THE TRADERS & PARADISE
NOTES ON CHRISTIAN GOTTLIEB PRIBER
Christian Gottlieb Priber studied law at the University of Erfurt where he published his inaugural dissertation in October 1722 on Usu doctrinae juris Romani de ignorantiae juris in foro Germaniae (The Use of the Study of Roman Law and the Ignorance of that Law in the Public Life of Germany)
13 June 1735 he submits a Petition in London to be allowed to leave the country on the next ship to Georgia. Present at the Palace Court was the Earl of Egmont and Mr. Oglethorpe and others. "Read a Letter from Christian Gottlieb Priber desiring to be sent in the next Embarkation to Georgia with a Letter of Recommendation from Jr. John Eddleston to the Trustee. RESOLVED; that the said Christian Gottlieb Priber be sent in the first Embarkation to Georgia.
December 1735 South Carolina Gazette:
"To be Sold by Mr. Priber near Mr. Laurans the Sadler, ready made mens cloaths, wiggs, spatterdashes of fine holland, shoes, boots guns, pistols, powder, a silver repeating watch, a sword with a silver gilt hilt, english seeds, beds & a fine chest of drawers very reasonable for ready Money, he intending to stay but a few weeks in this Town."
1 Jan 1736/7 P: 25 Feb 1736/7 CHARLES RUSSELL (*), Berkeley County, Esq. Wife: Mary, executrix. Wife's children: Rachell Heatley, William Heatley, Charles Russell, Sophianis Russell, John Russell, Euginia Russell, and Joseph Russell. Wit: Christian Gottlieb Priber, Henry Spacks, John Pearson.
In 1725 Capt. George Chicken, Commissioner of the Indian Trade, on an expedition to the Indian country, speaks of stopping at Capt. Charles Russell's, and again in 1730 Sir Alexander Cuming, ambassador to the Cherokees, accompanied by Col. Chicken and George Hunter the surveyor, stopped at Russell's on the Cherokee path near Amelia This shows that almost immediately upon arrival Priber began association with the Cherokee traders)
February 27, 1736 the S.C. Council Journal reports Priber's petition for a land grant in Amelia township (***), stating that he had "a family of six persons in the province and also a wife, four children and one servant in Saxony." The Council granted him land, but Priber went directly into Cherokee country, [In the thirty-second year of the rule of the emperor Maximilian I, Martin Luther began teaching and writing at Wittenberg in Saxony]
SETTING THE SCENE
CHARLES RUSSELL - VIRGINIA TO CONGAREE
1705 *Allenson Clarke & Charles Russell, 945 acres named Windsor Forest in Henrico County -
1710 Gilbert Gibson was sued in Henrico County by *Allenson Clarke for a 4 pound currency debt in September 1710 * Allenson Clarke is said to be son of William Clarke and Mary Gibson.
1720 William Pettypool[**] who proved a Henrico County, Virginia deed (1) of Charles Russell to John Bolling (1720) in which "He says he knew said Russell in Virginia and that he is same person who married the widow of John Davis."
[*]On the western side of the river, opposite, were an almost equal number of settlers, among whom may be mentioned: Anthony Wright, whose name is preserved by "Wrights Branch," Roger Gibson, Luke Gibson [****] , William Paine, William Harrison, Nathaniel Hill, Charles Russell [HISTORIC CAMDEN]
[**]William Pettypool lived about 20 miles northeast of Fort Christianna on Mocossoneck (Monk's Neck) Creek. Other Indian Traders, namely Richard Smith and Roger Tillman, lived on adjacent land on Monk's Neck Creek. In 1711 William had 65 acres surveyed on the south side of Monk's Neck Creek, which was adjacent to land he leased to Joseph Stroud in 1711, in Prince George County (formed from Charles City County in 1703) (6).
[***] Mary Gibson of Amelia County, South Carolina, sold the 100 acres she and Hubbard purchased in Northampton County [DB 1:58].
John Bunch Plat For 350 Acres In Berkly County And A .5 Acre Town Lot In Amelia Township. Date: 11/15/1735
March 22d. 1710-11 Rec'd from John Wright Esqr, Agent, Twenty One Bonds for Sundry Indian Traders to take out Licences-----Wm. Dettypoole [sic], Thomas Edwards & Henry Tally of Virginia yr. Bond---cwh, listed as partners in bond -also listed were; Ricd. Smith & George Smith of Virginia their Bond David Crawly John Evans & Ricd Jones of Virginia their bond. - [Not proven but George Smith is likely the husband of Frances Gibson, daughter of Gibby Gibson. Phoebe Jones widow of Richard Jones and son Gibson Jones were living in Louisa County when Phoebe married Gideon Gibson, son of Gilbert Gibson. In 1714 David Crawly was with Capt Robert Hicks and John/Jack Bunch in South Carolina]
[****] Fol. 222b. 9 Dec 1749, Council Chamber. Minutes containing petition from Luke Gibson whose warrant for 150 acres of land expired before he returned from the Cherokees. 6p.
ID: I57560 •Name: Luke Gibson , fought against Cherokee •Sex: M •Birth: ABT 1725 in NC •Death: in SC •Note: listed in the accounts of the Public Treasurer of South Carolina, paid 4.17.6 pounds on 31 October 1759 for unspecified services to the battalion in the expedition against the Cherokees [Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 936].
Among the traders at Congaree Fort was Robert Lang, Daniel Gibson, John Gibson and his son Gilbert, [possibly from Henrico County with Charles Russell, the Myricks, Jacksons, Howells, Busby, Browns etc., these men were Chickasaw and Cherokee traders, trappers, etc.
James Adair - Cherokee Chickasaw Trader, Author, Good Friend of Gideon Gibson
James Adair, author of "History of the American Indians" published in 1775, as a Cherokee Trader was personally acquainted with Chritian Priber. He writes about Priber in his book, and is a close, personal friend of Gideon Gibson of the Pee Dee who later removed to the Natchez Trace. Agnes, daughter of James Adair married to John Gibson, son of Gideon.
John Gibson is found in Surry County in the part that became Wilkes in 1774 with wife Agnes and shortly after is found at Fort Nashville where he was killed by Indians. Samuel Gibson, founder of Port Gibson, Mississippi, believed to be son of above mentioned Roger Gibson, went to Nashville and took Agnes and family to Mississippi.
CHRISTIAN G PRIBER AND THE KINGDOM OF PARADISE
1741/1742 Winter-- Antoine Bonnefoy- "At the time when we arrived in the village there were three English traders there, who each had a store-house in the village where I was, and two servants of theirs.
There was also a German, who said in French that he was very sorry for the misfortune which had come upon us, but that it would perhaps prove to be our happiness, which he proposed to show us in the sequel"
" I had occasion to ask the German, who was called Pierre Albert, who had accosted us on the day of our arrival, and who was lodging in the cabin of my adopted brother, what he wished me to understand. I prayed him to explain to me what was this alleged happiness he promised us. Guillaume Potier and Jean Arlut were present.
He replied that it would take time to explain to us what he had to say to us, addressing himself to all three; that he thought we ought to join his society; that he would admit us to an establishment, in France, of a republic, for which he had been working for twenty years; that the form of the government should be that of a general society of those composing it, in which, beyond the fact that legality should be perfectly observed, as well as liberty, each would find what he needed, whether for subsistence, or the other needs of life; that each should contribute to the good of the society, as he could. I told him, as did my comrades, that we were disposed to join him as soon as he should have shown us some security respecting his establishment~~~~~~~~~~~~
The next day we got together again and I began to ask him where he had learned French, which he spoke quiet fluently. He told me that, being of good family, he had been instructed in all that a man ought to know; that after having completed his studies, he had learned English and French; that he spoke these two languages with a little difficulty as far as pronunciation was concerned, but that he wrote German, Latin, English and French with equal correctness; that for twenty years he had been working to put into execution the plan about which he had talked to us; that seven or eight years before he had been obliged to flee from his country, where they wished to arrest him for having desired to put his project into execution; that he had gone over to England, and from there to Carolina, and had also been obliged to depart thence for the same reason, 18 months after having arrived there; that having found among the Cherakis a sure refuge he had been working there for four years upon the establishment which he had been planning for twenty; that the Governor of Carolina having discovered the place of his refuge had sent a commissioner to demand him of the savages there, but that then he was adopted into the nation, and that the savages, rejecting the presents of the English, had refused to give him up; that he had 100 English traders belonging to his society who had just set out for Carolina, whence they were to return the next autumn, after having got together a considerable number of recruits, men and women, of all conditions and occupations, and the things necessary for laying the first foundations of his republic, under the name of the Kingdom of Paradise; that then he would buy us from the savages, of whom a large number were already instructed in the form of his republic and determined to join it; that the nation in general urged him to establish himself upon their lands, but that he was determined to locate himself half way between them and the Alibamons, where the lands appeared to him of better quality than those of the Cherakis.
My comrades and I planned our flight, and agreed together to feign enthusiasm for the execution of the project of Pierre Albert, who had the confidence of the savages, and they left us at liberty with him. I noticed even, on different occasions, that he urged them to live peaceably and to ask peace from the French. The savage with whom I lived, who was one of the principal men of the nation and the other chiefs, sometimes asked me in what manner they could appease the French and bring them to their place to trade. I told them that it would be necessary for them to send a calumet of peace to the nearest post; that I supposed that would be the post of the Alibamons. They told me that they had already been there, but that they feared the savages of those regions, with whom they were not on good terms; that they did not wish to have any new war. . . .
While Pierre Albert and I were working toward peace the three English traders were daily instigating the savages to continue to make war upon us. They were themselves working to enlist parties; which I saw them doing some days before my flight. After having their drum beaten by one of their negroes who was a drummer, and enlisted 70 men, they distributed among them, from their storehouses, the munitions necessary for going to the Outamons, as well as against the voyageurs of Canada. Of the 52 villages which compose the nation of the Cherakis, only the eight which are along the river are our enemies. The other villages remain neutral, whither because of their remoteness or their spirit of peace. Carolina is 15 days' journey by land from the village where I was, Virginia 20, and the Alibamonts 10 to the south. . . .
The 29th of April a day on which the savages had given themselves up to a debauch, was that which we chose for our escape. We had got together a sufficient amount of ammunition. We went out from the village at nine o'clock in the evening. Jean Arlas had his gun. Coussot was not armed, not having been able to take his from the cabin where he was. Guillaume Potier, who was in our plot, having got drunk with the savages, was not in condition to go with us and we could not wait longer for him without risk of being discovered. We marched until daylight, going to find two pirogues that were in a little river six leagues from the village. In one of these we embarked ."
30 May 1743 South Carolina Gazette of excerpts appearing in Charlestown (today Charleston) probably publishes one in the order Oglethorpes of written letter "from Frederica in Georgia", when its receiver its business associate, is to be assumed South Carolina acting governor William bulletin: "the Creek Indians brought finally Mr. Priber here as prisoners. It is a very unusual nature; he is a small ugly man, but he speaks nearly all languages flowing, particularly English, Dutch, French, Latin and indianisch; he speaks very blasphemisch against all religions, but particularly against the Protestant; it was in the process justifying a city at the foot of the mountains under the Cherokee where all criminals, debtor and slaves before the justice or here Mr. Zuflucht should find.
One found a book ready to be printed written by him, which belongs to him with him and whose he praises himself and believes from which he that it was privately printed meanwhile, but it does not want to say where; it shows, how the refugees are to deny their living costs and specifies, after which principles the city is to be governed, to which it gives the name paradies. It enumerates many peculiar privileges and natural rights (like it it calls), on which its citizens have requirement, particularly the dissolution of marriages and the common possession of women and all kinds of dissipations; the book is put on very tidy and full taught of quotations; it is extremely bad, but has it some flights of fancy full invention wealth, and it is a misery that so much spirit is turned to a so bad project."
May 30, 1743 the S.C. Gazette reported that Captain Kent,British commander at Fort Augusta, had perceived "a remarkableintractability in the Creek Indians in matters of trade," and,learning that Priber was about to take a journey, he employed Creeksand frontiersmen to waylay him at Tallipoose village
August 15, 1743 South Carolina Gazette, The Creek Indians have at last brought Mr. Priber prisoner here; he is a little ugly man, but speaks all languages fluently . . . he talks very prophanely against all religions, but chiefly the Protestant; he was for setting up a town at the foot of the mountains among the Cherokees, which was to be a city of refuge for all criminals, debtors, and slaves. . . . There was a book found upon him in his own writing ready for the press, which he owns and glories in and believes it is by this time printed but will not tell where, in which . . . he lays down the rules of government which the town is to be governed by, to which he gives the title of Paradise. He enumrates many whimsical privileges and natural rights . . . particulary dissolving marriages and allowing community of women and all kinds of licenciousness; the book is drawn up very methodically, and full of learned quotations; it is extremely wicked, yet has several flights full of invention, and it is a pity so much wit is applied to so bad a purpose.
1743--In a treaty signed at Charleston the Cherokee agreed to trade only with the British, return runaway slaves and expel Non-English whites from their territory, and the Cherokee received substantial amounts of guns, ammunition, and red paint.
James Adair-" the governor committed him to a place of confinement, though not with common felons, as he was a foreigner, and was said to have held a place of considerable rank in the army with great honor.
Priber enjoyed some considerable freedoms in his prison. He entertained the intelligentsia of Frederica, among them the physician Frederick Holtzendorff from Brandenburg, and the Lutheran pastor Johann Ulrich Drießler, whom he assisted in translating the Lord's Prayer and some bible verses into the Cherokee language. His cell in the barracks served for some time as a literary salon.
May 1st, 1751
Anthony Dean -
I believe a great deal of the Mischief done here, some white Men are often at the Bottom of, and it is no Wonder, when every Horse Stealer can screen himself here from Justice, and infuses bad Notions in the Heads of the Indians, against the Traders and Others, which could not be if the Trade was regulated, and proper Officers kept here to see Justice done
History of the Cherokee
The Cherokees detailed to the missionaries parallels to practically every one of the stories of the Bible. They called Abraham, Aquahami; Moses was called Wasi. These accounts were so circumstantial that many investigators were led to believe that the Cherokees were of Semitic origin. But it is palpable that they had been told these stories by Priber during his short stay among them and that they had forgotten their origin within seventy years and attributed it to legends that had descended from the mythical Kutani and their primal religion. On account of the fact that the Cherokees thought that the missionaries were bringing back to them their old religion, it was a comparatively easy task to convert them from a tribe of savages to a Christian nation with in the comparatively short period of theirty years. When they were converted, they, at the behest of the missionaries cast aside every vestige of their ancient customs to such an extent that not any of their mythology has ever been preserved, even among those of the tribe that speak the Cherokee language.
MYTHS OF THE CHEROKEE, James Mooney p. 36-7
"In 1736 Christian Priber, said to be a Jesuit acting in the French interest, had come among the Cherokee, and, by the facility with which he learned the language and adapted himself to the native dress and mode of life, had quickly acquired a leading influence among them. He drew up for their adoption a scheme of government modeled after the European plan, with the capital at Great Tellico, in Tennessee, the principal medicine man as emperor, and himself as the emperor's secretary. Under this title he corresponded with the South Carolina government until it began to be feared that he would ultimately win over the whole tribe to the French side. A commissioner was sent to arrest him, but the Cherokee refused to give him up, and the deputy was obliged to return under safe-conduct of an escort furnished by Priber.
Five years after the inauguration of his work, however he was seized by some English traders while on his way to Fort Toulouse and brought as a prisoner to Frederica, in Georgia, where he soon afterward died while under confinement. Although his enemies had represented him as a monster, inciting the Indians to the grossest immoralities, he proved to be a gentleman of polished address, extensive learning. and rare courage as was~ shown later on the occasion of an explosion in the barracks magazine. Besides Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish, and fluent English, he spoke also the Cherokee and among his papers, which were seized was found a
manuscript dictionary of the language which he had prepared for publication-the first, and even yet, perhaps, the most important study of the language ever made.
He claimed to be a Jesuit, acting under orders of his superior, to introduce habits of steady industry, civilized arts, and a regular form of government among the southern tribes, with a view to the ultimate founding of an independent Indian state. From all that can be gathered of him, even though it comes from his enemies, there can be little doubt that he was a worthy
member of that illustrious order whose name has been a synonym for scholarship, devotion, and courage from the days of Jogues and Marquette down to De Smet and Mengarini."
Probably the most spectacular chapter in the history of the Cherokees has to do with their all but forgotten attempt to establish an empire, including all the Indian people, for the purpose of driving all white men back to Europe and bringing about universal peace among red men.
The strange part of this fantastic plan is that it was conceived and almost carried out by Christian Priber, an Englishman, who made his way to Tellico Plains in 1735 and sold the tall Chief Moytoy on his bold scheme. One of Moytoy's descendants, Lloyd Matoy, is the state game warden of the area. He is one of the principal supervisors of the big autumn hunt and is one of the finest specimens of mountain men in East Tennessee.
The story of how Priber went from Charleston, S. C., to Tellico Plains and set up his empire is best told by Herbert Ravenel Sass in his book, "Hear Me, Chiefs." Sass relates: "He founded an empire, crowned an emperor, and made himself prime minister. He shook his fist at the Great Powers of Europe and told them to get out of America or he would throw them out. More than that, he began his great task of remaking the world." "In the heart of the American wilderness with red Indians as his helpers and with an Indian girl as his mate, he laid the foundations for that ideal state of which he had dreamed for 20 years , that happy republic where perfect liberty and equality would prevail and no man would be richer than his neighbor, that new and glorious commonwealth which would be a light and an example to all the nations of mankind. How Priber go to Great Tellico nobody knows. There was peace at the time between the Charleston English and the Cherokee Nations, but there were wandering war parties of other tribes to be reckoned with always, and at best, the lovely wilderness paths were beset with many perils." "More than five hundred miles of almost unbroken forest had to be traversed and the lofty mountain barrier of the Unakas and Smokies had to be climbed or circumvented.
"Possibly Priber went alone an down through by good luck; more likely, he attached himself during most of the journey to the pack-horse train of some trader bound for the Indian lands. All that is certain is that he reached Great Tellico, with his box of books, his bottle of ink, his smile and his dreams. And after a while strange things began to happen. The queer little man with a quick smile and bright , observant eyes and appeared defenseless and alone, among the warlike Cherokees beyond the Unaka mountains. How Priber had done it nobody knew, but somehow he had gained the favor of Moytoy of Tellico, most powerful of the chiefs. He had become as much of an Indian as the red men themselves. He had stripped of his European clothes and assumed the dress of an Indian' he had been adopted into the tribe as a great beloved man: and had married a warrior's daughter. Learning the Cherokees; language with marvelous ease, he had become their counselor and teacher.
Among other things he had taught them the proper use of weights and measure and especially, of steelyard to the great inconvenience of the English traders, many of whom were exceedingly canny business men. Worst of all, he was preaching among the Indians the most pernicious doctrine that could possibly be imagined-namely that they must cede no more of their lands to the white man but must hold on jealously to every foot of the soil that was rightfully theirs. Soon ran the stories brought down from te inner wilderness by the hunters and traders.
Then one day the English governor in Charleston received a letter which probably surprised him as much as any letter he had ever received in his life. It was an official communication dispatched from Great Tellico, capital of the Cherokee Nation and , in effect, it informed His Excellency the Governor, politely but firmly, that the sooner he and his English got out of American the better, because America belonged to the Indians and the Indians intended to keep it. the letter was signed "Christian Priber, Prime Minister."
"He had by them--through his good works among them and through his marriage to the Indians girl whose heart he had won---established himself firmly in the confidence of the Cherokees. "In deference in the redmen's taste for stately ceremonial he had devised an impressive new ritual for the crowning of the emperor and a variety of imposing titles for the other chiefs who constituted the nobles of the court, reserving for himself the title of secretary of state, or prime minister. "He planned to set up in America 200 years ago a civilization strikingly like that proposed for Soviet Russia--minus the bloodshed and terror. It would have been a Utopia if his government had been allowed to survive on this continent, but it would have spelled the end to the colonization dreams of England and the English have never allowed any one to stand in their way when bent on opening up a new country.
The English tried many tricks on Priber to get him out of the way and to put a stop to his empire building. It took them six years to lure him far enough away from his headquarters so that they could ambush him and kill him. That was the end of the republic of paradise.