By: Annemarie Lisko, UA undergraduate
This is the third post of a five-part series on Dr. Cardon’s English 103 classes and their project using Special Collections materials to create a physical display for exhibition in the W.S. Hoole Library Lobby. Read the first and second posts which provide an overview of the class and project. Come back tomorrow for our interview with Lisko. We’ll also cover the exhibition reception next Monday.
The events that brought my ancestors to America began in Salzburg (part of modern-day Austria) in 1731. In that year, the archbishop of Salzburg passed the Edict of Expulsion against Protestants. To escape persecution, the Salzburger Protestants were forced to flee the country. Sympathetic English supervisors of the colony of Georgia offered land to the Salzburger refugees, and the first group crossed the Atlantic in 1734. They settled in Effingham County, Georgia, founding the town of Ebenezer. Though my ancestor George Gnann did not live in Salzburg itself (he was a potter from the small town of Langenau, Germany), he and his family were among the many Protestants from the lands surrounding Salzburg who set out for Georgia in the years following the Edict of Expulsion. The Gnanns—George and his wife Anna; their three sons Andrew, Michael, and Jacob; and George’s brother, also named Jacob—sailed, via England, on board the ship Antelope, arriving on October 23, 1751 and taking up residence in Ebenezer.
In Ebenezer—which was named for a Biblical word meaning “Thus far the Lord has helped us”—the Gnanns found a vibrant religious community. Under the Edict of Expulsion, even the ownership of a Lutheran Bible such as this one (published in Germany in 1700, now kept in the University of Alabama’s Hoole Special Collections Library) had become a crime that would have resulted in the punishment of the owner and the burning of the book. But in Georgia, the Salzburgers and their countrymen were free to practice their religion in peace and safety. Pictured at the left is the Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church, built by the townspeople of Ebenezer in 1769 and still standing today.
The Gnanns were active members of this church, as evidenced by a document preserved in Rev. Philip A. Strobel’s 1855 history text, The Salzburgers and Their Descendants. A transcription of the congregation members’ signatures (as of January 1775), found on pages 180 and 181 of this book, includes the names of George, Andreas [Andrew], and Jacob Gnann. Their names are also recorded elsewhere in the same book, on a list of Ebenezer citizens who opposed the American Revolution. Interestingly, though, Jacob and Andrew Gnann later actually did serve in the war, fighting to defend their new county—their names are now inscribed on the Wall of Veterans in the Veterans Park of Effingham County.
Many descendants of George Gnann and his family have continued to reside in Georgia and throughout the rest of the South ever since arriving there in 1751. In 1932, my grandmother, Virginia Davey Gnann (a 7th-generation descendant of George Gnann), was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and my mother and her siblings were raised there as well. My family moved away from Florida when I was seven, but I nevertheless have always considered myself to be a Southerner too.
Biblia. Preface by J.M. Dillherr. Nurenburg, Germany: n.p., 1700.
Alvarez, Travis, comp. Descendants of Jose Alvarez. Houston: n.p., 2002. Print.
Alvarez, Travis. Joseph “Jose” Alvarez: His Descendants. Houston: n.p., . Print.
Alvarez, Travis, comp. Elizabeth Alvarez & Her Descendants. n.p.: n.p., 2003. Print.
Davis, Robert. Georgia Citizens and Soldiers of the American Revolution. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1979. Print.
Edict of Expulsion (Emigrationspatent). Archbishop Count Leopold von Firmian, 31 Oct. 1731. Historical Text Archive, 1990-2014. Web. 6 Nov. 2014
Gnann, Pearl. Georgia Salzburgers and Allied Families. 3rd ed. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1956. Print.
The Gnanns in America: From 1820 to 1997. n.p.: Halbert’s, 1997. Print.
“London, August 28.” The Boston Post-Boy. 11 Nov. 1751. America’s Historical Newspapers. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
Strobel, Philip A. The Salzburgers and Their Descendants: Being the History of a Colony of German (Lutheran) Protestants, Who Emigrated to Georgia in 1734 and Settled at Ebenezer, Twenty-Five Miles Above the City of Savannah. Baltimore: T. Newton Kurtz, 1855. First Edition.
Perry, Frank. “Catholics Cleanse Salzburg of Protestants.” Historical Text Archive. Donald J. Mabry/Historical Text Archive, 1990-2014. Web. 6 Nov. 2014.
Purvis, Linda. “Jerusalem (Ebenezer) Church, Near Savannah, GA.” Photograph. Pinterest, 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
“The Salzburgers.” The Official Website of the Georgia Salzburger Society. Georgia Salzburger Society, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.
Volkhardt, Davey. “The Alvarez-Gnann Connection.” Comp. Travis Alvarez. Joseph “Jose” Alvarez: His Descendants. Houston, n.p., 2002. xx-xxii. Print.