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Monday, February 8, 2016

John Watson, Indian Trader

Site of Yamacraw Bluff
JOSEPH WATSON, an Indian trader at Yamacraw in 1743, petitioned the Trustees in the Queen's Court at Westminster that he had settled and improved 100 acres of land at Yamacraw Bluff, called Watson's Store, 500 acres of land adjoining Mrs. Musgrove's 500 acres, on the east of the Savannah River, and that he had also settled and improved one half of the trust lot adjoining, asking that these lands be granted to him in fee simple, which they did. 

He was resident in the colony in 1735 he was tried by the Magistrate, and all of his papers seized with a warrant and his store nailed up. He argued that the proceedings of the trial were illegal, that he was hurried through, and suffered greatly in jail. 

Apparently, Mary Musgrove ran a sloopy trade store. Leading to his imprisonment was the fact that Mary Musgrove had complained bitterly against Watson, stating that while in her absence, Watson would not allow the Indians to trade their skins. She returned to find that Watson was in the store and had the door bolted. This caused the indians to break down the door to seek revenge. When Mrs. Musgrove heard, she begged Watson to escape for fear the indians would murder him. When the Indians broke in, and Watson was gone, they murdered the salve of Mrs. Musgrove, called Justice. The frightened Watson was was urged to remove himself from the colony, but did not.  John Wesley, the local Savannah minister at Savannah, sympathized with Watson, and preached a serman, Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not, directing the serman to Watson and the idea that people should insist upon their rights when oppressed by inferior Magistrates. 

In a letter from Robert Parker to Robert Hucks dated June 3, 1735, Savannah, "....In the case of Capt. (Joseph) Watson is worth your consideration; we are apprehensive his accusers has urged things against him that may even affect his life if his close confinement don't do it. He will die guiltless of the accusation...." 

Two years later, on March 22, 1737, Sarah Watson, the wife of Joseph Watson, petitioned the Trustees, complaining of Mr. Causton, one of the Chief Magistrates, had imprisoned her husband on lunacy charges.  The board considered her petition for some time, and he was eventually released. 

In August of 1750, Joseph Watson petitioned the Trustees to pay his passage back to Georgia, and that was granted. He died in 1757, and his will bequeathed his nephews all lands in Nova Scotia. 
To his three sisters, he bequeathed his lands in Lincolnshire. He also mentioned lands formerly called Yamacraw, but now Watsonburg.  Ref: Colonial Georgians by Jeannette Holland Austin. 

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. For more on John Wesley, please visit the site of an article about him at