The following five paragraphs are taken from the introduction to the previous volume of this series and therefore need not be read by those who have already read them or who are otherwise familiar with the history of the Georgia Salzburgers. For those who come new to the field, the following resumé should suffice; those who wish more detail may consult the Salzburger Saga.1 When the Lutherans were expelled from Salzburg in 1731, not all the exiles went to East Prussia and other Protestant lands in Europe: a small number, some two hundred, were taken to the colony of Georgia, then in its second year. Georgia, the last of Britain’s thirteen North American colonies, was founded according to the grandiose schemes of a group of benevolent gentlemen in London, called the Trustees, who wished to provide homes for impoverished Englishmen and persecuted foreign Protestants, to protect the more northerly colonies from the Spaniards in Florida, and to provide raw materials for English industry.
The first Salzburger transport, or traveling party, consisted of recent exiles who had been recruited in and around Augsburg, a Swabian city just north of Salzburg. This group arrived in Georgia in 1734 and settled some twenty-five miles northwest of Savannah, where they founded a settlement which they named Ebenezer. By the time the second transport arrived a year later, the land that had been chosen had proved infertile and the stream on which it was built, Ebenezer Creek, had been found to be unnavigable. When a third transport arrived in 1736, composed mostly of Upper Austrian exiles, the survivors at Ebenezer joined them on the Red Bluff on the Savannah River, bringing the name of the earlier settlement with them. The original site, which became the Trustees’ cowpen or cattle ranch, was henceforth called Old Ebenezer.
A fourth and last transport, consisting of Salzburger exiles who had been sojourning in Augsburg and other Swabian cities, arrived in 1741. The Salzburgers were joined by Swiss and Palatine settlers from Purysburg, a Swiss settlement a short way down the Savannah River on the Carolina side, and also by some Palatine servants donated by the Trustees. Finding insufficient fertile land on the Red Bluff, many Salzburgers moved their plantations to an area along Abercorn Creek where the lowland was flooded and enriched each winter by the Savannah River. This explains the terms “the town” and “the plantations.” After some gristmills and sawmills were built on Abercorn Creek, it was usually called the Mill River (Mühl-Fluss.)
Despite appalling sickness and mortality and the hardships incident to settlement in a wilderness, the Salzburgers were the most successful community in Georgia. This relative success was largely due to the skill, devotion, and diligence of their spiritual leader, Johann Martin Boltzius, the author of most of these reports. This young divine had been trained at the University of Halle in eastern Germany and had taught in that city at the Francke Foundation, a charitable institution that was to have great influence on the development of Ebenezer. Although Boltzius was at heart a minister, his secular responsibilities in Georgia moulded him into a skilful administrator, economist, and diplomat. A few of the reports were written by Boltzius’ admiring younger colleague, Christian Israel Gronau, who officiated whenever Boltzius was away in Savannah or elsewhere.
Boltzius’ journals were edited contemporaneously by Samuel Urlsperger, the Senior of the Lutheran clergy in Augsburg. Comparison of the original manuscripts surviving in Halle with Urlsperger’s published edition shows that he took considerable liberty in deleting unpleasant reports and suppressing proper names, which he replaces with N. or N .N. The original documents for 1747 no longer exist, so there is no way to know how much Urlsperger changed or deleted; but there is reason to believe that Boltzius made an entry for every day, as he had been instructed to, and that Urlsperger made major deletions for both diplomatic and economic reasons. In some cases he simply consolidated the material for two or more days into one. Urlsperger’s deletions are very illogical: he often deletes a name in one passage even though it appears in another and can be easily recognized.
Before reading the diary for the year 1747, the reader may wish to know why the diaries for 1744, 1745, and 1746 were omitted. After publishing the volume of Ausführliche Nachrichten for the year 1743, Urlsperger waited three years before resuming the series, even though the Ebenezer pastors had submitted their reports regularly, in keeping with their duty. For reasons known best to him, Urlsperger suppressed their publication.2 To make matters worse, these reports were not stored with the others and were presumed lost.
During the years in question, Urlsperger must have found the news from Ebenezer discouraging or difficult to present to his readers. Among other things, the Salzburgers were complaining against the much-praised orphanage, on which so many appeals for donations had been based. Despite the high birth rate at Ebenezer, children were at a premium because of the high infant mortality; and children were in great demand. Most of the children born in Old Ebenezer had died at, or soon after, birth; and a decade later only three of the many still survived. The bereaved parents, in many cases still childless, were in desperate need of labor.
Children occasioned little expense in Ebenezer except for food, which was plentiful, for their parents were not burdened by pediatricians, orthodontists, day-care centers, or ballet lessons. Children were, in fact, useful already by the age of six, a suitable age for frightening birds from the seed beds and raccoons from the chicken coop. By the age of twelve both boys and girls could help with the harvest and do various chores around the homestead. Consequently, the Salzburgers, particularly those who had lost their children, saw no sense in keeping able-bodied children in an orphanage. We get a faint indication of this in Boltzius’ letter of 4June 44 to Urlsperger, which mentions that he has acquiesced to the demands of some Salzburgers to lend them the services of the boys and girls in the orphanage. This was, of course, in accord with Divine Will.3 We see from the entries for 30 July and 16 December 1747 that the widow Glaner adopted an orphaned girl, having lost the orphan Paul Klocker; and from the entry for 24 May 1748 we learn that a Salzburger tried to recover his godchildren, who had been orphaned in Charleston. Widows were also in demand. Most Ebenezer widows remarried within a few months after the death of their dear husbands, always, of course, at Divine urging. Even old or weak widows could serve as knitters, nurses, or baby-sitters.
Because the diaries from 1744 through 46 were believed lost, we have had to depend upon correspondence, both in German and English, to throw light on the happenings of those years. Unfortunately, most of the surviving German correspondence was bowdlerized before being published, largely in extract, by Urlsperger; and as a result much of it is very uninformative4 These letters consist mostly of greetings, blessings, requests for intercession, thanks for benefactions with accounts of how they were spent, etc. Thus we learn a little, but not much, about the mills, churches, cattle, cattle disease, crops, silk culture, and timber business. Boltzius also gives some secondhand information about the Indians, much of which was given him by Joseph Watson, an Englishman who had visited them.
We also learn of the arrival of Pastor Ulrich Driesler at Frederica and his visit to Ebenezer, also of the last sickness and death of Boltzius’ colleague Gronau and of the excellent work of the surveyor Joseph Avery on the mills and of his untimely death. Boltzius likewise related the arrival of his new colleague, Heinrich Lemke, and mentioned the death of Walter Quarme, the captain of the Judith, which brought the pastors Lemke and Bartholomäus Zouberbühler, as well as a cargo of indentured “Palatines.” He also tells us that Lemke married Gronau’s widow.
Believing himself the object of calumny, Boltzius had to defend himself against accusations of censorship and dishonesty by the Malcontents, the disaffected party in Savannah who wished to undo the plans of the Trustees. Boltzius mentioned that the surgeon Ludwig Meyer had been made schoolmaster, but he failed to give the reason; perhaps Urlsperger deleted the fact that Schoolmaster Christoph Ortmann had been expelled for conspiring with the Malcontents.
Possibly in hopes of receiving more plows for his people, Boltzius stressed their importance and assured the benefactors that the piney lands, if properly plowed and manured, could be as productive as the fields in Germany for German crops, especially if one followed the farming methods of Jethro Tull. Although benefactors were kept anonymous, there are clues that the agricultural information was mainly for Chretien von Munch, a wealthy benefactor and banker of Augsburg, who seems to have had commercial aspirations in Ebenezer. As a man of the cloth, Boltzius apologized for having given so much space to “external things” (äusserliche dinge).5
The most informative item in these letters is a long argument against the introduction of slavery, an excellent analysis that Boltzius first composed in English as an answer to the English evangelist, George Whitefield, who was promoting the introduction of slavery.6 Boltzius well summarized the economic, moral, and social arguments against slavery; and it is interesting that he frequently used the term “poor white” (armer Weisser), which later evoked more scorn than sympathy. Boltzius argued that free labor could not compete against slave labor and that the slaveowners would dump crops on the market so cheap that the free farmers could not survive and would have to leave. He contended that the weather in Georgia was not too hot for Europeans and that white men would prosper once they were numerous enough and well established. While many of Boltzius’ arguments had already been made by Oglethorpe and the Trustees, he assembled and expressed them perhaps better than anyone else. Much of the matter in the German correspondence also appears elsewhere, especially in the Colonial Records of the State of Georgia;7 yet there are some facts not found elsewhere, such as that the passengers aboard the Judith, including Georgia’s first elected governor, John Adam Treutlen, were mostly Wurttembergers and that the disease that afflicted them was spotted fever.8
A careful search twenty years ago in Halle appeared to confirm the belief that the diaries for the years 1744 through 1746 had been lost. However, soon after the type for this volume of the Detailed Reports (for 1747) had been set, my Ph. D. student, Renate Wilson, found extracts from the missing years in the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, these faded negative photostats were made in 1933 and are now scarcely legible. Positive microfilms made from these have been converted into negative microfilms and then into positive photographs, but the result makes for very unreliable reading of many words. It has therefore been decided to delay publishing them until better copies can be made rather than to postpone publication of the remaining volumes of the Detailed Reports. It is hoped that a satisfactory translation can be appended to a later volume.
The present volume for the year 1747 shows the Salzburgers well established and busy consolidating their position. The major progress was in silk manufacture, in which they surpassed all other inhabitants of Georgia. With the increased number of horses and plows, “European” crops like wheat, barley, rye, and oats were flourishing, and the gristmills were being kept busy and in repair. Also, the timber business was being pushed by the Salzburgers’ friend, James Habersham, a merchant who traded with the West Indies. The fourth and last transport of Salzburgers had been assimilated, and a few Swiss and Palatines had joined the community. As mentioned, because of the high infant mortality, the farmers were in desperate need of labor. The incidence of sickness remained very high, according to modern standards, and deaths out-numbered births by five to three in the entries that Urlsperger published.
The following two volumes are gratefully dedicated to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which was so instrumental in bringing the Salzburgers to Georgia. This missionary endeavor was founded on March 8, 1698, by an Anglican priest, Thomas Bray, and four benevolent laymen “to promote Religion and Learning in the Plantations abroad and to propagate Christian Knowledge at home.” Despite its limited purpose, the Society enthusiastically supported the Protestant exiles expelled by the Archbishop of Salzburg in 1731 and immediately began collecting money for them. Ever since the reign of Good Queen Anne, Englishmen had felt themselves to be the champions of Protestantism; and many contributed generously to their distressed co-religionists on the Continent.
At first the alms were collected for all Salzburger exiles, but gradually the funds were restricted to the use of those exiles who elected to emigrate to the new colony of Georgia, which was still in the planning stage. The Society paid for the passage of the exiles to London, where they were put under the auspices of the Lord Trustees. But far more important for the history of the Georgia Salzburgers was the Society’s support of two ministers and a schoolmaster, an expenditure it loyally bore for more than a half century, until the rebellious colonists separated themselves from the crown and their right to support from the SPCK.
The three salaries, as well as various monetary donations elicited by the Society, served as a catalyst in Ebenezer’s economy. The frugal pastors, as true eighteenth-century mercantilists, tried to spend their money only in the community, with the result that it passed through many hands there before finally being drained off for purchases in Savannah or Charleston.
The Society’s contribution to Ebenezer was not only financial, but also diplomatic, because its members, some of them Trustees, wielded considerable influence on the court and parliament. During the first decade of Ebenezer’s existence the secretary of the Society was Henry Newman (known in Ebenezer as Heinrich Neumann), a Yankee from Massachusetts, who kept careful records of the Society’s involvement with the exiles. 9 It is of interest that, at the very time it was supporting the Lutheran ministers at Ebenezer, the Society was also contributing to Danish missions in India, which were conducted by Pietist ministers from Halle.
When the British authorities finally evacuated Georgia in 1782, they took the loyalist pastor, Christoph Friedrich Triebner, along with them as chaplain for the British troops; and after the treaty of peace the Society continued its support until the royal government assumed it. Once the colonies had gained their independence, the Society was no longer permitted to respond to Ebenezer’s pleas for help; and all communication ended. In 1983, precisely two centuries after the colonies severed relations with the mother country, and thus with SPCK, this vital institution has again entered North America by establishing an SPCK USA. Now Americans will no longer be recipients, but fellow contributors to this worthy cause.
To the SPCK, which has underwritten their publication costs, these two volumes are respectfully and gratefully dedicated.
GEORGE FENWICK JONES
1George F. Jones, Salzburger Saga. Athens, Ga.: U. of Ga. Press, 1983.
2See letters of 20 Jan. and 6 Aug. 46 (AN3:46, 63). “AN” stands for the Ausführliche Nachrichten, Halle 1735 ff., Urlsperger’s edition of the diaries from which the Detailed Reports are translated.
4Much of this correspondence is found in Vol. III of the Ausführliche Nachrichten (AN3: 1–72, 151–152, 179–181, 186–192).
7ed. Allen D. Candler, Atlanta, 1904 ff.
9Published in Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks, ed. George F. Jones. Athens, Ga.: U. of Ga. Press, 1966.