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Dedicating the Loest Research Library
Alice Rahn Loest
The late Miss Alice Rahn Loest, library benefactor - photo by Photo provided

This year during the Georgia Salzburger Society annual fall meeting on Labor Day, the Alice Rahn Loest Research Library will be dedicated in the Georgia Salzburger Society Museum. The library has been made possible by a generous gift from the estate of the late Miss Alice Rahn Loest of Jacksonville, Fla.

Miss Alice was the granddaughter of the late Rev. Sheppard Seneca Rahn (1845-1911), a prominent Lutheran minister born and reared in Effingham and for whom she received her middle name. Her grandfather’s photo is in the Georgia Salzburger Society Old Parsonage Building at New Ebenezer, 2980 Ebenezer Rd.

In the 1980s, Miss Alice discovered a map of Bethany in a book that had belonged to her grandfather. It was drawn by her grandfather. Bethany was the settlement of the Swabian transports (early 1750s) just north of New Ebenezer on what was first called Blue Bluff.  Her cousin Milton “M.H.” Rahn and Rev. Raymond Davis drove to Jacksonville to see the old map.

With this information, an archeological dig confirmed the location of the old cemetery at Bethany known as the Crews Cemetery (after the Revolutionary War, the land was purchased by a family named Crews and thus the cemetery name). This 100-acre tract at one time was a plantation operated as the Minister’s Plantation, and there was at one time a church and school there as well. Settlers at Bethany received grants of land and the preacher’s allotment was to generate income for the livelihood of the pastors and settlement.

Proud of her Salzburger heritage, Miss Alice was a member of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, where she made her home. A dedicated member of the church, she was a member of the Rebecca Circle and past president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Women of the Florida Bahamas Synod. She was active in the Lutheran Retirement Auxiliary and a member of the Story Tellers League.

Miss Alice was organist and choir director of several churches and loved working with children’s groups. She also taught piano and organ lessons.  She was the last in her lineage, having been preceded in death by her sister Nancy Joanne Loest, and brothers Ernest and William F. Loest Jr.

The mission of the Loest Research Library is to collect and make available for research quality genealogical and historical data relevant to the Salzburger-German community of Ebenezer. It is located in the corner upper room of the GSS Museum. The emphasis for research is primary sources of the 18th century. The committee for the library consists of: chairman Vincent Exley, vice chair Barbara Rahn Scott, Henry Mingledorff III and Flarleen Young. Libby A. Heidt, Debra Herrin and Sandy Mingledorff are volunteers who supplement the committee in staffing the library during its hours of operation.

Resources include: “The Colonial Records of Georgia (26 Volumes), A List of the Early Settlers of Georgia” by Coulter and Saye, “The Entry of Claims for Georgia Landholders 1733-55” by Bryant, “English Crown Grants in St. Matthews Parish is Georgia 1755-75” by Hemperly, “Ebenezer Record Book” by Jones and Exley, “Detailed Reports of the Salzburger Emigrants who Settled America” (18 Volumes) by Jones, “Henry Newman’s Salzburger Letterbooks” by Jones, “The Salzburger Expulsion Lists” by Rohrbach, “The Letters of Johann Martin Boltzius Lutheran Pastor at Ebenezer” by Kleckley and many more. There are family histories and other scholarly resources. About 130 sources are available with the library continuing to grow.

The library will be “officially opened” on Labor Day following the dedication. The Research Library will be open Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 p.m. After Labor Day, the library hours will be Saturdays from 3-5 p.m. and other hours by appointment.

Join the Georgia Salzburgers on Monday for our annual Labor Day Heritage Festival.  The grounds and exhibits open at 10 a.m.  Stop at the historic lemonade barrel, visit the market platz, buy food and wander through the demonstrations and GSS Museum and historic buildings. There will be children’s activities and a poster contest. Vincent Exley, genealogical historian, will be the guest speaker during the morning session and worship service beginning in Jerusalem Lutheran Church’s sanctuary at 11 a.m.  Admission is free.

This was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. Information came from the GSS and Vincent Exley.If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: