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This Day in Georgia History

June 12, 1735

John Musgrove Died

Indian trader John Musgrove died at his trading post near Savannah, Georgia. Born in South Carolina around 1695, Musgrove followed in his father’s footsteps as an Indian trader. In 1716, Musgrove married Coosaponekeesa (daughter of a white trader and the niece of Brims, the principal chief of the Lower Creeks in the early 1700s), who took the name of Mary Musgrove and became an important figure in Georgia colonial history. By 1732, the Musgroves has established a successful trading post among the Yamacraw Indians on the southern banks of the Savannah River. In early 1733, John and Mary met James Oglethorpe, who had come looking for a place to settle the first Georgia colonists. Although Mary Musgrove is widely credited as having been the interpreter for Oglethorpe’s initial meetings with Yamacraw chief Tomochichi, it was in fact John who was the principal interpreter. Mary, however, assisted as a translator for Oglethorpe in meetings with Yamacraw and Creek leaders, and she indeed assumed the key role as Oglethorpe’s interpreter after the death of her husband in 1735. In 1734, John Musgrove accompanied Oglethorpe and a Yamacraw delegation on a trip to England to interpret during their meetings with the Trustees, King George II, and others. Artist William Verelst was present to sketch the June 1734 meeting with the Trustees. He later met with each person at the meeting to accurately paint their face for the final version of the event. A detail from Verelst’s painting represents the only known image of John Musgrove. For his services, the Trustees granted Musgrove a 500-acre grant of land just north of Savannah. On May 15, 1735, the Trustees awarded Musgrove an exclusive license to trade with the Yamacraw and Yuchi Indians. However, in less than a month, he died at his trading post just north of Savannah.