Mary Musgrove (Griffin) (c.1700 - c.1767) MP

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Nicknames: "Mary Bosomworth", "Cousaponokeesa", "Consaponaheeso", "Mary Matthews"
Birthplace: 'Lower Town' Coweta on the Chattahoochee River, near present day Columbus, Georgia
Death: Died in (Present Day Liberty County), Georgia Colony
Cause of death: peacefully in her sleep
Occupation: Interpreter, trader
Managed by: Erica Isabel Howton, (c)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mary Musgrove (Griffin)

Mary Musgrove Bosomworth (ca. 1700- ca. 1767), sometimes called the Empress of the Creek Nation, [fn1] played a vital role in the founding of Georgia in colonial America. The daughter of a Creek Indian mother and a white father, Mary was a shrewd negotiator and a successful trader. As an interpreter for James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia Colony, she helped maintain alliances between the Creek nation and the British at a time when British, French, and Spanish interests in the region were often in conflict.

Cousaponokeesa (or Consaponaheeso) was born about 1700 to the Muscogean tribe known as the Wind Clan in the small settlement of 'Lower Town' Coweta on the Chattahoochee River, near present day Columbus, Georgia, United States of America [fn2]. Her father was Edward Griffin, a Carolina trader from Charles Town, South Carolina; and her mother was a Yamacraw Creek Indian [fn3] woman who was the sister of Brims "old Brim or Bream," Emperor of the Creeks (d. 1732) headman of Coweta. (cite1) [fn3] Another sister of Brims was known as Chieftainess Qua. [fn4]. She was baptized Mary about 1707 [fn1] and died around 1767 in St. Catherines Island, Sea Islands, Georgia. All of her property passed to her last husband, Thomas Bosomworth, and his heirs, as according to English law. (cite5)

Married:

  1. c. 1715 in Coweta, Indian Nation, to John Musgrove, d. 12 June 1735 of a fever (cite5), son of Captain John Musgrove, Sr. and a Creek woman. Their 4 sons died young of malaria.
  2. in 1737 to Jacob Matthews d. 1742.
  3. in 1744 to Reverend Thomas Bosomworth. They were married at Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, Georgia by a German (Moravian) pastor.

Quotes about ....

“Tomochichi’s interpreter was one Mrs. Musgrove. She understands both languages, being educated amongst the English. She can read and write, and is a well-civilized women. She is likewise to teach us the Indian tongue.”

– John Wesley, 1736 [fn5]

Mary [Musgrove] ... was a remarkable woman. At a time when the troika ... wife, mother, and household mistress,' defined the lives of most women, she exercised extraordinary influence not only in Creek-Georgia relations but also as an emissary of South Carolina. Few women in her time approached her level of importance.

Alexia Jones Helmsley, Unsung Heroines of the Carolina Frontier S.C. Dept. of Archives and History.

Video

Biographical Sketch, 1851

This Indian, Mary, was born in the year 1700, at the town of Coweta, upon the Chattahoochie, in Alabama. Her Indian name was Consaponaheeso, and by maternal descent she was one of the Queens of the Muscogee nation, and the Indians conceded to her the title of princess. When ten years of age, her father took her to Ponpon, in South Carolina, where she was baptized, educated and instructed in Christianity. Afterwards, she fled back to her forest home, laid aside the civilization of the British, and assumed the ease and freedom of the happy Muscogee. In 1716, Colonel John Musgrove was despatched to the Chattahoochie, by the government of Carolina, to form a treaty of alliance with the Creeks, with whom the colony had been at war. It was there stipulated that the Creeks were remain the free occupants of all the lands east, as far as the Savannah river. The son of the British negotiator, John Musgrove, had accompanied his father to Coweta, and falling in love with the Princess Mary, made her his wife. After remaining in the nation several years, and after the birth of their only child, they removed to South Carolina. There residing seven years in much happiness, they afterwards established themselves upon Yamacraw Bluff, at the head of an extensive trading house, and where Oglethorpe found them, as we have just observed. By his alliance with this remarkable woman. who was well versed in the Indian and English languages, Musgrove obtained considearble influence over the natives, and became exceedingly wealthy. Mary was, afterwards, the warm friend of Oglethorpe, and several times saved the early colonists of Georgia from savage butchery.

Biographical Sketch, 1993

from: Georgia Historical Society: Mary Musgrove

While most won’t recognize the Creek name Coosaponakeesa, the name Mary Musgrove may spark recognition. Mary Musgrove proved instrumental in maintaining peace and fair trade between the Creek nation and the new Georgia colony. She married John Musgrove in 1717 and quickly established a trading post. She attracted the attention of General James Oglethorpe [fn4][fn5] and served as his main interpreter from 1733 to 1743. Musgrove married three times, all the while increasing her business acumen and sharpening her diplomatic skills. The marriage to her last husband, a Christian missionary named Thomas Bosomworth, elevated Musgrove to a social status heretofore unreached by someone of Creek descent.

Musgrove is also known for her battle to keep Ossabaw Island, Sapelo Island, and St. Catherine’s island, granted to Musgrove and Bosomworth by the Lower Creek chief Malatchi. The British Crown insisted that a nation could only grant land to another nation, not an individual. After a protracted legal battle, Musgrove compromised by relinquishing all land holdings except St. Catherine’s Island, where she died some years after 1763.

Timeline

  • 1700: (approximate date). Coosaponakeesa born in the Creek town of Coweta, present day Georgia, United States.
  • 1707: (approximate date). Baptized by her father as "Mary" in Pomponne (Pon Pon) in South Carolina. (cite2)
  • 1715: (approximate date). Returns to Coweta after outbreak of Yamasee War of 1715.
  • 1717: (approximate date). Marries Johnny Musgrove. (cite3)
  • 1725: Mary & John Musgrove move to Pon Pon, South Carolina.
  • 1732: Mary & John Musgrove establish prospering trading post on the Yamacraw Bluff.
  • 1733: General James Oglethorpe arrives in search of area to settle. He hires Mary as intermediary / interpreter for negotiations with Indians. [fn5][fn6][fn29]
  • 1735: John Musgrove dies of fever. (cite3)[fn8][fn9][fn10][fn11]
  • 1737: Mary marries Jacob Matthews. [fn12]
  • 1738: Mary receives land from the Yamacraws.
  • 1742: Jacob Matthews dies.
  • 1743: Oglethorpe leaves Georgia and returns to England.
  • 1744: Mary marries Reverend Thomas Bosomworth. [fn13]
  • 1747: Mary receives grant of St. Catherine, Sapelo, and Ossabaw Islands from the Creeks.
  • 1760: Mary settles back-pay claims and secures clear title to St. Catherine’s Island, Sea Islands, Georgia from the British courts. [fn14][fn15]
  • 1767: Mary dies "peacefully in her sleep" on St._Catherines Island. [fn16][fn17][fn18][fn19][fn20]n.b. sources vary between 1763-1767.[fn24]

For young readers

a story about Coosaponakeesa

from: Healing Woman Art

Often times I name my stoneware clay planters after legendary women from many different cultures. So is the case with the planter I finished this afternoon. My friend, Gene Barfield, renowned photographer of the Roanoke Farmer’s Market, told me the story of his many times great grandmother, Coosaponakeesa. [fn21]

Her name was Princess Coosaponakeesa (“flying white horse”). She was the niece of emperor/warrior Brim of the Creek nation. It was that relationship that gave her the title, “princess.” [fn22]

Born in the 1700's, she was married 5 times. [fn23] One of her husbands was John Musgrove, and she took the English name Mary Musgrove. [fn24] She was a Yamacraw Indian of the Musogean tribe and the Wind clan, and she learned to speak English as well as Creek. She was the only Yamacraw Indian who spoke English at that time. [fn25] ... She lived into her late 80's, an age that very few reached at that time. [fn26]

Gene told me that James Oglethorpe visited Coosaponakeesa a lot after she finally settled in South Carolina’s Cowpens. He also gave her one of his rings before his final return to England. [fn27] She, in turn, named two of her sons James and Edward. [fn28] Hmmmmm … . Because of this, many people over the years have speculated that Oglethorpe wasn’t the “straight arrow” he was once thought to be.

Links

Sources

  1. Michael D. Green, “Mary Musgrove: Creating a New World,” in Theda Perdue, ed., Sifters: Native American Women’s Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
  2. Steven C. Hahn, The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004).
  3. Michele Gillespie, “The Sexual Politics of Race and Gender: Mary Musgrove and the Georgia Trustees” in Catherine Clinton and Michele Gillespie, eds., The Devil’s Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
  4. Sweet, Julie Ann. Negotiating for Georgia: British-Creek relations in the trustee era, 1733-1752. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005. Chapter 10: "A Cultural Broker Breaks Confidence: The Mary Musgrove Controversy." p. 159-176.
  5. Rodney M. Baine, "Myths of Mary Musgrove," Georgia Historical Quarterly 76 (Summer 1992).
  6. Harrold, Charles F. Stories of Old Ocmulgee Fields: The Grandparents of Cousaponakeesa. Macon, GA: Press of the J.W. Burke Co, 1937
  7. "Mary Musgrove Bosomworth." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 3 Mar. 2011.
  8. Appleton's Cyclopaedia of Am. Biog
  9. Bosomworth's MS. Jour., 1752, in archives B. A. E. (J. M.)

Citations

  1. Green, pg. 29.
  2. Gillespie, 190.
  3. Hahn, 103-105.
  4. Colonial Records of Georgia, 20: 439.
  5. EWB

Footnotes

  • 1. Mary seems to have acquired the title Empress of the Creek Nation as a publicity move by her third husband in a land grab scheme. From Bosomworth, Mary:
  • Being deeply in debt, [Rev. Thomas Bosomworth] instigated his wife to assume the title of "Empress of the Creek Nation," and to make personal claim, first to the islands of Ossabaw, St Catharine, and Sapelo, on the Georgia coast, and afterward to a large territory on the mainland. Notifying Gov. Oglethorpe that she was coining to claim her own, she raised a large body of armed Creeks and marched against Savannah. The town was put in position for defense and a troop of cavalry met the Indians outside and obliged them to lay down their arms before entering. The procession was headed by Bosomworth in full canonical robes, with his "queen" by his side, followed by the chiefs in order of rank, with their warriors. They were received with a military salute and a council followed, lasting several days, during which the Indians managed to regain possession of their arms, and a massacre seemed imminent, which was averted by the seizure of Mary and her husband, who were held in prison until they made suitable apologies and promises of good behavior, the troops and citizens remaining under arms until the danger was over, when the Indians were dismissed with presents.
  • 2. Coosaponakeesa herself stated she was born in Coweta and lived with the Creeks until the age of seven when she “was brought Down by her Father from the Indian Nation to Pomponne in South Carolina; There baptized, Educated and bred up in the principles of Christianity.” (Gillespie)
  • 3. from New Georgia Encyclopedia: Yamacraw Indians

Yamacraw Indians were a small band that existed from the late 1720s to the mid-1740s in the Savannah area. First led by Tomochichi and then by his nephew and heir Toonahowi, they consisted of about two hundred people and contained a mix of Lower Creeks and Yamasees. Most eventually reintegrated themselves with the Lower Creeks to avoid future confrontation with European intruders.

The basin social unit was the town (idalwa). Abihka, Coosa, Cusseta (Kasihta) and Coweta are the four 'mother towns' of the Muscogee Confederacy.[10] Traditionally, the Cusseta and Coweta bands are considered the earliest members of the Muscogee Nation.[3] The Lower Towns, along the Chattahoochee, Flint, and Apalachicola rivers, and further east along the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers, were Coweta, Cusseta (Kasihta, Cofitachiqui), Upper Chehaw (Chiaha), Hitchiti, Oconee, Ocmulgee, Okawaigi, Apalachee, Yamasee (Altamaha), Ocfuskee, Sawokli, and Tamali.

End of the Chiefdoms Georgia's chiefdoms collapsed very quickly following European exploration in the sixteenth century. Europeans brought in many new diseases to which Native Americans had no natural immunity; consequently, their populations plummeted. Because these reduced populations could no longer support a hereditary elite stratum of society, the chiefdom form of political organization was replaced by simpler forms. The arts declined, in part because craftspersons were no longer subsidized. Within a century European technology had already replaced aboriginal technology. In areas of coastal and southern Georgia, Native American populations were incorporated into the expanding Spanish mission system. In other areas, disease led to population movements and amalgamation into ever-decreasing numbers of towns. The Coosa chiefdom, for example, collapsed into a few towns, which came to be located far down the Coosa River in present Alabama. By the end of the sixteenth century northwestern Georgia had been abandoned, but it was resettled by Cherokee Indians in the eighteenth century. The collapse of chiefdoms led to the formation of such familiar Native American societies as the Creek and the Cherokee.

Singled out among the malcontents was a woman [Spanish Officer Diego] Pena referred to as the "Chieftaness Qua." While it is often assumed that Qua was Brim's wife, a chief's wife could not make claim to such a distinction due to the fact that she would not have been her husband's blood relative according to matrilineal rules. It may therefore be argued that Qua was Brims' eldest sister, making her the leading female authority of Coweta's ruling clan. ...

As Pena's informants described it, she "opened her arms and with wailing and sighs celebrated their arrival." By doing so Qua necessarily pressured Brims and other Coweta headmen to accept the traders and make good on earlier promises to restore peace. Her exceptional display of emotion suggests, moreover, a personal connection to Musgrove or a member of his party. It would therefore not be implausible to suggest that Coosaponakeesa was in tow and that Qua was her mother or a closely related aunt of the same clan.

In November 1732 a total of 114 men, women, and children gathered at Gravesend on the River Thames to set sail for the new colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe understood that Georgia's charter prohibited him from holding office, owning land, or receiving a salary in the new colony, yet he gave up the comforts of home to accompany the first boatload of Georgia settlers.

After several delays they boarded the Anne for a two-month journey across the Atlantic. Following a brief visit in Charleston, the colonists proceeded to Port Royal, South Carolina's southernmost outpost. While they rested, Oglethorpe and a band of Carolina Rangers went ahead to look for a place to settle. Some seventeen miles inland from the mouth of the Savannah River, they found Yamacraw Bluff overlooking the south bank of the river. Oglethorpe immediately struck up a friendship with the Yamacraw chief, Tomochichi, thus beginning a long and close relationship between the two.

On February 12, 1733, Oglethorpe returned to Yamacraw Bluff with the Georgia colonists. With the help of militia and African American slaves from South Carolina, the pine forest was quickly cleared, and Oglethorpe laid out a plan for the new town of Savannah. His distinctive pattern of streets, ten-house "tythings," and public squares soon became a reality. Identical clapboard houses built on identical lots, plus restrictions on how much land could be owned and an outright prohibition on slavery, were testimony to the Trustees' desire to produce a classless society—one in which each head of household worked his own land. The desire to have a worker (and armed defender) on each lot of land, however, led to one of Trustees' most unpopular policies—limiting land ownership to adult males.

Far from being the savages noted in the colony's charter, Oglethorpe found the Indians to be generous, good-natured, humane to strangers and patient. They were ascribed with a natural genius and eloquence in the conduct of their conferences. Thus, though Oglethorpe conduct was guided in part by practical considerations of security and trade, his genuine admiration for the Indians played an important role as well. Certainly, his actions were viewed by the Indians as sincere and he developed a favorable reputation amongst the tribes for honesty.

His respect for the Indians carried over into his dealing with Tomochichi. As their friendship grew, Oglethorpe consulted with him on matters affecting Indian relations. Part of this probably stemmed from Oglethorpe's efforts to groom Tomochichi for a leadership role with the Indians. Good relations with the Indians would also help sway important parliamentary support in England. In 1734, Oglethorpe took Tomochichi and other family members to England where they were presented to King George I and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But certainly, theirs was a genuine friendship. Tomochichi was leader of a very weak group. From his many meetings with various Indians after the initial meeting with the Creeks in 1733, it does not seem likely that Oglethorpe could not have developed a strong relationship with a more powerful Indian leader and pushed Tomochichi aside. But he did not. Even if their friendship was purely symbiotic, Tomochichi obviously provided Oglethorpe with valuable counsel or there would have been no reason to consult with him. Certainly Oglethorpe would not have put on a show unless it served some purpose. Yet perhaps the most demonstrative example of their friendship emerged at Tomochichi's death in 1739. Oglethorpe accorded Tomochichi full honors and had him buried in an imposing grave in Savannah. No apparent political purpose was served by this gesture. It could only have been the expression of true friendship, honor and respect.



On 14 October 1735, Wesley and his brother Charles sailed on "The Simmonds" from Gravesend, Kent for Savannah in the Province of Georgia in the American colonies at the request of Governor James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe wanted Wesley to be the minister of the newly formed Savannah parish.

They reached Savannah on 8 February 1736, where Wesley saw Oglethorpe's offer as an opportunity to spread Christianity to the Native Americans in the colony. Wesley's mission, however, was unsuccessful, and he and his brother Charles were constantly beset by troubles in the colonies.

On top of his struggles with teaching, Wesley found disaster in his relations with Sophia Hopkey, a woman who had journeyed across the Atlantic on the same ship as Wesley. Wesley and Hopkey became romantically involved, but Wesley abruptly broke off the relationship on the advice of a Moravian minister in whom he confided. Hopkey contended that Wesley had promised to marry her and therefore had gone back on his word in breaking off the relationship. Wesley's problems came to a head when he refused Hopkey communion. She and her new husband, William Williamson, filed suit against Wesley. Wesley stood trial and faced the accusations made by Hopkey. The proceedings ended in a mistrial, but Wesley's reputation had already been tarnished too greatly, and he made it known that he intended to return to England. Williamson again tried to raise charges against Wesley to prevent him from leaving the colony, but he managed to escape back to England. He was left exhausted by the whole experience. His mission to Georgia contributed to a life-long struggle with self-doubt.

  • 9. John Musgrove traveled as the interpreter for Tomochichi, his wife and other Creeks who sailed with Oglethorpe to England to meet the King In 1734. During this time the Musgrove’s English partner Joseph Watson drank heavily, caused extensive problems in the trading post, bragged that he helped an Indian drink himself to death, slandered Mary as a witch, tried to shoot her, and caused a sequence of events where Musgrove’s slave Justice was killed. (Colonial Records of Georgia, 20: 172-176.)
  • 10. Colonial Records of Georgia, 20: 439.
  • 11. John Musgrove died after contracting malaria. Some accounts also report that Mary lost four sons to the disease at about the same time. (EWB, 2004)
  • 12. from: Distinguished Women

[Musgrove left] Mary with a 500-acre plantation, a large number of cattle and horses, 10 indentured servants and a thriving deerskin trade. She became the wealthiest woman on the Georgia frontier. In the next few years, her influence with the whites and with the Indians continued to grow. She was soon asked to establish a new trading station closer to Florida to double as a listening post to keep tabs on the Spanish forces in Florida. She called the post Mount Venture.


  • 13. Jacob Matthews ... had been a servant of her former husband. Jacob was a colorful figure known as a critic of English authority, a successful planter, and a heavy drinker. The colonists especially disapproved of his camaraderie with the Creek. William Stephens, later governor of Georgia Colony, wrote in his journal in 1740 that it was useless "to foul more Paper in tracing Jacob Matthews through his notorious Debauches; and after his spending whole Nights in that Way, reeling home by Light of the Morning, with his Banditti about him." Matthews was responsible for defending Mount Venture and commanded a small group of Georgia rangers. (EWB, 2004)
  • 14. from: WAYNE COUNTY, GA - History - Altamaha River Towns: THE SANSAVILLA BLUFFS By Angie Jordan

Mary was married for the third time about 1744 to Thomas Bosomworth, Chaplain of Oglethorpe's Regiment, who was stationed at Frederica. Bosomworth is recorded as having been an unscrupulous character, and under his influence Mary beguiled the Indians into acknowledging her as their queen and granting her the islands of Osabow, St. Catherine and Sapelo. She began making demands on the Trustees of the Colony of Georgia for monies she claimed were due her as interpreter and for loans advanced by her during the years she acted as benefactor to the colonists, advancing them food and supplies.

In the 1730s Savannah's founder, James Oglethorpe, claimed St. Catherines as part of the colony of Georgia. His interpreter, Mary Musgrove, who was half Creek, challenged that claim, asserting that she and her husband, Thomas Bosomworth, received St. Catherines and other barrier islands from the Creeks. In a settlement with the British crown, the couple was awarded St. Catherines in the 1760s.

St. Catherine's Island, one of Coastal Georgia's golden isles, lies about fifty miles south of Savannah ... [now] owned and regulated by the Georgia based non-profit organization, St. Catherines Island Foundation. Magnificent views of St. Catherines are available by motorboat. Driftwood lines the wild, white beaches. The area abounds with wildlife and is seeped with European history. Located on St. Catherines is the lost Mission Santa Catalina, Georgia's oldest known church ... The church was burned to the ground in the September of 1597, after a period of abandonment, Santa Catalina was reconstructed on the previous site, it was later abandoned after the British seige in 1680. ... The discovery of mission Santa Catalina has contributed significantly to knowledge about early inhabitants of the island and about the Spanish presence in Georgia nearly two centuries before the arrival of the British colonists.

Georgia meets the Atlantic Ocean along the sandy beaches of the present-day barrier islands, known as the Sea Islands or the Golden Isles. Scientists refer to them as barrier islands because they form a barrier between the sea and the land. ...From north to south along Georgia's 100-mile-long coast, the barrier islands are Tybee, Little Tybee, Ossabaw, Wassaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, Wolf, Blackbeard, Sea, St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll, Little Cumberland, and Cumberland. ... Separated from the mainland by a four- to six-mile-wide band of salt marsh, tidal creeks, and estuaries, Georgia's barrier islands are under various types of ownership and management. ... Little Cumberland, Little St. Simons, and St. Catherines are privately owned.

  • In May 1539, de Soto left Havana, Cuba, with nine ships, over 620 men and 220 surviving horses and landed at Charlotte Harbor, Florida. This began his three-year odyssey through the Southeastern North American continent, from which de Soto and a large portion of his men would not return. They met many varied Native American groups, most of them belonging to the widespread Mississippian culture. Only a few of these cultures survived into the seventeenth century. The others' only appearance in the written historical record was in the accounts of de Soto's expedition. For more information, see the following links:
  • Archaeologists digging in the midst of a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) plot near McRae, approximately a mile away from the Ocmulgee River, located a Spanish settlement dating back to the first half of the 16th century. The archaeologists suspected that the artifacts originated from a settlement founded by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1526. Additional research suggested that the site was one visited by the de Soto Expedition of 1541. They recovered Murano glass beads, pottery fragments, and iron weapons. Some of the beads bear a chevron pattern believed to be hallmarks of the de Soto expedition, due to the limited timespan in which they were produced. Excavations have also produced six metal objects, including three iron tools and a silver pendant.
  • 20. Fernbank Museum of Natural History is the home to a world-class archaeological collection, The St. Catherines Island Foundation and Edward John Noble Foundation Collection. This collection is the product of 30 years of research led by Dr. David Hurst Thomas, Curator of North American Archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History.

From: De Soto’s Footsteps: New Archaeological Evidence from Georgia This special exhibition includes metal and glass artifacts that led Fernbank’s lead archaeologist, Dennis Blanton, to conclude Hernando de Soto’s footsteps could be traced to an unexpected location in Georgia. Until now, many scholars believed De Soto and his small army took a different route through the region as he looked for food, information and riches after departing from today’s Tallahassee, Fla. in 1540.

  • 21. St. Catherine's Island, along with the other Golden Isles in present day Liberty County, Georgia, is a nesting ground for the endangered species, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Here are some links about the Loggershead and the Sea Islands:

Musgrove is more often remembered for her controversial land claims in Georgia. The controversy began in 1737 when Yamacraw chief Tomochichi granted her a plot of land near Savannah. The claim was unsettled when Musgrove married Bosomworth. In the following years Lower Creek chief Malatchi granted the Bosomworth’s three of the Sea Islands that the Indians claimed as their own—Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Catherines. British officials, however, refused these claims on the grounds that a nation can cede or grant land only to a nation, not to individuals. In 1749 more than 200 Creeks accompanied her to Savannah to support her claim. With Georgia officials unwilling to accept the grant, Musgrove eventually traveled to England to plead her case. In 1754 the Board of Trade heard her case and referred it to the Georgia courts. When she returned to Georgia, the disputed land had come under Georgia control. In 1760 a compromise was finally reached—in return for the right to St. Catherines Island and £2,100, Musgrove relinquished her claims to the other lands.

  • In many respects, Mary Musgrove was unlike any Christian woman the colonists had ever met. She had lived in remote settlements surrounded by rough men, sold them rum and guns, and traveled with Indians and traders to the distant Creek Nation, a world she knew intimatel, to secure their cooperation with the colonists. Yet once they had proof she was a Christian woman, they were convinced that she shared their world view.
  • By contrast Oglethorpe and his men had not considered Mary Musgrove a particularly worthy woman on making her acquaintance in 1732. .... observing that:

"she appeared to be in mean and low circumstances, being only clothed with a red stround petticoat and Osnabrig Shift."


  • ... while an earlier generation of historians pinned Musgrove's willingness to remarry so quickly following the deaths of her husbands on her lusty nature, an assumption with unsavory undertones about status and sexual desire, another interpretation is well worth considered. Musgrove may have known that prolonged widowhood would have made her vulnerable to scandal as a single woman on a remote frontier working with men of all races.
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Coosaponakesee (Mary Musgrove)'s Timeline

1700
1700
'Lower Town' Coweta on the Chattahoochee River, near present day Columbus, Georgia
1707
1707
Age 7
South Carolina
1715
1715
Age 15
(Present day Georgia), Creek Territory
1737
1737
Age 37
Florida Colony
1744
1744
Age 44
1767
1767
Age 67
(Present Day Liberty County), Georgia Colony