THE first three of the following paragraphs may be passed over by the reader who has read the earlier volumes of this series, since he will already know why and when these reports were written. For the newcomer, suffice it to say that most of these reports were written by Johann Martin Boltzius, the Lutheran pastor assigned to the Protestant exiles from Salzburg who settled at Ebenezer in the colony of Georgia in 1734 and the following years. The remainder were written by Boltzius’ assistant, Israel Christian Gronau, who kept the diary only when Boltzius was away in Savannah or Purysburg or else incapacitated by sickness.
Being destined for the Francke Foundation at Halle in East Germany, where Boltzius and Gronau had been educated, these reports were sent from Georgia to Halle via Augsburg in South Germany, where they were first edited for publication by Samuel Urlsperger, the senior Lutheran minister of that city. The edited texts were then published in Urlsperger’s Ausführliche Nachricht, which was printed at irregular intervals by the Waysenhaus (Orphanage) Press in Halle.1 Meanwhile, the original unedited reports were transcribed into copy books by professional scribes at the Francke Foundation.2 There they have lain largely ignored by Georgia historians, who have had to rely on Urlsperger’s greatly bowdlerized edition.
Like the previous volumes of this series, this one restores [in brackets] all matter deleted by Urlsperger; and it reveals that this deleted matter comprised all statements discrediting the English authorities and the behavior or conditions of the Salzburgers. It seems surprising, therefore, that Urlsperger did not suppress or disguise the appalling death list reported by Boltzius on 1 January. Some of Urlsperger’s deletions are difficult to explain. For example, he consistently suppresses the name of George Whitefield, despite that missionary’s great kindness to the Salzburgers; such antipathy must have been caused later by Whitefield’s admiration for the Herrnhuters or Moravians, a German sect in Savannah that had strayed from orthodox Lutheranism.3 It will be noted that Urlsperger withheld the fact that the barrel of dried apples the Salzburgers received from Pennsylvania had been donated by the Herrnhuters (7 February).
In addition to his many deletions, Urlsperger also made a few additions, mostly harmless little explanations or justifications, or else expansions of Biblical verses abbreviated by Boltzius. It is possible, of course, that some of these apparent additions had actually been written by Boltzius but had then been inadvertently omitted by the Halle scribe. To obviate the need for many footnotes, this volume will indicate such additions by setting off / with slashes / all matter found in Urlsperger’s edition but not found in the Halle manuscripts, that is to say, all matter either added by Urlsperger or omitted by the Halle scribe. At this point it may be advisable to prepare the reader to expect-statements like “Christ is restless again” (5 September) or “Christ has become obstinate again” (10 November), since such comments refer to Johann Gottfried Christ, a converted Jew from Frankfurt, not to Jesus, whose cognomen in German is always Christus. It is to be remembered that the spelling of proper names was not always standardized, especially with regard to single and double consonants, as in names like Kiefer/Kieffer. Also, z and tz were interchangeable in names like Boltzius/Bolzius and Hertzog/Herzog, the sound t being pronounced even when the name is spelled only with a z.
Although typical of eighteenth-century letters, Boltzius’ literary style would be unacceptable today in even an undergraduate composition; and it has taken much will power to refrain from making stylistic improvements in the translation. Boltzius is clearly following the “plain style” (genus humile) rather than the “grand style” (genus grande) as befitting the Christian who wishes to report beneficial truths without garnering personal glory. In general he seems to have begun his sentences without planning what he was going to say; he merely wrote down whatever words came to his pen and neglected to edit his text to enrich his vocabulary or to remove repetitions.4 Consequently, a few basic words like good (gut), honest (ehrlich), and edifying (erbauend) are much overworked. Nearly every newborn baby is a “young baby,” as if Boltzius were unaware that all new babies are young; and the few babies that are not “young” are “small,” which hardly indicates their relative size. These words express neither youth nor smallness, just endearment.
When judging Boltzius’ vocabulary, we must remember that he used many common terms in an uncommon way, namely, as the Pietists used them. For example, äusserlich (external) referred to worldly and therefore unimportant matters, such as food, clothing, and shelter. A person was “honest” (ehrlich) if he shared Boltzius’ Pietistic views, or at least pretended to. Boltzius was skeptical of “natural honesty” (bürgerliche Ehrlichkeit), through which some misguided souls hoped to achieve salvation on their own merits without even admitting their depravity and crawling into the wounds of Jesus to be born again; and this explains his amazement that Sigmund Ott, although not yet resigned to divine dispensation, nevertheless returned money that did not belong to him (7 January). Only those can be saved who evince true “poverty of the spirit,” true recognition of their own perdition: in other words, only those can be saved who believe in the New rather than in the Old Law. Not nature, but only grace can win salvation (13 March); and fallen man can be redeemed only by the blood of the Lamb. As a result of such attitudes, which are an integral part of the Pietist tradition, Boltzius judged people by a yardstick quite alien to our own. When he complains that a parishioner is “indolent” (träge), he may mean that he spends too much time in chopping and hoeing and not enough in praying.5 Likewise, if he says that a certain German in Purysburg or Savannah is worthless, he may merely mean that he does not profess Pietistic convictions. Likewise, when he calls people unordentlich, it is sometimes better to translate the word as “inordinate,” rather than as “disorderly,” since he may not be implying that they are rowdy or disreputable, but merely that they overstep their divinely ordained order, like the inordinate sectarians in Heidelberg who arrogate to themselves the prerogatives of the proper clergy (14 July).
As a minister, Boltzius felt that his chief duty was to save the souls of his flock. However, having rid himself of the two secular leaders, Baron von Reck and Jean Vat, he found himself responsible for the physical as well as spiritual welfare of his parishioners. The previous volumes show how quickly he adapted himself to the challenge and how cleverly and diplomatically he handled Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, and Thomas Causton, the keeper of the storehouse, as well as the authorities in London and the benefactors in Germany.
The first volume of this series cites a proverb from German colonizers in the undeveloped lands of Eastern Europe: Dem Ersten, Tod—dem Zweiten, Not—dem Dritten, Brat (Death for the first, hardship for the second, bread for the third). By the year 1738 the Salzburgers, through Boltzius’ wise guidance, had reached stage three, even though bread was not yet plentiful and death and hardship were still ever present. However bad conditions were in Ebenezer, they were even worse in Savannah, especially among the indentured servants from Germany.6 These poor redemptioners, who had sold their bodies for a number of years of servitude to pay their passage, were usually called Palatines, regardless of their actual origin, since the majority did come from the Rhenish Palatinate.
The thing most needed by Boltzius’ parish was better health; sickness had not only carried off a third of the parishioners, it also kept many others bedridden or otherwise incapacitated. Through constant entreaty to his superiors in Halle, Boltzius at last obtained a Halle-educated physician to take the place of the poorly trained and unsuccessful apothecary, Andreas Zwiffier, who had since removed to Pennsylvania. Christian Ernst Thilo, Georgia’s first bona fide physician, was enthusiastically greeted on 13 January by the whole congregation, who had already constructed a comfortable house for him; and on 25 January Boltzius made note of his spiritual concern for his patients. But Friday the thirteenth must have been an inauspicious day, for Thilo soon became chronically sick and Boltzius began to observe that he was not following the methods of Dr. Christian Friedrich Richter and Professor Johann Junker of Halle, whose remedies had previously proved successful (g August). Also, as was revealed later, Thilo did not attend divine services and caused much disorder with his outlandish religious beliefs.
Also of vital importance for the survival of the community was a surveyor; for Boltzius had finally received permission for his parishioners to exchange their sandy pine barrens for swamp land which, being occasionally flooded, would remain rich without manure. Boltzius saw that agriculture could not prosper until the farmers knew precisely which land was their own. Having been dissatisfied with the service of the Savannah surveyor, Noble Jones, who had laid out both Old and New Ebenezer, he had engaged a certain Ross; but Ross in turn disappointed him by procrastinating and even interrupting his work to take up a more lucrative assignment at Port Royal. Above all, Ross insisted on placing the Salzburgers’ plantations in the sterile pine barrens, where the going was easy, rather than in the fertile, but densely overgrown, bottom land. It was only after the Salzburgers tried to help the surveyor in his difficult work that Boltzius realized what a thankless and unprofitable task Ross was performing. Since their survival depended upon his success, it seems strange that the Salzburgers did not begin helping him sooner, rather than letting him struggle unproductively for so long with only his two sick Swiss redemptioners.7
Of perhaps less importance than the physician and surveyor, yet of great concern to Boltzius, was the acquisition of a proper shoemaker. To be sure, Reck of Purysburg did good work; but he was a worldly man who drank heavily and was a bad influence on the pious Salzburgers. Besides that, he drained away much money from Ebenezer that could have been spent there. On 7 January Boltzius even interceded with Causton to permit Reck to settle in Ebenezer; yet Reck failed to keep his good resolutions and slipped back into his evil ways. Eventually, after Reck helped a discontented Salzburger abscond, Boltzius was so enraged that he even removed his seven-year-old son from the orphanage and sent him back to his father (17 April). To fill Reck’s place, he persuaded Oglethorpe to give him a shoemaker from among the newly landed Palatines. This poor man, Solomon Adde or Ade, made a good start but soon misbehaved and left Ebenezer.
Ebenezer suffered no shortage of carpenters. With such men as Kogler, Sanftleben, and the clockmaker Mueller, construction progressed rapidly and efficiently as long as the Salzburgers had sharp tools. At first they could get their tools repaired by an English smith at the neighboring settlement of Abercorn; and, when the smith ran away to Port Royal, Boltzius advanced three pounds to one of the Salzburgers on 18 April to buy his smithy.8 The one profession represented in excess was that of the tailors; for, in addition to Herrnberger and Christ, the community acquired the retired soldier Kikar.
Boltzius declined the services of one man who would have been of great practical value to the Salzburgers, namely a professional hunter indentured to the recorder in Savannah, who offered to donate him to the Salzburgers (19 December). In Germany hunting was restricted to the nobility and their well-trained gamekeepers, and therefore this hunter should have been skilled in his profession and able to adapt himself to the local game and thus provide the Salzburgers with abundant flesh and fowl, as well as teach them his art. Unfortunately, German gamekeepers were reputed to be inveterate tipsters; and this man seems to have been no exception, unless perhaps Boltzius judged him by his professional stigma rather than by observation of his personal behavior. Medieval theologians had always deprecated hunters, including the mighty Nimrod. Perhaps they were prejudiced by the double meaning of the word venery; for in literature hunting often symbolized erotic pursuit. It should be noted, however, that the Herrnhuters in Savannah had a gamekeeper in their group who provided them with game, apparently without offending their moral scruples.9
The preface to the previous volume of this series noted that Boltzius made little mention of hunting. Possibly his parishioners, knowing his disapproval, failed to report all their booty; or possibly he omitted game in his reports because they were supposed to convince the benefactors in England and Germany that the Salzburgers still lacked food and needed continued support from the storehouse in Savannah. Not until 19 December did Boltzius mention that the Salzburgers had shot a hundred turkeys during the previous summer, at which time he also mentioned that the wood ducks, which the people had previously shot, had not returned that year. In these generally dreary reports it is refreshing to read that the naughty Helfenstein and Rheinlaender boys, both of them non-Salzburgers, squandered their time in hunting and fishing (25 August); so let us hope that their parents, despite their wickedness, were well supplied with flesh, fish, and fowl. Only on 10 April of 1738 did Boltzius learn from the miller at Old Ebenezer that the creek on which the Salzburgers had been settled for two years abounded in fish.
In addition to guarding his parishioners’ souls and feeding their bodies, Boltzius dispensed justice; for, as long as they settled their own affairs quietly, the Salzburgers were exempt from the far harsher justice being meted out in Savannah. However, it was only with Oglethorpe’s written permission that Boltzius allowed the widow Resch to marry four years after her husband was lost in the woods and presumed dead. Boltzius’ extreme caution may have been intensified by his learning, some months earlier, of a man in Purysburg who pretended to be lost in the woods in order to desert wife and children and go to live better near Charleston.10
Boltzius was able to procure both justice and mercy when evidence came to light that Andreas Grimmiger had stolen three pounds from Johann Pletter three years earlier (3 July); and the punishment, far less severe than it would have been in Savannah, was of benefit to the community. Apparently Boltzius considered this theft less serious than the charge of fornication made against Paul Zittrauer and Barbara Maurer on 5 June, which, because it was neither proved nor confessed, was ordered into oblivion, along with Grimmiger’s expiated sin. Because his authority did not extend across the Savannah River, Boltzius was less successful in coping with the French tavernkeeper who persisted in selling rum to some of the Salzburgers; but he was at least able to persuade Leonhard Rauner to cease collaborating with him (12 August).
Boltzius’ greatest danger during the year 1738 was Thomas Pichler’s and Stephan Riedelsperger’s resolution to leave the colony; for, although Boltzius would not have missed them, their desertion might have caused an exodus to the promised land of Pennsylvania. One must marvel at, even if not admire, the devious diplomacy Boltzius used to balk the two men. Poor Mrs. Pichler seems to have intuited that she would die if she did not leave Ebenezer, and she confirmed her fears with her untimely death (1 March). Pichler almost followed his wife to the grave, in fact he became so ill that even Boltzius almost believed in his penitence; but then a wonder came to light and he rebounded from his deathbed (17 June) and settled into a marriage bed, for he soon married Theobald Kiefer’s daughter.
Although Boltzius could leave the actual management of the orphanage to the saintly Kalcher, he still had to provide the means and make all policy decisions, and his detailed entry of 11 January reveals how closely he was involved. Even if the consumptive tailor Christ was dissatisfied with the “soul food” given in the menu of 15 March, the fare and treatment at that institution seem to have been much better than at other institutions of the time and even later, if we may believe what we read about Oliver Twist and other orphans. Although this was an age in which no loving father spared the rod, we read of only one incident of severe punishment at the orphanage (23 August). Boltzius’ favorable report on the orphanage was confirmed by none other than George Whitefield, the famous preacher and philanthropist, who wrote in his journal under Tuesday, 11 July: “Returned this evening from Ebenezer (whither I went yesterday) the place where the Saltzburghers are settled; and was wonderfully pleased with their order and industry. Their lands are improved surprisingly for the time they have been there, and I believe they have far the best crop of any in the colony. They are blest with two such pious ministers as I have not often seen. They have no Courts of Judicature, but all little differences are immediately and implicitly decided by their ministers, whom they look upon and love as their fathers. They have likewise an Orphan House, in which are seventeen children and one widow, and I was much delighted to see the regularity wherewith it is managed. Oh that God may stir up the hearts of His servants to contribute towards that and another which we hope to have erected at Savannah. Mr. Boltzius, one of their ministers, being with me on Saturday, I gave him some of my poor’s store for his orphans, and when I came to Ebenezer, he called them all before him, catechised and exhorted them to give God thanks for all His good providence towards them; then prayed with them, and made them pray after him; then sung a psalm, and afterwards the little lambs came and shook me by the hand, one by one, and so we parted, and I scarce was ever better pleased in my life. Surely, whoever contributes to the relief of the Saltzburghers, will perform an acceptable sacrifice to our blessed Master. They are very poor; but with a little assistance might live comfortably and well. They want a place for public worship, and money to buy cattle, and other necessaries for the Orphan House and people. May the great God raise up instruments to assist and relieve them, for surely they are worthy.”11
Boltzius’ journal usually reveals him as an astute man endowed with a keen understanding of human nature; yet occasionally he seems to be duped by people who know his weaknesses. For example, when a parishioner tells him on 11 February that he feels too sinful to attend Holy Communion, we suspect that he may prefer to spend his time some other way. Boltzius also seems to have devoted too much time to moral hypochondriacs like Mrs. Schweighofer, who was always suffering from some scruple concerning her or her children’s souls (2 January), although perhaps she merely enjoyed the young minister’s attention. On the other hand, he seems to have misjudged Mrs. Pichler in interpreting her desire to seek medical treatment in Savannah as a sign of excessive self-will (12 January), for her prompt death proved her point. Boltzius called it divine guidance that caused Thilo to arrive in Ebenezer just before Mrs. Pichler’s planned departure for Savannah (13 January); yet he fails to mention that, even though God led Thilo to Ebenezer, He did not guide him well in his treatment of the sick woman. Boltzius was correct, however, in predicting that the tailor Christ would cause annoyance in the orphanage (11 April). Whereas Boltzius was sometimes gulled by smooth-talking people, he was not too proud to admit that he had been taken in, as when he realized that the younger Zuebli, whom he had highly praised, was a gossip and troublemaker (7 February, g March).
Boltzius showed faith in divine aid, and human help, when he built sheds for the cows and a hut for the cauldron that he expected from the hand of God (g January), feeling well assured that some human agency would have to make good this trust in the Lord. We may almost suspect similar motivation, even if subconscious, when Boltzius magnanimously pressed for a fitting habitation for his assistant minister; for naturally the authorities would eventually appreciate both his magnanimity and the discrepancy of having the assistant better housed than the minister himself (20 April).
Besides informing us about the Salzburgers, Boltzius’ diary throws light on other people and events of the general area. His frequent weather reports may help explain some of the activities in Savannah, for which no such consistent meteorological records survive. His accounts of the Palatines in Savannah are almost the only intimate information we have of that important segment of the population, which was so little understood by the British authorities and inhabitants of the town. It is only regrettable that Boltzius, like most eighteenth-century chroniclers, so often neglected to give proper names (which would, of course, have meant nothing to most of his German readers), since it would interest us to know the identities of many of the persons he mentions, for example, the German Indian-trader who passed through Ebenezer on his way back from the Cherokees (3 August) and the German slave-driver from near Charleston who attended Holy Communion with the Salzburgers (18 September). One wonders whether such people survived and left descendants to the present day and whether these descendants have anglicized their names. As an aid to genealogists, the footnotes to this volume give Christian names, when possible, for even the least conspicuous characters.
Some of the events mentioned by Boltzius would make romances in their own right, such as the escape of the indentured girl who was smuggled out of the country in men’s clothing (26 February) or the plight of poor Abraham Grüning, who left Ebenezer and married a Scottish lass, only to become jealous when her beauty attracted other men (13 October). Or perhaps we should sympathize with the poor fun-loving wife who was torn from her father and countrymen and forced to live among righteous strangers who could not understand her Gaelic tongue. Other fates were even more pitiable: we might think of the Huber girl who lost both parents and all her siblings (10 January) or of the two elderly Swiss, Pastor Zouberbuhler (11 July) and the unnamed carpenter (29 July), who lost most of their loved ones in the unhealthy country.
The editors again wish to thank the authorities of the University and State Library at Halle in the German Democratic Republic for their hospitality and for graciously providing microfilms of Boltzius’ diary. We also express our thanks to the American Philosophical Society for granting travel funds for research at Halle, to the General Research Board of the University of Maryland for defraying typing costs, and to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a grant to do research at the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah.
GEORGE FENWICK JONES
University of Maryland