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Some Edited ( my remarks set off by [ ] ) Excerptsfrom

The Story of Christ Church, Frederica,

by Junius Martin:

 


...March 28, 1744...During that month a serious fire occurred atFrederica and burned one of the streets but the Barracks wasunharmed. The fire did catch the Bombhouse and the ammunitionexploded for a period of three hours. The people were ordered to thesouth for their safety during the conflaguration and only one personwas injured and he only slightly.

An intriguing prisoner, one ChristianPriber, was confined at Frederica at the time. He had beenarrested and brought under guard from the Cherokeecountry to be examined by Oglethorpe. He was discovered to be aGerman Jesuit and an agent of the French seeking to alienate theIndians from the English and planning to build a settlement in theIndian territory open to all fugitives, servants, negro slaves,felons. His design was "to bring about a confederation of all thesouthern Indians, to inspire them with industry, to instruct them inthe arts necessary to the commodities of life, and, in short, toengage them to throw off the yoke of their European allies of allnations." He was an excellent linguist, speaking Latin, French,Spanish and English as well as the Indian languages. He attracted agreat deal of attention among the people before dying as a prisonerat Frederica.

 

Suspected of being an agent of the French and seeking to alienatethe Indians from the English traders, he had been arrested andbrought under guard from the Cherokee country to be examined byOglethorpe. An excellent linguist Priber spoke English, Dutch,French, Latin and Indian. Some thought that he was a German Jesuit;Oglethorpe described him as "a very odd kind of man".

In his possession Priber had two manuscripts of his owncomposition.

One was a dictionary of the Cherokee language ready forpublication in Paris.

The other, entitled Paradise, contained priciples for acommonweath based upon natural rights.

In the Cherokee country his design was to establish a confederacyof all the southern Indians with a government based upon his Paradiseand independent of all European nations. He attracted a great deal ofattention among the people at Frederica before dying there asGeorgia's first political prisoner. His remains and that of hismanuscripts returned to dust.

[ Could the dictionary of Christian Priber have influenced the Cherokee syllabary of Sequoyah?

According to The Southeastern Indians, by Charles Hudson (Un. of Tennessee Press 1976):

"... Sequoyah's invention of a syllabary for writing Cherokee.

... Sequoyah, who spoke no English, worked on his syllabary for several years before finally perfecting it in 1819.

He used a few letters from the Roman alphabet, and perhaps a few from Greek and

possibly from the Fraktur alphabet of the Moravian missionaries,

but the linguistic values he asigned to them were his own. He initially used eight-six symbols, but later abandoned one of them to make a total of eighty-five symbols: one symbol represents the English s sound, six symbols represent vowel sounds, and the rest of them represent various combinations of consonants and vowels ...

... He poured all of his energy into inventing this system of writing. He let his farm go to waste, neglected his family, and began to be seen as a deviant in the eyes of his own people. So aberrant was his behavior in accordance with conventional Cherokee standards, he was eventually tried for the crime of witchcraft. But in 1819 he exonerated himself by proving before a group of Cherokee elders that any speaker of Cherokee could quickly learn to read and write the language using his syllabary. Within a few years thousands of Cherokees became literate. ...". ]

 


Much has been written about the failure of the Trustees originalcolonial policy. The incommensurability between purpose and effect,between ideal and reality cannot be laid on their shoulders alone.They are not to be excused, however, for shortsightedness nor thetyranny of their benevolence. On the other hand the people who cameto Georgia were generally incompetent. They had nothing in commonwith the early Pilgrims who came as on an "errand into thewilderness" to establish a purified church and serve as a light setupon a hill. There were no social, political or religious bonds toknit them into a single people. Many left the colony as soon as therewas an opportunity to do so and at least twenty freemen had departedbefore 1742 and five or six had died. Even the more industriousGermans left St. Simons Island by the end of 1747. The total numbersent to Georgia during the proprietary peiod was less than 1200British subjects and about 1000 foreign protestants. The Trustees hadreceived 17,600 ~ from private subscriptions and over 136,600 Lingrants from Parliament for the promotion of their project. Of thosesent over "on the Charity" over two-thirds left the colony. Upon thedeparture of Oglethorpe from Georgia in 1743 Major Horton was left incommand of the Regiment at Frederica. Life at Frederica soon fellinto almost total disorder. The numerical dominance of the militaryand the dependence of the inhabitants on the soldiers along with theabsence of the personal authority of Oglethorpe resulted in thedisplacement of all civil by military authority. The Magistrate andRecorder at Frederica - Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Terry,-were turned outof office and the town seal usurped by Major Horton. John Terryreported that Horton appropriated to himself the authority of aprince like unto Louis XIV. The few inhabitants that remained didlittle planting. They let out their houses to the officers or rentedthem to some merchants for storehouses. The wife of one of thesoldiers kept a lewd house in the town. In addition to thievery,housebreaking and drunkeness, there were a number of acts of rape,including Abner Bosomworth, brother of Thomas, former minister atFrederica, who was "discovered in the very posture of Perpetuatinghis abominable intention" on a Dutch girl. Indeed Mr. Terry,theRecorder and silversmith was charged by his Dutch maid of havingforced himself upon her. The charge was however later retracted. Overall criminal justice was unevenly applied. John Terry observed thathe had lived in a number of garrisons but none like Frederica.

Sodom and Gomarah, he stated, were more deserving of theprotection of the Almighty than the town of Frederica.

Oglethorpe's Regiment was disbanded at Frederica on My 29, 1749.For two or three days before the men were mostly intoxicated, usingmonies received in arrears for their services. At the disbanding 151men with their wives and children - numbering 248 in all - elected toremain in the colony having been promised 20 acres of land upon thecompletion of seven years honorable service. Each of the soldiersreceived His Majesty's bounty of 5 ~ upon discharge and declared thatthey would "take an opportunity of looking for Lands where they likedbest". Few remained at Frederica most notably Raymond Demere. Duringthe same year and perhaps at the same time the public stores wereinventoried and Mr. William Abbott, constable, was appointed to carefor the King's Magazine. Negro slaves were suspected of beingharbored in the area.

With the departure of the soldiers the evils vanished and the townceased to be. Sixty years, a War of Revolution and a newly formedindependent nation were to intervene before Christ Church, Fredericawas to be chartered.


Following the duel with Alexander Hamilton in 1804 Aaron Burrfound refuge on St. Simons Island with his friend Pierce Butler.


Thomas King, a native of Massachusetts, married Ann Page the onlydaughter of William Page, who was the first Senior Warden of ChristChurch. They were married in December 1824. Thomas and Ann inheritedRetreat Plantation from her parents and it became one of thewealthiest plantations on the Island.

John Couper's expression of pride in the church establishment mayhave represented a kind of incipient boosterism. ... The Rev.Theodore Bartow had become Rector of Christ Church, Frederica in1830...

Two biographies of prominent men who lived on St. Simons's Islandin this period [around 1830] and who were associated with theChurch are Edward Steel's T. BUTLER KING 0F GEORGIA (Athens 1964) andE. Merton Coulter's THOMAS SPALDING OF SAPELO (Lousiana 1940).

 


A serious rift in the congregation occurred toward the end of theyear 1838. The long standing dispute between Dr. Thomas Hazzard andJohn A. Wylly concerning the boundary of their adjacent landsprovoked a challenge to a duel. Prior to the duel, which never tookplace, articles of battle were drawn up between the principals whowere to use firearms, wear a white paper over the heart, and thatwhoever kills the other is to have the privilege of cutting off hishead, and sticking it upon a pole on the piece of land which was theorigin of the dispute.

The duel was prevented by an accidental encounter of theprincipals on the porch of the Oglethorpe Hotel, Brunswick, onDecember 3, 1838. After an initial altercation in which Mr. Wyllystruck Dr. Hazzard with his cane which was broken up by Judge CharIesS. Henry, Judge of the Superior Court and Col. Henry duBignon, thetwo men met again at the door of the Hotel and Mr. Wylly spat in Dr.Hazzard's face. Dr. Hazzard drew his pistol immediately and shot Mr.Wylly through the heart. He died instantly. Dr. Hazzard was arrestedon the spot and was indicted for manslaughter. He was later tried,but was acquitted.

Dr. Hazzard was Justice of the Peace at the time of the shootingand had served a number of terms as a representative in the Statelegislature from Glynn County. In a short time the Hazzard family wasisolated from their neighbors.

The Pink Chapel, the ruins of which were visible until a few yearsago and which was the subject of many paintings by local artists waserected on the Hazzard property as a family chapel as they had beencut off from the other families. The land on which the Pink Chapelstood was given to Christ Church, Frederica in April 1978, 140 yearsafter the fatal shooting.

 


General Sherman'sField Order Number Fifteen

dated Savannah, January 16, 1865, presented the ex-slaves all theislands along the coast including a strip thirty miles wide alongupon the mainland: "The islands from Charlestown south, the abandonedrice-fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, andthe country bordering the St. John's River, Florida, are reserved andset apart for the settlement of Negroes now made free by act ofwar."

By the middle of 1866 most of the five or six hundred freedmen onthe island were working for owners who had returned to occupy theirplantations

On return to the South Frances Butler wrote that "The Negroes onSt. Simons Island ... were ... evidently disappointed to find theywere not the masters of the soil and that their new friends theYankees had deceived them."

Miss Butler returned to Philadelphia in July and came back toGeorgia in March of 1867. Late in July of that year she went back toPhiladelphia where her father died the following month. When she wasagain in the South in 1868 she was notified that "St. Simons Islandcame under the head of abandoned property, having been occupied byformer owners who, through contempt of the Government and thePresident's authority, had refused to make application for itsrestoration under the law. 'Therefore...such property shall beconfiscated on the first day of January next, unless before that datethe owners present themselves before the authorities, take therequired oath of allegiance to the Government, and ask forrestoration.' This was done by Miss Butler's brother-in-law who waswith her at the time.

 

 


On January 6, 1886 the new church was consecrated. The Rev. ThomasBoone who preached the sermon at the consecrator service was a nephewof the first Bishop of Georgia, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott. Hismother, Phoebe, was present at the consecration service of the formeredifice in 1841. She was married to the Rev. Boone who later becamethe first missionary Bishop of China.

The Rev. William J. Boone, a graduate of the Virginia Seminary anda medical doctor was appointed to service in China in 1837 - with hiswife. He spent most of 1843 and 1844 in the States and was electedbishop by the General Convention in 1844 which met in Philadelphia.He was to be the real founder of the Anglican Communion in China. Hisson - and namesake William J. Boone was consecrated bishop for Chinain 1877.

 




[ Note - the image at the top of this page is from aphotograph by Wolfgang Koehler in the 2002 Calendar Places of theSpirit (Tide-Mark Press).]

 

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