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In Their Own Words

January 24, 1735

Musgrove Wrote Oglethorpe About Problems

While James Oglethorpe remained in England, the delegation of Yamacraw Indians that had visited the Trustees in London had returned to Georgia. Accompanying them was John Musgrove, who had served as translator. John and his wife Mary Musgrove operated a trading post for the Yamacraw Indians, but during his absence, Musgrove’s partner Joseph Watson had caused considerable problems with the Indians, resulting in the death of Musgrove’s young slave named Justice. On this day, Musgrove wrote Oglethorpe about the problems:

“… Mr. Watson who was my partner when I came for England I do not like, nor cannot approve of his way of proceedings. For I find since I came home to Georgia, by Mr. Watson’s proceedings and abusing of the Indians, I have lost my manservant Justice. And he one day locked the door and would not let the Indians in with their skins that they brought with them that they might have weighed. And they waited with a great deal of patience ‘till at last their patience was quite tired and very much vexed and broke open the door and was resolved to be revenged. And as soon as my wife heard that the door was broke open, she rant to the window and told Mr. Watson and desired him to get away or else he would be killed. And because they could not find him Stechee knocked my boy Justice on the head directly and killed him, he having the misfortune of being in the way… . The losing of my man Justice, who was so good a servant to me, is a great loss and disappointment in my affairs. And Mr. Watson being continually drunk I cannot bring him to account for what has been sold out of the store since the commencement of the partnership, nor will he account with Mr. Eveleigh at any rate what ever. He makes his brags [that] he killed Captain Skee [an Indian] by drinking of rum. And if Captain Skee’s brother should know it, Mr. Watson [runs] the risk of [losing] his life, which will bring a scandal and trouble upon this colony… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 115-116.