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In Their Own Words

February 17, 1739

Letter on Conditions in Savannah

Thomas Jones served as the Trustees’ storekeeper in Savannah. On this day, he wrote the Trustees’ accountant Harman Verelst about conditions in Savannah:

“… There are some things in the behaviour of the people very disagreeable and offensive to me, viz:

“The profanation of the Lord’s Day. When at church in the time of divine service, can hear continual firing of guns by people that are shooting at some game, others carrying burdens on wheelbarrows by the church door.

“The uncommon lewdness practiced by many and gloried in.

“The negligence of officers in permitting several in this town to retail rum and strong liquors, unlicensed, who have no other visible way of livelihood, where servants resort and are encouraged to rob their masters… .

“I need not mention profane swearing and drunkenness, which are not so common here as in some other places, and few are notorious therein, besides Mr. Baliff Parker, who I have seen wallow in the mire… .

“It is with no small concern of mind that I trouble you with such trivial, though melancholy, accounts, but have nothing agreeable and pleasing from this part of the colony to acquaint you with. Yet do hope when His Excellency [James Oglethorpe] visits us affairs will take a better turn.

“The Stores are, by the issues made towards the payment of the debts incurred, rough-drained of all necessary provisions. There’s no meat-kind of any sort, nor rice, but a small quantity of biscuit. But having some flour yet remaining, I have of late bought Indian meal, which I paid for, with which, and half flour, I caused bread to be made… .

“There is a large quantity of Indian corn yet remaining, though none of it sound and good, a great part damaged, all which I have removed into the Store and hope to preserve from further damage… .The corn had sweated, and the weevil was got into it and some of the houses it had rained into, [so] that, when opened, the corn seemed to be a green field. It had sprouted and was grown to a considerable height… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, pp. 390-395.