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Gnann sketch depicting 1800s Springfield discovered
Ech 7-19-07 Walter A
Walter Augustus Gnann was born Aug. 12, 1869.

Recently a folder of documents including handwritten rambling notes and an early map sketch of Springfield, as it would have appeared in 1800-1875, was discovered in the files of the Effingham County Board of Education.

This folder was labeled Walter A. Gnann and dated in the 1950s. It appears that the sketch was submitted to the Effingham County commissioners.

Walter A. Gnann of Stillwell was the father of Herman, Bertha, Edward, Sidney, Essie and Miriam Gnann. Grandchildren in the area include: Ava Hartzog, Walt Gnann, Ralph Gnann and Phillip Gnann. The following text was in Mr. Gnann’s handwriting and has been copied as could best be interpreted.

The following facts and dates gleaned from history and from my own memory of buildings that were standing in my early years as had been shown to me by my father (Cletus Gnann) who was born Feb. 27, 1819. He also pointed out to me old brick and clay remnants of chimneys of these that once stood to homes and other buildings that had been burned. Old fallen down chimneys were marks of old residences clear evidence of what had existed. Of course that which our father showed us reached back to probably – 1840 or perhaps earlier.

The sketch which I have drawn shows such marks. Two of these buildings were owned by McAllister folks and thought to have been destroyed during the Civil War. The Charlton home was also destroyed (1860-1865). The Old Methodist Church burned and the Old Academy burned in more recent years leaving eleven buildings. I personally remember 11 homes and the Academy and Methodist Church.

I am grateful to my friends who have entrusted me the honor of drawing such a sketch; I realize there are some variations in exact locations and distances apart, but they are only given as approximately correct. However it is only approximately correct as I have taken no measurements.

I wish to give due honor to my deceased father for having shown to me much of what had been there as a young boy and the marks of what had burned which I still remember very vividly. Cletus Gnann knew the whole situation and would show us children the old buildings and residences and tell us who was living in each place or homes.

I also give credit to my sister who passed her 95th birthday Dec. 29, 1955, and even yet has a good memory of things we could not forget.

My father was always delighted in taking his children when he went to Springfield and would tell us what they were- Courthouse, Academy and churches - also the homes and who occupied them. These things remain clear to me as a 10 or 12 year old boy down to the present day. My research has been interesting and while it has entailed lots of work in historical research and inquiring from many old citizens, I have enjoyed it. It is with a keen sense of my inability to draft a sketch or drawing of old Springfield as of its beginnings or very early days notating the old public buildings and dates of their construction or date authorizing their construction together with all of the old homes and store buildings.

It was quite a consideration or undertaking for one of my age, after so many years had passed. I found that I could recall much more than I had first expected so I accepted the challenge and will do my best.

We have been able to get a little information from some of the now old people whose memory only leads them back to or a little earlier than the beginning of the Civil War of 1860 to 1865.

The foregoing sketch or drawing of the early settlement of Springfield has been viewed by other persons here listed who are among the oldest descendants of Effingham County now living and compiled by knowledge their parents described to these children of their memory of the settlement as they could give by their personal memory as being as nearly correct as these citizens agree can be reasonably reproduced all of these signing being in ages ranging from 80 to 95 years: Miss Julia Gnann born Dec. 29, 1860, Mrs. Gugie Morgan born December 3, 1873, Mrs. Addie Neidlinger born January 29, 1869, Mrs. W. G. Wilson born June 22, 1867, Mr. W. A. Gnann born Aug. 12, 1869, Mrs. Neila Jaudon born June 18, 1869, John L. Arnsdorff born April 8, 1868, T. P. Edwards born April 8, 1876, Mrs. Anna Shearouse born Aug. 15, 1872, and Mrs. Katie Rahn born March 19, 1870.

In line after this and up to the memory of most of us now living is: Rev. and Mrs. Emanuel Heidt and family, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Biddenback, Joe Biddenback and wife, Samuel Biddenback, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Jaudon and family, Mr. and Mrs. John Hinely and family, Mr. and Mrs. Hibner (? spelling), A. J. Shearouse and family, G. H. Berry and family and W. A. Jaudon.

It seems that very little is known of the early days of Effingham County and Springfield.

No history exists of their beginning. It seems that the beginning was just a rural neighborhood of people settling and making their home in a very sparsely settled area. Only a few scattered homes in the black-jack and wire-grass hills which have now been abandoned-probably shortly after the arrival of the Salzburgers.

The Salzburgers first settled above three or four miles below what is now Springfield in 1734. They only remained there for a short time because of sickness and inconvenient modes of transportation. They had settled on the west side of Ebenezer Creek a short distance on the north side of what for years has been called Little Ebenezer that crossed the present highway; the settlement seemed to be in between or in the triangle between the creeks. The mode of traffic being in great part by water on Ebenezer Creek which was very crooked and said to be about 25 miles (by water) from their settlement to the Savannah River or about 6 miles by land. The colonists became dissatisfied as above stated and requested a change to New Ebenezer on the banks of the Savannah River which I related above only a few seemed to have settled here before they moved to the present Ebenezer.

See the second installment of Walter Gnann’s recollections in next Thursday’s Herald.