One Salzburger family historian’s bibliography

Bookshelf (Some, but not all, mentioned books, mixed with others.)

I might be amenable to some look-up requests, but at least for perspective’s sake, I thought I’d take a moment to give an overview of resources in my library. Every title I’ll reference is in my private holdings. I personally may not have time to serve a hub, but I heartily encourage communication and collaboration among the descendants. Some lively, productive, real-time ventures are happening in the official Facebook group “The Salzburgers and Their Descendants” (with the spinoff “Effingham County, GA Genealogy Page” being of potential interest, if or perhaps because widely eclectic), into which all others were collapsed, with the exception of our brothers and sisters across the pond, in “Salzburger Emigranten.” Indeed, with respect to the latter, this is the cutting edge where I expect great developments in the future. So much so that I have my work cut out for me laboriously deciphering one such product, Charlotte E. Haver, Von Salzburg nach Amerika: Mobilität und Kultur einer Gruppe religiöser Emigranten im 18. Jahrhundert (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2011), which would be more enjoyable by way of bringing the tale to life than in strict genealogical metrics. Might I say that I’m deeply touched by the reconciliation between Salzburg and Ebenezer?

This truly heralds a new era of transatlantic research, leading directly to the magnificent Salzburg-Halle-North America: A bilingual catalog with summaries of the Georgia manuscripts in the Francke Foundations (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1999), a treasure trove of unique and never before seen original documents…in the archival summary form, which the Georgia Salzburger Society duly stated should be “valuable and interesting” to genealogists and historians alike. Odds are good that you’ll find pleasant little details, if not more, about someone in your pedigree, though its 877 pages are also a tremendous teaser. The colossal 18-volume set of Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants who Settled in America (published from 1968 to 1995 and largely translated by the estimable George Fenwick Jones) is indispensable, essentially the source for depth and detail of the original colonists, yet one of its chief authors is enlarged upon by means of two volumes of The Letters of Johann Martin Boltzius, Lutheran Pastor in Ebenezer, Georgia, released through Lewiston New York’s Edwin Mellen Press in 2009 by Russell C. Kleckley and Jürgen Gröschl. As if the language barrier weren’t imposing enough, hinted by George F. Jones and Sheryl Exley’s need to retranslate early attempts with the Ebenezer Record Book, 1754-1781 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1991), and rectifying some serious errors (first attempted in Caroline Price Wilson’s 1928 work, contained in the first half of Silas Emmett Lucas’ tedious Records of Effingham County, Georgia [Southern Historical Press, 1976]), the rather massive German publications of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg’s letters are still in slow process of translation, if that’s proceeding at all. I own John W. Kleiner and Helmut T. Lehmann’s first 77 letters, comprising (with its own addition) only half of one German volume, in The Correspondence of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg, Volume I: 1740-1747. He was a regular correspondent with the settlement, and I’m most indebted to Andrew W. Lewis for making available in advance otherwise unpublished Georgia letters, to and from my own forebear, in an article of the December 1965 Georgia Historical Quarterly.

With additional older German titles on the docket, like Gerhard Florey’s Geschichte der Salzburger Protestanten und ihrer Emigration 1731/32 (Graz, 1977) and Karl Panse’s Geschichte der Auswanderung der Evangelischen Salzburger im Jahre 1732 (Kaumberg, 1827), I’m working at plodding pace through Karl Friedrich Dobel’s Kurze Geschichte der Auswanderung der Evangelischen Salzburger (Kempten, 1832). This last contains (20-21) some stirring lines: “Sie hatten theils die Bibel, theils Luthers Katechismus und einige andere evangelische Bücher von ihren Vorfahren geerbt, aus welchen sie von ihren Aeltern unterrichtet worden waren. . . . Auf die Frage, wo sie ihre lutherischen Bücher hatten und warum sie nicht zur Kirche kamen, bekannten sie ohne Scheu ihren Glauben.” Those books were confiscated, cut up, and burned. Mack Walker’s illuminating history, written to address the Prussian leg taken by the majority, is relevant throughout. Of this phenomenon, he stated:

Books were central objects of domestic worship, the Hausandacht. . . . This cultural identity of the mountain peasantry linked them therefore with the German north, even as it estranged them from their own prince, a Catholic bishop, and from his court and culture. The baroque splendors of the Counter-Reformation, like its disciplinary strictures, did not penetrate the alpine parishes of the Pongau.

These linkages and totems were well known to state and church authorities throughout the Salzkammergut and Upper Austria generally; and efforts to suppress the importation of books had led to a lively smuggling trade, far exceeding such portable contraband as peasant boys’ summer wages might buy. A commercial traveler passing through the mountains might collect orders and payments for books that he bought in Regensburg or Nürnberg; cattle drivers, peddlers, and carters joined in the trade. Discharged soldiers converted some of their savings into books and brought them home in their packs. The market was there, “because,” according to a 1722 report from Austrian Carinthia next door, “just about every inhabitant here can read and many can write, but they never learned or allow [their children] to learn reading and writing in the towns and markets, for fear of the religious instruction and catechizing that would go with it there, but rather from a local schoolmaster or very often from a peasant, where in wintertime especially even the farmhands and maidservants come together for this, and take such instruction with no other purpose, than to read and to understand the old or newly arrived Lutheran books.” Into this culture children were initiated as they were read to, or as they learned to read. Literacy was widespread among women; a striking number—at a guess, perhaps a third—of the (male) peasants who were examined on account of book possession or literacy, these conditions being prima facie evidence of Protestant heresy, testified that they had learned to read from a female relative or house-mistress. They hoarded books that might have been found in the library of a burgher family in the German north: Arndt’s Wahres Christentum and Paradiesgärtlein, Habermann’s Gebetbuch—the “Habermändl”—and Lutheran catechisms and hymnals. One family was found to own eighty-six devotional books in the spring of 1731, eighty of them Protestant and six Catholic (an exceptionally large collection, to be sure), about a quarter of them published before 1555, close to half before 1648, the rest since the Thirty Years’ War. In Vienna itself around that time, of thirteen bookdealers, ten were Protestant. These were readily tolerated in the culture of the Habsburg capital and court; but Protestantism among the alpine peasantry, Austrian as well as Salzburger, was quite another matter. (The Salzburg Transaction: Expulsion and Redemption in Eighteenth-Century Germany [Ithaca: Cornell University, 1992], 14-16)

The field of making foreign-language, historically sound resources accessible was pioneered by Carl Mauelshagen in Salzburg Lutheran Expulsion and Its Impact (New York: Vantage Press, 1962). That German-born history professor was certainly no dilettante. While his history is perhaps short on the Georgia end of things, it’s loaded with comprehension of features of the exodus, even dwelling on Salzburg clothing and customs. It made a more respectable overall picture than the sole English language contribution (possibly why Mauelshagen’s dust jacket alludes to basically being the first), laudable for its time, in over a century, and for a century before that, P.A. Strobel’s The Salzburgers and their Descendants (Baltimore, 1855). In addition to a more modern copy, I own the 1953 University of Georgia Press reprint in which my great-great-aunt inscribed her name and address. Like so: EdnasBook0001

If you look at the green dust jackets on the bookshelf, the first five volumes of Detailed Reports which I acquired came from Kenneth Coleman’s library in near pristine condition. Each had a personal message from the translator, but I’m inserting an image in which the advance copy card was still tucked, soliciting that published historian’s opinion. ColemanBook0001

Sure, the administrative minutiae of the Georgia colony’s kind of been around for a while, conveniently published in George Fenwick Jones’ 1966 (University of Georgia Press) Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks, and I’m bogged down in its 626 pages. It’s up your alley if you’re into the nuts and bolts of resettling a dispossessed people in a new colony. Marion R. Hemperley’s English Crown Grants in Christ Church Parish in Georgia, 1755-1775 (Georgia Surveyor-General Department, 1974) is helpful for documenting many Salzburger land titles during the period after trusteeship transitioned into provincial government. A small 1991 paper pamphlet acquired from the museum, John W. Gnann and Norman V. Turner’s “A Walking Tour of New Ebenezer” starts the archaeological disciplinary inquiry which LAMAR Institute continues according to funding.

We’ve similarly come a long way from the original single volume Georgia Salzburger and Allied Families, single-handedly compiled by Pearl Rahn Gnann in 1956 (my 1984 Southern Historical Press reprint with 1976 updates to material). My great-grandmother, Alreta Lavicy (Waldhour) Ferrell, my genetic access to the people under consideration, didn’t even figure in that work, which already abounded in pages of errata and addenda. My own submission fleshed out her family on page 3059 of the monumental four-volume, 3449 page (exclusive of master index) update issued through the Georgia Salzburger Society in cooperation with Southern Historical Press in 2003. While they made great efforts for accuracy, the paperwork requiring that we list sources, no questions were asked and I doubt there was opportunity for source checking, a necessary measure for the less punctilious. What’s more, I understand others have found glaring problems even with the data they supplied—it dropped a letter from my mother’s middle name, among other things.

Nowhere on this site or in real life would I pretend to any substantial expertise in matters Salzburger, though it’s not immodest to claim greater than usual experience therein. (My once-proficient German has lapsed to the point where I need refresher courses before thinking of a Salzburg visit.) Nevertheless, descendants of Germanic settlers in Georgia tend to be careless in using the “Salzburger” brand. George F. Jones makes it clear repeatedly (both in his concise The Salzburger Saga: Religious Exiles and Other Germans Along the Savannah (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1984) and its expanded, meticulously documented version, The Georgia Dutch: From the Rhine and the Danube to the Savannah, 1733-1783 (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1992), that many disparate German groups settled together at Ebenezer, all assuming this broader identity. My grandfather went to the grave simplistically and monolithically perceiving them as a single body which settled Georgia en masse; I took an interview recording where he exuberantly declares to that effect that the Waldhours were Salzburgers from Salzburg. How astonished he’d have been to learn that the main stem were Palatines proper, and that even the branches rightly denominated Salzburger hailed from the region of Salzburg, but not the city itself! The historian in me cringes at inevitable distortions over time in family tales, while the romantic values such basic preservation in memory of pride in heritage.

The moniker of Salzburger was still being used at such a late date as 1750-1758, as a small section in volume 3 of Even More Palatine Families: 18th Century Immigrants to the American Colonies and Their German, Swiss and Austrian Origins (Rockport, Maine: Picton Press, 2002), by Henry Z. Jones, Jr., and Lewis Bunker Rohrbach, documents those so identifying who passed through Schwäbisch Hall. Their summary refers to earlier “organized expulsions” of 1720 and 1731, stating that this list details mostly individual expulsions. None of this begins to touch generations of persecution before those dates. The famous refugee Joseph Schaitberger, whose hymn lent courage to our forebears, spans into the previous century. The authors noted that some of the declared destinations, of many, were directly to Ebenezer (as I confirmed in perusal). They go so far as to link “in many cases, near relations of the refugees given here” in Picton Press’s 1999 publication of the 22,000-name The Salzburger Expulsion Lists, for the 1731 period; I apologize for not yet determining whether any of the Ebenezer-bound were so connected.

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A history of Ebenezer

This was one of many papers written for my History 490 course in Winter 2002. Please forgive the hasty, amateur, incomplete feel of the thing.

               “PARADISE” LOST: The Tale of a Lutheran Community in Colonial Georgia

On November 11, 1731, Count Leopold von Firmian, archbishop of Salzburg, issued an edict requiring that all Protestant subjects leave his province. Depending upon circumstances, these Protestants—soon popularly known as “Salzburgers”—had between a week and three months to make their departure.[1] Approximately twenty-two thousand refugees left Salzburg. While some went to Holland or England, and the vast majority to Prussia, this paper focuses on the community life of the fewer than one thousand who settled permanently in Georgia.

Practically from the moment of their incorporation, the Trustees for the colony of Georgia had their eye upon certain charitable aims, including the settlement of these distressed German Protestants.[2] When Savannah was scarcely two months old, in March 1733, the Common Council resolved “that fifty Acres of Land be given to Every Saltzburgh Family, who shall go and settle in Georgia.”[3] On October 12, 1732, they had already decided to cooperate with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in extending terms of settlement to Salzburgers. To that end, they asked correspondents to inquire among groups of refugees to determine willingness to become British subjects. The response was very positive, but not surprising, as historians note the generosity of the terms. Cost of passage was defrayed, continued religious liberty guaranteed, English citizenship accorded, free provisions until self-sufficiency granted, and three lots bestowed: one for a home and yard within town, another for a garden nearby, and still another for farming outside.[4]

Broad as the allowance for self-sufficiency might seem, the Trustees evidently had little or no cause for complaint against the Salzburgers’ claims. Only once, in 1746, when they appealed for greater diligence in returning their lost and wild cattle, did the Trustees conclude that this was “impracticable,” and that it “may not be improper farther to observe that most of the Ebenezer People are as well if not better provided with Horses than most of their Neighbours who keep Cowpens.”[5] The Salzburgers were frequently noted to be more prosperous than their neighbors, and perhaps less subject to complaint as a direct result.

Malcontents, in expressing their envy, struck upon a slight truth when they charged that the Salzburgers were sustained to an unfair degree by gifts from overseas.[6] Bolzius advocated self-sufficiency and hoped his flock would not “live by the money and so-called generosity of rich people.”[7] He felt it was “ungrateful enough of such people to have enjoyed free passage, a couple of years’ provisions, and other benefactions and then to leave the country . . . to establish a new household.”[8] Thomas Jones wrote in 1740 that the Salzburgers were “industrious, and many have grown wealthy,” such that they had “uncommon success, to the envy of their neighbors.”[9] Whatever subsidization they might have had, a court-affirmed statement on conditions in Georgia—also in 1740—maintained that Ebenezer “thrives very much; . . . they have a great deal of Cattle and Corn-Ground, so that they sell Provisions at Savannah; for they raise much more than they can consume.”[10] Still, the Trustees did not resent, but complied immediately with, a request as late as 1750 from Bolzius to borrow goods for the establishment of a sawmill.[11]

Georgia was intended from the first as a philanthropic endeavor. The town and garden lot system, by which Oglethorpe laid out Savannah, was one facet of the Trustees’ experimentation in the colony. Harold Davis notes three unpopular restrictions of those early days: on landholding, slaveholding, and hard liquor. Despite the initially complete charity of land grants, the Salzburgers eventually complained about the first practice, but were in natural agreement with the latter two. They distinguished themselves “as the community of settlers who came closest to fulfilling what the trustees desired of all immigrants.”[12] (Bolzius commented that the Trustees had wonderful intentions with their prohibitions, but that “greedy people” would resist to the point of making life miserable.[13])

Aside from Scottish Highlanders settled at Darien, the Salzburgers “were the only proof . . . that white men could prosper in Georgia without slaves.”[14] It is with no small wonderment that, as one of the dead towns in Georgia, Ebenezer might be described thus by George Fenwick Jones: “Despite appalling sickness and mortality and the hardships incident to settlement in a wilderness, the Salzburgers were the most successful community in Georgia.”[15] Apparently success is gauged by something other than lasting influence, since Ebenezer’s permanent population in 1988 was “three persons, several cats, and a small dog.”[16] Nonetheless, everything the SPCK put into Ebenezer from 1733 into the 1770s “had proved a good investment.”[17]

Settlement in the wilderness of eighteenth-century Georgia was by no means a walk in the park. The Spanish threat was an ever-looming fear, even for South Carolina, which the Georgians buffered. The Salzburgers’ pastor, Bolzius, noted early on that “the hottest dog-days in Germany could hardly compare” with Georgia’s heat, and that there were too many trees for easy farming; furthermore, it was easy to get lost in the woods, something which soon nearly killed their doctor, Mr. Zwifler.[18] (Andreas Resch vanished into the woods one day, never to be seen again.[19]) These factors had a severe weeding-out effect upon a community—but they stood the test. After more settlers arrived, Bolzius wrote, “We shall soon discover who are real Salzburgers here and who are just called Salzburgers through error.”[20] Instead of discovering, like the king of Persia, that “he had in his army many men, indeed, but few soldiers,”[21] Bolzius’ personal contemplation never lost its laudatory note for the people he served. How might one account for the Salzburgers’ success? Cynically or realistically, one might observe that there was no fast boat back to England. However, it seems noteworthy that the Salzburgers retained a strong sense of unity and purpose. True, they shared a common religion (though later dissenting) and ethnic background (though soon supplemented and outnumbered), but it is no stretch to conclude that they were genuinely as individuals devoted to the task at hand. Yet we should not discount the bonds forged by religious persecution: “Exiles who had sojourned in the same town [in Germany] often remained united even after reaching Ebenezer.”[22] Bolzius praised the manner in which Salzburger families settled so near each other “that one family can call out to the other in case of an emergency.”[23] Nevertheless, “like other new Georgians they soon discovered that their haven was less idyllic than it seemed to be at first look.”[24]

There are exceptions to practically every social rule ever devised, and certain discrepancies manifested themselves in many Salzburgers’ conduct in Prussia, but the exclusive Georgia group was highly dedicated. (Even with the exceptions, few contested their skill as a farmer class.[25]) At a time when he might have privately recorded otherwise, Bolzius commented, “Contrariness and meanness we cannot find in a single Saltzburger.”[26] He wrote to the secretary of the SPCK, “Be assured . . . that in this Transport . . . there are some men who give every Day visible proofs both in words and actions of a true and sincere piety.”[27] He also recorded in his diary, “It is easy to preach the Gospel if you have such hungry and faithful listeners.”[28]

Clearly the Salzburgers did not draw their strength from numbers, but from their pastors, Johann Martin Bolzius and Israel Christian Gronau. Bolzius expressed (in all caps) their great love for the Salzburgers, to whom they had been assigned by Professor Francke in Halle: “Our benevolent Savior has made our heart so fond of these upstanding people that we consider it a great privilege to live and die with them.”[29] There would be no returning for the pastors, either, who lived and died in Georgia. Bolzius’ ongoing correspondence with Pastor Samuel Urlsperger of St. Anne’s in Augsburg resulted in publication of the Ausführliche Nachrichten, or Detailed Reports, “for the Salzburger’s benefactors in Germany, who were to be edified, inspired, and encouraged to donate more; and the last of these purposes might well have been nullified by too much bad news.”[30] Henry Newman perceived this: “Their good or ill report of the Treatment they meet with here will animate or discourage a considerable number to follow them next Spring;” “The Narrative you published in Germany of the Saltzburgers here the Society hope will be attended with good Effects on those who peruse it both Saltzburgers and others.”[31]

Hardships attendant upon colonizing were obviously glossed over, yet Bolzius consistently showed a disposition to say more than was ultimately printed. Once his reports reached Germany, Urlsperger frequently struck out names or entire sentences. It becomes apparent why Bolzius and others censored letters from the colony when one considers the effect two disgruntled brothers had with genuinely inaccurate statements published in Ulm’s Ordentlich-Wöchentliche Anzeigszettel.[32] In a letter to Mr. Vat at Ebenezer, Urlsperger reveals reasons for tight monitoring of all correspondence:

Mr. [Ph.] Von Reck has brought a long with him several Letters among which there are two happily fallen into my hands written in such a manner as would have given occasion for many Calumnies. . . . I desire therefore (1) you would speak with Mr. Ziegenhagen that he may send all letters and Packetts from Georgia immediately to me. (2) that you would speak with Messrs. Bolzius & Gronau and desire them partly to reprove Braunberger and Roth for the writing such a Letter; Partly to admonish the people in general that they may raise no clamours against the Country they are in by their imprudent letters; and for that end to look over the letters before they are sent from thence.[33]

If he may be believed, Bolzius implied that conscientious Salzburgers even began censoring themselves.[34]

At the same time, Jones comments that these Reports’ “unadulterated optimism” was not simply policy, but a genuinely imbedded mindset for Bolzius: “Optimism is the only logical conclusion for those who accept the tenets that God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful.”[35] It would be tenuous indeed to claim that the pastors’ optimism was precisely shared by all, though it certainly seemed to be infectious. Some stricken lines in an early report demonstrated that the “dear congregation is still being confused and discouraged by Englishmen who pass through or come to visit us and give the most disparaging judgments about the quality of our region.”[36] This self-same problem existed for settlers who were discouraged from going to Prussia. The Salzburger emigrants were “frightened with dismal Reports.”[37] All too often—especially as was the case with the conditions in Georgia—there was some basis for the discouragement. The SPCK did not want deluded individuals settling in the colony, either, for Henry Newman warned one German agent not to preach strongly the concept that the English nation would deliver them from all oppression, thereby raising expectations too high.[38]

Bolzius’ reports may still be held as extremely reliable. Renate Wilson called his uncensored diaries (extant from 1736 to 1741) “extraordinary [in] depth and scope” so far as “the history of community development during the American colonial period” is concerned.[39] The scope might be diminished where only the edited version remains, but the remainder tends to have omitted material rather than fanciful material. Bolzius made no pretense about his failure to publish reports in Germany for the period from 1744-1745, pointing directly to “a number of important obstacles.” While discussion of those obstacles was never engaged in, Ebenezer was evidently caught up in internal economic and social struggles. Bolzius asserted his pastoral care and actually “maintained a pattern of growth during a period when most of the surrounding English settlements were in decline.”[40] When very similar troubles arose three decades later, Bolzius’ strong hand was absent and rupture resulted.

An observer in 1738 commented on government in Ebenezer:

The œconomy of the town under the Influence of Mr Boltzius their Minister is exemplary & worth notice. Their hutts made of present of clapp boards are decent & regularly set out in Streets according to the Plan. . . . They had no Court of justice, or lawyer, or Rum, but peace prevail’d, and in case of any petty difference, the Minister call’d 3 or 4 of the discreetest Elders together, who in a sumary way determined as they thought just, and the Partys went away contented.[41]

The matter of contentment is not so verifiable, since “men will tell things in private talk, they will not testify to in a court.”[42] During the troublesome times, several voices were raised against Bolzius’ management, though the colony’s administrators kept confidence in him and he always prevailed. Ebenezer was not, strictly speaking, a theocracy—for the time being, enough citizens reposed trust in European social order, which deferred to clergy on social matters.[43] The community as a whole still frowned upon deviance: “Their regular times of worship was on week days the Evening only, but on Sundays, the Forenoon, afternoon, and Evening, and who ever did not attend was ill look’d on by his Neighbours.”[44] George Whitefield observed the tight-knit community in 1739: “They are blessed with two such pious ministers as I have seldom seen. They have no court jurisdiction, but all differences are settled immediately by their pastors.”[45] In other words, the people were as yet willing to be governed by these pastors, whom they loved. Bolzius claimed that he and Gronau were united, and that discord was quickly put down because the people could detect no disagreement among their pastors.[46]

This is hardly to say that dissenting voices were at an absolute minimum. 1743 represented a sort of highwater mark, after which open opposition increased. All four Salzburger transports had already arrived, and the region was becoming saturated with other settlers. Defending Bolzius, one Swiss individual wrote, “There are, to be sure, people who claim that he meddles too much in secular matters, but who can please everybody?”[47] From the earliest days of settlement, Bolzius demonstrated an impeccable ability to hold the community together. It was generally the non-Salzburgers among them who fomented the most trouble.[48] Of course, serious discord resulted in the interesting reprisal of banishment to Savannah, delicately phrased by Bolzius as being “obliged to quit Ebenezer.”[49] As badly as a shoemaker was needed, the Salzburgers did not hesitate to apply this punishment to Jacob Reck, a drunkard from the nearby village of Purysburg.[50]

A certain Reiser argued in 1741 that there should be a civil authority in Ebenezer, which “would be better in the community.” Bolzius recorded that a true civil authority would not be so kind with Reiser’s shortcomings.[51] He drew a distinction between their “spiritual” authority and “ministerial” authority, the first apparently being counsel and the latter rebuke; still greater than these was “civil” authority he claimed they did not have, which granted the right to inflict temporal punishment.[52] Still, dissenters accused them of joining the spiritual and temporal.[53] On May 14, 1742, Bolzius lamented that he did not have temporal authority to punish a spiteful resident.[54] The ministers deferred “temporal” affairs to Oglethorpe and the Trustees with absolute loyalty—Bolzius did not hesitate to label a contemporary gripe against Oglethorpe’s settlement, True and Historical Narrative of the Colonie of Georgia, “a trashy book.”[55] When a family representative petitioned Bolzius for readmission to the community, he said that pending Oglethorpe’s approval “neither I nor the members of the congregation would be the least bit opposed to it.”[56] With another exasperating individual, who was “no Salzburger,” Bolzius turned the case over to the magistrate in Savannah and hoped he would “simply be removed from us to another place,” hinting once again that the Trustees’ officials actually dictated location and relocation in the colony.[57]

Bolzius’ leadership was marked by diplomacy, for he preferred evangelism to legalism.[58] True to Lutheran form, he believed that inward grace accomplished more than external works. Thus, once penance had been performed, he followed a practice most curious for such a religious settlement: no one was allowed to speak any further concerning a sinner’s former misdeeds.[59] Frequently, however, he had to withhold participation in Holy Communion from sinful worshipers. That amounts to obvious social stigma in the community. His assessment was that their private church discipline was conducted with “only as much gravity and severity as has been necessary to avert annoyance.”[60] Nevertheless, his remonstrations were useless upon those “who approve of the truth only to the extent that it is not applied to them and their circumstances,” or “[are] like an eel in the hand which . . . [know] how to wriggle out of everything which is culpable in [themselves].”[61]

The embarrassment of an initial mortality rate of nearly 80% among children, and resettlement from Old Ebenezer to New Ebenezer after only two years, somehow had little impact on the Salzburgers’ work ethic.[62] Concerning this relocation, Webb Garrison remarked that “their protests, made collectively rather than individually, were more effective than those of charity colonists or even of gentleman adventurers who didn’t like their allotted land. Permission to move a few miles to the junction of Ebenezer creek and the Savannah river was granted in 1736, against the strong objections of JEO [James Edward Oglethorpe].”[63] (John Vat and Samuel Urlsperger overcame Bolzius’ natural reluctance to share bad news and informed the SPCK of the untenable living conditions at Old Ebenezer, which resulted in Oglethorpe’s visit there. Vat had the audacity to write, “Some knowing people say, It would be better to shoot the people at once than to put them into such a way of planting.”[64])

The Salzburgers’ new settlement thrived into the 1740s and the burgeoning population began seeking residence in outlying settlements such as Abercorn, Goshen, Bethany, Acton, and Vernonburg. The initially English settlement of Abercorn became the Germanized Haberkorn. Other groups, such as Palatines and Swabians, began to arrive. The Trustees thought it good policy to settle them among the Salzburgers, “at or near Ebenezer.”[65] “Most Salzburgers soon went to Ebenezer, but a small number remained in Savannah and formed the Lutheran congregation in 1744.”[66] Even though “the term Salzburger was restricted to those who actually came from Salzburg, in contrast to other Germans,” Jones noted that “through association and often through intermarriage, all the German speaking people of Effingham County [Georgia] have become included in the term Salzburger.”[67]

Keeping in mind the tendency for German absorption into the Salzburgers, we might consider Coulter’s landmark sentiment well-advised: “The Salzburgers developed the most numerous single population element in Georgia during the period of the Trustees, which, in fact, made Georgia more German than English.”[68] (King George, too, was more German than English.[69]) After observing that Ebenezer was Georgia’s second largest city throughout the colonial period, Jones conjectured that German may have even been numerically first in terms of native speakers for a short while.[70] While German was “a vigorous and growing language in Georgia in 1775,” it was for all intents and purposes dead half a century later.[71] The Salzburgers and other Germans had an incredible aptitude for learning English. Failure to accommodate the rising generation’s desire to hear services in English contributed to dispersion to Methodist and Baptist congregations, since Ebenezer did not make English its official church language until 1824.[72] Truly, “language [was] an even stronger tie than dogma,” so that the change in language without accompanying change in sermons was a challenge to religious unity.[73]

The greatest component of change was secularizing in church matters. Because church and secular authority had hitherto been indistinguishable, deacons in the congregation who gained political power exerted it in pseudo-religious ways. Tension between pastors came to be a continual source of trial for the Salzburgers. Gronau’s death necessitated the sending of Herman Lemke. Due to the spreading out of German parishioners, Bolzius and Lemke had to cover an area of about thirty miles.[74] Authorities in Germany saw this as occasion to send a third pastor, Christian Rabenhorst. For a time, Bolzius felt that Rabenhorst was “superfluous.”[75] Later, affairs degenerated into squabbling between Bolzius and Lemke because of the addition. Back in Germany, Urlsperger did not publish reports on the settlement from 1755 to 1758.[76] Wilson suggests what the Francke Foundation believed at the time, but Bolzius and most subsequent historians denied, that “the diverse elements” from all the transports up to 1752 “went far beyond the willingness and management ability of the pastors of the original settlements.”[77]

The perennial problem at Ebenezer became misunderstanding about superiority and church discipline.[78] Pastors misinterpreted their standing in the community and in relation to each other. Upon Bolzius’ death in 1764 and with Lemke’s death impending, the overseas benefactors at Halle appointed Christopher Friedrich Triebner as another pastor to the Salzburgers. This led to the pastoral dispute of 1769-1774, which required the arbitration of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg, head of the Lutheran church in America from his place in Philadelphia. Soon after Triebner’s arrival, accusations began flying between him and Rabenhorst, Lemke then being deceased. Triebner at the very least accused Rabenhorst of gross mismanagement of church and community property, as well as departure from European regulations. In turn, Rabenhorst replied that Triebner was sowing seeds of contention, slandering, and striving for supremacy. Allegedly Triebner also “ran out of church, laughed at the preaching, and occasionally criticised the sermon.”[79] Rabenhorst’s faction finally denied Triebner’s faction entrance to the church, holding forth drawn swords. Depending upon the source, this was to defend legitimate church election claims or else to deny access to Communion. The pettiness of this quarrel was truly “untypical of Georgia Lutherans, yet it stood as a conspicuous reproach to them.”[80] Mühlenberg ruled in favor of Rabenhorst, finding (as had so many others) Triebner greedy and arrogant. This did not dismiss Triebner, but reiterated his subordinate status. Mühlenberg also rewrote the church’s charter.

The roots of the problem were evidently “more economic than theological.”[81] The leaders of the opposing factions also evidenced change in the social structure at Ebenezer. Both Johann Caspar Wertsch (pro-Triebner) and Johann Adam Treutlen (pro-Rabenhorst) were Palatines rather than true Salzburgers, as well as belonging to the second generation. They had been jockeying for political power for a number of years by vying for sponsorship at children’s baptisms and through marriage alliances. Most of Ebenezer divided along these lines.[82] Curiously, a son of Jacob Caspar Waldhauer, a dominant figure in Treutlen’s group, later married a daughter of Johann Flerl, a leader in Wertsch’s camp. However, Flerl’s actions may be attributable to Wertsch’s early connection with the Flerl family, as well as some sense of loyalty to the appointee of the Lutheran foundation at Halle.[83] Flerl, and many others, did not follow Triebner’s Loyalist sympathies in the coming Revolution.

When the storm of revolution came, it struck Georgia with great force. Nor is it an overstatement to say the Revolution nearly destroyed Ebenezer. Prior events already indicated that religion was not such an important factor in the community any longer, or at least not the sole and/or primary consideration. Kenneth Coleman concluded that when allegiance was declared, religion probably was not a determining factor—but if it was, “it probably made more Whigs than Tories.”[84] This certainly held true among the Salzburgers. Despite remaining ties and even appreciation to Great Britain, the majority of Georgia Germans went with the Americans.

The southern phase of the Revolution was nasty, as we see from the fact that as much as half the state of Georgia was Tory, though no more than 2/5 of Germans remained so.[85] When British troops arrived at Ebenezer in 1779, Triebner welcomed them and took an oath of allegiance. He subsequently left with them in 1782, “apparently at odds with much of his congregation.”[86] Those were the ones who remained, for a large number of refugees had fled the town after a pitched battle near the church, which was later occupied and used as a hospital and stable. The pews were used for firewood and the books burned. Ebenezer was ravaged in other ways as well.

The extent of damage is shown in some wartime and post-wartime correspondence (conducted in German) with Mühlenberg. In February 1777, eight members of the congregation informed Mühlenberg that Rabenhorst had passed away in 1776 and that they were alienated from Triebner on account of his views and apparent ill-befitting conduct with a woman. They described themselves as “a poor and deserted congregation, . . . like sheep without a shepherd.”[87] On March 18, 1783, Jenkin Davis recorded that he “found Ebenezer in a most deplorable Situation, the People having lost most of their Property, the Church very much damaged and most of the Houses, and only two families in the Town, most two Thirds of the Inhabitants in and about Ebenezer being either dead or carried off by the Brittish.”[88] Jacob Caspar Waldhauer, who had fought under the Americans for a while, and served as executor to the Rabenhorst estate, wrote on May 10, 1783 that “of the members of the congregation who signed the Eben Ezer church constitution [by Mühlenberg, in 1774] 45 are still alive, of these 31 are still dispersed, and 57 in eternity.” He mentioned marauding bands of looting parties, and that “if I said anything, then I was a rebel; if they were Americans, I had to be a Tory.”[89] Others had previously written, “We endured much from both armies in 4 years, when the English left, the Americans came, when the Americans went, the English came back; and the worst was that there were many who did not care for the King nor the country and just took things from the people by force.”[90] Several of their own townspeople were participants in such questionable activities. A petition from seven residents mentioning the total absence of Lutheran instruction pled, “Consider it yourself, what Ebenezer was and what it is now.”[91]

The spiritual life of the community survived, but it never possessed the same vigor again. John Bergman came from Germany in 1785 and was the last pastor sent from the Francke Foundation. When his son, Christopher Bergman, conducted services in English in 1824, it marked the cutting of the “umbilical cord” from the church in Germany.[92] Contact had been limited from the time of the Revolution, in any event, between Professor Gotthilf August Francke’s “City on the Hill” and its continental benefactors.[93]

The economic life of the community was severely depressed, and the foundations laid for its total destruction. The Salzburgers had specialized in silk filature, a slowly waning art, which no longer sufficed as a means of maintenance. “The failure of the silk industry and the rising importance of Savannah” are cited as death knells to Ebenezer’s existence.[94] Despite producing more than 1,000 pounds of cocoons a year by 1750, the Salzburgers soon fell victim to the shifting economy.[95] Most members of the younger generation found better inducements to live elsewhere, where they had already sought refuge or were given revolutionary bounty grants.[96] Aaron Fogleman postulates that, due to dispersion, no county in Georgia contained as much as 5% ethnic German by 1790.[97]

Furthermore, the social life of the community was severely fractured and disrupted. Ties to kin and to plots of land farther inland or downstream than Ebenezer became more important than Ebenezer proper. Still, a small population base sought to rebuild the town and sustained it for at least another fifty years until the wilderness reclaimed it. The red brick Jerusalem Church survives there, the only pre-Revolutionary church structure still standing in Georgia. A small Lutheran congregation even meets there at the present time, comprised in part of descendants from the original settlers.

George Fenwick Jones’ assessment is certainly astute: “To be sure, the Revolution had hastened the demise of Ebenezer, but the town would surely have died anyway like other towns described by Charles C. Jones in his Lost Towns of Georgia. The wonder is not that it died, but that it lived so long, far longer than Purysburg, Hardwick, or other unneeded centers.”[98] The spiritual compulsions of the people pressed them on as the need withered away. First difficulty, then prosperity, and finally poverty conspired to destroy the town, though none did the job fully until lack of interest and departure from the founding vision set in. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). Descendants who relished the romantic story of their origins nevertheless preferred fulfillment of the self-promoting American dream to the self-sacrificing vision required to live at Ebenezer—nor was it realistic, even with the best of motives, to require residence there any longer.

            [1] Mack Walker, The Salzburg Transaction: Expulsion and Redemption in Eighteenth-Century Germany (Ithaca, New York: Cornell UP, 1992), 62.

            [2] P. A. Strobel, The Salzburgers and Their Descendants (Baltimore: T. Newton Kurtz, 1855), 45.

            [3] Allen D. Candler, The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia [hereafter CR] (Atlanta: The Franklin Printing and Publishing Co., 1904-), 30+ vols., 2:25.

            [4] Ibid., 2:48-50.

            [5] Ibid., 6:154.

            [6] George Fenwick Jones, The Salzburger Saga: Religious Exiles and Other Germans Along the Savannah (Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1984), 60.

            [7] George Fenwick Jones, trans., Samuel Urlsperger, Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants who Settled in America [hereafter DR] (Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1968-), 19? vols., 8:80. See DR, 7:180-181.

            [8] Ibid., 8:360.

            [9] Joseph Wandel, The German Dimension of American History (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1979), 29.

            [10] CR, 4:665.

            [11] Ibid., 6:309-310.

            [12] The Fledgling Province: Social and Cultural Life in Colonial Georgia, 1733-1776 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 1976), 11, 15.

            [13] DR, 8:333.

            [14] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 54.

            [15] DR, 10:viii.

            [16] Daniel T. Elliott, Ebenezer: An Alpine Village in the South Georgia Swamp (Watkinsville, GA: LAMAR Institute, Inc., 1988), 1.

            [17] Renate Wilson, “Lutheran Immigrants in Colonial Georgia,” in Hartmut Lehmann, Hermann Wellenreuther, and Renate Wilson, ed., In Search of Peace and Prosperity: New German Settlements in Eighteenth-Century Europe and America (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), 244.

            [18] DR, 1:62, 76, 104-107.

            [19] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 17.

            [20] DR, 2:30.

            [21] Aubrey de Selincourt, trans., Herodotus’ Histories (London: Penguin Books, 1996), 440.

            [22] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 71.

            [23] DR, 6:46.

            [24] Webb B. Garrison, Oglethorpe’s Folly: The Birth of Georgia (Lakemont, GA: Copple House Books, 1982), 92.

            [25] Walker, 184-185. See George Fenwick Jones, The Salzburger Saga: Religious Exiles and Other Germans Along the Savannah (Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1984), x.

            [26] DR, 1:37.

            [27] George Fenwick Jones, ed., Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1966), 397.

            [28] DR, 1:55.

            [29] Ibid., 1:36.

            [30] Ibid., 1:xii-xiii.

            [31] Jones, Newman’s, 80, 148.

            [32] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 101.

            [33] Jones, Newman’s, 494.

            [34] DR, 8:242.

            [35] Ibid., 1:xiii. See Jones, Salzburger Saga, 20-21.

            [36] Ibid., 2:35.

            [37] Jones, Newman’s, 346.

            [38] Ibid., 146. In DR, 6:51, Bolzius concurred that, though abundantly blessed with gifts and eventual success in the new world, he would “not advise anybody who is poor and has to travel at his own expense to come here at this time.”

            [39] “Public Works and Piety in Ebenezer: The Missing Salzburger Diaries of 1744-1745,” Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. 77, no. 2, 341-342.

            [40] Ibid., 336-338, 345-366, esp. 364-365.

            [41] CR, 5:59. A surveyor commented that same year upon “the good Order and Economy those People lived in” (CR, 4:160-161).

            [42] Reed Smoot, in Harvard S. Heath, ed., In the World: The Diaries of Reed Smoot (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 340.

            [43] Wilson, 345-346, 355-356.

            [44] CR, 5:60.

            [45] Theodore G. Ahrendt, The Lutherans in Georgia (Chicago: Adams Press, 1979), 16; Strobel, 110.

            [46] DR, 6:104.

            [47] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 79-80.

            [48] Ibid., 13, 34-35.

            [49] Jones, Newman’s, 547.

            [50] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 21, 48, 79.

            [51] DR, 8:43.

            [52] See DR, 7:39, 236, 256.

            [53] Ibid., 8:274.

            [54] Ibid., 9:109.

            [55] Ibid., 8:422.

            [56] Ibid., 7:23.

            [57] Ibid., 7:166.

            [58] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 38.

            [59] Ibid., 65, 67.

            [60] DR, 9:40.

            [61] Ibid., 6:182; 9:262.

            [62] Wilson, “Lutheran Immigrants in Colonial Georgia,” 224.

            [63] Garrison, 232. See Strobel, 86-91.

            [64] Jones, Newman’s, 583.

            [65] CR, 1:565.

            [66] Writer’s Program of the Works Progress Administration, Georgia: The WPA Guide to its Towns and Countryside (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1940), 249. See Strobel, 117-118.

            [67] DR, 2:xiv.

            [68] E. Merton Coulter, Georgia: A Short History (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1960), 28.

            [69] Garrison, 102.

            [70] George Fenwick Jones, “Colonial Georgia’s Second Language,” in The Georgia Review 21 (Spring 1967): 87.

            [71] Ibid., 98.

            [72] Ibid., 99-100.

            [73] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 44.

            [74] Strobel, 131-132.

            [75] Ibid., 133.

            [76] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 114.

            [77] “Lutheran Immigrants in Colonial Georgia,” 241.

            [78] Ibid., 121.

            [79] Strobel, 152-154.

            [80] Davis, 200.

            [81] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 122.

            [82] George Fenwick Jones, “John Adam Treutlen’s Origin and Rise to Prominence,” in Harvey H. Jackson and Phinizy Spalding, ed., Forty Years of Diversity: Essays on Colonial Georgia (Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1984), 222.

            [83] Ibid., 221.

            [84] Kenneth Coleman, The American Revolution in Georgia, 1763-1789 (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1958), 71-72.

            [85] Albert Bernhardt Faust, The German Element in the United States: With Special Reference to its Political, Moral, Social, and Educational Influence (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909), 295.

            [86] Coleman, 176.

            [87] Andrew W. Lewis, “Henry Muhlenberg’s Georgia Correspondence,” in Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 4, 429.

            [88] Ibid., 434.

            [89] Ibid., 440.

            [90] Ibid., 436.

            [91] Ibid., 447.

            [92] Ahrendt, 27.

            [93] Wilson, “Lutheran Immigrants in Colonial Georgia,” 217.

            [94] Writer’s Program of the Works Progress Administration, 490.

            [95] Louis B. Wright, The Dream of Prosperity in Colonial America (New York: New York University Press, 1965), 73.

            [96] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 131.

            [97] Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), 10-11.

            [98] Jones, Salzburger Saga, 135.

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