On Labor Day, September 7, 2015, the Georgia Salzburger Society will host hundreds (maybe thousands) attending the annual Heritage Day in Ebenezer, Georgia, celebrating the 281st anniversary of their ancestors landing in Georgia.
Ebenezer is near Rincon, Georgia, a 30 minute drive northwest from downtown Savannah on Georgia Highway 21. Descendants and the public are invited.
Our Historic Savannah Inn's Connection to Salzburger Heritage
Twenty-eight miles upriver from the high bluff along the Savannah River where the colony of Georgia was founded in Savannah (circa 1733), 150 exiled German Protestants -- peasant farmers from Salzburg in Europe -- chose to make their home on another high river bluff in the Georgia frontier.
Year around, Zeigler House Inn (ca. 1856) invites heritage travelers and Salzburger descendants to book their lodging here, the beautifully restored home of a Salzburger pioneer in America, Solomon Zeigler.Zeigler House Inn's original owner, an ambitious Solomon Zeigler, reportedly in his mid-thirties at the time, moved from his family's deeply religious Salzburger community of Ebenezer to Savannah. Over time Solomon built a thriving lumber business with offices on Smet's Wharf, near the old Ogeechee Canal along the Savannah River. A prominent citizen and lumber merchant, Mr. Zeigler gained in wealth and business affluence.
Innkeeper Jackie Heinz reports that "The old gentleman returns to Zeigler House Inn periodically. Mr. Zeigler was among the city's leading decision makers who counseled together, choosing to surrender Savannah (circa December 1864) to Union General William T. Sherman during the Civil War. Savannah's architecture is here today, spared from the ravages of General Sherman's famous March to the Sea because Savannah was not burned to the ground, as was the fate of Atlanta."
|Zeigler gravestones are among the hundreds in the Old Jerusalem Cemetery in Ebenezer, Georgia USA|
On March 12, 1734, the exiled Salzburgers landed in Savannah, Georgia after a two months trip across the Atlantic Ocean to escape religious persecution in their native country of Salzburg, presently known as Austria.
It was only one year after Savannah's founding when the German-speaking Lutherans seeking religious freedom began the laborious work to establish their industrious farming town of Ebenezer on the Savannah River. After an unsuccessful farming location near today's Port Wentworth, the German speaking settlers settled on a higher bluff, 28 miles upstream from where the Savannah River enters the Atlantic Ocean. They called their new Georgia home "New Ebenezer". (See Ebenezer and the Salzburgers' Separatist Identity in Colonial Georgia by Frances Tannie Arnsdorff, Armstrong.edu.
In Von Reck's Voyage - Georgia in 1736 one 25-year-old German colonist, Philip von Reck made a vivid, illustrated diary with detailed drawings of what he saw. He had arrived with Salzburgers arriving in the British colony of Georgia in North America.
His drawings portray Indians and colonists at work and play, settlements and houses, plants and animals. These previously unknown drawings from the Royal Library at Copenhagen, most reproduced in color, provide us with lost glimpses of the infant colony of Georgia only three years after its founding. The editor is Chief Parliamentary Librarian of Denmark. Source: Beehive Press Foundation
|Savannah River and Ebenezer Creek|
Plan to take a canoe paddle with Wilderness Southeast into the black water tributary of the Savannah River, Ebenezer Creek -- one of Georgia's four designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the only one on the coast. It is also designated a National Natural Landmark.
Ebenezer's swamp consists of unusual virgin bald cypress, with huge swollen buttresses eight to twelve feet wide, which support tree trunks of unusually small diameters. Some of the trees are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old.
Trip Planning Tip: The calming Ebenezer canoe adventure is really pleasant in cooler months with a breeze (spring, fall or winter). Summer heat in the stillness of the creek can be tough, especially for less active sports people, seniors, and/or novice canoe paddlers.
Civil War History Comes Alive at Ebenezer Church and Ebenezer Creek
During the American Civil War, Ebenezer Church was burned, as was many Savannah River plantation homes and rice mills. At the point of crossing the Ebenezer Creek in Effingham County, the Union Army betrayed freed slaves who followed the troops onward to Savannah during the famous March to the Sea (1864). More at "Betrayal at Ebenezer Creek" by Edward M. Churchill and originally published in Civil War Times Magazine in October 1998.
It was "On Dec. 9, the 14,000 troops of the Union XIV Corps crossed the [Ebenezer Creek] waterway on a pontoon bridge assembled by Yankee engineers," reports Rick Beard, "Forty Acres and a Mule", New York Times.
Civil War: The Untold Story, a New Five-Part Series on PBS shares that "the story of those who fled slavery isn't always a happy one: the program tells about Ebenezer Creek in Georgia, where Sherman's officers cut the pontoon bridges, stranding 5,000 black refugees. General Joseph Wheeler's Confederate cavalry soon arrived. Some of the refugees reportedly were shot; some drowned in the creek's icy waters [December 1864]; the rest were returned to their masters." Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was summoned to Savannah. "Forty Acres and a Mule" was the aftermath of concerted complaints from African ministers and meetings with Stanton and Union Army officers in Savannah. Read The Truth Behind ’40 Acres and a Mule’ by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Georgia Salzburgers are America's Lutheran Pioneers
"[The Salzburgers in Ebenezer, Georgia] practiced Lutheran worship and sacraments, and as Savannah grew, their pastors eventually began conducting regular services for the Lutherans settling in Savannah. The congregation (which would become the Lutheran Church of the Ascension) organized in 1741." Source: History, Lutheran Church of the Ascension. The church is located on Wright Square in Savannah's National Landmark Historic District.
On April 14th, 2016, the Lutheran Church of the Ascension in historic Savannah, Georgia, will celebrate it’s 275th anniversary.
|"Old Salzburger Church", officially |
Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church,
was completed in 1769. The statue of the
Salzburger settler's pastor in Georgia,
Reverend Johann Martin Boltzius
is in foreground. Boltzius sought to
build "a religious utopia
on the Georgia frontier."
We hope you will get away for the Salzburger's Heritage Day Festival in Ebenezer, Georgia for Labor Day 2015.
Or, come visit any time! It's a short, 30-minute road trip from our historic inn in Savannah. The Georgia Salzburger Society museum and gift shop are open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday -- 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. or by appointment.
As you can see from our April 2015 photographs in this blog post, the scenery (and your own photography!) will allow you to step back in time and into nature for a relaxing getaway to the Georgia Coast.
We hope you will plan your next heritage travel stay with us at Zeigler House Inn on the most beautiful residential street in the south, Jones Street. Contact us for your Savannah visit / Savannah bed and breakfast getaway: Phone 912-233-5307 | USA Toll-free 866-233-5307 | Fax 912-233-0220 | 121 WEST Jones Street @ Barnard Street, Savannah, Georgia USA 31401; ZeiglerHouseInn.com; EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
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