Historic marker honoring Mary Musgrove, a Creek liaison and trader around Savannah. Photo credit to Carl Vinson Institute of Government

Mary Musgrove: Liaison between colonial Georgia and native community

Mary Musgrove was an important figure in colonial Georgia.

She was the daughter of a English trader and Creek Indian mother and became a cultural liaison between colonists and Native Americans.

Musgrove’s Creek name was Coosaponakeesa or Cousaponakeesa, and her mother was related to Brim, a well-respected Creek leader. She was born around 1700 and learned native languages, such as Muskogee, as well as English, which made her more important go-between. She also was a shrewd businesswoman and trader.

According to New Georgia Encyclopedia, Musgrove was a member of the Wind Clan, a matrilineal society in which children took the clan identities of their mothers.

She was known as a protector of Creek interests and helped maintain peace in the new world.

In 1717, she married John Musgrove, an English trader, and the two established a trading post near the Savannah River. As the post expanded, the Musgroves became more influential.

In 1734, after he and a group of Creeks accompanied James Oglethorpe on a trip to England, John Musgrove was granted land at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River. He died the next year and, eventually, Mary Musgrove moved the trading post, know as Cowpens, to Yamacraw Bluff.

It became one of the most important trading posts in the area.

From Georgia’s inception, Musgrove placed herself in the center of Oglethorpe’s dealings with neighboring Creek Indians. As interpreter for Oglethorpe and Yamacraw Indian chief Tomochichi, Musgrove was instrumental in the peaceful founding of Savannah, according to New Georgia Encyclopedia.-

She served as Oglethorpe’s principal interpreter from 1733 until 1743.

Musgrove married Thomas Bosomworth in 1737. There is no record of her having children.

She died in 1765.

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