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In Their Own Words

November 19, 1735

Information on Indian Lifestyles

From Old Ebenezer, Salzburger minister Johann Martin Boltzius recorded in his journal an interview with a visitor who provided a number of answers about the Indian lifestyles:

“An Englishman called on me who had been sent seven weeks ago from Savannah to the Creek Indians who live some three hundred miles inland from Savannah… .I asked him the following questions:

1) Where do the Indians live? Ans. Not on the Savannah River but further up in the country, where they can be reached only by land. There are some rivers, to be sure, but they cannot be passed because of the Frenchmen that live on them. 2) How do these people live? Do they live together in towns and do they live more orderly than the Indians in this colony? Ans. There are a number of towns in which live perhaps four hundred men (not counting the women and children). The men go hunting and collect a great many skins. The women plant corn, beans, sweet potatoes, and tobacco; and they also raise many hogs and fowl, which can be bought at a low price. Of wine, beer, and the like they know nothing. 3) Are they, like the others, given to drunkenness and especially the drinking of rum? Ans. Yes, very much so, and they hold nothing more precious than a bottle of rum: but they cannot get as much of it as others because everything must be brought to them by packhorse and thus only small kegs ever get to them. 4) Do white people carry on trade with them? Ans. “Yes, many Englishmen live among them; I have lived among them myself for some time. They buy their skins from them and given them in return all sorts of ribbons, knives, guns, powder, lead, white woolen cloth, and also rum. They do not accept money.” 5) Are the white people who visit them or live with them in any danger? Ans. “none whatsoever. Whey they are drunk they will cause inconvenience and it is better to avoid them but when they are sober they are very friendly and eager to help the white man.” 6) Is any form of worship to be seen among them? Ans. none at all. Further question: Is there no opportunity for such even among the Christians? Ans. The Frenchmen may have it. 7) How is the soil there? Ans. Very fertile, there is hardly any comparison between the land there and the best land of Carolina. 8) How is the weather? Ans. Much hotter in the summer than in Georgia, but also much colder in the winter. during the hot summertime the people must often bathe in the river is they are to stand the heat. 9) what sort of clothes do the heathens wear? Ans. Much the same as the Indians in this country. They will not accept European dress. 10) Is there a regular road that leads to them from this colony, and is the trip dangerous? Ans. It is a regular footpath which is very well known by the Spanish Indians as well. This way leads through many swamps and also across river or creeks which have to be crossed on horseback. From Pallachocolas on there is no house along the way to give shelter, and you must sleep in the forest under the open sky at all times. You build a good fire and hobble your horse and turn it loose with a bell on it to eat the very good grass. You have to carry food for yourself, whereas there is enough drinking water everywhere. There are many wild beasts in the woods but they do not harm people. They are the same kinds to be found in this colony. The only thing one has to fear on this journey is the Spanish Indians who are roaming the country, they are cowardly if you carry a gun and look them straight in the eye; but if you are timid and afraid they tie you up, carry you away, and burn you at the stake… .”

Source: George Fenwick Jones (ed.), Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America … Edited by Samuel Urlsperger, Vol. 2 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969), pp. 207-209.