Native Americans figure prominently in both the Northkill Amish Series and my American Patriot Series, and I’ve done quite a bit of research into the tribes who appear in the stories. It’s been, to say the least, fascinating. It’s well known that our Hochstetler ancestors were carried off into captivity by a band of Indians who attacked their farm during the French and Indian War. The father, Jacob, ended up with the Seneca in the town of Buckaloons. His sons, Joseph and Christian, most likely were given to the Leni Lenape, or Delaware. Consequently these tribes are the focus of our research.
The Seneca belong to the Six Nations, or Iroquois Confederacy. Historically the Iroquois called themselves People of the Longhouse, which naturally sparked my curiosity about longhouses. I’d heard of them, of course, but when you’re writing about people who live in them, it’s necessary to describe these structures in some detail. In my next few posts I’m going to delve into the lives of the Seneca in the 18th century, beginning with the homes they lived in: the longhouse. I hope you find it as interesting as I do!
18th Century Longhouses
|Longhouse with Front Shed|
|Daily Life in an Iroquois Village|
Bark can be peeled off certain types of trees during the spring while the sap flows freely and the leaves are still small. Large sheets must be flattened out with weights while they dry to keep them from curling. The Iroquois may have stored extra bark they harvested under water to keep it supple until it was needed. A sheet of elm bark that has been flattened and dried is as strong as a piece of plywood. Although it has deep furrows in it that run vertically along the trunk, the Iroquois usually applied it with the groves running horizontally. This probably was done because it was easier to keep the bark flat by securing it horizontally against the vertical posts. One account describes some Iroquois smoothing out these furrows with an adz to prevent them from catching rainwater running down the roof and sides of the longhouse.
In my next post I’ll describe how the longhouse was divided up among families and how they furnished and used this communal interior space.