All along the coast from Maine to Georgia the Indian trade opened up the river courses. Steadily the English traders passed westward, utilizing the older lines of French trade. The Ohio, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Platte, the lines of western advance, were ascended by traders.
The explanation of the rapidity of this advance is bound up with the effects of the traders on the Indians. The trading post left the unarmed tribes at the mercy of those that had purchased firearms -- a truth which the Iroquois Indians wrote in blood, and so the remote and unvisited tribes gave eager welcome to the trader. "The savages," wrote La Salle, "take better care of us French than of their own children; from us only can they get guns and goods."
This accounts for the Indian trader's power and the rapidity of his advance. Thus the disintegrating forces of civilization entered the wilderness. Every river valley and Indian trail became a fissure in Indian society, and so that society became honeycombed.
Long before the pioneer farmer appeared on the scene, primitive Indian life had passed away. The farmers met Indians armed with guns. The trading frontier, while steadily undermining Indian power by making the tribes ultimately dependent on the whites, yet, through its sale of guns, gave to the Indian increased power of resistance to the farming frontier.
French colonization was dominated by its Indian trading frontier; English colonization by its farming frontier. There was an antagonism between the two frontiers as between the two nations. Said Duquesne to the Iroquois,
"Are you ignorant of the difference between the king of England and the king of France? Go see the forts that our king has established and you will see that you can still hunt under their very walls. They have been placed for your advantage in places which you frequent.
"The English, on the contrary, are no sooner in possession of a place than the game is driven away. The forest falls before them as they advance, and the soil is laid bare so that you can scarce find the wherewithal to erect a shelter for the night."
And yet, in spite of this opposition of the interests of the Indian trader and the farmer, the Indian trade pioneered the way for civilization. The buffalo trail became the Indian trail, and this became the trader's "trace;" the trails widened into roads, and the roads into turnpikes, and these in turn were transformed into railroads.
The same origin can be shown for the railroads of the South, the Far West, and of Canada. The trading posts reached by these trails were on the sites of Indian villages which had been placed in positions suggested by nature; and these trading posts, situated so as to command the water systems of the country, have grown into such cities as Albany, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Council Bluffs, and Kansas City.
The Indian trader was the first pathfinder. His caravans began the change of purpose that that was to come to be the Indian warriors route, turning it slowly into the beaten track of communication and commerce. The settlers, the rangers, the surveyors, went westward over the trails which he had blazed for them years before.
Their enduring works are commemorated in the cities and farms which today lie along every ancient border line; but of their forerunners hazardous Indian trade nothing remains. Let us therefore pay a moments homage here to the trader, who first --- to borrow a phrase from Indian speech --- made white for peace the red trails of war.
He was the first cattleman of the Old Southwest. Fifty years before John Findlay, one of this class of pioneers, led Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap, the Indian traders bands of horses roamed the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains and his cattle grazes among the deer on the green banks of the old Cherokee (Tennessee) River.
He was the pioneer settler beyond the high hills; for he built in the center of the Indian towns, the first white mans cabin --- with its larger annex, the trading house --- and dwelt there during the greater part of the year. He was Americas first magnate of international commerce. His furs --- for which he had paid in guns, knives, ammunition, vermilion paint, mirrors, and cloth --- lined kings mantels, and hatted the Lords of Trade as they strode to their council chamber in London to discuss his business and to pass on those regulations which might have seriously hampered him but for his resourcefulness in circumventing them.
He was the first frontier warrior, for he either fought off or fell before small parties of hostile Indians who, in the interest of the Spanish or French, raided his pack-horse caravans on the march. Often, too, side by side with his red brothers of his adoption, he fought in the intertribal wars.
Known as Coosaponakeesa among the Creek Indians, Mary Musgrove served as a cultural liaison between colonial South Carolina and Georgia and her Native American community in the mid-eighteenth century. Musgrove took advantage of her biculturalism to protect Creek interests, maintain peace on the frontier, and expand her business as a trader. As Pocahontas was to the Jamestown colony and Sacagawea was to the Lewis and Clark expedition, so was Mary Musgrove to the burgeoning Georgia colony.
Musgrove was the daughter of the English trader Edward Griffin and a Creek Indian mother who was related to Brims and Chigelli, two Creek leaders. She spent most of her childhood straddling the two worlds of her Creek village, Coweta, and the colony of South Carolina. During these years she learned to speak the Creek language of Muskogee as well as English, and she learned firsthand about the deerskin trade and the different customs and expectations of colonial and Native American societies. Despite her mixed heritage Musgrove was considered a full member of Creek society and the Wind Clan. In this matrilineal society children took the clan identities of their mothers. Later in life she would claim royal heritage, a claim few scholars have accepted.
In 1717, she married English trader John Musgrove, and together they set up a trading post near the Savannah River. Musgrove helped her husband as an interpreter and probably used her kin ties to attract clients. The establishment of Georgia in 1733 provided the Musgroves an opportunity to expand their role on the southern frontier. In 1734, after John Musgrove and a group of Creeks accompanied James Oglethorpe on a trip to England, the Trustees officially granted John Musgrove some land at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River, four miles upriver from Savannah itself. John Musgrove died in 1735, and Mary Musgrove subsequently moved the trading post to Yamacraw Bluff. The post, known as the Cowpens, became a major commerce site and was probably the center for the English-Indian deerskin trade.
Mary Musgrove remarried in 1737. With the assistance of her second husband, Jacob Matthews, Musgrove established another trading post at Mount Venture on the Altamaha River in Georgia. In 1742 Matthews died, and Musgrove remarried once again. Her third and final husband was the Reverend Thomas Bosomworth. This marriage provided an opportunity for Musgrove to further increase her power.
The couple probably met when she interpreted for Bosomworth, who was sent to the young colony as a Christian missionary. When the marriage was announced, however, few Georgians believed it to be true. Musgrove's marriage signified a rise in status that few had foreseen. Musgrove, who had earlier married among the lower branches of the colonial order, now connected herself to "respectable" society. The daughter of an Indian trader and a Creek mother had risen to the upper echelon of colonial society.
Bosomworth's status paired with Musgrove's skills formed a powerful combination. Together they traveled into Creek villages with messages from Oglethorpe and the English king, brought back speeches from various Creek leaders, and hosted Creek and American visitors at their home. They occasionally taught Christian missionaries the Muskogee language, and otherwise tried to mediate interactions between Creeks and colonists.
Despite her central role in Georgia's Indian affairs, Musgrove is more often remembered for her controversial land claims in Georgia. The controversy began in 1737 when Yamacraw chief Tomochichi granted her a plot of land near Savannah. The claim was unsettled when Musgrove married Bosomworth. In the following years Lower Creek chief Malatche granted the Bosomworths three of the Sea Islands that the Indians claimed as their ownOssabaw, Sapelo, and St. Catherines. British officials, however, refused these claims on the grounds that a nation can cede or grant land only to a nation, not to individuals.
Musgrove pursued her claims to the lands for the next decade. In 1749, more than 200 Creeks accompanied her to Savannah to support her claim. With Georgia officials unwilling to accept the grant, Musgrove eventually traveled to England to plead her case. In 1754, the Board of Trade heard her case and referred it to the Georgia courts. When she returned to Georgia, the disputed land had come under Georgia control. In 1760, a compromise was finally reachedin return for the right to St. Catherines Island and £2,100, Musgrove relinquished her claims to the other lands. Afterward, Musgrove ceased to play a central role in Georgia-Creek relations. She died on St. Catherines Island sometime after 1763.
Indian traders were among the first Englishmen to visit Tennessee. Eleazer Wigon, an Indian trader from Charles Town [South Carolina] came this way as early as 1711. Governor Arthur Middleton of South Carolina sent Colonel George Chicken on a mission to the Overhill Cherokee Indians in 1725. Colonel Chicken records in his journal for July 25th of that year, "About three in the afternoon we arrived at Great Telliquah over the hills where we was met by two head men of the said town (the rest being all out hunting). We traveled this day about 23 miles in a very bad road so that we were obliged to walk for several miles over the hills."
On September 1, 1704, James Moore, an Indian trader of South Carolina, received a royal grant of seven hundred and twenty acres on both sides of the river at the bluff. The Indian path was on that land. The area became known as Edisto Bluff. He sent furs and other items down the river by canoe to the Atlantic where they were met by ships which carried furs, deerskins, and other merchandise to England.
There is no record of exactly when the ferry across the river was established and the path continued to the trading post at Ft. Moore, a trading center near what became Augusta, Georgia. The beginning may have been with Moores trading business. It became known as the Charleston-Augusta Savannah Path and gradually became a well-traveled road. A 1715 map in the London Public Records Office shows the ferry with the road continuing to Augusta.
Moore died of yellow fever in 1706 and the land was sold to satisfy debts of his estate. It was bought by James Rawlings from the administrators, Thomas Broughton and John Guerard, November 5, 1709. The record indicates that Rawlings was still living there in 1733. During those years, the area was known as Rawlings Bluff and sometimes as Edisto Bluff. On April 21, 1732 Rawlings was given title to 700 more acres that bordered his 720 on the east side.
In those early days, there was a friendly relationship with the local Indian tribes. In records of that time, there is no indication of fear on the part of the settlers. Many reports of cheating on the part of early white traders changed the outlook of some tribes and brought the trouble to a head in 1715. Reports of scalping and other violence by some Indians caused many plantation owners to flee to Charleston and others to congregate at two or three fortified plantations.
James Adair (c1709-1783) was a pioneer Indian trader, author, and is said to have been born in County Antrim, Ireland. The known facts of his life are few, gathered in the main from the personal incidents narrated in his book, "The History of the American Indians" (1775) and occasional references in South Carolina chronicles. A recent book, "Adair History and Genealogy" (1924), by J.B. Adair, gives many biographical details purporting to be based on family tradition, but few of them are verifiable by any available records.
It is certain that Adair was highly educated. By 1735, he had come to America, probably entering at the port of Charles Town. In that year he engaged in trade with the Catawbas and Cherokees, continuing with them until 1744. He then established himself among the Chickasaws, whose villages were on the headwaters of the Yazoo, in Mississippi, where he remained for about six years.
During the latter part of this period he frequently visited the Choctaws, in an effort to counteract the influence of the French and to win them to an alliance with the English. The effort was successful, but it involved him in difficulties with other traders and with James Glen, royal governor of South Carolina from 1743 to 1756, which resulted, he asserts, in his financial ruin.
In 1751, he moved to the Ninety-Six District (present-day Laurens County), SC, and resumed trade with the Cherokees, remaining there until about the end of 1759. His activities during these years covered a wide range. He was several times called in council by Gov. Glen, with whom he could never agree and whom he heartily detested.
Among the Indians he was a diplomat and a peace maker, but he was also a fighter -- "a valiant warrior," says Logan; and when he could not compose their quarrels he not infrequently took sides in their wars. At various times he was engaged in conflicts with the French. In the Indian war of 1760-61 he commanded a band of Chickasaws, receiving his supplies by way of Mobile.
In 1769, he visited New York City. Either then or a few years later he probably voyaged to London. Of his later life nothing authentic is recorded. He was, as the conclusion of his book amply shows, a vigorous defender of the rights of the colonies, but there appears to be no mention of him in Revolutionary annals. He is said to have been married and to have has several children and also to have died in North Carolina shortly after the close of the Revolution.
Adair is chiefly known through his history of the Indians. Primarily it is an argument that the Indians are the descendants of the ancient Jews. The theory was accepted by Elias Boudinot, on-time president of the Continental Congress, who gave it hearty support in his book, "A Star in the West" (1816). Adair's work has outlived its thesis.
Its account of the various tribes, their manners, customs, their manners, and vocabularies, its depiction of scenes and its narration of incidents in his own eventful career, give it a permanent value. It is a record of close and intelligent observation, and its fidelity of fact has been generally acknowledged. The book must have required many years of toil.
In his preface he says that it was written "among our old friendly Chickasaws" (doubtless during his second period of residence with them) and that the labor was attended by the greatest difficulties. Though some passages may subsequently have been added, it was probably finished by the end of 1768.
In the Georgia Gazzette, of Savannah, October 11, 1769, appeared an item dated February 27th of that year, apparently copied from a New York newspaper, announcing the arrival of Adair in New York and saying that "he intends to print the Essays." The care with which the book is printed indicates that he gave it personal supervision through the press.
From the dedication it is evident that he had the friendship of the noted Indian traders, Col. George Galphin and Col. George Croghan (with the former of whom he may for a time have been in partnership) and Sir William Johnson; and from various references it is certain that he was highly respected by those who knew him. Logan credits him with the quick penetration of the Indian audacity, cool self-possession, and great powers of endurance, and Volwiler says that he was one of the few men of ability who personally embarked in the Indian trade.
The City of Orangeburg [South Carolina] was founded by an Indian trader named George Sterling in 1704. The town was named in honor of William IV, Prince of Orange the husband of Princess Anne daughter of George II of England.
The history of Haig Point, (also known as Hague's Point or Haig's Point) reaches back into the colonial days when George Haig, a Scot merchant and Indian trader, purchased property in 1733 on the northern end of Daufuskie Island. The land remained in the Haig family for three generations until George Haig III sold the property around 1810 to the Mongin family.
The islands along the inland waterway were situated on the super highway of that era. Lookout Island, as the Indians called Pinckney Island, was a land grant to the Osbourne family, and Mackey, an Indian trader, got the island when he married their daughter. In 1734, Charles Pinckney bought Lookout Island from the Mackeys...and remained in the family until sold to Mrs. Ellen Keyser Bruce in 1937.
Robert Benge was born circa 1760 probably in the Cherokee village Toquo to John Benge and Wurteh, a Cherokee. Robert grew up to be the most notorious Cherokee in history. He was so feared in the central Appalachian areas of present-day Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, that the settlers admonished their children by saying, "if you don't watch out, Captain Benge will get you."
Toquo was a Cherokee village on the Little Tennessee River in present-day southeastern Tennessee. Robert grew up as a Cherokee, but with his red hair, European look, and his good command of English, he could also pass as a pure Euro-American. He used this double identity to good effect in his raids against the settlers. He was known as Bob Benge, Captain Benge, Chief Benge, Chief Bench, or just The Bench. If he had a Cherokee name, it is not known.
Robert's father was John Benge, an Indian trader who lived among the Cherokee, and his mother was Wurteh who was part of an influential Cherokee family.
In our way we crosst Fountain's Creek, which runs into Meherin River, so call'd from the disaster of an unfortunate Indian Trader who had formerly been drowned in it, and, like Icarus, left his name to that fatal stream.
A pioneer named Samuel Masters seems to be the first owner of record of Star Bluff [in Horry County, South Carolina]. He was referred to as an Inn Keeper on Winyaw Bay near Georgetown where he obtained a grant for 600 acres of land on June 19, 1711. He also purchased lands in the same area in 1729 from Lewis John, an Indian Trader, in which he was referred to as a "Cooper."
From Cherokee accounts, the following were known as Indian traders - time-frames not provided for most of them:
* Baille, George - trader