|The Salzburgers Travel to the New World
|After the exiles arrived in Augsburg in 1733, they travelled north to Frankfurt, then on by barge to
the Netherlands. At Rotterdam, the Salzburgers were met by their appointed Lutheran Pastors, Rev.
Boltzious and Rev. Gronau. Thirty-seven families then proceeded to Dover, England where they
swore allegiance to King George and were therefore awarded the same rights of Englishmen bound
for an English Colony. Exiles and refugees were pawns in a power game played by monarchs and
governments of Europe to populate new colonies or repopulate devastated areas within their realms,
and also to spread their religious ideas or even to protect their borders by acting as buffers to hostile
forces. The Salzburgers were not the first German speaking immigrants in America. Settlers from
Krefeld established the first sizable, distinctly German settlement in America at Germantown,
Pennsylvania in 1683.
It was on the advise of Pastor Samuel Urlsperger that James Oglethorpe, a member of Parliament as
well as a reformer who was concerned about the atrocious conditions of the grim debtors prisons. He
resolved to ship their inmates to America instead and enlist prominent men to lead and establish the
colony which would become Georgia, both to give the needy a new start in life and to extend British
dominions. The applicants were examined for honesty and "inability for English livelihood".
Georgia was the last American colony and founded 50 years after the initial twelve. It was named for
King George II who granted a 21 year charter to a board of 21 trustees for the land between the
Savannah and Altamaha rivers and westward to the "South Sea". Over the period of the trusteeship
(1732-1755), fifty more trustees were added. Oglethorpe points at his colony, below
|The first settlement which had been selected by Oglethorpe, Colonel William Bull and Peter Gordon,
leader of a small band of militia, was a site on a bluff known as Yamacraw which was soon cleared
for settlers. The militiamen built a set of stairs running up Yamacraw Bluff which the first settlers
would climb to their new home, a partially cleared and fortified compound with an excellent view of
the surrounding area, including the nearby Indian village. The settlers had to live in tents. After
Oglethorpe negotiated the first treaty with the Indian chief Tomochichi, the settlers built a stockade
and a crane to hoist up freight.
Tomochichi, 1644-1739, shown above, bottom, was an apparent exile himself from the Creek Indian
Nation. He and several followers first settled what is now Savannah, Georgia. Tomochichi became a
lifelong friend of the early English colonists, helping the settlers in Georgia negotiate treaties and settle
disputes with Indians. In 1734, at age 91, he was taken to England with a small delegation of family
and tribesmen by Colonial Oglethorpe. He was an immediate celebrity, and was wined, dined and
even had his portrait painted with his nephew. He returned from his trip to England with a shipload of
presents. Tomochichi created his own tribe of Yamacraws from an assortment of about 200 Creek
and Yamasee Indians around 1728, and they settled within close proximity to English traders.
Tomochichi provided invaluable assistance to the new colony during their early years of settlement.
The chief also made the acquaintance of ministers John and Charles Wesley. Tomochichi died on
October 5, 1739, and received an English military funeral.
The death rate for the first settlers at first was very high because of disease and lack of clean water,
but new colonists arrived to populate the new city of Savannah. The original plans for the city of
Savannah called for four squares, which would expand to six, and eventually expand to twenty-four
squares, surrounded by a network of interconnecting streets. A string of forts was built to defend
Savannah from the Spanish, French and Indians. The settlers had no control of their own government
and it was entirely ruled by the trustees. Georgia granted freedom in religion to everyone except
On January 8, 1734, a year after arriving in England, the Salzburgers began their stormy 63 day
journey to Georgia on a 200 ton ship named the 'Purysburg' under Captain Tobias Pry. Toward the
end of their ocean voyage, a terrible storm broke, during which the Salzburger pastors thundered out
bible texts, among them I Samuel 7:12. where Samuel placed a stone where God had saved his
people from their enemy and named it Eben-Ezer, stone of help. Oglethorpe would name the town,
its stream and the Parish Ebenezer. On March 12, 1734, their ship arrived at the Savannah River and
was met by Oglethorpe who led them to their new home.
Salzburgers were Georgia's first religious refugees. Their fellow exiles who had ventured to German
regions had at least some continuity of food, language, climate and culture, and some were even
treated like heroes, soon becoming the center of legend, poetry and song. The Georgia Salzburgers
travelled into a dreary, frightening wilderness where nothing was familiar. When once they knew only
their small Alpine farms and quaint villages in the homeland and were surrounded by friends and
family, they were suddenly an ocean away in a harsh and hostile environment.
|THE SALZBURGERS: GEORGIA