Georgia Before Oglethorpe

oglethorpe-tomochichi You’ve reached a one-stop source for current information about the state of Georgia’s little-known first two centuries after first European contact. My intent in this site is to provide visitors with a wide range of resource materials, historical and otherwise, for research into the almost-forgotten era of Georgia history when American Indians, Spanish missionaries, and English traders briefly shared the land now known as Georgia. It was a turbulent and often tragic era, when plagues and slave raiding destroyed indigenous chiefdoms while Spain and England conducted war by proxy for the Southeastern borderlands. Nevertheless, it was precisely this era which set the stage for the establishment of Georgia by James Edward Oglethorpe in 1733.

Indigenous Chiefdoms of Georgia

indian_tattoo By the time of first European contact, Georgia had been inhabited for more than 11,000 years (see my Outline of Georgia Prehistory), and was at that time populated by as many as 100,000 people distributed in perhaps a dozen independent agricultural chiefdoms extending from the estuaries of the intracoastal waterway to the fertile river valleys […]

European Exploration of Georgia

huguenotthanksgiving The European exploration of Georgia began only 29 years after the Bahama landfall of Christopher Columbus, when Spanish ships in search of new sources of Indian slaves scoured the Georgia coast in 1521. Following a failed colonial attempt along the coast just five years later, the Georgia interior subsequently witnessed two major military expeditions in […]

English Conquest of Georgia

tomochichi-london Serious English colonial competition for mainland North America did not begin until the 1607 establishment of Jamestown and the Virginia colony (Raleigh’s colony at Roanoke in the 1580s was a failure). Although permanent Spanish occupation in St. Augustine predated Jamestown by 42 years (some two generations), the early success and growth of Virginia ultimately exerted […]

Dawn of Oglethorpe’s Georgia

James Oglethorpe Oval Detail By the time that future Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe was born in England, the former missions of Guale and Mocama had been abandoned for more than a decade. And by the time the adult Oglethorpe finally arrived to establish the new city of Savannah in 1733, the coastal borderlands between English Carolina and Spanish […]

Spanish Colonial Archival Sources

map_isla_florida Primary historical sources relative to Georgia’s earliest colonial era are mostly in Spanish archives, or in archival repositories in the United States that contain collections of microfilm or photostat images of original Spanish documents. While English documentary sources are available relating to the early Virginia and Carolina colonies, these sources are only applicable to the […]

A Primer on Spanish Colonial Paleography

paleography_small Historical research into the colonial era of Spanish Florida requires familiarity not just with the Spanish language and archival organization of the 16th-18th centuries, but also with archaic handwriting styles used by colonial notaries. The study of such handwriting, called paleography, is sometimes very difficult and often tedious and frustrating, but permits the researcher to […]

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Early Colonial Georgia

georgia-map-625 Following the 1995 publication of my first book [amazon_link id=”0817354115″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Struggle for the Georgia Coast[/amazon_link], in which I presented the results of new research into Georgia’s coastal missions (based in large part on previously undiscovered or unused Spanish documentary sources), I began to realize the enormous quantity of published literature about early […]