Georgia Salzburgers

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Surnames/tags: Salzburgers Georgia Effingham County
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The goal of this project is to identify and categorize the distinct group of immigrants and their children from the Salzburg Bishopric that loosely included Austria, Switzerland and part of Germany. Their contribution to the founding of the Colony of Georgia is significant to that colony and echoes the Puritan migration to New England a century earlier. Their acceptance by Oglethorpe and the British government was part of the plan to create a strong and loyal colony to counteract the Spanish influence just a few miles to the south.

The sticker for Immigrants of Georgia Salzburger Profiles:

Ebenezer Wooden Church
Georgia Salzburger Immigrant to Province of Georgia
{{Nonmigrating Ancestor |addinfo=Georgia Salzburger Immigrant to Province of Georgia |flag=Georgia_Salzburgers.jpg |tooltip=Ebenezer Wooden Church }}

The sticker for Member, Salzburger Community Profiles:

Member, Salzburger Community
{{Nonmigrating Ancestor |addinfo=Member, Salzburger Community |flag=Background_I_Profile_Graphics-4.jpg |tooltip= }}



The story of the Salzburger Protestants is one of long suffering persecution. Since the days of Martin Luther and several centuries following, these inhabitants of Alpine valleys were subjected to ongoing attacks on their livelihoods and persons. This ultimately resulted in over twenty thousand being expelled from the Bishopric. These refugees went to various towns and regions, such as Wurttemburg, Regensburg, Rotterdam, places too numerous to list. Some stayed a few years in one place and were forced to move again. Baptismal records have siblings born in different towns and different countries even, which can be confusing unless placed into this context.

Some of these made their way to England. Here they were welcomed by the government. When the colony of Georgia charter was written in 1732, provisions were made for the 'unfortunate Salzburgers' to join the colony upon their oath of allegiance to the Crown. The first Salzburger transport arrived in 1734 and was followed during the next seven years by three more transports. Individual families and small groups sailed at various times and on numerous ships into the 1760's. The Salzburgers settled some miles north of Savannah along the river and named their first settlement Ebenezer. Other settlements were at Frederica, Goshen, and Bethany. Across the Savannah River from Ebenezer although in South Carolina, was Purysburg. The second generation were indistinguishable from the immigrants as they maintained German as their primary language. The New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in New Ebenezer was the focal point of the community. It survived the town destruction in the Revolution and remains the oldest continuous Lutheran church on the continent.

Research Links

Task List

Here are some of the tasks that I think need to be done. I'll be working on them, and could use your help.

  • Use printed references such as Georgia Salzburgers and Their Descendants to identify surnames: [ The Salzburgers & Their Descendants by P.A. Strobel Baltimore, 1855] AND [ Georgia Salzburgers and Allied Families] by Pearl Rahn Gnann; Charles LeBey. Easley, S.C. : Southern Historical Press, 1976.
  • Provide simple narrative for inclusion in Biography section of profiles to give context for their immigration.

Will you join me? Please post a comment here on this page, in G2G using the project tag, or send me a private message. Thanks!

Georgia Salzburger Timeline

1731 - Protestant Expulsion: Count Leopold von Firmian, the Catholic archbishop and prince of independent Salzburg, issued the Edict of Expulsion, forcing 20,000 Protestants from their homes. He gave propertied subjects three months to dispose of their holdings and leave the country; non-propertied persons had but eight days to leave. A majority of these outcasts settled in East Prussia and Holland.

Pastor Samuel Urlsperger of Augsburg (in present-day Germany) and his organization, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, identified with the plight of the Salzburgers and asked King George II of England for help. George, a German duke and a Lutheran, sympathized with the Salzburgers and offered them a place in his Georgia colony. About 300 Salzburgers, under the leadership of pastors Johann Martin Boltzius and Israel Gronau, accepted the invitation.

1734 - The first group of Salzburgers sailed from England to Georgia in 1734, arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, on March 7, then proceeding to Savannah on March 12. They were met by James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony, who assigned them a home about twenty-five miles upriver in a low-lying area on Ebenezer Creek. Subsequent ships brought the rest of the original exiled Salzburgers, as well as other European settlers from German-speaking nations who also became identified generically as Salzburgers.

Early Life in Georgia - Upon arrival, Boltzius established the Jerusalem Church (later Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church) and administered the settlement of Ebenezer with a strong religious element. Because of their harrowing experience in Europe and their level of religious devotion, the Salzburgers secured the admiration and financial support of English authorities, who idealized them as model colonists. Indeed, the qualities of piety, modesty, and industriousness were rooted in the Salzburgers' spiritual traditions, which emphasized personal conviction and community activities. Their fierce sense of independence, however, as well as a mistrust of secular authority isolated the Salzburgers from the rest of the Georgia colony.

The original settlement of Ebenezer failed largely because of its poor location - It was too far inland, and no clear waterway existed to the Savannah River.

An eight-mile journey on foot had to be made on an oft-flooded road to the Scottish settlement of Abercorn to procure provisions and supplies. Additionally, about thirty settlers died of dysentery in the damp conditions during the first two years of the settlement. Crops and livestock could not be sustained in the swamp. The Salzburgers' healthy alliance with the Trustees, especially on the issue of prohibiting slavery, assured them of further aid.

Salzburger Accomplish Much With Help from the Georgia Grant:

1734: Georgia's first Sunday school in Georgia in
1737: Georgia's first orphanage.
Early 1736: Oglethorpe gave the Salzburgers a new site on the high bluffs above the Savannah River. The settlers referred to the new settlement as New Ebenezer.
Fall of 1737: Many farmsteads had been established on the bluff.
1740: They built the first water-driven gristmill in the Georgia colony,
1751: They built a 2nd water driven gristmill. Stamping mills for rice and barley stood beside two sawmills, as Ebenezer's lumber became a valuable commodity for the Georgia colony. Widows and orphans operated Georgia's first silk filature (a facility for reeling silk from cocoons).
1752: They expanded north of Ebenezer Creek to establish the Bethany settlement, An additional three other minor settlements.
1765: Boltzius died, the community lacked a clear leader and further lost its cohesion
1769:The Jerusalem Church completed a new red-brick edifice.

Decline and Fall of Ebenezer

1775 - 1783: The community grew to around 1,200 people and covered about twenty-five square miles before the American Revolution.

The Revolution in Georgia was nothing short of civil war. Control of Ebenezer was contested and changed hands between the British and the provisional government several times. The Jerusalem church was used by the British as a horse barn during one such occupation. Most of the community was severely punished for supporting independence. The town never recovered after the war.

19th Century Georgia

The Salzburger population survived, and indeed continued to grow in the early decades of the 19th century. Community cohesion diminished as German slowly faded from daily use, but the influence upon Georgia remained strong as descendants served in every possible capacity in private and public life. Salzburger became a term used by descendant organizations which also encompassed members of similar German speaking sects that settled among the Salzburgers. Thousands of descendants populate Georgia today, and as many more elsewhere.

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