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Exploring the Georgia Salzburgers
Ech 2-13-19 Jerusalem Lutheran  Church.jpg
Jerusalem Lutheran Church built in 1769 at New Ebenezer.

On Sept. 2, 1925, Dr. Richard Gnann invited 35 Salzburger descendants to a meeting at the Jerusalem Lutheran Church at Ebenezer to begin an organization of the direct descendants of the Salzburgers.

Seventeen of those invited attended the founding meeting of the Georgia Salzburger Society. They were: W. R. Fetzer, Dr. A. D. Gnann, Alvin O. Gnann, Byron Gnann, C. Bowers Gnann, Pearl Rahn Gnann, Dr. Richard Gnann, Walter A. Gnann, Perry Kessler, Herbert Reisser, John W. Reisser, G. W. Seckinger, Harvey Seckinger, Bartow W. Waldhour, Blois C. Zeigler and son Ralph.

Dr.  Richard Gnann called the meeting to order. Walter A. Gnann was elected chairman and Dr. Richard L. Gnann was appointed treasurer to serve until permanent officers were elected. A constitution and by-laws committee was appointed consisting of: Richard L. Gnann, Julian Shearouse, L. Frank Grovenstein, Herbert A. Reisser and George W. Fetzer.

The second meeting was held at the courthouse on Dec. 9, 1925. Temporary officers were elected: President Walter A. Gnann, Vice President Harvey L. Seckinger, Secretary Richard L. Gnann. D.D.S.. and Treasurer William D. Gnann. An Executive Committee was established. 

The next meeting established a permanent meeting time for the GSS as March 12, the anniversary of the arrival of the Salzburgers in 1734. Permanent officers elected were: President Richard L. Gnann, D.D.S., Vice President Harvey L. Seckinger, Secretary Julian H. Shearouse and Treasurer William G. Gnann. The Executive Committee elected C. Bowers Gnann, Blois C. Zeigler and George Q. Rahn for March 12, 1926-1929; John W. Reisser – chairman, Joshua A. Helmly and Mrs. Maude Arden March 12, 1926-1928; Gideon W. Seckinger, Miss Susie Gnann and Mrs. B. W. Cubbedge March 12, 1926-1927; and  Ex Officio William G. Gnann and Julian Shearouse.

There were 180 charter members of the GSS. The main objective of the society was to perpetuate the memory and foster the principles and virtues of the early settlers in Georgia of Salzburger origin and of their descendants to aid in the preservation of landmarks and monuments of these settlers, and to preserve records of documentary heritage as related to the history and folklore of these descendants, along with other phases of cultural programs. 

The society continues with a large membership now and continues to preserve history and traditions of the early settlers at Old Ebenezer and New Ebenezer as well as genealogical research of the descendants of the original settlers.

Today, the Georgia Salzburger Society meets annually in Jerusalem Lutheran Church on the Saturday closest to March 12 known as Landing Day and on Labor Day known as Heritage Day in September. A Board of Directors and officers govern the organization today. 

This year, the Landing Day Celebration will be held on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Speaker for the day will be local historian Norman Turner discussing the early days of the Ebenezer Settlement. Mark your calendar. Tours of Old Ebenezer will follow the meeting with Norman Turner as guide.

The organization has three buildings which are operated and maintained by the GSS near Jerusalem Church.  We will discuss them over the next few weeks. 

This was written by Susan Exley from Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 912-754-6681 or email