Documentation by Film of Ojibway Wool Strap Dress In Museum Part 2 The Sleeves

This is a Video I made in 2005 documenting an 1850's Ojibway Wool Strap Dress at the Depot Museum in Duluth, Minnesota.This is Part 2 of 4. Watch Full Screen for Best Resolution.
Music is by Peter Phippen, "Empty Heart" 
I will be adding a complete assembly description with time.....

Dona Maria Melendez 1600's Florida Timucua

 This just in from Sheila:

Artist's rendering of Timucua Cacica Doña María Melendez, ca. 1600. Drawing by Bill Celander

The people who lived at the village of Nombre de Dios were in closer contact with Europeans than any other Native American group in all of Florida. The Timucuans of St. Augustine were not only the first to confront and resist Spanish arrival, but they were also the first to confront and suffer from European diseases on a continuous scale. The first decade of coexistence (1565-1575) undoubtedly reduced the Timucua population of the St. Augustine region dramatically, and this reduction was probably a major factor in the ability (and decision) of the Spaniards to relocate St. Augustine in 1572 from Anastasia Island to its present site on the mainland.

The generation of Timucuans born during the 1560’s reached adulthood in the 1580’s, which was when missionary efforts in St. Augustine realized their first successes. Success was aided by the cooperation of the Timucuan caciques (chiefs), who appear to have quickly recognized the advantages of Spanish alliance.

Doña Maria Melendez, a member of the Timucuan noble class, is an example. She was the Chieftainess (cacica) of the Timucuan town of Nombre de Dios during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Doña Maria was a Christian, and her mother (who had been the ruling Chief of Nombre de Dios before her) was one of the very early Timucua converts to Christianity. Doña Maria married a Spanish soldier named Clemente de Vernal, and he lived with her and their children at Nombre de Dios. By 1606 she had become the ruler of the Timucuan tribes extending along the coast between St. Augustine and approximately Cumberland Island, Georgia , possibly through Spanish intervention


Once the Spaniards managed to establish a viable settlement at Saint Augustine, they worked diligently to acculturate influential Indian chiefs hoping to use them to forward their colonial policies and goals.In the last decade of the sixteenth and first decade of the seventeenth centuries, their proselytizing efforts began to bear fruit.Convinced of the advantages of associating and aligning themselves with their new neighbors, several Indian chiefs accepted baptism and used their influence to foster the spread of Catholicism and Castilian culture among their own peoples.Generous gifts of trade goods were sometimes held out as inducements to secure the loyalty of these influential Indians.

The Indian cacica, Doña María Melendez, became an important "go-between" and cultural broker following the establishment of Saint Augustine by the Spanish.When the English corsair, Francis Drake, burned and ravaged the presidio in 1586, it was the loyalty and support of this chieftainess that preserved the lives of the settlers from starvation and hostile Indian attack. When Doña Maria was wedded to a Spanish soldier, Clemente Vernal, Spanish officials in the presidio gave their enthusiastic approval in the mistaken belief that native matrilineal inheritance patterns would assure that Spaniards would ultimately dominate the native caciques. The royal governors at Saint Augustine were especially pleased by Doña Maria's acceptance of Catholicism and her willingness to use her language skills and influence to propagate the faith among her subjects and neighbors

From her own point of view, Doña Maria also had much to gain from her relationship to her new neighbors and kin.While the Saturiwa were accustomed to fighting interminable blood feuds with their Utina neighbors, the total war waged by the Spanish intruders in the 1560s and 1570s had proven to be far more disruptive of their way of life.By marrying one of the foreigners, Doña Maria managed to turn deadly foes into powerful allies and supporters.In the wake of the onslaught of disturbing new diseases, submitting to baptism and embracing the "cult of the cross" probably seemed a small price to pay for securing the patronage and protection of the Spanish spiritual healers and guaranteeing continued occupation of ancestral lands.Even Catholic indoctrination in the mission village of Nombre de Dios did not require cultural suicide, but was a more syncretic blending of religious elements that might also have helped revitalize the demoralized natives. Archaeological evidence from mixed dwelling units in Saint Augustine (albeit from a later period) suggest that native spouses dominated the domestic sphere and thereby assured the continuance of many traditional traits that they passed on to their mestizo children

Even as Doña Maria supported the presidio in times of need and regularly entertained Indian delegations at her home in order to spread the Christian faith, she was as quick to promote her own political interests as a tribal leader as she was in forwarding the diplomatic interests of her patrons in the presidio.A letter written to the crown on February 20, 1598 requesting reimbursement for entertainment expenses incurred on such occasions suggests that this cacica muy ladina was fully capable of moving between the social worlds of her Indian subjects and Spanish relatives and sponsors. Moreover, while Doña Maria originally held sway over the mission village of Nombre de Dios on the outskirts of Saint Augustine, by 1604 she had used the power of her Spanish patrons to extend her chiefly authority over the Tacatacuru peoples of Cumberland island and the coastal Georgian mainland.
A brief history of the life of Chief Don Juan of San Pedro Island [modern Cumberland Island, Georgia] also illustrates the effectiveness of presents in securing the loyalty of Indian chiefs and in forwarding Spanish colonial interests.Don Juan's predecessors and people had suffered greatly during decades of war with the Spaniards settling La Florida. Raised under the tutelage of Fray Baltasar López, this acculturated young chief learned from an early age the advantages derived from a close alliance with the Spanish. He adopted many Castilian customs and used his political power and influence to order the people of his ca&ccedilçgo to embrace the Catholic faith.In order to reward his efforts in propagating the faith and to further incline him toward Spanish interests, the Consejo de Indias wrote to the king in 1596 in favor of the suggestion of the governor and some friars to take the unprecedented action of paying this Indian "the rations and salary of a soldier of that presidio." The Spanish policy paid off the following year.When Don Juan's neighbors to the north rose in rebellion, killed the missionaries living in their midst, and pressed their campaign southwards, Don Juan organized the defense of the province and led a successful counterattack that routed and forced the Guales to retreat. Once again, the fidelity of an influential Indian interpreter and cultural broker was decisive in the defense of Saint Augustine and outlying mission stations in the early colonial period.

My Ideas:
From the picture we can see "Hopewell influence" in the necklace she is wearing has long copper tube beads common among Hopewell sites and an armband of yellow metal, could be post-contact, but was common for women of that day, (an before), to have hammered copper or silver arm bands. She is also wearing the universally popular disc earrings that are found in all tribes East of the Mississippi for at least 500 years of native copper or silver, or post contact metal of some sort.
It looks as if she wears a variation of the wide leather metal studded "girdle" belt spoken of by Spanish explorers, adorned with bells, chains and button metal studs of post contact origin??, (I have seen copper bells in Hopewell finds, but they are more like "harness bells"-round, than bell shaped bells shown here, the studs could be like the wooden buttons found covered in hammered silver in the mounds).
One can only guess at the beads, they are most likely pearls or shaped shell beads, (if she chose pre contact materials for her necklace).
She seems to be wearing a deer hide shawl
What can we say of her dress? Is it painted leather? Is it woven fiber? Hard to tell. How is it held up? Is it attached over the shoulder under the shawl? History would say that it was. But one can't be certain. The way it hangs across the breast, it seems to be slung from the shoulder under the shawl by the strap contained in the fold over channel, (like Mia's dress).
I see in her history she was a early convert to the church, but yet she retains the dress and tattooing of her ancestry.
An interesting image with back round to add to the collection, thanks Sheila!
Keep digging!

My Documentary of Ojibway Wool Strap Dress In Museum

This is a Video I made in 2005 documenting an 1850's Ojibway Wool Strap Dress at the Depot Museum in Duluth, Minnesota.This is Part 1 of 4. Watch Full Screen for Best Resolution.
Music is by Peter Phippen, "Empty Heart"

Chicago Field History Museum, Here I Come!

October 3, I will be at the Chicago Field History Museum to finally get a look at the dress I have been studying for the last thirteen years.

This is a moment of giddiness and a solemn moment of thanks for the opportunity to finally answer some questions about a truly Pre Contact Garment.

I remember well my old website over fifteen years ago, when I put a shout out to anyone who might have information regarding any kind of Strap Dress made from Deer Hides.

At the time, I had just finished examining a Stroud Wool Strap Dress at the Dept Museum in Duluth Minnesota and was at the time, in doubt as to whether a hide strap dress had ever been worn, (thinking that the wool lent itself to this particular design and did not translate into hide). This was in 1998.

Thanks to a Woman who I have lost contact with over the years named Donna, she took the time to crawl up in her attic and sort through her old collection of "Whispering Winds" magazines to find an article written in Spring/Summer 1984 about a strap dress reportedly at The Chicago Field History Museum.

I then began a long series of letters and emails with the museum about this dress, since I had no real picture or description other than it was an Ojibway two hide dress.

I lucked out when Donna sent me a physical copy of the picture and there was a negative number at the bottom corner. The reason they couldn't find this particular dress was because it was filed under "Creek" instead of Ojibway or Chippewa. Once I had the proper number, they graciously sent me the photos you see here.

Immediately it raised more questions than answers, the model shows the sleeves being worn under the dress and the yoke being pulled up over the shoulders. This was not how my documentation said it should be worn, but it could be a variant of the strap dress, or maybe, since the straps are obviously not part of the collection, the dress was simply displayed the best they could at the time given what they did have at their disposal. Only a personal visual inspection could answer these questions.

I was very busy in my personal life at this time and a trip to Chicago was pretty much out of the question at that time, I had many things to sort out about my life and most of my time was spent making the wool strap dress I did have documentation on.

Finally a couple years ago, I reopened the dialogue with the museum about the dress, but there was never a time to view the dress that fit my time schedule.

This time when they invited me to come and see the dress myself, I decided that it was now or never and I filled out the proper paperwork, and now I find myself in the enviable position of actually being able to see this dress for myself and document it for all who are interested.

This has to be one of the greatest days of my life and I'm glad to share it with all of the people who told me never to give up and keep on trying.

Thank you Donna, for fighting your loathing of spiders to crawl up in your attic and retrieve your old documentation that started this all.

Thank you Sheila, for offering to back me up and always asking if I'd gotten in yet, you built a fire under me when I had almost given up.

Thank you to my Husband, Doyle, for being game to just about go anywhere at anytime to see me happy, who believed in me and never let me quit.

Thank you to the Staff at the Chicago Field History Museum for letting me have access to this precious Garment!

And Thank you to everyone else who reads this Blog and enjoys it, you have kept me going and documenting for the last year. It's so wonderful to get to an Event and be greeted by people who have been following along and enjoying what we do.

I plan on re-creating the entire garment, moccasins, leggings, hood, rabbit coat and stay tuned, this is going to be a long ride!

Dentalium Beadwork Decisons Made for the Two Hide dress

Looking closely, you can see there is a strap of leather between races of dentalium shell and bead
After much thought, agony and prayer, I have finally come to a conclusion about how I want to embellish the garment, it finally revealed itself to me through my "ideas" sketch book I use to jot things down when I have an inspirational moment.

Pic2 Dentalium attached to leather thongs, then assembled
One theme seems to reoccur, the idea of a bird in flight. The yoke of the dress reminds me of, and I think it is no coincidence, that the arms outstretched mimic wings unfurled.

So there you have it, I will make it a Thunderbird in dentalium shells.

This presented me with a problem brought to my attention by my Dear Friend Eldonna, (who, with her Daughter, is adept at creating beautiful pre contact brain tan clothing), she reported that when her Daughter attached dentalium shells to a garment, there were problems with breakage.

This sent me back to the research files again, pulling up every picture I have of dentalium shells attached to leather clothing and I think I found the answer. Remember, dentalium was currency and also would optimistically be removable if one needed to spend ones "money" and also, if the garment ever failed, one would have to have a way of shifting the bead work from one garment to another.

Denatlium buffered with leather between races on earrings
Looking carefully at photos of museum specimens I noticed a common trend, in almost all cases the shells are FIRST sewn to a leather thong top and bottom and then attached to the body of the dress or headpiece, or earrings, etc. This leather "buffer" would help the dentalium "float" above the fabric and act as a cushion, or shock absorber if you will.

This way of attaching the shells gives me the ability to remove the design intact if I ever need to and should be a sort of buffer to keep the shells floating above the brain tan, allowing greater freedom of movement without breakage.
There will, of course be some breakage if I do wear the dress intensively, but broken shells can be replaced as need by breaking the broken shell off with pliers and replacing the shell with another of similar size.

The thong also acts as a closure to the end of the shells, giving a smoother appearance, (the large end being covered instead of standing out from the fabric).

So now I have to figure out if I create the strips first and sew down after or create strips as I sew along.

Pic 1 Again, a leather thong buffer strip
I imagine it will be the latter, or a combination of both.

I plan on using sinew throughout and have found a way to make my sinew thinner and finer for such work, but I also dread the idea of it, so many short threads!

But, that's the way it was, so that's the way it is, a new way to learn patience!

Below is a drawing I made a while ago when I started my projects, I discarded it at the time because I could not work out how I could represent the birds head in any realistic way, then, like a Stroke of Thunder, (ironically), the dress spoke and said, "You are the Thunderbirds Head".

This really excited me, as I wanted a dentalium head dress for this garment, suddenly I could see row upon row of dentalium shells covering my head as in pic 1 above, but then continuing in a cape over my shoulders like pic 2.

I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

I'd like to thank Eldonna, from the bottom of my heart for her telling me about the broken shell problem, without her advice, I never would have found the solution and the design of the dress. It just goes to show that no project is a solitary idea and that sharing your thoughts with others can only improve your design!

Drawing of the Thunderbird pattern I made months ago, but forgot about until I went searching for ideas....

Will the Real Mary Musgrove Please Come Forward?

I have a friend who portrays Mary Musgrove for Educational Events and lately her choice of dress made of hides has come under question. So I did a little research over the last few weeks and am left with more questions than answers.

B) Oglethorpe, Mary, (If it is her, identity is assumed) and Tomo-Chichi
Who is Mary Musgrove? Opinions vary depending on which side of history you fall on, but here is a fairly accurate accounting of her life:

Mary Musgrove was a half-breed Yamacraw Indian of the Muscogean Tribe, (Also known as the "Creeks" by Europeans). Her Indian name was Coosaponakesee. 

Her father was a white trader and her mother a Yamacraw Indian. Mary's mother was a sister of Emperor Biem who had tried, in the terrible war in 1715, to drive the white man out of the southeast. She had been sent to South Carolina when she was ten years old to go to school. Mary could speak both Creek and English. 

Mary was a tiny woman about five feet tall, wore her hair in two long braids with a band of beads across her forehead, and a feather stuck into the band (MY Note: No documentation validates this description). She married John Musgrove, a white trader who was the son of a South Carolina official. Mary and John's trading post was Mount Venture located on the Altamaha River.

On February 12, 1733 General James Edward Oglethorpe (founder of the colony of Georgia) sailed with four small boats down the coast and up the Savannah River to his new home. (Georgia was the first colony to be established in the 18th century.) When he landed at Yamacraw Bluff, he used Mary (who was about 33 years old at this time) as his interpreter for the first meeting with the Yamacraw Chief (or Mico), Tomochichi, an imposing man six feet tall and 90 years of age. (Tomochichi was very interested in Oglethorpe's gun, which he called a "fire stick'. He remained a fast friend to Oglethorpe until his death in 1739.)

*1) Oglethorpe, Mary and Tomo-Chichi Drawing by W.P. Snyder, This drawing is not flattering to her,
but close to what she actually wore.
Since she regarded and believed in the white man strongly, she was very influential in convincing the Yamacraw Indians to support General Oglethorpe in the settling of Georgia. General Oglethorpe regarded Mary as a valuable interpreter and employed her for a yearly salary of one hundred pounds sterling, which in that day was equal to a great deal more than five hundred dollars. But, Mary earned all that was paid to her and more.

Oglethorpe, Mary, (as a Modern Misconception of an Indian Woman) and Tomo-Chichi, (Modern Rendition)
Not only did she interpret for General Oglethorpe, but she also aided in concluding treaties and aided in securing warriors from the Creek nation in the war that occurred between the colonists and the Spaniards who occupied Florida.

When Oglethorpe left Georgia in 1743 (1742 ?) he gave Mary a ring from his finger. After malaria claimed four of Mary's sons and her husband John, she married a man named Matthews, who also died.
Oglethorpe, Mary, (portrayed as an English Woman) and Tomo-Chichi

In 1744 she married Thomas Bosomworth, who was previously the chaplain to Oglethorpe's regiment. Reverend Bosomworth was a very shrewd individual. Up until her marriage to Bosomworth, Mary had never ceased to labor for the good of the colony. After her marriage to Thomas, her conduct was such as to keep the whites in constant fear of massacre and extermination.

Bosomworth set about winning the Creek Indians to his devious ways. He convinced Malatche (brother of Mary) to have himself proclaimed as emperor of the Creek nation. Then he procured from the Creek emperor a deed of conveyance to he and Mary of the islands of Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Catherine. Thomas then convinced the Creek nation to proclaim Mary as the "Empress of Georgia." He used Mary's influence and previous rapport to his own good.

And even set in stone-Oglethorpe, Mary, (as bare-breasted Greek Goddess), and Tomo-Chichi
Mary, having won support of all the Indians, made instant demand for surrender of all the lands that had belonged to the Upper and Lower Creek Indians.

In August 1749 while meeting in Savannah, Mary and Thomas were privately arrested due to debts Thomas owed in South Carolina for cattle. The Indian Chiefs and council president met on several occasions to negotiate the return of lands to the Indians. Bosomworth repented of his folly, wrote to the council president apologizing for his wanton conduct.

During this time Thomas continually fought to secure the money owed Mary for her services when she was working for General Oglethorpe. Around 1759 (1757 ?), Governor Ellis settled Mary's claims by giving her 450 pounds sterling for goods she had expended in the King's service. She was also allowed 1650 pounds sterling for her services as agent. In addition, she was given 2000 pounds sterling from the auction sale of Ossabaw and Sapelo.

A grant of St. Catherine Island was also made to Mary Bosomworth for her many good deeds she did for the Colonists in her better days before her mind had been poisoned by Reverend Bosomworth. The Bosomworths lived there for the rest of their lives and are buried there.

(*3) Chipita-Ourays Woman
*2) Anyone else notice the resemblance to theunrelated photo on the left?

A) Who is the Woman in the Red Dress on the right? Men shown in traditional Men's Garb of the time

Above: Yamacraw Creek Native Americans meet with the Trustee of the colony of Georgia in England, July 1734, Notice the Native American boy (in a blue coat) and woman (in a red dress) in European clothing.

So my research remains inconclusive, with a couple of notes.

  • First, the women of Mary's tribe wore skirts plaited from palm and Spanish Moss for the most part, hides were only resorted to when the weather required more clothing. They were not considered formal wear and she would not have met Europeans in this garb when negotiating.
  • Second, Mary was of mixed blood and educated as well as raised among the Europeans, she must have been well thought of by her people as normally, a woman of mixed blood was not accepted by the tribes in any way. She probably wore European dress, for the most part, since her husbands were European.

  • Third, when Mary proclaimed herself a "Empress" of her tribe, she would have donned the clothing that befit such an office, which would have been at the time either the two sleeve dress with elaborately decorated over poncho shown in paintings *(1) & *(2) above or a one over the shoulder dress as shown worn by the men in the painting above (A) or (B) the first picture above showing her squatting and smoking a pipe.
I'm really surprised at the lack of documentation of her actual appearance, she was an important part of South Eastern History and therefore, should have had her likeness recorded. But when you look at the many ways Oglethorpe was portrayed in the portraits above, as well as Tomo-Chichi, it really is no surprise that she is shown in different ways.
Mary and her Husband As Self-Proclaimed Royalty
I'm going to stick my neck out and say she wore the One Shoulder Hide dress when she first began her life's Journey but when she became self-proclaimed royalty she donned the Two Sleeve Hide Dress with over-poncho shown in Pictures (A) and (B).
Why? It would impress both European and Native alike, it was fashionable at the time and I would like to think she wore something that really looked formal and formidable as a European Ministers Wife, but still related to her origins with her Native People.
*1) Oglethorpe, Mary and Tomo-Chichi Drawing by W.P. Snyder, This drawing is not flattering to her,
but I feel is actually very close to what she wore
It mirrors almost perfectly what writers describe her wearing and is actually shown wearing in more than one drawing.

*Who is the woman supposedly depicted in the photo (3) above who had a striking resemblance to the drawing of Mary? See Below.

Chipeta - Wife of Ute Chief Ouray

Wife of Ute Chief


The San Luis Valley was inhabited at different times by numerous Indian tribes.  Early paleolithic hunters killed now extinct ice animals in the valley.  Indians from the upper Rio Grande Pueblos also hunted in the valley at times.  Before the Utes finally established their dominance in the valley, it was frequently raided by Plains tribes such as the Comanche, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Kiowa.  Jicarilla Apaches lived in peaceful harmony with the Utes and frequently camped in the southern end of the valley.  The first contact with the Utes was in the period 1630-1640.  The Utes were called "QUERECHOS" by the early Spaniards in the area.

The Capote band of Utes occupied the southern end of the valley at the time of the first contact.  Another band, the Mohuache, also lived in southern Colorado and the Weeminuche band also ranged in the western end of the valley, generally west of the San Juan Mountains.
Ute Photograph taken in 1882

Chipeta (shown above) was wife of the paramount Ute chief Ouray.  She was almost hanged by a lynchmob in Alamosa, Colorado, on January 7, 1880, when she and ten Ute chiefs arrived there to board a train for Washington to resolve reservation resettlement matters.  Early Colorado settlers were irate at the Utes for the killing of eleven cavalrymen and the wounding of forty three others in the massacre at Meeker, Colorado.
My Note: I am not convinced the person named in this photo is Chipeta, her clothing does not match the tribe she belonged to, as the photo above does and she doesn't even look like Chipeta, even if it was taken in a much earlier time.

The person in the photo on the right is wearing a South Eastern Poncho Dress of Post Contact Design and is almost exactly the person featured in the drawing (2) above, right down to the silver bracelets on her arm and beads hanging from her belt. What goes on here? At the very least, the artist in the drawing (2) used this photo for his model of what Mary looked like, it's just to similar to dismiss it entirely! Just another case of an Artist thinking one Indian looks and dresses the same as another? The Mystery Thickens...

Here I include a more flattering version of Mary's Life Taken from:

Mary Musgrove (ca. 1700-ca. 1763)
Known as Coosaponakeesa among the Creek Indians, Mary Musgrove served as a cultural liaison between colonial 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 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,
From First Lessons in Georgia History, by L. B.  Evans
Mary Musgrove
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. (Archaeologists excavated the site of this trading post in 2002, prior to the beginning of a construction project by the Georgia Ports Authority.) 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 *See My NOTE at bottom 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. 

From the colony'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, and by extension, the Georgia colony. She served as Oglethorpe's principal interpreter from 1733 until 1743, receiving financial compensation for her assistance and the prestige that accompanied her position. During this period she repeatedly used her connections to foster peace between the British and the Creeks. Oglethorpe obtained most of his understanding of the Creek Indians directly from Musgrove.
Musgrove remarried in 1737. With the assistance of her husband, Jacob Matthews, Musgrove established another trading post at Mount Venture on the Altamaha River. 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 Malatchi granted the Bosomworths three of the Sea Islands that the Indians claimed as their own—Ossabaw, 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 reached under royal governor Henry Ellis—in 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.
In 1993 Musgrove was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement

Note: Did Mary accompany her husband to England on this trip? Is she the woman portrayed in the English portrait in the red dress? According to "A School History of Georgia" by Charles H. Smith, Tomochichi, his wife and adopted son along with five Cherokee Chiefs made up the visiting party, so if we credit this source, Mary was not among them.


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