The Salzburgers

The Salzburgers

Who are the Salzburgers?

On October 31, 1731, Archbishop Firmian of Salzburg, expelled twenty thousand Protestants who followed the teaching of Martin Luther. Three hundred of these immigrants accepted the invitation of the Georgia Trustees to settle in a new Colony in Georgia.

Reverend Samuel Urlsperger, Pastor of St. Anna's Lutheran Church in Augsburg, Germany, working through the "Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge" in England, made arrangements in 1732 for a group of Salzburgers to go to Georgia.

In 1733, the first exiles arrived at St. Anna's Lutheran Church in Augsburg. The religious exiles departed October 2, 1733, traveling north through Dinkelsbuhl, Germany on to Frankfurt on the Main River, where they were received royally. They then traveled by barge down the Main to the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Netherlands, arriving November 27, 1733.

At Rotterdam, the Salzburgers were met by Lutheran Pastors, Boltzious and Gronau, who became the spiritual and secular leaders of the group.

The group of thirty-seven families from Rotterdam to Diver, England, where they boarded the ship Purysburg, and sailed for Georgia on January 8, 1734.

Sixty-three stormy days later, on March 12, 1734, the Purysburg arrived at the mouth of the Savannah River. The exiles were met by General Oglethorpe and were led to their new home at Ebenezer.

Their settlement was laid out following the plan of Savannah. Homes, an orphanage, and a church were built. The church remains today for you to visit. The congregation of this church was formed at St. Anna's Lutheran Church in Augsburg, Germany, in 1733, and remains active to the present time. These most industrious, pious settlers established the first orphanage, church, grist mill and saw mill in the state of Georgia. The first governor of Georgia, John Adam Treutlen, was a Salzburger.

Their settlement prospered and by 1741 had grown to a population of twelve hundred. They were successful in cattle raising, agriculture, lumbering and silk culturing.

Other transports arrived until 1752. The town continued to grow until the Revolutionary War. It was burned and ravaged and never recovered after 1779.

Today, the church, a cemetery, and one home, built in 1755, are all that remain of the town. A museum is on the site for you to enjoy.

The Salzburgers of today are descendants of the devout group that left their homes in Austria and Germany to settle in the wilderness of Georgia, so that they could worship God as they chose.

The History of the Georgia Salzburger Society

Around 1920 many Salzburger descendants were discussing the need to form an organization to perpetuate the memory of their ancestors.

In 1925, thirty-five descendants of the Salzburgers were invited to meet at Jerusalem Lutheran Church, at Ebenezer, to discuss forming an organization. On September 2, 1925, at eleven o'clock, seventeen adults and one child met to discuss the formation of an organization to perpetuate the memory of the Salzburgers and to preserve the history and forklore of these early settlers, also ways and means of accomplishing this.

The first order of business was to elect a leader. Mr. Walter A. Gnann was elected Chairman. A Committee was formed to draft a Constitution and By Laws. It was agreed that the next meeting would be held at the Court House in Springfield on November 16, 1925.

The meeting was attended by a large group of interested Salzburgers. The Constitution and By Laws were discussed. It was agreed to have the next meeting on December 9, 1925, at the Court House in Springfield, Georgia.

At the December 9, 1925, meeting it was agreed to have the first Annual Meeting on March 12, 1926, at Jerusalem Lutheran Church at Ebenezer, Effingham County, Georgia; March 12, being the anniversary of the arrival of the first Salzburgers. The first permanent officers elected were: President - Dr. Richard L. Gnann, D.D.S.; Vice President - Mr. Harvey Seckinger; Secretary - Mr. Julian H. Shearouse; Treasurer - Mr. William G. Gnann.

The Executive Committee was: Mr. C. Bowers Gnann, Mr. Blois Zeigler, Mr. George Rahn, Mr. John W. Reiser, Mr. Joshua A. Helmly, Mrs. Maude Arden, Mr. Gidean Seckinger, Miss Susie Gnann and Mrs. B. Cubbage.

There were one hundred eighty Charter Members, one hundred sixty Regular Members, two Life Members. thirteen Associate Members and five Honorary Members.

The first Annual Labor Day Meeting was held September 3, 1929. The two Annual Meetings have been held each year except the period 1942-47, during which, the meetings were cancelled because of World War II.

The Georgia Salzburger Society has grown to todays membership of one thousand seven hundred, and continues to grow.

Georgia Salzburger Society
2980 Ebenezer Road
Rincon, Georgia 31326
(912) 754-7001

Membership Information: Dues Life Membership $200; Life - Associate $200; Life - Friend $200; Regular Annual $15; Regular - Associate $15; Regular - Friend $15. Yearly dues are payable on March 1. It is through the faithfulness and commitment of our members that we keep the Society functioning and achieving our goals.

Ebenezer, Georgia
Photos by Wayne and Judy Dasher

Jerusalem Lutheran

Museum Designed
after Orphanage

Old Pastor's House
Now Office

Salzburger House

Kitchen Portion
of Original House