Tales of one of the Ebenezer settlement’s most famous residents helped Georgia Salzburgers pay homage to their heritage Monday.
With descendants of Georgia’s first constitutional governor, John Adam Treutlen, on hand, Salzburgers accepted the first two volumes of genealogical reports and a presentation of Old Ebenezer books from Newberry College.
"Why is heritage so important?" asked Rev. John Barichivich, who noted his ancestry is Scottish, German, Hungarian, Dutch, Welsh and Cajun, among others. "It’s who we are. It is your roots. It’s where you came from. It’s your blood. Your heritage informs you of who you are. And that’s why we’re gathered to share the story of our rich heritage."
Salzburgers of many generations packed the congregation at Jerusalem Lutheran Church. Rev. Barichivich noted that the buildings of the Ebenezer settlement are long gone, save for the church, which has survived 223 years.
"It was never about the town; it was never about the buildings. It was about God. It was about us. They did this for us. They want through all the suffering and the hardships for us. They gave us a rich history to celebrate and in strong faith, they point us to God.
"It may have been Gen. Oglethorpe and the king of England who granted the land on the Savannah River to the Salzburgers," Rev. Barichivich added, "but it was God who blessed them, and blesses us as well."
There will be a 21st-century twist to promoting the Salzburger heritage and the Ebenezer settlement. David Harris said the domain visitebenezer.com has been registered "so we can promote to the rest of the world the treasures we have."
"Essentially, it’s a three-part site," Harris said. "It’s intended to promote and provide tools for ways to plan their visit to local attractions."
Harris said visitors will be able to use their smartphones for a guided tour of the sites. He also urged using social media to spread the word about Ebenezer and the historic places.
"We all know social media is the hot topic of the day," he said. "Help those people share their wonderful experiences with their friends and family."
Rev. John Derrick, director of alumni affairs and church relations at Newberry (S.C.) College, presented seven old books from Ebenezer that had been housed at Newberry’s Wessels Library. The late Rev. Raymond Davis, who researched Salzburger history and culture, and Dr. Hermann Winde, a visiting German church scholar, identified the books in September 1989.
Richard Loper, former president of the Historic Effingham Society, discussed the mysterious circumstances of Gov. Treutlen, in particular the many stories of Treutlen’s death.
"There are many accounts of his death and who is responsible," Loper said. "His
memory has become entangled with weeds and briars. There is so much we don’t know about this man, John Adam Treutlen."
Also part of the day was an unveiling of a historical marker for the Jerusalem Church Cemetery.
Winners of the Hinely poster contest, with John Adamy Treutlen as the theme, were: adult-Catherine Doty, senior adult-Libby Heidt, elementary school-Claire Thomas; middle school-Alaena Kramer; high school-Jillia Kramer; and college-Brittany Purcell.