The original record kept by John consisted of short entries he wrote in secret using ink that he had figured out how to make himself "by boiling and filtering a blend of plant and berry juices with powered coal."
He goes on to tell us:
"As for quills, I found no difficulty in procuring them whenever I wanted, from the crows
and ravens with which the beach was almost always covered, attracted by the offal of
whales, seals, etc., and which were so tame that I could easily kill them with stones.
A large clam shell furnished me with an inkstand."
The pages of a blank book he had managed to salvage from the Boston before it was burned to the waterline by the Indians, served as his tablet.
What we do know is that John self-published a 48-page version of his original account in 1807. By 1931 only seven copies were known to exist, worth more than $25,000 each. That year, a limited edition of 100 copies was printed by Charles E. Goodspeed & Co. of Boston. One of these was purchased by our Dad in 1975 and the frontpiece is shown below.
To be fair, the blog posts have been quoting from the Narrative, because I too would rather share the more compelling version of the story so that it brings attention to the very real adventure John was experiencing... which tends to make you realize that all history is really just storytelling. The original event gets retold from numerous points of view and often, to fulfill different purposes. But I still think the essential elements of the event always remain the same through all the interpretations and just resonate differently depending on who is telling it.
All of these tellings of the tale may be slightly different, but in the end they all relate an event that actually did happen and they bring a certain meaning to it. It's a big source of pride to be a descendant of the brave individual who originally recorded experiences we can all learn from. In the next few blog posts we will wrap up our own interpretation of his story and then move on to more of the stories (oops, I mean history) of our amazing family.