|Spouse(s)||John Musgrove |
Reverend Thomas Bosomworth
Mary Musgrove (c. 1700–1765) was of mixed Yamacraw and English ancestry. She facilitated in the development of Colonial Georgia and became an important intermediary between Muscogee Creek natives and the English colonists. She attempted to carve out a life that merged both cultures and fought for her own rights in both worlds.
Mary Musgrove was born Coosaponakeesa in Coweta (Alabama). She was the daughter of a Creek Native American woman and Edward Griffin, an English–Carolina trader from Charles Town, South Carolina. Her mother died when she was 3 years old and, soon after, she was taken into the custody of her grandmother. She later became known by her Christian and married names, Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth.
Coweta was connected by a trading path to the Upper Creek town of Tuckabatchee.It is likely that Coosaponakeesa's family traveled, traded, and lived in both towns and had kin in each town, which may account for some historians considering her a Tuckabatchee Creek. Coosaponakeesa stated she was born in Coweta and lived with the Creeks until the age of seven when she, "was brought Down by her Father from the Indian Nation to Pomponne in South Carolina; There baptized, Educated and bred up in the principles of Christianity." After being baptized, her Christian name became Mary. Mary continued to live in Pon Pon until the Yamasee War of 1715 broke out. She then returned to her Creek home.
Captain John Musgrove Sr. was a South Carolina trader and planter. He was employed by the Carolina Assembly to arrange peace between the Creeks and the English. Musgrove's party was welcomed in Coweta by "Chieftainess Qua", who most probably was the elder sister of Brims, and if not her mother, at least the aunt of Mary. John Musgrove met the Coweta headman Brims, who the English had earlier designated as "Emperor" so that in the eyes of the English at least Brims could speak for the other Chiefs or headmen. In talks with Brims, it was decided a young niece from Brims' family would be betrothed to Musgrove's son, so as to maintain the native rules of kinship and reciprocity and thus help reinforce the peace treaty. Captain Musgrove was married to a Creek woman and, therefore, his son Johnny Musgrove, like Mary, was of "mixed blood."
Mary and Johnny Musgrove, in time, married and lived among her Coweta kin, which was the traditional practice of matrilineal cultures such as the Creeks. But in 1725, the couple moved to Pon Pon. By the 1730s, they had three sons, but none of their children lived to adulthood. John and Mary owned land in Colleton County and in 1732, they were asked by the Carolina governor and the Yamacraws, a group of Creeks and Yamasees, to start a trading post near the Savannah River. Their trading post was well established by the time James Oglethorpe (1696–1785) and his colonists landed near Georgia.
James Oglethorpe and a group of trustees had been granted a Royal charter by King George II (r. 1727–1760) to start a settlement colony in Georgia. Oglethorpe, a pastor, a physician and 114 colonists arrived in Charles Town in January 1733 before embarking south to ascertain a suitable site. Oglethorpe met the chief of the Yamacraws, Tomochichi (d. 1739) on February 1, 1733 and after several weeks of ritual kinship building on Tomochichi's part and Oglethorpe's responsive acts of reciprocity, quasi-kinship ties were established. Tomochichi granted land to Oglethorpe which violated previous Creek Treaties with South Carolina that prohibited English settlements south of the Savannah River .A three-day conference was held which resulted in the Articles of Peace and Commerce allowing Oglethorpe to settle "upon the river Savannah as far as the tide flowed and along the Sea Coast, excepting the three Islands, Sapalo [Sapelo], St. Catherine's and Ossabaw."
John Musgrove traveled as the interpreter for Tomochichi, his wife and other Creeks who sailed with Oglethorpe to England to meet the King In 1734. During this time the Musgrove's English partner Joseph Watson drank heavily, caused extensive problems in the trading post, bragged that he helped an Indian drink himself to death, slandered Mary as a witch, tried to shoot her, and caused a sequence of events where Musgrove's slave Justice was killed.Mary filed actions against Watson, who was fined, but in the end he had to be jailed for his own protection.
On June 12, 1735 John Musgrove died of a fever.Mary married her former English indentured servant Jacob Matthews who was several years her junior in the spring of 1737. Between 1737 and 1738 Mary assisted Oglethorpe in securing land cessions from the Creeks. Under his request she established trading posts along the Altamaha so as to monitor Creek loyalty and Spanish activities. Both trading posts had to be eventually abandoned causing financial losses for Mary. For a decade Mary continued to be interpreter, mediator, and advisor to Oglethorpe helping him to secure treaties and land cessions. The minister John Wesley (1703–1791) also visited her and commented that "Tomochichi's interpreter was one Mrs. Musgrove. She understands both languages, being educated amongst the English. She can read and write, and is a well-civilized women. She is likewise to teach us the Indian tongue."
Mary became a widow once more in 1742. The next year Oglethorpe left for London and never returned to Georgia, leaving Mary £100, an unfulfilled promise of £100 a year, and the diamond ring from his finger.Though Oglethorpe had relied on Mary as an important intercessor who entertained important leaders and helped keep Creeks aligned with English interests, the remaining trustees and leaders did not.
Mary Musgrove Matthews met the Reverend Thomas Bosomworth and they were married in July 1744. Bosomworth ignored his ministerial duties and concentrated on helping Mary with her many enterprises.Back in 1738 Oglethorpe had met with Lower Creek town leaders. Mary had also attended as his interpreter but she was also there as recipient of lands from the Yamacraws. The bestowing of Indian lands to Mary in the presence of Oglethorpe implied English endorsement by default and created a series of legal battles that would last for twenty years. Bosomworth now attempted to help his wife in securing English title to the land. While waiting for a response to their case Mary sent a memorial to Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Heron in Georgia requesting compensation for her past contributions to the Georgian colony and his Majesty's subjects. Colonel Heron also noted that he, "had personal knowledge of her merit since my first arrival in this country, and I am highly sensible of the singular service she has done the country (a great part of the expense of her own private fortune) in continuing the Creek Indians in friendship and alliance with the English." While waiting on her replies from London, Mary received from Brims' successor Malatchi the three islands of St. Catherine, Sapelo, and Ossabaw. On St. Catherines Island she had moved cattle and started plowing fields and constructing buildings. After many memorials and petitions, Mary chose to invite Creek headmen to Savannah to collect their gifts and help convince the English to recognize her Creek land grants.
Malatchi and others arrived in the summer of 1749, but Mary was ignored as a translator and had to wait outside of the conference. After several hours, an angry and humiliated Mary interrupted the meeting and started to give her speech before the male assembly. One white eyewitness scorned her actions:
Her angry outburst outraged the colonial magistrates, who then arrested her.Thomas Bosomworth had to publicly apologize for her and promise no future outbursts. Mary's behavior also estranged her from her male kin, and she spent the next year in the Creek Nation trying to restore her standing. By 1752, the Bosomworths were in Charles Town waiting to sail to England to plead their case in person. They were delayed for two years as they assisted the South Carolina governor in establishing peace between the Creek and the Cherokee. After a year in England, the Bosomworths came back to Savannah empty handed. With the arrival of Henry Ellis, the new governor of Georgia, in 1757, the problem was begrudgingly settled. Mary and Thomas were given title to St. Catherines Island and gave up the other two islands and the Yamacraw lands, which were to be sold and the proceeds given to Mary for her past salary and losses. The matter was finally resolved in 1759 with Mary's acceptance of £2100.00. Governor Ellis utilized Mary's talents as representative, interpreter and mediator a few last times before she settled quietly on St. Catherines Island. Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth died in the summer of 1765.
Creek is a name that the British gave to the Muskogee people. Those living along the Tallapoosa and connecting rivers became known as the Upper Creeks, while those along the Chattahoochee River and to the east became known as the Lower Creeks. Mary Musgrove was a Lower Creek who stated she was born along the Oakmulgee (Ocmulgee) River.
Creek society was matrilineal; therefore a person's status and identity were determined through their mother. Fathers were not considered blood relatives, but only related by marriage. Both males and females traced their ancestral lineage through their mother and social connections were based on matrilineal kinships. Several matrilineal kinship groups claimed the same mythical ancestor thus forming a clan, such as the Wind, Bear, or Turtle clans. The Creeks consisted of many clans and there were over thirty to forty different known clans to have existed within the Creek nation.The Creeks, like many kinship based societies, did not know how to behave or respond to people who were not connected by lines of kinship. Therefore, Creeks created kinship ties by adoption or marriage, but also through rituals fashioned to signify simulated kinship relationships. Mary Musgrove's first marriage was one such example of using marriage to create kinship ties with whites. Tomochichi's initial encounters with James Oglethorpe were designed to create fictitious lines of kinship to facilitate reciprocity.
Creek women could own land and possessions separate from their husbands. Mothers had control over their children and supervised their upbringing. Benjamin Hawkins an Indian agent felt "that a white man by marrying an Indian woman of the Creek nation so far from bettering his condition becomes a slave of her family."A more sympathetic onlooker was the naturalist William Bartram who noted that "the traders are fully sensible how greatly it is to their advantage to gain their [Creek women's] affections and friendship in matters of trade and commerce." White traders married Creek women to gain kinship ties and these mixed marriages produced children that technically spanned two cultures. Coosaponakeesa was one of these children.
The derogatory term "half breed" was coined by Europeans. Creeks did not see those children from mixed marriages or relationships as white or "mixed blood" but as nothing less than a full Creek.Those with Creek mothers meant they were Creek and had full rights as any clan member. Even white women who had been captives and then were adopted into a clan had full rights of any Creek. When they married Creek men their children also were considered entirely Creek, not necessarily because of their father, but because their white mother was considered a full Creek when she was adopted into a clan.
The only blood relatives in Creek society were that of the mother; fathers were not considered to be a blood relation but only related by marriage and the rules of kinship.Therefore, a child's closest and most important male relatives were their maternal uncles. Which was why Brims arranged the marriage of his niece and she referred to him in her demand to be recognized as an important Creek woman. "Mixed blood" Indians in white society and culture were considered important intermediates in the early development of European goals of colonization, trade, and land acquisition, but they were still not considered white and therefore maintained marginal status in the white world. "Mixed blood" children bridged two cultures, but because of the matrilineal customs there was no marginal status in Creek society for women like Mary Musgrove and others in the Muskogee world.
The Muscogee, also known as the Muskogee, Muscogee Creek, Creek, Mvskokvlke, or the Muscogee Creek Confederacy in the Muscogee language, are a related group of indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their original homelands are in what now comprises southern Tennessee, all of Alabama, western Georgia and part of northern Florida.
The Province of Georgia was one of the Southern colonies in British America. It was the last of the thirteen original American colonies established by Great Britain in what later became the United States. In the original grant, a narrow strip of the province extended to the Pacific Ocean.
William Weatherford, also known after his death as Red Eagle, was a Creek chief of the Upper Creek towns who led many of the Red Sticks actions in the Creek War (1813–1814) against Lower Creek towns and against allied forces of the United States.
Lachlan McGillivray was a prosperous fur trader and planter in colonial Georgia with interests that extended from Savannah to what is now central Alabama. He was the father of Alexander McGillivray and the great-uncle of William McIntosh and William Weatherford, three of the most powerful and historically important Native American chiefs among the Creek of the Southeast.
William McIntosh, also known as Tustunnuggee Hutke, was one of the most prominent chiefs of the Creek Nation between the turn of the nineteenth century and his execution in 1825. He was a chief of Coweta town and commander of a mounted police force. He became a planter who owned slaves, an inn, and a ferry business.
Tomochichi (to-mo-chi-chi') was the head chief of a Yamacraw town on the site of present-day Savannah, Georgia in the 18th century. He gave his land to James Oglethorpe to build the city of Savannah. He remains a prominent character of early Georgia history. As the principal mediator between the native population and the new English settlers during the first years of settlement, he contributed much to the establishment of peaceful relations between the two groups and to the ultimate success of Georgia.
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The U.S. city of Savannah, Georgia was laid out in 1733 around four open squares, each surrounded by four residential ("tything") blocks and four civic ("trust") blocks. Once the four wards were developed in the mid-1730s, two additional wards were laid out. The layout of a square and eight surrounding blocks was known as a "ward." The original plan was part of a larger regional plan that included gardens, farms, and "out-lying villages." While some authorities believe that the original plan allowed for growth of the city and thus expansion of the grid, the regional plan suggests otherwise: the ratio of town lots to country lots was in balance and growth of the urban grid would have destroyed that balance.
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The city of Savannah, Georgia, the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, Georgia, was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. It is known as Georgia's first planned city and attracts millions of visitors, who enjoy the city's architecture and historic structures such as the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, the First African Baptist Church, Congregation Mickve Israel, and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex. Today, Savannah's downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.
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George Washington Grayson, also known as Tulwa Tustunugge, , was a businessman, merchant, rancher, publisher of the Indian Journal, writer, and leader of the Creek Nation during the period when Indian Territory was dissolved to prepare of Oklahoma statehood. Of partial European ancestry, he identified as Creek and supported the nation, working for the proposed State of Sequoyah, to be a Native American state. It did not gain Congressional approval. In 1917, under revised conditions after tribal governments had been dissolved, Grayson was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson as chief of the Creek Nation, serving until his death. He had previously served as the Creek delegate to Congress.
Trustee Georgia is the name of the period covering the first twenty years of Georgia history, from 1732–1752, because during that time the English Province of Georgia was governed by a Board of Trustees. England's King George II, for whom the colony was named, signed a charter establishing the colony and creating its governing board on July 7, 1732. His action culminated a lengthy process. Tomochichi was a Native American that resides along the Savannah River that allowed Oglethorpe to settle on the Yamacraw Bluff.
Benjamin Ingham, was born and raised in the West Riding of Yorkshire in Northern England. He earned his B.A. degree from Oxford, and was ordained at age 23. Methodist connections from Oxford led to a colonial mission in America where he developed a keen interest in the Moravian church from German missionaries. Following a 1738 visit to Germany for greater exposure to the Moravian faith, Ingham returned to preaching in Yorkshire for the next four years. During this time he built up a following of more societies than he could manage. Ingham relinquished control of his societies to the Moravian Brethren in 1742. Ingham’s Moravian transformation occurred the year following his marriage to Lady Margaret Hastings. The Moravians, or Unitas Fratrum, were recognized by the British Crown in 1749 thereby creating the Moravian Church in England. While Ingham’s bond with his Brethren strengthened, it was a relationship that was to evolve. By the early 1750s Ingham found his views differing from the Oxford Methodists. When the viewpoints of the Moravian elders clashed with those representing the Church of England, Ingham used this 1753 scandal to distance himself from his Brethren and reestablish his own Inghamite societies. Still insecure as an independent church, Ingham turned to Sandemanianism during the final years of his life as a viable option forward for his followers. While he shared many Sandemanian views he chose independence instead. The majority of his societies splintered and joined with other denominations which included Methodists, Sandemanians and Congregationalists. He died at Aberford in 1772, four years after his wife.
Yamacraw Bluff is a bluff situated on the southern bank of the Savannah River. Now completely enclosed within downtown Savannah, Georgia, the bluff is most notable for being the spot upon which General James Edward Oglethorpe arrived to settle the British colony of Georgia. The area was originally inhabited by the Yamacraw Indians. A stone marker and statue now adorn the bluff in honor of its historic significance.
Coweta is one of the four mother towns of the Muscogee people along with Kasihta, Abihka, and Tuckabutche.
James Edward Oglethorpe was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist, as well as the founder of the colony of Georgia. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain's worthy poor in the New World, initially focusing on those in debtors' prisons.
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