Page images


would live together like brethren; in short, that he would suffer no man or woman to molest or injure them; and had ordered these words to be left on record, that their children might know them when they were dead and gone.

Such policy produced the desired effect, and many of the chieftains, being convinced that Bosomworth had deceived them, declared they would trust him no more. Even Malatchee ---the leader of the lower Creeks, and a relation to their pretended Empress, --seemed satisfied, and was not a little pleased to hear that the great king had sent them some valuable presents. Being asked why he acknowledged Mary as the Empress of the great nation of Creeks, and resigned his power and possessions to a despicable old woman, while all Georgia owned him as chief of the nation, and the president and council were now to give him many rich clothes and medals for his services, he replied, that the whole nation acknowledged her as their queen, and none could distribute the royal presents but one of her family. The president, by this answer, perceiving more clearly the design of the family of Bosomworth to lessen their influence and show the Indians that he had power to divide the royal bounty among the chiefs, determined to do it immediately, and dismiss them, on account of the growing expenses to the colony, and the hardships the inhabitants underwent in keeping guard night and day for the defence of the town.

In the mean time Malatchee, whom the Indians compared to the wind, because of his fickle and variable temper, having at his own request obtained access to Bosomworth and his wife, was again seduced and drawn over to support their chimerical claim.

While the Indians were gathered together to receive their respective shares of the royal bounty, he stood up in the midst of them, and with a frowning countenance and in violent agitation of spirit, delivered a speech fraught with the most dangerous insinuations. He protested that Mary possessed that country before General Oglethorpe, and that all of the lands belonged to her, as queen and head of the Creeks; that it was by her permission Englishmen were at first allowed to set their foot on them; that they still held them of her, as the original proprietor; that her words were the voice of the whole nation, consisting of above Three thousand warriors, and at her command every one of them would take up the hatchet in defence of her right; and then, pulling a paper out of his pocket, he delivered it to the president, in confirmation of what he had said.

This was evidently the production of Bosomworth, and served to discover in the plainest manner his ambitious views and wicked intrigues. The preamble was filled with the names of Indians called kings of all the towns of the upper and lower Creeks, none of whom, however, were present, excepting two. The substance of it corresponded with Malatchee's speech, styling Mary the rightful princess and chief of their nation, descended in a maternal line from the emperor, and invested with full power and authority from them to settle, and finally determine all public affairs and causes, relating to lands and other things, with King George and his beloved men on both sides of the sea; and whatever should be said or done by her they would abide by, as if said or done by themselves.

After reading this paper in council, the whole board was struck with astonishment, and Malatchee, perceiving their uneasiness, begged to have it again, declaring he did not know it to be a bad talk, and promising he would return it immediately to the person from whom he had received it. To remove all impression made upon the minds of the Indians by Malatchee's speech, and convince them of the deceitful and dangerous tendency of this confederacy, into which Bosomworth and his wife had betrayed them, had now become a matter of the highest consequence. Happy was it for the province that this was a thing neither difficult nor impracticable; for, as ignorant savages are easily misled, on the one hand, so, on the other, it was equally easy to convince them of their error.

Accordingly, having gathered the Indians together for this purpose, the presi. dent addressed them to the following effect:- Friends and Brothers! When Mr. Oglethorpe and his people first arrived in Georgia, they found Mary, then the wife of John Musgrove, living in a small hut at Yamacraw, having a license from the governor of South Carolina to trade with the Indians. She then appeared to be in a poor, ragged condition, and was neglected and despised by the Creeks. But Mr. Oglethorpe, finding that she could speak both the English and Creek languages, employed her as an interpreter, richly clothed her, and made her the woman of consequence she now appears. The people of Georgia always respected her until she married Thomas Bosomworth, but from that time she has proved a liar and a deceiver. In fact, she was no relation of Malatchee, but the daughter of an Indian woman of no note, by a white man. General Oglethorpe did not treat with her for the lands of Georgia--she having none of her own but with the old and wise leaders of the Creek nation, who voluntarily surrendered their territories to the king.

The Indians at that time having much waste land that was useless to themselves, parted with a share of it to their friends, and were glad that white people had settled among them to supply their wants. He told them that the present bad humour of the Creeks had been artfully infused into them by Mary, at the instigation of her husband, who owed £400 in Carolina, for cattle; that he demanded a third part of the royal bounty, in order to rob the naked Indians of their right; that he had quarrelled with the president and council of Georgia, for refusing to answer his exorbitant demands, and therefore had filled the heads of the Indians with wild fancies and groundless jealousies, in order to breed mischief, and to induce them to break their alliance with their best friends, who alone were able to supply their wants, and defend them against all their enemies.

Here the Indians desired him to stop, and put an end to the contest, declaring that their eyes were now opened, and they saw through his insidious designs; but though he intended to break the chain of friendship, they were determined to hold it fast, and therefore begged that all' might immediately smoke the pipe of peace. Accordingly pipes and rum were brought, and the whole congress joining hand in hand, drank and smoked together in 'friendship, every one wishing that their hearts might be united in like manner as their hands. Then all the royal presents, except ammunition, with which it was judged imprudent to trust them, until they were at some distance from town, were brought and distributed among them. The most disaffected were purchased with the largest presents. Even Malatchee himself seemed fully contented with his share; and the savages in general, perceiving the poverty and insignificancy of the family of Bosomworth, and their total inability to supply their wants, determined to break off all connection with them for ever.

While the president and council flattered themselves that all differences were amicably compromised, and were rejoicing in the re-establishment of their former friendly intercourse with the Creeks, Mary, drunk with liquor and disappointed in her views, came rushing in among them like a fury, and told the president that these were her people, that he had no business with them, and he should soon be convinced of it to his cost. The president calmly advised her to keep to her lodgings, and forbear to poison the minds of the Indians, otherwise he would order her again into close confinement; upon which, turning to Malatchee in great rage, she told him what the president had said, who instantly starting from his seat, laid hold of his arms, and then calling upon the rest to follow his example, dared any man to touch the queen. The whole house was filled in a moment with tumult and uproar. Every Indian having his tomahawk in his hand, the president and council expected nothing but instant death.

During this confusion, Capt Jones, who commanded the guard, very seasonably interposed, and ordered the Indians immediately to deliver up their arms. Such courage was not only necessary to overawe them, but, at the same time, great prudence was necessary to avoid coming to extremities with them. With reluctance the Indians submitted, and Mary was conveyed to a private room, where a guard was set over her, and all further intercourse with the savages denied her, during their stay in Savannah. Then her husband was sent for, in order to reason with him, and convince him of the folly of his chimerical pretensions, and of the dangerous consequences that might result from persisting in them. But no sooner did he appear before the president and council, than he began to abuse them to their face. In spite of every argument used to persuade him to submission, he remained obstinate and contumacious, and protested he would stand forth in vindication of his wife's right to the last extremity, and that the province of Georgia should soon feel the weight of her vengeance.

Finding that fair means were fruitless and ineffectual, the council then determined to remove him also out of the way of the savages, and to humble him by force.

After having secured the two leaders, it only then remained to persuade the Indians peaceably to leave the town, and return to their settlements.

Capt. Ellick, a young warrior, who had distinguished himself in discovering to his tribe the base intrigues of Bosomworth, being afraid to accompany Malatchee and his followers, thought fit to set out among the first; the rest followed him in different parties; and the inhabitants, wearied out with constant watching, and harassed with frequent alarms, were at length happily relieved.

By this time Adam Bosomworth, another brother of the family, who was agent for Indian Affairs in Carolina, had arrived from that province, and being made acquainted with what had happened in Georgia, was filled with shame and indignation. He found his ambitious brother, not contented with the common allowance of land granted by the crown, aspiring after .sovereignty, and attempting to obtain by force one of the largest landed estates in the world. His plot was artfully, contrived, and had it been executed with equal courage, fatal must the consequences have been. Had he taken possession of the provincial magazine, on his arrival at Savannah, and supplied the Creeks with ammunition, the militia must soon have been overpowered, and every family must of course have fallen a sacrifice to the indiscriminate vengeance of the savages.

Happily by the interposition of his brother, all differences were peacefully compromised


repent of his folly, and to ask pardon of the magistrates and people. He wrote to the president, acquainting him that he was now deeply sensible of his duty as a subject, and of the respect he owed to civil authority, and could no longer justify the conduct of his wife; but hoped that her present remorse, and past services to the province, would entirely blot out the remembrance of her unguarded expressions and rash design. He appealed to the letters of General Oglethorpe for her former irreproachable conduct and steady friendship to the settlement, and hoped her good behaviour for the future would atone for her past offences, and reinstate her in the public favour. For his own part, he acknowledged her title to be groundless, and for ever relinquished all claims to the lands of the prov. ince. The colonists generously forgave and forgot all that had passed; and public tranquillity being re-established, new settlers applied for lands as usual, without meeting any more obstacles from the idle claims of Indian queens and chieftains.


A STATEMENT OF MRS. BOSOMWORTH'S CASE, Humbly addressed to His Excellency, HENRY ELLIS, Esq., Captain-General and Govera nor in Chief of his Majesty's Province of Georgia, and Vice-Admiral of the same : setting forth her services performed, losses sustained, and moneys advanced for his Majesty's service, with her claims and demands upon the Government.*

That before the charter for establishing the colony of Georgia, Mrs. Bosom. worth, with her family, was settled on the river Savannah, a small space where the town of Savannah now stands; had large credits from merchants in Charles Town, South Carolina, and carried on a considerable trade with the Indians, whereby she had already made very large remittances in skins, and was, more. over, possessed of a very good cow-pen and plantation upon the same river. .

That Mr. Oglethorpe's arrival with the first adventurers to settle a colony under the aforesaid charter, gave great uneasiness to the Indians then upon the spot, who threatened to take up arms against them; nor would they have pers mitted Mr. Oglethorpe and his people a quiet possession, (as they looked upon

* Colonial Documents.

the white people's settling to the southward of Savannah river contrary to the treaty of peace entered into between the Indians and the government of South Carolina, after the Indian war in the year 1715,) had not the governor and council wrote to Mrs. Bosomworth, by Mr. Oglethorpe, to use the utmost of her interest with the Indians for that purpose, and to give the new settlers all the aid and assistance their necessities might require. In compliance with the request contained in that letter, and from motives of regard to the British interest, Mrs. Bosomworth, by her influence, quieted the Indians, allayed all animosity, obtained a present asylum for the adventurers, and in about the space of twelve months, by her steady adherence and good offices, settled and procured to be ratifiéd å treaty between the Indians and Mr. Oglethorpe, in behalf of the trustees, for establishing that colony.

That, by the trade she then carried on with the Indians, there was no impediment to her soon raising considerable interest; yet Mrs. Bosomworth could not, unmoved, see a colony, scarce began, left to the miserections of the Spaniards and their Indians, (the frequent and then late ravages of the frontiers of Carolina,) and whose protection she well knew, in their defenceless situation, could only be secured by the friendship and alliance with the Creek Indians; she, therefore, upon promises of adequate rewards from the Government, induced the Indians, who were her hunters, and supplied her with skins most generally, to employ themselves in expeditions for the public service.

That, in the years 1737 and 1738, when Mr. Oglethorpe thought it expedient to improve the southern part of the province, first, by a settlement on the Island of St. Simons, and by another settlement of Scotch people at Darien, on the Alatamaha river, the assistance of the Creek Indianis then became of so much greater importance, as there were advices at that time that the Spaniards were making preparations to dislodge the inhabitants of this new colony; and the more still effectually to further the preservation and growth of the frontier settle. ments, Mrs. Bosomworth, at the earnest request of Gen. Oglethorpe, (buoyed up by extensive promises and the large rewards so signal a service for the public welfare would merit,) settled a trading-house on the south side of the said river Alatamaha, about 150 miles up the same river, by water, at a place called Mount Venture, the intention of which settlement was, that the Creek Indians who would be constantly with her there, might be an advanced guard to prevent any incursions of the Spaniards or Indians in friendship with them, and be always more ready at hand when his Majesty's service required their assistance, and which thoroughly answered the intentions of the public.

That, after the declaration of war against Spain, the service of the Indians was so frequently required, that no benefit could possibly arise from any trade with them that might induce Mrs. Bosomworth to stay there; nevertheless, so great was her zeal, that without the least prospect of interest to herself, she was daily exposed at that settlement for the public service, in keeping the Indians upon excursions, and sending for her friends and relations from the nation to go to war whenever his Majesty's service required.

That, at the time of Mr. Oglethorpe's first arrival, there being no house or settlement on the place except Mrs. Bosomworth’s, at the request of Mr. Oglethorpe, she supplied the new settlers, and other persons employed on public services, in their greatest wants, not only with every thing her plantation and store afforded, but also with liquor and other necessaries purchased on her own credit from merchants in Charles Town, whereby she lost, in bad debts so contracted and accumulated, the sum of £826 sterling, as can be evidently proved from the state of her books, and has been before, amongst other complaints, set forth and humbly represented to the Government.

That, by Mrs. Bosomworth's employing in his Majesty's service those Indians who used, by hunting, to supply her with skins, (the chief support of herself and family,) her trade naturally decreased and went nearly to ruin ; a large party of them whom she prevailed on assisted his Majesty's arms, and went to the siege of St. Augustine, where many of them were killed, particularly her own brother and other near relations. By this incident, she greatly suffered in the loss of Indian debts, amounting to several thousand weight of leather, for which she never yet received any satisfaction, although proinised it from time to time by Mr. Oglethorpe.

That, from the time of settling the southern frontier aforementioned, Mr. Oglethorpe was continually sending for Mrs. Bosomworth on all affairs of any consequence with the Indians, which exposed her to many dangers and hardships,



boat, her own affairs and improvements and her lands neglected, and running to ruin, being left entirely to the management of servants for months at a time.

That, in the spring of 1739 and 1740, Mrs. Bosomworth had a large stock of cattle at her cowpen on Savannah River ; but General Oglethorpe, hearing that the cowpen keeper was a very good woodsman, in the absence of Mrs. Bosomworth at the Alatamaha settlement, without her consent or knowledge, sent orders to the said cowpen keeper to go directly as a guide to a troop of Rangers who were sent by land to the siege of St. Augustine, which orders he durst not disobey, though sensible of the loss it would be to Mrs. Bosomworth's interest, and, as it happened, the loss of his own life, he being killed at that expedition, by which means all Mrs. Bosomworth's affairs at Savannah, stock of cattle, improvements, &c., which were very considerable, went entirely to ruin; for which losses no satisfaction was ever made, although constantly and solemnly promised to her.

That, in the year 1742, Mrs. Bosomworth's then husband, Captain Matthews, being taken sick at her settlement on the Alatamaha, she was obliged to bring him from thence,.on occasion of proper sustenance and advice, to Savannah, where he soon after died; her affairs on account of his death demanding her stay in Savannah for some time. The Indians at the Alatamaha were very uneasy and disgusted that she did not return, and, on that account, left the place. The small garrison that were there being in great want of provisions and ammui nition, a party of Yamasee or Spanish Indians came upon them, and after committing several barbarous murders, totally burnt and destroyed the settlement, and als Mrs. Bosomworth's effects became a prey to the enemy; which great loss Gen. Oglethorpe promised her should be made up to her by the Government, he well knowing, in truth, that that settlement was calculated and made for the sole benefit of his Majesty's service, and the protection of the southern boundary. · That, in the year 1745, Mr. Bosomworth was at the expense of a voyage to England, in order to claim the performance of the various promises from time to time for a series of years made, or otherwise to apply to the Government in behalf of his wife; and the public confusion at that time in England rendering any private application to the Government unseasonable, he was obliged to return to America only with an assurance from Gen. Oglethorpe, that as soon as the then disturbances were settled, Mrs. Bosomworth might depend upon his honour for full satisfaction for all her services, and that in the interim Mr. Bosomworth might draw upon him for any sum not exceeding £1000, as the exigency of affairs might require.

This is all the satisfaction Mr. Bosomworth obtained in consequence of that voyage, excepting a letter to the commanding officer then in Georgia, a copy whereof is annexed.

In the year 1746, upon the faith of General Oglethorpe's promise, Mr. Bosomworth was induced to draw several bills of exchange upon him; but the cloud he was at that time under, in respect to his conduct in the north, rendered him incapable of paying any of them, as it appears by his letter dated Whitehall, July 16, 1746, so that the bills were all returned upon Mr. Bosomworth with the heavy charges of protest, amounting to £600 or £700 sterling, most of which remains at this day unpaid..

other settlement on the Alatamaha, at the place called the Forks, about 300 miles by water up the same river, built a very good dwelling-house, outhouses, a large store, and fortified the whole round against any attenipts of enemy-In

« PreviousContinue »