On the 9th Oglethorpe and Colonel Bull marked out the square, the streets, and forty lots for houses; and the first clapboard-house of the colony of Georgia was begun that day.
Continuing Settlement of Georgia,
our selection from History of Georgia by William B. Stevens published in 1847. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in four easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Settlement of Georgia.
Day after day and week after week the voyagers seem the center of the same watery circle canopied by the same bending sky. No mile-stones tell of their progress. The way-marks of the mariner are the sun by day and the moon and stars by night; no kindred ship answers back its red-cross signal; but there they float, the germ of a future nation, upon the desert waters. Sailing a circuitous route, they did not reach the coast of America until January 13, 1733, when they cast anchor in Rebellion Roads, and furled their sails at last in the harbor of Charleston.
Oglethorpe immediately landed, and was received by the Governor and Council of South Carolina with every mark of civility and attention. The King’s pilot was directed by them to carry the ship into Port Royal, and small vessels were furnished to take the emigrants to the river Savannah. Thus assisted, in about ten hours they resumed their voyage and shortly dropped anchor within Port Royal bar.
The colony landed at Beaufort on January 20th, and had quarters given them in the new barracks. Here they received every attention from the officers of His Majesty’s Independent Company and the gentlemen of the neighborhood, and refreshed themselves after the fatigues and discomforts of their long voyage and cramped accommodations.
Leaving his people here, Oglethorpe, accompanied by Colonel William Bull, of South Carolina, went forward to the Savannah River to select a site for the projected settlement. Winding among the inlets, which break into numerous islands the low flat seaboard, their canoe at last shot into the broad stream of the Savannah; and bending their course upward they soon reached a bold, pine-crowned bluff, at the foot of which they landed to inspect its localities.
Reaching its top, a beautiful prospect met their eyes. At their feet, some fourteen yards below, flowed the quiet waters of the Savannah, visible for some distance above and traceable through its green landscape till it emptied itself into the ocean. Before them lay a beautiful island of richest pasturage, beyond which was seen the north branch of the Savannah bordered by the slopes of Carolina, with a dark girdle of trees resting against the horizon. Behind them was the unbroken forest of tall green pines, with an occasional oak draperied with festoons of gray moss or the druidical mistletoe. A wide expanse of varied beauty was before them; an ample and lofty plain around them; and, though spring had not yet garnished the scene with her vernal glories, sprinkling the woods with gay wild-flowers and charming creepers, and making the atmosphere balmy with the bay, the jessamine, and the magnolia, yet, even in winter, were there sufficient charms in the spot to fix on it the heart of Oglethorpe, and cause him to select it as the home of his waiting colony. “The landscape,” he writes, “is very agreeable, the stream being wide and bordered with high woods on both sides,” On the northern end of this bluff they found a trading-house and an Indian village called Yamacraw. The chief of this little tribe was Tomochichi; and the trader’s name was Musgrove, married to a half-breed, named Mary. By an ancient treaty of the Creeks with the Governor of South Carolina, no white settlement was allowed to be made south of the Savannah River without their consent.
Satisfied with the eligibility of this situation, Oglethorpe applied to Mary Musgrove, who could speak both Indian and English, to obtain from the tribe their agreement to his settlement. They at first appeared uneasy and threatened to take up arms, but were pacified by her representations of the benefits which would accrue to them; and she gained from them a provisional treaty, until the consent of the whole nation could be obtained. The Indians, once made sensible of the advantages they would derive from the erection of a town within their limits, hailed their coming with joy and busied themselves in many offices of service and regard. The land selected, the consent of the tribe obtained, and the services of Mary secured as an interpreter in their subsequent intercourse with the red men, Oglethorpe returned to Beaufort on January 24th; and the Sunday after was made a day of praise and thanksgiving for their safe arrival in America, and the happy auspices which clustered round the opening prospects of Georgia. During the stay of the colonists in South Carolina they were treated with genuine hospitality, and when they departed they were laden with most substantial and valuable tokens of interest and benevolence.
Leaving the ship at Port Royal, Oglethorpe engaged a sloop of seventy tons, and five plantation-boats, and embarked the colonists on Tuesday, the 30th, but, detained by a storm, they did not reach their destination until the afternoon of Thursday, February 12 (new style), 1733. The people immediately pitched four large tents, being one for each tithing, into which municipal divisions they had already been divided; and, landing their bedding and other necessaries, spent their first night in Georgia.
As soon as the tents had been pitched, the Indians came forward with their formal salutations. In front advanced, with antic dancings, the “medicine man,” bearing in each hand a spread fan of white feathers fastened to a rod hung from top to bottom with little bells; marching behind this jingling symbol of peace and friendship, came the King and Queen, followed by about twenty others, making the air ring with their uncouth shouts. Approaching Oglethorpe, who walked out a few steps from his tent to meet them, the medicine man came forward with his fans, declaiming the while the deeds of their ancestors, and stroked him on every side with the emblems of amity. This over, the King and Queen bade him welcome and, after an interchange of compliments, they were conducted to Oglethorpe’s tent and partook of a pleasant entertainment hastily prepared for the occasion.
And now all was bustle upon the bluff. The unlading of goods, the felling of trees, the hewing of timber, the clearing of land, the erection of palisades — all supervised by the watchful eye and directed by the energetic mind of their leader — gave a brisk and industrious air to the novel scene.
On the 9th Oglethorpe and Colonel Bull marked out the square, the streets, and forty lots for houses; and the first clapboard-house of the colony of Georgia was begun that day. On March 12th Oglethorpe writes: “Our people still lie in tents; there being only two clapboard houses built, and three sawed houses framed. Our crane, our battery of cannon, and magazine are finished. This is all we have been able to do by reason of the smallness of our numbers, of which many have been sick, and others unused to labor, though I thank God they are now pretty well, and we have not lost one since our arrival.”
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history