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This Day in Georgia History

January 22, 1733

Ogethorpe Arrived at Yamacraw Bluff

James Oglethorpe and a small party of Carolina rangers rowed up the Savannah River in their small boat looking for a location for the Georgia colonists to settle. In so doing, he followed a decision by the Trustees on Nov. 9, 1732 that the first settlement – which was to be named Savannah – be located on that river. About fifteen miles upstream from the mouth of the Savannah, Oglethorpe found an area along the south bank that rose high over the river. As Oglethorpe wrote the Trustees about the site:

“The river there forms a half moon, along the South side of which the banks are about 40 foot high and upon the top a flat which they call a bluff. The plain high ground extends into the country five or six miles and along the riverside about a mile. Ships that draw twelve foot water can ride within ten yards of the bank.”

The site Oglethorpe had found was known as Yamacraw Bluff, the name derived from the small tribe of Yamacraw Indians who lived there. The bluff was a popular place for Carolina Indian traders, and in 1732 John and Mary Musgrove had opened a trading post there. Using the Musgroves as translators, Oglethorpe met Yamacraw chief Tomochichi and asked for permission to settle a town on the bluff. Tomochichi agreed. Most likely, his decision was based on self-interest – his tribe was small, poor, exiled from the other Creeks, and dependent upon English goods. A preliminary verbal agreement was reached (though a formal treaty would not be signed until May 21). Oglethorpe then left to rejoin the colonists at Beaufort, leaving some of the Carolina rangers behind to build a stairway up the side of the bluff.