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In Their Own Words

October 17, 1734

Colonist Attempted to Grow Citrus Plants

Citrus plants can indeed grow in South Georgia, though edible varieties are not able to sustain themselves on a long-term basis because of occasional sub-freezing winter temperatures. Still, four months after moving from South Carolina to Savannah, Elisha Dobree wrote to Georgia’s Trustees in London about his agricultural efforts in Georgia - including his plans to grow oranges.

“Mr. Causton and I talking the other day, we both agreed in our opinion that madder [a berry-producing herb whose roots were used for dyeing] would grow well in this province, especially in our swamps or moist lands, of which we have enough… .

“I will also try a small spot of ground for hemp and flax. I have about two acres ready for vines, mulberries and olives. I only want the seeds and plants which Mr. Amatis tells me he will not be ready to deliver me this year.

“I have put few lime seeds to try if they will produce here though I have no great hopes of them.

“As for oranges Mr. Eveleigh of Charles Town has promised me to help me with many, which together with the help of other friends hope to raise up a nursery of 1000 trees to plant in my 45 acres, which I have reason to think may as well produce as those in Carolina, especially in Charles Town where a good tree produces about £5 Sterling per annum… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 51-52.