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In Their Own Words

January 01, 1735

Letter from Colonist Arthur Johnson to the Trustees

Georgia’s early colonists were given a town lot in Savannah to build a house, a 5-acre lot at the edge of town for a garden, and then 45 acres in the countryside for a farm. However, the quality of land varied widely, some proving unsuitable for raising crops, as evidenced by the letter from Arthur Johnson to the Trustees:

“… Mr. Oglethorpe … granted me a lot in town, upon which with great difficulty I have built a house, much larger than what is common and sunk a well 35 foot, together with all other necessary improvements.

“My five-acre lot is of no service to me, being one entire swamp, nor am I capable of improving it for want of servants. My 45-acre lot is far distant from town, and having no assistance can make little or no improvement thereon, which is cause of great trouble to me, having been from my youth a planter.

” ‘Tis impossible for a town to subsist without a country[side]. So [I] would willing (as my genius lies chiefly in tillage) sell my house in town, had I three or four servants, and apply myself thereto … .

” ‘Tis impossible for me to maintain my family without servants … .” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 83-84.