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In Their Own Words

April 30, 1736

Challenge of Teaching Indian Child

Benjamin Ingham, who had come to Georgia on the same ship - along with John Wesley and James Oglethorpe - had written in his journal four days earlier of a plan to learn the Indian language from Mary Musgrove, and to teach it to John Wesley and Johann Martin Boltzius. On this day he wrote of going for his first lesson, taking Tomochichi along, and the daunting challenges he faced:

“…Mr. Wesley and I went up again to Cowpen: taking along with us Tomo Chachee and his Queen. Their town is about 4 miles above Savannah in the way to Mrs. Musgrove’s. We told them we were about to learn their language. I ask’d them if they were willing that I should teach the Young Prince: they consented, desiring me to check & keep him in, but not to Strike him. The Indians never Strike their Children, neither will they suffer any one to do it. I told them I would do my best as far as gentleness and good advice would go. How I shall manage God alone can direct me. The Youth is sadly corrupted, and excessively addicted to drunkenesse, which he has learn’t of our Christian Heathen. Nay the whole Creek Nation is now generally given to this Brutal sin, whereto they were utter Strangers before Christians came among them. O! what a work we have before us! …”

Source: Our First Visit in America: Early Reports from the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1740 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1974), p. 182.