The Great Saga of Our Ancestors

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

The prison ship “Jersey” where Americans were severely tortured for the cause of freedom. Today, in a world where our monuments are being destroyed, there is a great history yet to be told. No history has ever reached as far back into the past as the genealogist who digs deeply, searching every possible clue and time-line. Disrupters will never destroy this pristine record of actual documented dates and events because it is kept by individuals and not found in our schools. During the last forty years or so, the school history books are but a tainted summation of a select few events based moreso upon political bias and opinions than actual truth.

Hence, genealogists have on hand many true accounts and exciting stories of our ancestors! Their intensive research unfolds the adventures of good, hard-working and brave persons who made surprising sacrifices for personal freedom and left us a present of it. Our human histories, bound up in those stories, is impactful and powerful.

Cited below are a couple of items from the Georgia Militia Records (online to members of Georgia Pioneers).

On September 8, 1779, John Murray, Esquire of Christ Church Parish while en route to St. Augustine, Florida was taken prisoner onboard the “Languedoe”, a French Man of War commanded by Comte D’Estaign (d. 1794). Count D’Estaign, on his way back to France, had decided to oblige General Washington by helping to recapture Savannah. Comte d’Estaign was commander of the first French fleet sent in support of the American colonists during the American Revolution. Savannah was under seige by the British. Unfortunately, a recapture was unsuccessful. Online Resource for members of Georgia Pioneers: John Murray capture; Internet Link: 1779 Seige of Savannah


In 1781, John McDaniel joined the British Army in Savannah, much to the surprise of his wife, Mary. He soon died of smallpox and left his wife with three small children. That left her at the mercy of the American soldiers. She asked to be able to keep the few cattle and hogs she had been sold. Her story is told on page 39 of the records of the Georgia Militia (online link for members of Georgia Pioneers. McDaniel was likely buried in the Colonial Cemetery (established in 1750) on Abercorn Street.


During this time period, there were vessels delivering passengers having smallpox. As passengers were deported, some were found dead on the streets.

I reseached an interesting family awhile back. The folk lore was that a child was found near his dead parents on the streets of Savannah. They had arrived on a ship, deported, and died of smallpox. The child was taken to Ebenezer, Georgia (Effingham County), where there is a record of the child baptised by the Germans. I searched all of the early records for that surname and found a family who had been onboard a ship from Maryland around the same time period. They were not the parents, but I had a place of origin. Savannah was the port land for most emigrants. All of county records for Chatham County survived. Chatham County Records Online Also, the colonial records survived and are available in Candler’s Colonial Records of Georgia. One should read the Savannah Gazette, from page to page where death notices and local news is scattered. Also, some of the old newspapers published Ship Arrivals. Finding the actual passenger list is remote, but something may turn up about the vessel. Savannah was a busy port city.

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