IntroThis article is about a ghost town in the state of Georgia. The name of this town is Ebenezer. To be honest, I don't even know how to approach this article. Things appear to be rather simple, but once you dip your feet in this story, multiple intricate details and inconsistencies start coming out. The originally established town of Ebenezer lasted for only two years, after which it was moved to a different location.
- 1734-1736: Old Ebenezer
- 1736-1855: New Ebenezer
- Here is a couple of slides from the official presentation on the history of Colonial Georgia.
- Following the desire for a better material life for themselves and their children, the desire for religious freedom probably motivated more immigrants to come to America than any other concern - and the two desires have often been inextricably linked.
- In the words of historian Will Durant, "For men came across the sea not merely to find new soil for their plows but to win freedom for their souls, to think and speak and worship as they would."
EbenezerEbenezer, also known as New Ebenezer, is a ghost town in Effingham County, Georgia, along the banks of Ebenezer Creek. The town was established in 1734 by Salzburger emigrants. With the consent of governor James Oglethorpe, New Ebenezer was moved closer to the Savannah River in 1736, and at its new location many silk mills were opened. The Salzburger's pastor, the Reverend Johann Martin Boltzius, sought to build "a religious utopia on the Georgia frontier." That idea was very successful for a time, and the economy thrived. Jerusalem Lutheran Church was completed in 1769, and is the fourth-oldest building in Georgia.
- After the British invasion of 1778 during the American Revolutionary War, the town was severely damaged.
- It never fully recovered, although Ebenezer briefly served as the capital of Georgia in 1782.
- It was made the county seat of Effingham County in 1797.
- Two years later the seat was transferred to Springfield, taking much county business with it.
- By the time Ebenezer was abandoned in 1855, the town covered only 1/4 square mile.
Salzburger Emigrants During the four years commencing in 1729 and ending in 1732, more than thirty thousand Salzburgers, impelled by the fierce persecutions of Leopold, abandoned their homes in the broad valley of the Salza and sought refuge in Prussia, Holland, and England, where their past sufferings and present wants enlisted substantial sympathy and relief from Protestant communities.
Some of those emigrants ended up in Georgia. As you can see below, we do not really know how many emigrants there were in the original group of Georgia bound Salzburgers. Meanwhile, this group was credited with the establishment of the town of Ebenezer.
The exiled Protestants from Salzburg, circa 1732
The exiled Protestants from Salzburg, circa 1732
- In 1734, a group of 300 Salzburgers sailed from England to Georgia. They arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on March 7, and proceeded to Savannah on March 12.
- James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony, met them upon arrival and assigned them the piece of land that would become Ebenezer.
- Ebenezer was established in 1734 by about 150 Salzburgers who had been expelled from the Catholic Archbishopric of Salzburg by a 1731 edict of Prince-archbishop Count Leopold Anton von Firmian.
- 2021: Wiki - Ebenezer, Georgia
- 42 Saltzburgers, with their wives and children, - numbering in all 78 souls, - set out from the town of bla-bla-bla...
- The Savannah river was entered by them on the 10th of March, 1734.
- 1878: Old and New Ebenezer
IncentivesTrustees of the Colony of Georgia advanced the funds necessary to defray the expenses of the journey and purchase the requisite sea-stores, but also to allot to each emigrant on his arrival in Georgia fifty acres of land in fee, and provisions sufficient to maintain himself and family until such land could be made available for support.
We have: Ebenezer is a ghost town in Effingham County, Georgia, along the banks of Ebenezer Creek. The town - Old Ebenezer - was established in 1734.
- With the consent of governor James Oglethorpe, New Ebenezer was moved closer to the Savannah River in 1736, and at its new location many silk mills were opened.
- KD: 150 emigrants really needed, and could run "many silk mills" in 1736 Georgia.
appears to be in support of a location not situated immediately next to the Savannah River:
- With the consent of governor James Oglethorpe, New Ebenezer was moved closer to the Savannah River in 1736.
The below 1777 map suggests that the above location is somewhat correct.
While, this 1764 map of the area explains that Old Ebenezer was south-west of the New one. Go figure...
But then we run into things like this 1878 excerpt, and the reported location of Old Ebenezer gets moved once again.
Naturally, it's either Springfield in 1878 was at a different place, or we cannot be 100% positive of where Old Ebenezer was.
By the way, the reason they had to move was because the original (old) Ebenezer was allegedly built in a swamp. This is what the lady in the below video says. The lady is definitely elderly, but with all due respect to her age, year 1734 took place many years before she was born. Yup, I am not a big believer in the narrative providing oral traditions.
- Note: James Oglethorpe chose their first settlement along the Savannah river...
- James Oglethorpe will also choose their second settlement.
While, at the moment, we do not really know where the Old town of Ebenezer was, we do appear to be (somewhat) positive on where New Ebenezer once stood. There is still an old church there, and the location does not appear to be disputed.
- As you can see, this Jerusalem Lutheran Church is located approximately 600 feet away from the river.
- In my book, this is close enough to be considered a river bank.
- Additionally, we have those unnatural angles indicative of a star shaped structure.
The below 1747 map has a star fort symbol next to the name Ebenezer. The location somewhat matches the current one, but the fort appears to be somewhat away from the Savanna River.
17471747 plan of the actual town of Ebenezer does not have any star forts on it.
Yet, we do have a plan showing the town of Ebenezer and its own star fort located directly next to the Savanna River. I do not know how old this plan is, but it was published in 1878.
We are being told that the map below was produced in 1607 by Mercator and Hondius. Let's ask ourselves an honest question.
- Are those tipi villages, or towns and cities?
- I drew the red longitudinal line through 32° N, because this is where we can find the city of Savannah today.
Let's continue with the map progression.
1671For a few years maps do not really change, but then there is a period, where I do not really understand the maps. You are more then welcome to take a look: Source + Source. When we make it to approximately 1745 we have this. On this particular map, we do have the Savannah River. If you can find the city of Savannah on this map, please let me know.
- Meanwhile, our insignificant Ebenezer of the Salzburgers is on the map.
1745On the below 1747 map we can see our Ebenezer. Well, at least one of the two.
1871I don't think there is much we can extract from the older maps. Let's move on.
The Salzburger's pastor, the Reverend Johann Martin Boltzius, sought to build "a religious utopia on the Georgia frontier." That idea was very successful for a time, and the economy thrived.
Jerusalem Lutheran Church
Jerusalem Lutheran Church
- Jerusalem Lutheran Church was completed in 1769, and is the fourth-oldest building in Georgia.
- The Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of the few buildings that has survived in Ebenezer, and is believed to have the oldest continuing congregation in the state.
The "church" was allegedly built in 1769. Were there any other brick buildings built once Salzburgers mastered the brick making process? It appears there were.
- Buildings next to the Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Ebenezer, Georgia
KD: This church (imho) looks like it was not a church when it was originally designed. What do I think it was?
- Remember those "many silk mills" that got opened at a new location? Well, this is exactly what I think it originally was.
- Something similar to this: Silk Mills of Mansfield
I suspect there was a whole silk mill complex (or something like that) at the site of the so-called New Ebenezer. May be it was not as big as the complex on the image below, but it had a similar setup.
- And judging by the nazi style work rules aka "church regulations", poor folks were worked hard.
KD: This is a town with one weird history. Here's what I think is weird.
- Where was the Old Ebenezer located?
- How many Salzburgers "established" the town? 300, 150 or 78?
- What happened to "50 acres per person" these particular Salzburgers were supposed to get?
- The New Ebenezer served as the capital of the state of Georgia in 1782.
- That is 4 years after it was "severely damaged" during the Revolutionary war.
- With Savanna 20 miles downstream, did they not have other alternatives for the capital?
- How big was this town, if it was granted the status of the state capital?
- The New Ebenezer was the county seat for two years, between 1797 and 1799.
- We appear to have no idea what the actual town of New Ebenezer looked like.
- I was unable to find a single sketch of the town.
- The town had its own orphanage.
- Church regulations governing citizens of the New Ebenezer sound strict enough to belong to a labor camp.
- Who built the star fort, and where did it go?
- In 1736 "at its new location many silk mills were opened".
- How many is many, and with what work force did they open "many silk mills" in 1736?
- In 1855 the town was allegedly occupying 1/4 square miles. Where did the rest of the town go?