County History

Notes on the Early History of Liberty County 

 

Whilst Georgia was a colony under the Trustees, the excellent character of its ands attracted the attention of a company of persons who were then living on the northeast bank of the Ashley River, eighteen miles from Charleston. They were the descendants of the first persecuted Europeans who emigrated to New-England. In the beginning of 1630, a Congregational Church was gathered at Plymouth, England, who intended to come to North America, in order to enjoy civil and religious privileges. After a day of fasting and prayer, they chose Rev. John Warham and Rev. John Maverick to accompany them as their ministers. They set sail on March 20th, and arrived at Nantasket on May 30th, where the captain put them on shore, notwithstanding his engagement was to bring them up Charles River. Here “they were left in a forlorn wilderness, destitute of any habitation and most other necessaries of life.

 

Several of the company having procured a boat, they proceeded to Charlestown, and after various adventures, finally settled at a placed called by the Indians Mattapan, which they named Dorchester, because several of the settlers came from a town of that name in England, and also in honour of the Rev. Mr. White, of Dorchester.

 

In 1695 a church was gathered in this town, and Mr. Joseph Lord was ordained its pastor, for the purpose of removing to South Carolina, “to encourage the settlement of churches, and the promotion of religion in the Southern plantations. After a passage of fourteen days, they landed at Carolina, and on the 2d of February, 1696, was the first Sacrament of the Lord's Supper that was ever celebrated at Carolina. The place proving unhealthy, and the quantity of lands too small for the inhabitants, they determined to remove to Georgia.” The causes of their removal are stated in the Record-book of the Medway Church in the following manner: --

 

“Our ancestors, having a greater regard to a compact Settlement and religious Society than future temporal advantages, took up but small tracts of land, many of which, after their Disease, being divided amongst their children, reduced them still to smaller, in consequence of which our lands were generally soon worn out. Few had sufficient for the convenient support and Maintenance of their families, and some none at all, nor likely to get any among us. Young people, as they grew up and settled for themselves, were obliged, for want of lands, to move out from us. Dorchester and Beach Hill, the places where we settled, being also a very sickly part of the country, several persons among us, chiefly for these reasons, seemed very anxious to move out from us, and had several times searched for some other place in Carolina, but could find none capacious and convenient enough for that purpose; nothwithstanding which, the same disposition to remove continuing with several, occasioned some serious reflection on the state and circumstances of this Church, and it was thought probable, that unless some tract of land, suitable for the convenient and compact settlement and support of a Congregation, could be found to which we might remove, and settled in a body, the Society would, in a few years at most, be dispersed, so as not to be capable of supporting the Gospel among us, especially if we should lose our present pastor and (which in that case seems not unlikely) be any considerable time without the administration of Gospel ordinances among us - the only circumstance which at present detains many, otherwise quite inclined to remove from us. Upon these considerations, a removal of the whole Society seemed advisable; and having heard a good character of lands in Georgia, 'twas thought proper that some should take a journey to that Colony, and search out some place there conveniently for our purpose, which was accordingly performed at several inquisitions, and issued at length in a tolerable satisfaction as to the capacity of the place, and a remove hereupon was more generally concluded on."

 

“On Monday, ye 11th of May, anno 1752, three persons of our Society sett off from Beach Hill for Georgia, to view the lands there; and on Thursday, the 16th, arrived at Medway, the place proposed. After a few days' stay, haveing viewed Medway Swamp, and approving of it, and heard of large Quantities of good Lands adjoining, they returned home, with an account of what they had heard and seen. Upon which a Disposition to remove seemed to encrease among us, tho' opposed by several, and a Further Search was determined. A Petition was also drawn up, and signed by many, to be presented to the Council of Georgia, for a Reserve of a Quantity of Land for us, if approved of by the Searchers; and on Monday, ye 15th of June, 1752, five of the said Society sett off for Medway, where they arrived on Thursday, the 25th, and continued their searches till the third of July, and got as good a satisfaction for the Time as could be expected, and returned from thence to Savanna with their Petition, and got a Grant of 22,400 acres of land, to be reserved for us eighteen months. From thence they returned home on the fourteenth of July, when people were differently affected with the relation of what they had discovered, and how far they had proceeded. Several used their Endeavours to frustrate the Scheme, notwithstanding which, an Inclination to remove seemed considerably in the Ascendant. Several Persons not included in the former grant were now desirous of joining with us, and a new Petition was drawn up, to which were affixed the names of thirty persons more, and it was determined that another journey should be made to the place, in order to survey the lands already granted, to petition for more, and to make a further search. About the Beginning of August, 1752, six persons sett off by Land, and on the 10th of the same month, Seven more by water, to survey the Lands, and begin Settlements. Those by land caryed in the petition, and got a grant of nine thousand five hundred and fifty acres more of land, and took a further prospect of the place; but, being disappointed in the coming of the Schooner, which was to have met them at the place, on board of which was most of their provisions and their Negores, they were obliged to return without effecting much there. On the 12th of September, in the evening, they got on board, in order to return, and on the 14th got down to St. Catherine's Island, from whence they intended to have proceeded the next day to Sea; but Providence, happily for them, ordered them a Disappointment, which kept them some days from their purpose, for on the ____, while they lay in the harbour, there arose a Hurricane, which was in Carolina the most violent that ever was known since the Settlement of the English there, which in many places left not one tree in Twenty standing, and threw down many Buildings. On the 16th, they attempted to put out to sea, but could not, and therefore went within land to Tibi, where, meeting with high winds, they sailed up to Savanna, where several, leaving the vessel, went home by land; the rest, who remained in her, had a tedious long passage, and were met by a second hurricane before they got home, but were then also in a safe Harbour. In their passage to Georgia, one negro fell overboard, and was drowned, and those who went up by land had two of their horses drowned in their return. These adverse Providences were very discouraging to most, and brought the affaire of our Removing to a very considerable stand.”

 

On the 16th of May, 1752, a settlement was commenced at Medway. Mr. James Habersham, in a letter to Mr. Martyn, Secretary to the Trustees of Georgia, thus speaks of this emigration: --

 

“In 1752, five persons, deputed by forty-three families, part of a congregation of Protestant dissenters, with their minister, in the neighbouring province, had applied for lands to settle here, which was granted; and that it was expected that several more of their brethren would want to join them. Accordingly twenty-eight persons by their deputies petitioned the Board yesterday for lands, and received a satisfactory answer. These twenty-eight, with their families, consist (by the account of the deputies) of 77 whites and 158 blacks, which, with the former 43 families, make 280 whites, men, women and children and 536 blacks. Part of the first petitioners are gone to have their lands laid out, and make the necessary preparation for the rest to follow."

 

“These people, with their minister, are not unknown to many in this colony, and we have an extraordinary character of them from all quarters, which I believe they very justly deserve. They will be settled as contiguous as possible for the conveniency of meeting together in public worship, which they say is a principal end of their moving, for where they formerly resided, many of them were very much pinched for land, and some rented what they occupied, which was very discouraging, and would have obliged them to separate; and to prevent this, those who were well accommodated in respect to lands, proposed to dispose of them, and remove with those that wanted. They will be settled on the heads of Medway and Newport rivers, about thirty or forty miles south of this town, which will greatly strengthen these parts. I really look upon these people moving here to be one of the most favourable circumstances that could befall the colony. They are all inured to the climate, know how to begin new settlements, and will be an immediate benefit by increasing her products.”

 

Source: White, George, Rev. Historical Collections of Georgia, Pudney & Russell, New York, 1854, pp. 514-516

Submitted by Bob Franks

 

LIBERTY COUNTY GEORGIA

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Mailing Address

Liberty County Historical Society
PO Box 982
Hinesville, GA  31310

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