Dr. George Mosse: One Thing Leads to Another 

Doesn’t it, though? One pebble dropped in a pond creates infinite ripples.

We went to a tour of Datha Island. It’s a private community, with a guard and a gate, but we were able to secure a pass because we were part of a history group. I made lots of photos. Perhaps someday my path will wind back to posting those.

For now, I want to talk about George Mosse. I’ve talked about him before. Heck, I even named a dog after him. Not the first odd name I’ve done. I named a cat after Peter Tondee, who ran an inn in Savannah where the Liberty Boys met. The man, not the cat.

Islanders In History

From the Island Packet, Tuesday, June 29, 1976

George Mosse, Militia Surgeon, Lived Here, Mapped Island

By The Rev. Dr. Robert E. H. Peeples

A trim, versatile young Irish physician, kinsman of the popular Dr. Bartholomew Mosse of Dublin, arrived in Charleston in 1765. He began practicing medicine in the Parish of St. Thomas and St. Denis where he married Elizabeth Martin in 1767.

Following her death in childbirth he secured a small acreage on St. Helena’s Island, resumed his medical practice, opened a large general store and established a profitable tannery and leather manufacturing business. His 120oared barge made monthly deliveries of his merchandise alternately to Charleston and Savannah, returning with needed supplies. Several journeymen and apprentices augmented his work force of slaves. He planted benne from which sesame seeds were harvested for oil; he planted cane from which he manufactured sugar and distilled rum; he cultivated grapes and made wines commercially.

Dr. Mosse married again in 1771 Phoebe, younger daughter of aging planter Jonathan Norton. Her sister Sarah was the wife of Samuel Green of Hilton Head’s Fish Haul Plantation and they were frequent visitors here. They hired a resident male tutor for the seven daughters born to them, all of whom they raised; there were no sons.

From the 1775 outbreak of Revolution, Dr. Mosse and the St. Helena’s and Hilton Head Island planters were active patriots. The victory at Sullivan’s Island gave the state almost three years of respite from war. But the December 1778 fall of Savannah and the subsequent burning of Prince William Parish Church (Sheldon) by Royal Militiaman Maj. Andrew Deveaux, his wife’s cousin, brought war’s violence to Beaufort District. By May 12, 1780, when Charleston fell, all Georgia and Carolina had been lost through the bad judgment and worse military tactics of three Continental generals: Robert Howe, John Ashe and Benjamin Lincoln.

One more Continental effort was mad at Camden by Gen. Horatio Gates; his inefficient supply service left his men so hungry that they ate unripened fruit the day before the battle and were too ill to fight. Dr. Mosse served as a Militia surgeon during the battle and was captured by the British who marched him from the Camden battlefield to prison in Charleston.

Upon being paroled Dr. Mosse returned to his family. In May 1781 in contravention of the terms of his parole, the British arrested 129 of the leaders of South Carolina and confined them aboard the prison ships Forbay and Pack Horse in Charleston harbor. Hilton Head landowner and future S.C. Governor Benjamin Guerard and planter William Elliott of Myrtle Bank Plantation, whose wife was a close cousin of Dr. Mosse’s wife, were among those held illegally with Ddr. Mosse in the stinking, disease-ridden, overcrowded vessels.

Ddr. Mosse joined the others in writing on May 18, 1781 to Gen. Nathanael Greene, that “should it fall to the lot of any or all of us to be made victims agreeable to to the menaces herein contained, we have only to regret that our blood could not be disposed of more to the advancement of the glorious cause to which we adhere.”

A general exchange of prisoners was arranged, resulting in Dr. Mosse’s being put aboard ship for Philadelphia. As the ship passed the North Carolina coast the prisoners overcame their guards, seized control of the vessel and sailed her into port. From there, “after many perils,” Dr. Mosse made his way home safely.

In early 1782 Dr. Mosse supplied the S.C. military establishment with 115 gallons of rum and 300 pounds of “muscavado sugar” manufactured on his plantation. He became a Hilton Head landowner; his plantation adjoining that of his business partner and brother-in-law the Rev. William E. Graham and their nephew Capt. William Pope.

As the Treaty of Peace was signed in 1783 he was still shipping wine for the use of the Militia. Also in 1783 Dr. Mosse surveyed Hilton Head Island and made a detailed map, complete with names of concurrent property owners, dividing most of the island into plantation-sized lots for sale by Benjamin Bayley as agent for Henry Bayley, heir of original grantee Landgrave John Bayley in 1698.

Ten years later Dr. Mosse moved his family to Savannah in order to provide better educational opportunities for his daughters, the eldest of whom had settled there after marrying Capt. Patrick McKenzie, Revolutionary soldier from Maryland. His daughter Elizabeth married Capt. James Stoney and became mistress of Otterburn Plantation on Hilton Head the same year.

In Savannah Dr. Mosse organized the Savannah Medical College and was a charter member of the Georgia Medical Society. In 1795 he became the first deacon of Savannah’s First Baptist Church which he helped establish. But he complained that he “made no dollars in Savannah” whereas he had “made pounds (sterling) on St. Helena’s and Hilton Head.”

In May 1806 he bought a plantation at Robertville where several of his daughters had settled. There he died Feb. 17, 1808, and his wife six weeks later. They were buried in the plantation cemetery and the site of the grave of this Revolutionary War hero is now lost.

*More correctly, Dr. Mosse surveyed HHI for the SC Amercement Commission which had seized the Bayley property and sold it off for the benefit of the State Treasury. Dr. Mosse’s map bearing his signature is in the SC Archives in Columbia.

Our George Mosse was married 2 times. His first wife died in childbirth along with the child. His 2nd wife was Phoebe Norton, the daughter of Jonathan Norton who owned Warsaw Island, near Datha Island. The same Jonathan Norton who most probably deeded two acres of land for a chapel to be built, most probably the Chapel of Ease on St. Helena.

Continue along the road past the Chapel of Ease, and you will come to Lands End. It is truly a land’s end, because after all, we are on an island. It’s an old-style, mixed-housing beach community with private and public landings. It would be a bear to have to evacuate from those islands in case of a hurricane. But I digress…

One of the little roads in the community is named Mosse Road. Sugar remembered this from our last trip out this way, perhaps ten years ago. How does he remember this stuff?

So nothing will do except we make a day trip to Mosse Road.



Turn right onto Mosse Road, and you’ll see this:


It’s a sandy little track, not very long. That pip of light at the end is the light at the end of the tunnel where the road ends and you can see the river.


Sitting at the end of Mosse Road, you can look over and see the river a bit more clearly.

We turn left and head south. There are several public beach access points on the map, and we decide to drive along the first one we come to. It’s narrow, not even wide enough for two cars. We’ll have to back out because there’s no room to turn around. Problems like this have never stopped Sugar from driving down a lane.



Let’s walk out onto this trip hazard.

To the right:


To the left:



And straight ahead?

Parris Island.

*THAT* Parris Island. From a side that is rarely seen.



The breeze was delicious. We saw dolphins. And Sugar mused that this could be the spot where George Mosse put in his twelve-oarred boat.


Can you get enough of George Mosse? Well, that’s a good thing because we can’t, either. More Mosse fun to come.

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2 Responses to “Dr. George Mosse: One Thing Leads to Another ”

  1. Emily Garrard Says:

    Great post. I spent time in the area of the photos. Quite beautiful and unique!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth Rawls Says:

    The tomato fields were incredibly extensive. Not in fruit, yet, but amazing to see.

    Like

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