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In Their Own Words

February 13, 1739

Choctaw Indians Arrived in Colonial Georgia

William Stephens recorded the sudden and unexpected arrival of some Choctaw Indians in Savannah, and the colony’s attempts to accommodate them:

“…In the Afternoon we were alarmed every Body, on the sudden and unexpected Landing of betwixt thirty and forty strange Indians, who advanced up into the Heart of the Town before we could get any Men under Arms to receive them : They proved to be of the Choctaws, a numerous Nation, which bordered on the French, whom they had lived with in Friendship till of late, and now upon some Difference they abandoned them, and chose rather to take Part with the English : They came out from home near a hundred, fifty of whom, with their Chief, were gone to Charles-Town, whilst these came hither. They were very urgent to see (the great Man) General Oglethorpe, whom they were resolved to follow till they found him; but we thought it advisable to divert that if we could, knowing that the General was too much embarrassed where he now was, to receive them with Pleasure; especially as the Presents provided for such Uses were in the Magazine with us; wherefore we were resolved to entertain them till we could know the General’s farther Pleasure; though the Stores were never so empty before: Accordingly we conducted them to the Court-House, heard what they had to say by an Interpreter; and after reciprocal Assurances of Love and Good- will to each other, when they had refreshed themselves an Hour with Pipes and Tobacco, and two Biscuits each, besides every Man two or three Glasses of Wine, they were shown to an empty House for them to lodge in, in case of wet Weather (otherwise their Choice is to lie around a Fire which they make in the open Air) and such Provision as could be got, was sent them, namely, a small Hog, which they would barbacue themselves; and by good Fortune a New-York Sloop coming newly up the River which had good Beer on board, Mr. Jones got two or three Casks of that, which was to be dealt out to them moderately, lest they grew drunk and mischievous. No Doubt was to be made of the usefulness of such a Barrier as these People would be against the French, so many hundred Miles off, in case a firm Alliance with them could be insured.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 279-280.