Every year on Labor Day there is a gathering at New Ebenezer of descendants of the original settlers. They come from all over the country and Georgia to get reacquainted, talk, and worship together. No one lives in New Ebenezer any longer, but these people share a common past. Amy Lebey, the Salzburger historian, tells why these Lutheran people moved from Salzburg, Austria to the Georgia colony in the 1700s. In Austria, the Catholic bishop gave them the choice of giving up their faith and staying or moving out. They chose to leave even though they lost everything. Georgia was very different from Salzburg, and it took a lot of adjusting to make Georgia their new home. The first settlement failed because it was located on a swamp, and the poor water and mosquitoes nearly wiped it out. After the move to New Ebenezer, the people wanted to build a church of brick, and it still stands today. The structure is unique because the handmade bricks show the hand and finger prints of those who made them. New Ebenezer was a victim in two American wars. The town was burned during the American Revolution and again by Sherman’s troops in the Civil War. The church still stands and the people return to reconnect with their past.
Teacher tip: After listening to Salzburger descendants talk with one another, discuss why it is important to reconnect friends and relatives who share a common past.