Indians from 1609 until 1611. His account was probably written in 1613 but not published until 1872.

Transcription from Original

Places of Habitation they have but feaw for the greatest toune have not above 20 or 30 houses in it, ther Biuldinge are made like an oven with a litell hole to cum in at But more spatius with in having a hole in the midest of the house for smoke to goe out at, The Kinges houses are both broader and longer then the rest having many darke windings and turnings before any cum wher the Kinge is, But in that time when they goe a Huntinge the weomen goes to a place apoynted before, to biuld houses for ther husbands to lie in att night careinge matts with them to cover ther houses with all, and as the men goes further a huntinge the weomen follows to make houses, always carrienge ther mattes with them. Ther maner of ther Huntinge is thiss: they meett sum 2 or 300 togither and having ther bowes and arrows and every one with a fier sticke in ther hand they beset a great thickett round about, which dunn every one sett fier on the ranke grass which the Deare seinge fleeth from the fier, and the men cumminge in by a litell and litle incloseth ther game in a narrow roome, so as with ther Bowes and arrowes they kill them at ther pleasuer takinge ther skinns which is the greatest thinge they desrie, and sume flesh for ther provision.