Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Moravians in Murray County, Ga.

I generally have several county history books that I rotate around reading (you don’t want to hear of my book reading system). One of the county history books I am reading is Murray County (Ga) Heritage.

My Petty, Pullen, Ridley, and Bookout ancestors arrived in Murray County in the middle of the 19th century just when the country was getting settled by white men. In fact, one of my ancestors, Jesse Bookout arrived before most white men of the county and worked for Chief Joseph Vann. I think that caused some kind of ruckus because then, by Georgia law, no white man could work for an Indian.

Chief Joseph Vann was wealthy. He had a large plantation and slaves. He made a deal with the Moravian to start a mission in the nearby community of Spring Place. Chief Vann put up the initial money and land for the mission and the Moravians would educate the local Indians and give medical aid to the slaves. And the Moravians would get to try to turn the Cherokee Indians into Christians.

The Moravian Mission building still exists today. But now it looks like a private residence, with laundry hanging on a clothes line, the best I can tell by riding by.

The head Moravian Missionary and his wife, the Rev. John and Anna Rosel Kleist Gambold kept a journal. There are some interesting entries: Most the dates were not written, only the year. By the fact the that the Trail of Tears is mentioned in the journal tells me it was either added or the whole journal was created by going through the records at a much later date.

Also, if you the read the journal below keep in mind there are more than one generations of Chief Vann’s; and God’s Acre is a cemetery the Moravians started.

I did not even list as much as a quarter of the entries, only the ones that I thought were interesting:

1806: Many Indians coming for food, 8 pupils living at mission and 5 at Vann’s.

1808: Rev. Gambold’s brother Joseph (born 1753) sent to help with farming. Missionaries held in great esteem by Cherokees.

1810: The widowed Margaret Vann, a year after her husband’s murder, becomes the first Christian convert of among the Cherokees.

1811: June: grain scare, no mills operating.

1812: Margaret Vann married Joseph Crutchfield. One of the students, Dawnee age 11 dies.

1813: Mrs. Littlefield, daughter of Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene and Mrs. Greenbold’s former student visited.

1815: June: A big ballgame was held at Spring Place. There was such a rush of Indians we could not have service…. It resembled a battleground…. Around 30 drunk and injured left behind.

1816: Oct. 15: The child of Churchields’ Negress died of whooping cough and was buried beside the grave of little Dawnee.

1818: April 11: Had a talk with Joseph Vann about card playing. July: Mounted postman stopped here the first time. March 14: Wawli who had earlier caused trouble, joined followed soon by her husband, Cement Vann. Given the Christian name Mary Christiana, “Mother Vann” later went on the Trail of Tears and is said to have lived to be 130 years old. Also in March, then secretary of War John C. Calhoun sent a $100 donation.

1825: Bible was translated into Cherokee along with Moravian hymnal and liturgies. June: Many visit Mineral Springs at Sumach. October: Big ballgame about two miles from here, a certain sorcerer, who was accused of having brought on rain was tried and thrashed.

1828: Jan 1: Joseph Vann arranged a race in his field near God’s Acre. Many Indians have gathered with the usual amount of Whiskey. Aug 15: Ballgame in neighborhood and for all things for Indian women. Their conduct was not decent.

1829: Dec. 29: Vann’s overseer Nicholson requested a plot in God’s Acre for his wife. Also buried there was our own Negro Brother Christian Jacob.

1830: July: Horse race! Indians rummage through cabins and stripped fruit trees. Indians are working gold mines, but the relations between whites and Indians were deteriorating.

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Blogger tnnd168 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:41 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Until very recently, I had never heard the name Kleist. Now you have it here. There is a house for sale in our neighborhood, and the sign is for a company I had never heard of before. The name is Kleist-Rhoads (or Rhodes) Real Estate. Maybe you are related to that Kleist?

3:05 PM  
Blogger ET said...

No I don't think I heard of the name Kleist until today either.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

You should read the book I'm reading, "Thirteen Moons" by Charles Frazier. It takes place around the time of New Echota and may progress to the Trail of Tears. History is more interesting to me if put on a personal basis. I'll have it ready for you in a short while.

10:37 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Take your time, you know I am bogged down with books anyway.

12:18 PM  

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