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Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Success of Hard Work

Morton Hall Plantation
If you like history, a good way to learn about actual people in real time is to read the old last wills and testaments.  Take Savannah, for example. Here is a city carved from the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of its first settlers.  For example, James Habersham was a school teacher came over from England on one of the first voyages but during his own struggles to survive noted a number of orphaned children on the streets, with no where to go. You might ask "why were there so many orphans?"  And I would tell you Oglethorpe's immigrants did well to pay for their own passage and many of them died of hardship during the early years.  This left children.  So, Habersham began taking them into his home. Eventually, he teamed up with the evangelist, Rev. Whitefield and helped him to operate the Bethesda Orphanage, the first one in the colony. That was 1740.  The Habershams rose in the political arena. William Gibbons owned Morton Hall in Savannah as well as lands in Franklin County and property in Brunswick.  The family, originally from England, was prolific in in Chatham and Liberty counties and established estates which provided revenue for the local communities.  From his last will and testament we learn that he owned lot number 191 in Savannah, which he had purchased from James Bullock and that his sister was Sarah Telfair. Also, that his nephew was Noble Wimberly Jones of Wormsloe plantation.  The average last will and testament in Chatham County is 50 pages long!  That is because of the inventories, sales and notes. Such wills reflect enterprise, ambition and hard work.  You see, no slaves were permitted in Georgia until after 1752.  These settlers were businessmen who drew on their resources to establish large working plantations and to help the community at large.  The detail in these wills will rival any business partnership drawn today. By the time that the Charter was surrendered in 1752, prosperity was already on its way.

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