Chapter I.

    Earliest Colonists under the Conduct of Mr. Oglethorpe --- His Eminent Fitness for the Position of Founder of the Contemplated Plantation --- Arrival at Charles-Town and Beaufort-Town --- Selection of Yamacraw Bluff as the Site for Primal Settlement --- Description of the Locality --- Tomo-chi-chi, and Oglethorpe's First Interview with him and his Tribe --- The Colonists Entertained at Beaufort-Town --- Their Arrival and Location at Savannah.

On the 17th of November, 1732, the Anne, a galley of some two hundred tons burden, commanded by Captain Thomas, and having on board about one hundred and thirty persons, among whom were Mr. Oglethorpe, the Rev. Dr. Henry Herbert, a clergyman of the Church of England, who volunteered to accompany the colonists and, without pecuniary recompense, to perform all religious services they might need, and Mr. Amatis from Piedmont, engaged to instruct in breeding silkworms and in the art of winding silk, departed from Gravesend bearing the first persons selected by the trustees for the colonization of Georgia. Thirty-five families were represented among these emigrants. There were carpenters, bricklayers, farmers, and mechanics --- all able-bodied men, and of good reputation. It has been idly charged that in the beginning the Georgia colonists were impecunious, depraved, lawless, and abandoned; that the settlement at Savannah was a sort of Botany Bay; and that Yamacraw Bluff was peopled by runagates from justice. The suggestion is utterly groundless. The truth is no applicant was admitted to the privilege of enrollment, as an emigrant, until he had been subjected to a preliminary examination and had furnished satisfactory evidence that he was fairly entitled to the benefits of the charity. Other American colonies were founded and augmented by individuals coming at will, without question, for personal gain, and bringing no certificate of present or past good conduct. Georgia, on the contrary, exhibits the spectacle at once unique and admirable, of permitting no one, at the outset, to enter her borders who was not, by competent authority, adjudged worthy the rights of citizenship.

    At his own request Mr. Oglethorpe was selected to accompany the colonists and establish them in Georgia. He volunteered to bear his own expenses and to devote his entire time and attention to the consummation of the enterprise. Himself the originator and the most zealous advocate of the scheme, this offer on his part placed the seal of consecration upon his self-denial, patriotism, and enlarged philanthropy. Most fortunate were the trustees in securing the services of such a representative. To no one could the power to exercise the functions of a colonial governor have been more appropriately confided. Attentive to the voice of suffering, and ready to lend a helping hand wherever the weak and the oppressed required the aid of the more powerful and the noble-minded for the redress of wrongs and the alleviation of present ills; "in the prime of life, very handsome, tall, manly, dignified, but not austere; the beau ideal of an English gentleman, and blessed with ample means for the gratification of every reasonable desire;" possessing a liberal education, a fearless soul, a determined will, a tireless energy, a practical knowledge of military affairs and of the management of expeditions, and an experience of men and climes and matters which only years of careful observation, intelligent travel, and thoughtful study could supply, there was that about his person, character, attainments, and abilities, which inspired confidence and rendered Mr. Oglethorpe, beyond dispute, the man of his age and people best qualified to inaugurate and to conduct to a successful issue an enterprise so entirely in unison with his own philanthropic sentiments and so important to the interests both of England and America.

    Shaping her course for the Island of Madeira, the Anne touched there and took on board five tuns of wine. Sailing thence, she fetched a compass for Charlestown harbor, where she dropped anchor outside the bar on the 13th of January, 1733. Although somewhat protracted, the voyage had proved pleasant and prosperous. The death of two delicate children in mid-ocean constituted the only sorrow which clouded the hearts of the colonists during the entire passage.

    On the night of her arrival, having assembled the emigrants and returned thanks to Almighty God for this favorable termination of the voyage, Mr. Oglethorpe, accompanied by an escort, proceeded to Charlestown and waited upon his excellency, Robert Johnson, governor of the province of South Carolina. By him and his council was he warmly welcomed and treated with marked hospitality. Cheerfully responding to his needs, Governor Johnson ordered Mr. Middleton, the king's pilot, to attend upon Mr. Oglethorpe and to conduct the Anne into Port Royal. Instructions were also issued for small craft to be in readiness to convey the colonists thence to the Savannah River. The next morning, Mr. Oglethorpe having returned on board, the Anne sailed for Port Royal harbor.

    Having posted a detachment of eight men upon an island about midway between Beaufort and the Savannah River, with instructions to "prepare huts for the reception of the colony against they should lie there in their passage," he proceeded to Beaufort-town, where he arrived early on the morning of the 19th. Here he was saluted by the artillery; and, at his request the new barracks were made ready for the reception of the colonists, who ascended the river and occupied them on the following day.

    Leaving the colonists to refresh themselves at this pleasant place, Mr. Oglethorpe, accompanied by Colonel William Bull, of South Carolina, proceeded to the Savannah River and ascended that stream as high as Yamacraw Bluff. Regarding this as an eligible location, he landed and marked out the site of a town which, after the river flowing by, he named Savannah. This bluff, rising some forty feet above the level of the river and possessing a bold frontage on the water of nearly a mile, sufficiently ample for the riparian uses of a settlement of considerable magnitude, was the first high ground, abutting upon the stream, encountered by him in its ascent. To the south a high and dry plain, overshadowed by pines, interspersed with live-oaks and magnolias, stretched away for a considerable distance. On the east and west were small creeks and swamps affording convenient drainage for the intermediate territory. The river in front was capable of floating ships of ordinary tonnage, and they could lie so near the shore that their cargoes might with facility be discharged. Northwardly, in the direction of Carolina, lay the rich delta of the river, with its islands and lowlands crowned with a dense growth of cypress, sweet-gum, tupelo, and other trees, many of them vine-covered and draped in long gray moss swaying gracefully in the ambient air. The yellow jessamine was already mingling its delicious perfume with the breath of the pine, and the trees were vocal with the voices of song-birds. Everything in this semi-tropical region was quickening into life and beauty under the reviving influences of returning spring. In its primeval repose it seemed a goodly land. The temperate rays of the sun gave no token of the heat of summer. There was no promise of the tornado and the thunder-storm in the gentle winds. In the balmy air lurked no suspicion of malarial fevers. Its proximity to the mouth of the river rendered this spot suitable alike for commercial purposes and for maintaining facile communication with the Carolina settlements.

    Near by was an Indian village, the headquarters of the Yamacraws, a small tribe, the chief or mico of which was the venerable Tomo-chi-chi. Here too a post had been established by Musgrove,1 a Carolina trader, married to a half breed named Mary. Before leading his colonists to this home which he had selected for their first habitation, Oglethorpe was anxious to propitiate the natives. He accordingly visited the village, and obtained an interview with Tomo-chi-chi. Mary Musgrove, who had acquired a tolerable knowledge of English and was favorably inclined toward her husband's countrymen, on this occasion not only acted as interpreter but exerted a valuable influence in securing from the Indians pledges of amity. When first acquainted with Oglethorpe's design of forming a settlement at Yamacraw the natives manifested much uneasiness and even threatened to prevent by force the advent of the whites. Assured, however, of the friendly intentions of the English, and persuaded of the benefits which would flow from direct association with them, the Indians finally withdrew their opposition and, with protestations of gladness, entered into an informal agreement by which the desired lands were ceded, and promises given to receive the strangers with good will.

    His preliminary arrangements having been thus accomplished, Oglethorpe returned to Beaufort, reaching the town on the 24th. During his absence the emigrants were greatly refreshed by their sojourn on shore. They had been the recipients of every attention and hospitality. The following Sunday was observed as a day of special thanksgiving; the Rev. Lewis Jones preaching before the colonists, and their chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Herbert, occupying Mr. Jones's pulpit in Beaufort. The gentlemen of the neighborhood united with the colonists on this occasion, and the ceremonies terminated with a bountiful dinner provided by Oglethorpe. Among the articles mentioned as constituting this first feast were four fat hogs, eight turkeys, many fowls, English beef, a hogshead of punch, a hogshead of beer, and a generous quantity of wine. Although this repast was accompanied with a bountiful supply of malt liquor, wine, and spirits, we are informed that everything was conducted in such an agreeable manner that no one became drunk. Throughout the course of the entertainment there was an entire absence of everything savoring of disorder.

    On the 30th of January the colonists, conveyed in a sloop of seventy tons and in five periaguas, set sail for Savannah. Encountering a storm they were forced to seek shelter from its violence at a point known as Look Out. Here they lay all night, and the next day proceeded as far as John's, where the eight men, there stationed by Oglethorpe, had prepared huts for their reception. A plentiful supply of venison awaited their coming. Upon this they supped, and there they spent the night. Re-embarking in the morning, they arrived the same afternoon at Yamacraw Bluff. Before dark they erected four large tents (one for each tything) capable of accommodating all the people, and transferred their bedding and other necessaries ashore. There they slept, passing their first night upon the soil of Georgia.

    Faithful to his trust, Oglethorpe, having posted his sentinels, sought no protection save the shelter of the towering pines, and lay upon the ground near the central watch-fire. The ocean had been crossed, and the germ of a new colony was planted in America.

1 - Musgrove's presence here contravened the stipulations of a treaty long existent between the colony of South Carolina and the natives, which forbade the establishment of trading-posts south of the Savannah River.
    If you have resources for Chatham County or would like to volunteer to help with look-ups, please e-mail Tim Stowell
History of Savannah
Table of Contents
    Chatham Co, GA Page    
You are a welcome visitor since 28 Jul 2011 -- thanks for stopping by!

The previous site had 1907 visitors from 30 Apr 2006 to 28 Jul 2011.    

Last updated: 21 May 2017