The original charter of the colony of Georgia encouraged the settlement of Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends.
Joseph Maddock, leader of the Wrightsborough Quakers, founded this southernmost settlement of the Society of Friends to escape the "backsliding" he saw in the North Carolina meetings. Recognizing the need for a military force to protect the pacifist Quakers, however, he also allowed sympathetic non-Quakers to settle in Wrightsborough. Maddock also persuaded Governor Wright to have a fort erected near the settlement.
The American Revolution provided a particularly trying time for the Georgia Friends. In 1773-74 bloody clashes occurred nearby between non-Quakers and the Creek Indians. During the Revolution Maddock and some of the other Wrightsborough residents actively supported the king's cause. Bandits and rebel partisans committed robberies and murders in Wrightsborough, and by May 1781 thirty-five people in the area had been murdered, including eleven in their own beds. The worst of the raiders included a rebel colonel named Josiah Dunn, a former Wrightsborough Quaker who had been disowned before the war for horse stealing. Between 1777 and 1783 twenty of the Quakers were reported to the Wrightsborough Monthly Meeting for military activities, mainly for fighting back, and fifteen were thus disowned.
Maddock spent several months in 1779 as a prisoner of the rebels for having aided Loyalist colonel James Boyd in the Battle of Kettle Creek. In the autumn of 1781 Maddock and a quarter of the families of Wrightsborough were refugees in British-occupied Savannah. After the war he and his followers were allowed to return peacefully to their homes. The Monthly Meeting eventually disowned Maddock for refusing to account for money he had improperly solicited to help his fellow refugees.
Wrightsborough's Quakers were adamantly opposed to slavery, even more so than most American Friends. They finally left Georgia mostly for Ohio between 1805 and 1809 because of the growing slavery controversy. Wrightsborough survived as a village until the 1920s, but little remains physically of the settlement in modern McDuffie County. The Historic Wrightsboro Foundation promotes the heritage of this lost settlement.
Robert Scott Davis, Quaker Records in Georgia: Wrightsborough 1772-1793, Friendsborough 1776-1777 (Augusta, Ga.: Augusta Genealogical Society, 1986).
Robert Scott Davis Jr., Wallace State College, Hanceville, Alabama
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.