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In Their Own Words

April 06, 1733

Health Problems in Early Colonial Georgia

Early Georgia colonist Peter Gordon recorded how health problems began to plague the colonists, and how the first to die was one of those most needed:

“Wee hade hither too continued very healthy, and proceeded in the publick labour with as much success and dispatch as could possibly be expected. But the weather beginning to be extreamly hott, and owr people haveing as yet no other water to drink but that of the river, which at high water was brackish, we did not long enjoy that happiness, for soon afterwards we begane to be very sickly, and lost many of owr people who died very suddenly. Aprile 6th Doctor Cox died very much lamented, being a generall loss to the Collony. He was a very useful and well experienced gentleman. As the first persone that died, and we being thane, under a sort of military government Mr. Oglethorp ordered that he should be buried in a military manner. All owr Tythings were accordingly ordered to be under arms, and to march regularly to the grave, with the corps, and as soon as he was interr’d and the funerall service performed we gave three generall discharges of owr small arms an during the time that we marched with the corps, and while the funeral office was performing, minute guns were fired from the guard house and the bell constantly toling. This military manner of burying was afterwards observed not only to all owr men that died, but likewise to owr women, till the people begane to die so fast that the frequent firing of the cannon, and owr small arms, struck such terrour, in owr sick people (who knowing the cause, concluded they should be the next) that we have hade three or four die in one day which being represented to Mr. Oglethorp he ordered that it should be discontinued.”

Source: [no author or editor cited], Our First Visit in America: Early Reports from the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1740 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1974), pp. 20-21.