Mary Musgrove was a very influential woman of her time. Her heritage of both Native American and English blood gave her the perfect advantage for prosperity in the time period in which she lived. She had a great impact on the state of Georgia as an interpreter, a trading post owner, and a tribe member.
Musgrove was born in Coweta Town, Georgia, on the Ockmulgee River, to an Indian mother related to two leaders of the Creek, Chigelli and Brims, and a white trader father around the year 1700; Musgrove’s birth name was Coosaponakeesa.
As a member of the Creek tribe and the Wind Clan, Musgrove spent the first few years of her life learning her tribe language of Muskogee, as well as English, and the ways of the deerskin trade. Being of mixed heritage, she was acquainted with the cultures of both the Native Americans and the colonial people. When Musgrove was about ten years old, she was sent to live with a white family in Ponpon, South Carolina, just outside of Charles Towne. There, she was baptized, given the name Mary, and attended an English school. As a result, she became accustomed to both colonial and tribal life.
While living in South Carolina, a revolt by the Yamasees Indians took place against some trading practices used in the Carolinas. Musgrove left South Carolina for Coweta, Georgia when the revolt was put to an end in 1715.
When Mary was seventeen, she met and married John Musgrove, Jr., who was a colonel sent to visit the Creeks and set up a peace treaty with them by South Carolina's governor. He had a heritage much like Mary's; he had a Native American mother and a colonial landowner father. The Musgroves started out living on Creek land but ended up moving to Pomponne, where John's estate was located. In 1732, they founded a trading post together near the Savannah River.
Englishman James Oglethorpe employed Mary as his advisor, interpreter, and negotiator when he came to set up the colony of Georgia for Britain in 1733; she was paid handsomely for her work. With Mary's help, the settlers gained support from the Indians, and the land treaties she helped negotiate brought about the founding of Savannah in 1733 and Augusta in 1735.
In 1734, Oglethorpe brought along John Musgrove to England as a negotiator. Because of this, the Trustees formally presented John with land at Yamacraw Bluff. After he died in 1735, Mary relocated the trading post she owned to Yamacraw Bluff, much to the displeasure of the Yamacraws. This trading post, the Cowpens, was a popular deerskin trading center for the Native Americans and the English.
Mary was the richest woman on the frontier of Georgia. John's death left her with ten servants, a huge plantation, and an abundance of horses and cattle, along with the thriving Cowpens trading post.
In 1737, Musgrove married Jacob Matthews, who was once a servant to Mary's late husband, John Musgrove. Not long after, chief Tomochichi granted Mary some land near the Savannah to reward for the interpreting and...