Friday, January 12, 2018

John Musgrove: Husband of Mary

John and Mary Musgrove: Georgia's First Family

Mary 'Coosaponekeesa' Musgrove

The story of  Mary Musgrove is well known in Georgia History.

"Mary Musgrove served as a cultural liaison between colonial Georgia and her Native American community... As Pocahontas was to the Jamestown colony and Sacagawea was to the Lewis and Clark expedition, so was Musgrove to the burgeoning Georgia colony."
New Georgia Encyclopedia

Less is known of her husband's story. This post is about John Musgrove, Jr.

Captain John Musgrove, Sr.

Captain John Musgrove, Sr. was an Indian Trader and negotiator from South Carolina. On April 15, 1715,

"...a group of Yamasees rose and killed 90 white traders and their families. ...
All the surrounding Indian tribes except the Cherokee and the Lower Creek eventually allied themselves with Yamasee bands."
Encyclopedia Britannica 

Yamasee War 1715
The Carolina Assembly employed John Sr. to arrange peace between the Creeks and the English. 

"John Musgrove met the Coweta headman Brims...(and to seal peace negotiations ed.) it was decided a young niece from Brims' family would be betrothed to Musgrove's son... . Captain Musgrove was married to a Creek woman and therefore his son, Johnny Musgrove, like Mary, was of mixed blood."

John Musgrove, Jr.

John Musgrove, Jr., married Coosaponekeesa,  who became known as Mary Musgrove, in 1716 in Creek Territory. By 1732, the Musgroves had established a trading post among the Yamacraw Indians on the the Savannah River.

Charter for creating Georgia
"King George II in 1732 granted a charter for creating Georgia and named Oglethorpe as one of twenty-one Trustees to govern the new colony."
New Georgia Encyclopedia

James Oglethorpe stopped in Charleston, South Carolina, to meet Governor Robert Johnson before journeying south to find a location for his new colony. The governor warned him of Native presence in the area.

Arrival at Yamacraw Bluff

"Although Mary Musgrove is widely credited as having been the interpreter for Oglethorpe’s initial meetings with Yamacraw chief Tomochichi, it was in fact John who was the principal interpreter."

It was to John Musgrove, Jr., - by virtue of his trading post - Oglethorpe first looked for assistance.  Peter Gordon, a bailiff on Oglethorpe's voyage, reported:

"...(a)bout an hour after our landing, the Indians came with their King, Queen and Mr. Musgrave, the Indian trader and welcome us... . (Oglethorpe) conducted them into his tent, seating Toma Chachi on his right hand and Mr Musgrave, the interpreter, standing in between them."
Peter Gordon Recorded Arrival at Yamacraw Bluff

Meeting with Tomochichi

"Approximately one month after Oglethorpe had disembarked in Georgia, Tomochichi requested a formal talk with him. 
Musgrove led a native delegation of warriors and headmen who were dancing and chanting and were bedecked in white feathers symbolizing their peaceful intentions, but he did not dress like them or join in their display. 
Musgrove's position at the head of the assembly demonstrated his importance in the upcoming negotiations as well as the trust the Indians placed in him to speak for their side."  
John Musgrove: The First British-Creek Mediator of Georgia   
Native South Volume 2, 2009 pg. 25 - Julian Sweet 

Delegation to England

"In 1734, Tomochichi, his wife Senauki, their adopted son Toonahowi, and six Lower Creek tribesmen accompanied Oglethorpe on a trip to England." 
Georgia Historical Society

William Verlst
Musgrove w/o wig
John Musgrove, Jr.,  was their translator. In her article for the "Native South" magazine Julian Sweet writes:

"To commemorate this historic meeting between the Trustees and the Indians,an artist named William Verlst painted a portrait of all members of both parties including John Musgrove." 
Native South Volume 2, 2009 pg. 33


For his services, the Trustees granted Musgrove a 500-acre grant of land just north of Savannah. On May 15, 1735, the Trustees awarded Musgrove an exclusive license to trade with the Yamacraw and Yuchi Indians.

However, in less than a month, on June 12, 1735, at forty years old, he died of malaria. He left Mary;

"...with a 500-acre plantation, a large number of cattle and horses, 10 indentured servants and a thriving deerskin trade. She became the wealthiest woman on the Georgia frontier."

Distinguished Women Biographies

John Wesley

At his death, Mary had already lost three of their four sons. Seventeen months later the English cleric John Wesley, then ministering to the Georgia Colony, wrote in his diary:
"Tuesday, November 23, 1736. Mr. Oglethorpe sailed for England. In the evening, I buried Mrs. Musgrove's only son, who would probably have been quite lost in grief, but that God diverted her from it by the pain of a violent rheumatism."

The detail of his diary notes that at 5PM
"Buried Ned Musgrove, etc."
John Musgrove, Jr.'s line died with Ned Musgrove. Our own branch of the Musgrove family - the largest in the United States - descends from a John Musgrove, Jr in Maryland.

The Colony of Georgia

No comments:

Post a Comment