Otis House

William Decruse

William Decruse was a thirty year veteran rope-worker who supplied Boston’s all-important shipping and fishing industry with this much needed resource, as each ship required hundreds of yards of rope for the sails, anchors, and other equipment on board. Because of this, Boston had many outdoor stretches of streets called “ropewalks,” including the one on which William worked, located on Myrtle Street on Beacon Hill’s North Slope. William had a reputation for sloppy work, but his wife, Sarah, was the sister of the foreman at the ropewalk, which kept him from being fired. The Decruse’s lived in two rooms of a large wooden house on Myrtle Street. They had no children of their own, but cared for two young orphans. To make rope, apprentices first started with small fibers from the hemp plant and twisted them together into long, thin strands of yarn. Rope-workers would then take the hemp yarn and twist several of the strands together to make the thinnest rope, called marline. Several of these thin marlines were then twisted together to make a heavier rope.