Two projects scheduled to be ready for next year’s 275th anniversary of the Salzburgers landing in Georgia are on schedule.
The descendants of the Salzburgers, who emigrated from Germany, fleeing religious persecution, marked Landing Day on Saturday. By this time next year, the members of the Georgia Salzburger Society plan to have the letters of the Rev. Johann Martin Boltzius, the leader of the Ebenezer settlement, published and to have a bronze, life-size statue of him erected.
Work on the book of Boltzius’ letters is ongoing, with Dr. Russell Kleckley of Augsburg College in Minneapolis performing the translations.
“We started with some nervousness, and we knew it was going to be expensive,” said Vince Exley, the chairman of the book project committee.
After selecting the letters — Boltzius wrote about 150 of them from the settlement back to Germany — the process of converting the script from an archaic form of handwriting to a more modern version had to be done before translation of the letters could take place.
Exley said Kleckley may be able to reach a deal with a firm to publish the book at no charge. Exley said the firm Kleckley has been in touch with is a very highly-respected publisher of academic works.
“We are pleased with this opportunity,” he said. “They are confident in their skills to market their books.”
Exley said he was involved in getting the “Detailed Reports,” an 18-volume collection of the early settlers’ pastors’ journals, published through the University of Georgia Press.
“We never got such a deal from the University of Georgia. We always had to pay part of the publication costs,” he said. “Hopefully, (Dr. Kleckley) can nail down the contract with this publication house.”
William Holton Brown, who has translated many of Boltzius’ accounts of the Ebenezer settlement, said a lot of details from his letters were left out by Rev. Samuel Urlsperger, the German councilor for the settlement.
“He left out the unpleasant information or he altered it or he tried to edit it so it wouldn’t appear to be so unpleasant,” Brown said. “He was doing that mainly to encourage other people to emigrate to Georgia.”
Said GSS president Ann Purcell: “I found it fascinating to see what was deleted. Everything (left intact) was very positive. It was a rose garden without any thorns. But we see what our forefathers went through to survive.”
The transcribing and translating of Boltzius’ letters is about 80 percent done, Exley said.
The statue, estimated to cost about $45,000, will take about five months to complete once work begins. It is expected to be on the ground by next Landing Day, with the official unveiling and dedication to come at the Heritage Day event on Labor Day weekend.
“By the grace of God and your help, and your fine donations, we will have this statue on the ground next year and unveil it Labor Day,” statue committee chairwoman Martha Zeigler said.
The statue will be built on a foundation made of old brick from the floor of the first Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church. It will be placed halfway between the front door of the current church, which has stood since 1769, and the museum.