March 12

German Salzburgers Arrive in Georgia

March 12, 1734 - Savannah, Ebenezer

Their arrival in Georgia on this date in 1734 heralded the beginning of one of the most culturally distinctive communities in Georgia.

The Catholic Archbishop of Salzburg expelled German Protestants from the region in present-day Austria in 1731, and England’s King George II offered them refuge in the new colony of Georgia. Some 300 Salzburgers following Pastor Johann Martin Bolzius accepted the invitation. General Oglethorpe greeted the exiles in Savannah, and they travelled 25 miles upriver and founded the town of Ebenezer in what is now Effingham County.

The Salzburgers’ deep spirituality, strong work ethic, and independent spirit served the community well; they thrived in the years before the American Revolution and built the first water-driven Grist Mill in Georgia, and established the first Sunday school and the first orphanage.

The community suffered British occupation during the Revolution, but the Jerusalem Church founded by Bolzius still stands, a gathering place for the descendants of the exiled German protestants who arrived in the colony on March 12, 1734, Today in Georgia History.