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Mary Musgrove

by Carey C. Giudici

Mary Musgrove was a half-breed Yamacraw Indian of the Muscogean Tribe who played an important role in the settling of Georgia.

Born about 1700 with the Indian name "Coosaponakesee" to a Scot trader and the niece of "Emperor Brim"--who tried in 1715 to drive Europeans out of the southeast--Mary was educated in a South Carolina school. In her early years she helped her husband, trader John Musgrove, run a trading post on the Altamaha River at Yamacraw Bluff. Then James Edward Oglethorpe came to settle Georgia.

On February 12, 1733 Oglethorpe took her to interpret at his first meeting with the Yamacraw Chief Tomochichi. Mary was key to Ogelthorpe's ability to convince the Yamacraws to support his new settlement of Savannah. She continued to help him until his return to England in 1743, when he gave Mary one of his rings.

After a malaria epidemic claimed her husband and four sons, in 1744 she married Thomas Bosomworth, a colorful former chaplain who convinced Mary to claim title to the islands of Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Catherine as the "Empress of Georgia."

The Reverend and the Empress were arrested in August 1749 for Thomas' debts, but about ten years later Governor Ellis agreed to give Mary 450 to reimburse her for material contributions to the settlement, along with 1,650 for services rendered and 2,000 from the auction sale of Ossabaw and Sapelo islands.

They also gave her St. Catherine Island, where she and the Reverend lived for the rest of their lives (Mary died in 1763) and where they are buried.

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