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afternoon flood, Mr. Oglethorpe in the scout boat accompanying them. I was left on board in order to load the Peter and James, Captain Dymond, with things the most immediately necessary for Frederica, and to unload and discharge the Symond and London Merchant.
On the 3d I hired a schooner belonging to Mr. Foster, one of the freeholders of Savannah, to carry up part of the cargoes; and I set on shore at Tybee the bricks, and such other part of the cargoes as could not get damage by wet, to lie there till occasion should offer to carry them down, and thereby saved the charges of carrying them to Savannah and down again. I got the ship's boats to help to unload, craft being very scarce, by reason of so many boats sent down to the southward with the colony.
On the 11th I discharged the ships Symond and London Merchant, having this day made an end of unloading them. The Peter and James being loaded, we now waited for a wind to sail to Frederica.
On the 17th we set sail with the morning tide, in company with the Symond and London Merchant. As soon as we were over the bar we parted, they for Charlestown, and we for Frederica. In the evening the wind shifted, and we came to an anchor, the sea being very smooth, and but little wind.
On the 18th, the wind came about, and we stood to the southward two days; at which time we stood in for the land, and made a woody island. The land seemed high about the middle. We stood in within two miles: it looked pleasant, the beach being white sand, the woods lofty, and the land hilly. We daily saw several smokes and fires all along the shore, which were made by the friendly Indians, by Mr. Oglethorpe's order. At noon we had an observation, and found we were in 31 deg. 20 min., being twenty miles to the southward of Frederica, for the entrance of Jekyl sound, is in 31 deg. 0 min. We turned to the northward, and on the 22d in the evening, we made the opening between Jekyl island and St. Simons. We came to an anchor that evening, and the next morning, being the 23d, we stood into the opening, and found a good channel between the breakers all the way to Jekyl sound, at the entrance of which, Captain Yokely's boat came off to us. We ran directly up to Frederica, and anchored close to the shore in three fathom water, where lay the James, Captain Yokely.
I went on shore, where I found Mr. Oglethorpe was gone to the Spanish frontiers, and I was surprised to find that there was a battery of cannon mounted, which commanded the river, and the fort almost built, the ditches being dug round, though not to their width, and the rampart raised with green sod. Within the fort a very large and convenient storehouse, sixty foot in front, and to be three stories high, was begun, with a cellar of the same size underneath, and one story already raised above ground. The town was building, the streets were all laid out, the main street that went from the front into the country, was twenty-five yards wide. Each freeholder had sixty foot in front, by ninety foot in depth, upon the high street, for their house and garden; but those which fronted the river had but thirty foot in front by sixty foot in depth. Each family had a bower of palmetto leaves, finished upon the back street in their own lands ; the side towards the front street was set out for their houses. These palmetto bowers were very convenient shelters, being tight in the hardest rains; they were about twenty foot long, and fourteen foot wide, and in regular rows, looked very pretty, the palmetto leaves lying smooth and handsome, and of a good color. The whole appeared something like a camp; for the bowers looked like tents, only being larger, and covered with palmetto leaves instead of canvass. There were three large tents, two belonging to Mr. Oglethorpe, and one to Mr. Horton, pitched upon the parade near the river.
Mr. Oglethorpe had divided the colony into parties, one cut forks, poles, and laths for building the bowers, another set them up, a third fetched palmetto leaves, a fourth thatched, and a Jew workman, bred in the Brazil, and had come from Savannah, taught them to do this nimbly, and in a neat manner. Mr. Oglethorpe had appointed some men who knew the country to instruct the colony in hoeing and planting; and as soon as the bowers were finished, a party was set to that work, and the rest were hired by him to work at the fort, by reason that a great part of the workmen were not yet come up. It was so late in the year, he hoped little from any planting, therefore what he ordered to be done, was rather to teach the colony against another season, than from any advantage likely to arise from it, and he employed the men of the colony to work at the fort that they might get something to help to subsist themselves the next year. There was potatoes and Indian corn in the ground, and they were planting more; there was some flax and hempseed, which came to little, being too late set. And it is an observation that all Europe grains should be sowed rather before winter, that they may shoot and cover the ground, for if they are sowed in spring, the weather coming hot upon them, the blades shoot at once into height, and not shading the roots the heat of the sun dries them up. But when the winter has checked the growth of the blade, the plant spreads, and covering the ground thick, shades it from the parching sun, and thereby keeps a moisture underneath, which prevents the roots from being dried up. There was barley, turnips, lucerne grass, pumpkins, water-melons and several other seeds sown or sowing daily; all was for the whole colony, the labor was in common, though they were assisted by several workmen hired from Savannah. I was the more surprised to see a team and six horses ploughing, not having heard any thing of it before; but it was thus: Messieurs Walter Augustine and Tolme, escorted by Mr. Hugh Mackay, had, pursuant to their orders, surveyed from Savannah to Darien, and had made a plan of it, and Mr. Hugh Mackay had brought these horses then with him, which were embarked in periaguas from Darien to Frederica. They reported that the Indians had accompanied, assisted, and hunted for them in their survey; and that they had met some camps of friendly Indians, besides those which Toma Chi Chi Mico sent with them; that they had found the country passable for horses, but to keep the horse road they were obliged to go round about, and head several valleys which were too rich and wet to be passable, therefore that road was ninety miles round; but that the road might be carried so as to make it but seventy; that there were two rivers to be swam over; and some boggy places. The news they brought had been no small joy to the people of Frederica, since they had a communication from the Darien by land, open to Savannah, and consequently to all the English colonies of North America.
Frederica is situated in the island of St. Simons, in the middle of an Indian field, where our people found thirty or forty acres of land cleared by them. The ground is about nine or ten foot above high water mark, and level for about a mile into the island; the bank is steep to the river, which is here narrow but deep and makes an elbow, so that the fort commands two reaches. The woods on the other side this branch of the Alatamaha are about three miles distance. All that three miles is a plain marsh, which by small banks might easily be made meadow: when I was upon it, it was so hard that a horse might gallop, but most part of it is flooded at very high tides. The open ground on which the town stands, is bounded by a little wood to the east, on the other side of which is a large Savannah of above two hundred acres, where there is fine food for cattle. To the South, is a little wood of red bay trees, live oaks, and other useful timber, which is reserved for the public service. In the fort also are some fine large oaks preserved for shade. To the north are woods, where the people have leave to cut for fire and building, for all that side is intended to be cleared. To the west is the river, and the marshes beyond it as I said before. The soil is a rich sand mixed with garden mould, the marshes are clay. In all places where they have tried, they find fresh water within nine foot of the surface. The grass in the Indian old field was good to cut into turf which was useful in sodding the fort.
The woods on the island are chiefly live-oak, wateroak, laurel, bay, cedar, gum and sassafras, and some pines. There are also abundance of vines growing wild in the woods; one called the fox grape, from a kind of muscadine taste, is as large and round as the duke cherry, and fleshy like it, but the stones are like the grape. This kind of grape does rarely grow in clusters, but singly like cherries. The other grape is black in clusters, small, thick skinned, big stoned, but pleasant enough; it seems to be the Bourdeaux grape, wild and unimproved; they are ripe about September, but a quantity sufficient to make a true experiment of wine (which can hardly be done under sixty gallons) is hard to be got, because the bears, raccoons and squirrels eat them before they are ripe, and as they run up very high trees, it is difficult, or almost impossible to get to the tops of them where the best grow. These grapes are common to the woods in most parts of America. But there is on St. Simons, a wild grape much nearer the Europe vine, the fruit being exactly the same as the common white grape, though the leaf is something different. The birds and wild animals like it so well that they suffer it seldom to ripen. All the vine kinds seem natural to the country. The China root produces a kind of bind or briar; and the melon, the water-melon, cucumber, kidney bean, pumpkin and gourd, all thrive wonderfully.
The island abounds with deer and rabbits; there are no buffaloes in it, though there are large herds upon the main. There are also a good many raccoons, a creature something like a badger, but somewhat less, with a bushy tail like a squirrel, tabbied with rings of brown and black. They are very destructive to the poultry.
I heard that there were wolves and bears, but saw none. There are great numbers of squirrels of different sizes, the little kind the same as in England, a lesser than that, not much bigger than a mouse, and a large grey sort, very near as big as a rabbit, which those who are accustomed to the country say, eats as well. There are wild cats which they call tigers; I saw one of them which the Indians killed, the skin was brown, and all of one color, about the size of a middling spaniel, little ears, great whiskers, short legs, and strong claws.
Of the wild fowl kind, there are wild turkeys, though but few of them upon the island, but plenty upon the main. This bird is larger than the tame turkey, and the cock is the beautifullest of the feathered kind; his head has the red and blue of the turkey, only much more lively and beautiful, his neck is like the cock pheasant's, his feathers also are of the same color with those of that bird, glittering in the sun as if they were gilded; his tail is as large, though it hath not so fine eyes in it as the peacock's hath. At first, before they were disturbed by our people, they would strut in the woods as a peacock does. I have heard some say, that upon weighing, they have found them to exceed thirty pounds; I never weighed any, but have had them very fat and large; they are delicious meat and are compared to a tame turkey, as a pheasant is to a fowl. I saw no partridges upon the island, though they are plenty upon the main. Turtle-doves the woods swarm with, which are excellent food; there are also great numbers of small birds, of which a black bird with a red head, the red bird, or Virginia nightingale, the mocking bird, which sings sweetly, and the rice bird, much resembling the French ortelan, were the chief; the rest are too numerous to describe.