Ebenezer – Home of the Salzburg Lutherans
A striking whethered gray memorial stone in Emmet Park pays tribute to a group of Lutherans from Salzburg who came to Georgia to escape religious persecution. Oglethorpe welcomed them with open arms, and suggested they settle a town along a river, about 25 miles north of the new colony’s capital. And Ebenzer was born.
Although we knew nothing about Ebenezer other than the text on the memorial, we decided to stop there during a recent day trip. Ebenezer is difficult to find, barely on the map, and we kind of doubted we’d find anything there. A “Dead End” sign greeted us as we turned onto Ebenezer Road; not very encouraging, but we discovered some signs of life at its end.
Stepping out of the car, we were swept into the arms of Ebenezer’s welcoming committee. An older man greeted us and led us around what’s left: a museum dedicated to the Salzburg Lutherans, the Jerusalem Salzburg Church built in 1769 and still in remarkable condition, and an original cabin filled with colonial artifacts of German and Austrian design.
Ebenezer doesn’t really exist anymore. But at its inception, the Lutheran community had been immediately successful. The town served briefly as the capital of Georgia, and was the home of a state governor. But the war with the British devastated Ebenezer, and it never recovered. In 1855, it was abandoned for good and the remaining residents were incorporated into the nearby city of Rincon.
This history was fascinating, as was seeing the original cabin and stepping inside the ancient church. We had a great time talking to our guide, his son, and another man who’s lived and worshiped there his whole life. Before Juergen had said more than two words, they had him pegged as German, making him flush and me laugh. We spent probably an hour chatting with them, and only reluctantly said goodbye to get back on the road home.
Super nice people, and our visit to Ebenezer was a lot more fun than we had figured it would be. On the way back into Savannah, I reflected on how diverse and interesting our country really is. An abandoned, historic town in the middle of the Georgia backwoods, founded by persecuted Austrians. Crazy.
Official Website: Georgia Salzburger Society
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January 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm