Guten Tag Bubba: Germans in the Colonial South

Guten Tag Bubba: Germans in the Colonial South

Daniel T. Elliott and Rita Folse Elliott

SHA 2000, Quebec

Abstract

“As American as hot dogs and apple pie”…could have easily have become “as American as bratwurst and strudel”. During the colonial period numerous German settlements populated the Carolinas and more than one-third of Georgia consisted of German immigrants. Where were these settlements and how did they affect the American south? This paper presents an overview of these settlements while examining some of the more germane results of archaeological excavations among them. It highlights the site of New Ebenezer, in colonial Georgia, to provide a more specific view of German life in one such settlement. How did the British government, other colonists, and German settlers define colonial German culture in southern America? When and how did the parameters of German culture change? Is “Germaness” reflected in the material culture recovered archaeologically and can the process of German acculturation or non-acculturation be isolated in the archaeological record?

Guten Tag Bubba: Germans in the Colonial South

Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology

January 2000, Quebec

Daniel T. Elliott and Rita Folse Elliott

Southern Research Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc.

Columbus, Georgia

Written Draft Version


King George I was a German, as was George II and George III. The ethnicity of England’s 18th century monarchs is often overlooked, yet it undoubtedly played a role in stocking the American colonies. Historians estimate that at least 65,000, and perhaps as many as 100,000 Germans immigrated to colonial America (Moltman 1982:9). The most well-known example of such German settlement is the Pennsylvania Dutch, although German Lutheranism was firmly established in Georgia eight years prior to Pennsylvania’s Lutheran beginnings (Bernheim 1872:ix). The Southeastern colonies, especially Georgia and the Carolinas could boast as much as one-half of their populations as German. Political boundaries in Europe in the 18th century were dynamic and contained no specific country called “Germany”; so who were these Germans? The British government defined ethnicity according to language spoken. Immigrants from Alsac, Austria, Bohemia, Herrnhut, Hungary, Moravia, the Palatinate region (that is the area of Heidelberg by the Rhine River), Salzburg, Saxony, Swabia, Switzerland, Wurttemberg, and Wurzburg, were lumped into the category “German” because they spoke the German language. This commonality was cosmetic on one level, however, as the language was divided into High and Low German, and contained Bavarian, Silesian, Rhenish-Franconian, and many other dialects. When the German Lutheran minister Johann Boltzius met his new German congregation prior to their trans-Atlantic voyage to Georgia, he could not understand their dialect, nor they his, even though all were “German”. So where did these British-defined German immigrants to the colonial Southeast settle and how did they: define themselves; interact with each other; acculturate; and thrive or perish? How did they affect southern culture and what markers of ethnicity did they leave in the archaeological record?

Colonial German settlement in America began in earnest in 1709 and ended in 1783, and included areas of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and what is now North and South Carolina. This paper will focus on the Germans who settled pre-Revolutionary War Georgia and the Carolinas. Towns settled by German immigrants were established for one or more of the following reasons: as a haven from religious persecution; as a place of economic opportunity to provide trades, land, farms, and freedom from enormous European tax burdens; as a place of civil freedoms; as a buffer from Spanish and Native American aggression towards already established settlements; and as a place to produce raw materials for the British empire. From a German perspective, the freedoms were highlighted in a recruiting statement made by Johannes Tobler who told Germans contemplating emigration to America, “People are free and everyone, so to speak, a little king, a fact which cannot be changed…” (Tobler 1740).

The areas of settlement in much of Georgia and the Carolinas offered to German colonists were often inferior to areas provided for English settlement. This is obvious in Georgia trustee’s policy of reserving settlement along the prime lands of the Savannah River for the English, rather than Germans. Also, the English were first into much of the central South Carolina region and were able to choose the choicest properties. Later influx of Germans, however, resulted in decreased English settlement. This decrease was not due to any ethnic hostilities, but rather to the fact that later areas of settlement lacked the natural resources that the English deemed necessary for habitation. The Germans could not be so particular.

From the establishment of New Bern, North Carolina in 1709 to the beginnings of the later Moravian towns in the 1770s, nearly two dozen predominantly German settlements were located in colonial Georgia and the Carolinas. Some settlements encountered a swift demise, or were not populated by a German majority. The earliest documented settlement was in 1674, when a small group of Deutsch Lutherans established the settlement of Jamestown on James Island, South Carolina. It was unsuccessful and was abandoned within a few years. Germans came into Charleston after 1708 and successfully settled that city, in addition to English, Irish, and other ethnic immigrants. Many other settlements consisted of greater percentages of German colonists and became successfully established in the Carolinas and Georgia.

A total of 1,500 Swiss and Palatinate Germans established the town of New Berne on the North Carolina coast in 1709. There, Swiss Baron Christopher de Graffenreid purchased 10,000 acres and established the settlement at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers. The Tuscarora War of 1711 resulted in Indian attacks and at least 60 German deaths in New Berne (Bernheim 1872:72). The New Berne settlement survived the war by remaining neutral and in 1714 its residents successfully petitioned for more land. Although New Berne represents the single largest influx of German settlement, the settlers quickly dispersed and most German aspects of the town, other than its name, are gone. One faction of this settlement splintered and established a town in interior Virginia.


In 1732 the town of Purysburg was established in South Carolina, across the Savannah River from where New Ebenezer would be located four years later. This large, planned town contained 450 lots, of which only 200 at most were ever occupied. Germans constituted one quarter of the 500 Purysburgers, with Swiss and French making up the remainder (Meriwether 1940:35). The urban architect of Purysburg, Jean Pierre Pury, died within a few years of the town’s founding. Purysburg suffered for lack of leadership, although the town persisted as an urban center into the early 19th century.

In 1734 a group of persecuted Lutheran pietists who were expelled from Salzburg by the Catholic princes journeyed to the colony of Georgia where they settled the town of Ebenezer, on a tributary of the Savannah River. After two grueling years at an ill-suited location that did not allow access to river transportation, and the deaths of one-third of the original Salzburger settlers from dysentery, typhus, and other illnesses, the colonial trustees allowed the survivors to relocate to a bluff on the Savannah River a few miles away. It took the Salzburgers two years to convince the Georgia Trustees and James Oglethorpe to disregard their stated ethnic policies reserving the Savannah River for English settlers (Jones 1969:6). New Ebenezer was peopled with several more transports of Germans consisting predominantly of non-Salzburgers. By the 1760s Ebenezer was a thriving township of 800-1,000 Germans and townspeople helped establish the satellite communities of Abercorn, Bethany, Halifax, Goshen, New Gottingen, and Zion. Religious and political infighting and alternating occupations of British and American forces during the Revolutionary War permanently crippled the town of New Ebenezer.

In 1735 the Lutheran settlement of Orangeburg was established on a tributary of the Edisto River, adjacent to the town of Amelia in South Carolina. This tributary lacked navigability due to its narrowness and many obstacles. Thus, Orangeburg settlers suffered the same riverine transportation problems as did colonists at Ebenezer. In spite of this major hurdle, by 1753 Orangeburg was reportedly as densely occupied as Saxe-Gotha, and inhabited mostly by Germans (Tobler 1753). An estimated 800 settlers resided in the township by 1759 (Meriwether 1940:46). The present-day town of Orangeburg, which has shifted from the original site, exhibits no obvious signs of its German beginnings.

In 1735 the Moravians, led by August Spangenberg, established a foreign mission in coastal Georgia at the Irene settlement on Pipemaker’s Creek. Their goal was to proselytize to the Native Americans. The increasing threat of Spanish attack in the Savannah area and Savannah’s citizens efforts to bolster the town’s defenses led to friction with the Moravians, who were avowed pacifists. After five years the dozen families living there grew tired of local attempts to force them into military defense of the colony, and they “…saw no other prospect…but to forsake their flourishing little settlement and emigrate for the North” [that is, Pennsylvania] (Henry 1859:103).

In 1737 New Windsor was established in South Carolina, southeast of Augusta, Georgia, on the Savannah River. The township was settled predominantly by Swiss Germans, and it maintained a steady total population of around 300 people between 1738 and 1760 (Meriwether 1940:67). This population also included a number of Indian traders who influenced the local economy.


The township of Saxe-Gotha was established in 1737. An observer named Riemensperger reported back to Germans in Europe that “no township as yet is reported its equal for good land…[It] is only 125 miles from Charleston and on the Great Santee River, and people can go from here at will with heavily laden boats to trade by water when enough boatmen come here to settle and establish themselves…The trail here is cut through the forest wide enough so that people can travel by land in wagons back and forth to Charles Town” (Riemensperger 1740). Riemensperger’s recruiting was a success and between 1744-50 a large influx of settlers arrived, mostly from the Rhine area. Documents indicate that the Saxe-Gotha congregation consisted of about 280 people in 1750 (Bernheim 1872:142). In 1759-60 the Cherokee War affected townspeople and later the American Revolution destroyed the town’s church (Bernheim 1872:147.)

Between one-half to two-thirds of Germans immigrating to the colonies did so through indentured servitude. This practice was encouraged by tracts being circulated across Europe. Riemensperger, for example, returned to Europe from the Carolinas in 1740 with testimonials signed by German colonists. Riemensperger’s tract encouraged emigration by explaining indentured servitude in this fashion: “Also it is well known that in Germany and Switzerland there are poor, unemployed hardworking people who would delight themselves in this gift of land [that is, the 50 acre headright], but who cannot afford the expense of the passage across the sea. Arrangements are such that laborers and tradespeople of all sorts and kinds who scarcely know how to make a living in Germany or Switzerland can live in plenty here [in what is now South Carolina] and in a short time make themselves well-to-do” (Riemensperger 1740). Such marketing of the colonies by Riemensperger and others was successful. Recruits who survived the voyage and their five to seven years of indentured servitude were free to establish a household on their own.

One example of this is the Georgia coastal town of Vernonburg, settled by Swiss-German indentured servants who had worked off their five-year indenture. At Vernonburg such “redemptioners” were given land and some tools by British colonial trustees to facilitate their independence. Established in 1742, Vernonburg was also a planned settlement that later evolved into a primarily ethnic British village.

Fort Frederica was a major British outpost located on Georgia’s St. Simon’s Island. One lesser known section of the settlement was called the “German Village” and was home to a small contingent of about 70 Germans. These Germans built most of the houses in Frederica. By 1747, however, all but two families had left Fort Frederica after the fort’s military regiment was removed. Presumably, the German Village was abandoned at the same time.

By 1750 German colonists, including Lutherans and Reformed Germans, were emigrating from Pennsylvania in a steady trickle via the Shenandoah River valley, to settle in the southeast. In 1753 the Moravians established themselves in an area of the Yadkin River valley called “Wachovia” or “Wachau” near present-day Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They established the town of Bethabara that year and then constructed Bethany and Salem nearby in the ensuing 13 years. The Moravians established three additional settlement in Wachovia between 1769-1772 (Bernheim 1872:159). All of these pacifist communities suffered during the American Revolution, but the Moravian element remains vibrant in this region today.

Londonderry was a settlement of several hundred Palatines that was established in the South Carolina Piedmont, near the French town of New Bordeaux, northeast of Augusta, Georgia. The town did not prosper and it is one of the least known German settlements.


How did these Germans, dispersed across the colonial frontier, define themselves in this foreign land? Apparently there were two major criteria that colonial Germans used to define themselves. The first was geography, or the location of their motherland. Émigrés came from Austria, Bohemia, Herrnhut, Hungary, Moravia, the Palatinate, Salzburg, Saxony, Wurttemberg, and Wurzberg. The majority of Germans to America immigrated from the area that is now southern Germany. The second, and perhaps most important way colonial Germans defined themselves was by their religious theology. Some of the principal divisions were: Lutheran, Reformed (such as Calvinists and Presbyterian), Moravian, Episcopal, and Anabaptists (Mennonites and Amish). Among these were further divisions according to nuances of orthodoxy. For example, among the Lutherans were a pietist sect represented in its strictest form by Pastor Johann Boltzius and the New Ebenezer settlers. Germans of various denominations, or even among their own denominations, did not always condone each other’s habits. For instance the Lutheran pietists at New Ebenezer viewed the Moravians, who were the model for Lutheranism, as “disruptive innovators” because of the Moravian’s religious practices and communal living (Jones 1969:4). In spite of differences of opinion among various religious sects, there seems to have been a generally prevalent, over-riding attitude of ethnic cooperation. Johan Tobler wrote back to his countrymen in Switzerland that, “…there are Germans everywhere who are glad to advise and help new arrivals until they get on their feet (Tobler 1753)

In spite of the isolation of the frontier and the lack of communication technology that we so heavily depend upon today, the colonial Germans were surprisingly adept at inter- and intra-colonial and global communication. This network involved many of the major “movers and shakers” of the period, in Europe and America. The principal facilitators of missionary communication were European Institutions, including the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge; the Society for Promulgating the Gospel, the Moravian home church in Herrnhut, and the Francke Institute. For example, the Francke Institute in Halle (in the former East German Republic), encouraged their Lutheran missionaries to write long and frequent letters about the condition of their settlement. In turn G. A. Francke, aided by Samuel Urlsperger, who was the head of Evangelical Lutheran missions in Augsburg, read, edited, and published these accounts in Europe and/or redistributed them to their other missions in colonial America and around the world. This redistribution served multiple purposes: it allowed the leaders of the outlying missions to discover news on a local, regional, and global level; it allowed them to draw moral support from other missions; it helped raise financial support from benefactors in Europe and other areas; it allowed missionary leaders to petition for specific needs such as medicine, funds, and minsters; it kept Institute leaders current on mission status; and it enabled them to send advice and encouragement in return letters.

German missionaries took the task of communication seriously. Ebenezer’s Pastor Boltzuis wrote letters directly to General Oglethorpe and other trustees of Georgia, to Samuel Urlsperger, to the SPCK, who helped sponsor the settlers, and to other influential Europeans (Loewald et al 1957:219). Boltzius also maintained a diary at New Ebenezer throughout his life, sending entries back to the Francke Institute. These entries constitute 18 published volumes today, and offer a wealth of data to historical archaeologists about everything from who sinned to how much rain fell on a particular day. Frederica’s pastor Driessler also wrote letters to the Francke Institute, many a thousand lines long (Jones 1996:7). Driessler and Boltzius often wrote each other directly, as did Boltzius and Johannes Tobler of New Windsor. Written correspondence was also encouraged among the Moravians, whose missionaries kept detailed accounts of their work in the new World. The Moravian leaders Count Zinzendorf and August Gottlieb Spangenberg, who traveled between headquarters in Herrnhut, Europe and in Pennsylvania received communiques from the North Carolina missions and sent replies in return. The North Carolina Moravian records, written well into the nineteenth century, are published in a multi-volume series (Fries 1905, 1968).


German colonists were acculturated on one level but maintained their identity on another. Acculturation was rapid in practices dependent on survival, such as food and shelter, and much slower in matters such as religion and language. Numerous contemporary testimonials, accounts, and letters reveal that the New World was constantly compared to the old in terms of environment, botanical and animal specimens, weather, and geography. The limited and irregular shipment of supplies to the far-flung German settlements across the southern frontier, however, demanded that the settlers learn to use the natural resources available, no matter how foreign those resources might look or taste. Frederica’s Lutheran pastor Driessler wrote of brewing “small beer”, made by boiling a handful of roasted Indian corn in an iron pot with water, wood, sassafras, and molasses. English beer was too expensive and “as sour as vinegar” and the price of wine was “prohibitive” (Jones 1996:20). Driessler reported, “For lack of tea we have fetched cassina leaves in the forest…[for] cassina tea. My family has brewed Indian corn like coffee… (Jones 1996:21). But in true stoic, pietist Lutheran tradition Driessler admits that while, “Both [the tea and corn coffee] taste very bad, to be sure, yet we praise the Lord for not letting it harm us” (Jones 1996:21). Driessler reports that both, “The Germans and Englishmen eat raccoons and opossum meat like the Indians, but I can’t eat any of it because they look frightful like wild cats or half apes…” (Jones 1996:21). Frederica’s Germans also ate fish (though they were reportedly not as good as German fish), smoked mullet, raw oysters drizzled with orange juice, palmetto stalks, and sweet potatoes. They planted cabbage, greens, herbs, turnips, and watermelons, in addition to apple, orange and peach trees. The New Ebenezer Germans taught those at Frederica to “…boil Indian corn in water and afterwards put the dough on the fire” to make a bread (Jones 1996:21-22). Frequently the Frederica Germans survived on nothing but rice boiled in water with bear oil or lard, while awaiting word of provisions from England (Jones 1996:23).

In some ways, acculturation was encouraged by Germans. Johannes Tobler’s treatise encouraged other Germans not to “shy away from living among the English; they are, most of them, industrious people and good neighbors” (Tobler 1753). Interestingly, Tobler encouraged German settlement among the English rather than living among some Germans. Tobler told European Germans, “Whoever wants to come to America should not go to Pennsylvania. This place is good, to be sure, but it is a cold, wintry land so that the rivers [one and a half miles] wide freeze…Moreover, this province is as densely settled as Germany, and the land is expensive to buy…”(Tobler 1753). Obviously the intemperate weather and the price of land was viewed as a much larger problem than living among the English. The fact that Pennsylvania was heavily settled by Moravians also may have influenced the advice given by the Reformed Calvinist, Tobler. The relationship between the English and Germans could be seen in religion, as well. The Germans and English often shared minister. New Windsor lacked a minster, and made use of Reverend Zublin (or Zubly), who preached in both English and German to accommodate everyone in the area. Zublin’s father-in-law Tobler reported, “…many English people come here on Sunday, so that my living room…can hardly contain them” (Tobler 1753). Likewise, Orangeburg’s church record book was completed in German and English by two pastors, both named Giesendanner (Bernheim 1872:100-102).


The questions of acculturation and ethnicity are just two of the many fascinating subjects regarding German colonial sites in the southeast. Unfortunately, archaeology has been conducted on very few of these sites. This is one cause of the difficulty in determining German ethnic markers in the archaeological record. The only sites examined by archaeologists to date include: some of the Wachovia settlements in North Carolina; Dutch Fork, New Windsor, Purysburg, and Saxe-Gotha, South Carolina; and Irene, Old and New Ebenezer, Vernonburg, and Bethany, Georgia. Even this list is deceptive, as investigations conducted on some of the sites have been extremely limited in scope and often having consisted only of preliminary survey or reconnaissance data. The most intensive level investigations have been conducted at the following settlements: the Moravians at Wachovia’s Bethabara and Salem; the Swiss at New Windsor; the Lutheran Salzburgers at New Ebenezer; and the Swiss and Palatines at Vernonburg.

One marker of German ethnicity in the archaeological record may be found in ceramics. Jean Pierre Pury’s promotional treatise reported that in 1731, “There is not one potter in all the Province [of what is now South Carolina], and no earthenware but what comes from England, nor glass of any kind; so that a pot-house and a good glass house would succeed perfectly well, not only for Carolina but for all the other colonies in America” (Pury 1731). Pury’s wish was soon granted. A locally made coarse earthenware has been excavated at New Ebenezer from contexts as early as the 1740s. This pottery consists of a buff colored paste and either has no exterior treatment, or has a slip which is most often a yellow or yellowish green. Vessel forms include large cream pans, saucers, and jars. The New Ebenezer potter, George Gnann, was probably responsible for making some of the later vessels, but the maker of the earlier ware has not been identified. Archaeologists have recovered significant amounts of this drab coarse earthenware pottery from within a 10 mile radius of New Ebenezer but it is less common beyond that. Morphologically, the Ebenezer coarse earthenware resembles the Moravian slipware that was being manufactured in North Carolina during this period. The latter tended to be much more colorful and ornate than the plain, austere wares influenced by the pietistic Lutherans. Vessel forms were similar in some cases, however, such as the cream pans and plates.

Another potential marker of German ethnicity may involve architecture. The Moravians in Bethabara, North Carolina initially constructed hastily built log cabins. The following year, in 1754, they constructed the sleeping hall, a clapboard structure which was converted into a barn within a few years. They erected the dwelling house for strangers, or non-Moravian visitors, that same year built of log construction with a gabled end-chimney and a gabled roof (Idol et al 1996:2). Moravian drawings and diary accounts offer conflicting information as to what variation of the Alpine-Alemannic architecture was used at Bethabara. Diary accounts support a hewn-beamed and chinked structure. Drawings indicate that the structure would have had solid plank walls held at the corners by grooves in the corner posts (Idol et al 1996:3). Moravian architecture in North Carolina is marked by extensive use of stone in cellar construction, an attribute not seen in any of the German settlements in the coastal plain where stone is scarce. Orangeburg Germans also used wood and clay construction in the building of their original church, which fell into ruins by the 1770s (Bernheim 1872:124). In comparison, limited excavation at New Ebenezer has uncovered architectural elements that suggest in-ground posts structures with mud and stick chimneys (Smith 1986; Elliott 1990). The only surviving colonial house in Ebenezer, a 1750s timber frame and clapboard construction with sills resting on wooden piers. This house, however, has been relocated several times, so the foundation construction is altered. The house site excavated at New Windsor indicates post-in-ground architecture and limited use of brick (Crass et al 1997). A scarcity of brick is also a hallmark of New Ebenezer, except in the case of their main brick church, which was completed in 1769.


German ethnicity may be found in the reed stemmed, molded tobacco pipes made by the Moravians in the Wachovia settlements. These pipes are most commonly associated with potter Gottfried Aust, who was Bethabara’s potter from 1755. Similar pipes have been recovered from other German settlements in Pennsylvannia (Walker 1975:107). Only one example was excavated from New Ebenezer. While Moravian pottery also was popular with non-Germans, it may be that these specific pipes can still serve as ethnic German markers. This would be especially true if they are found to have been more popular among Germans than other groups.

A fourth indicator of German ethnicity may possibly involve medicines. Contemporary and modern historians have admitted that the Moravians were “ahead of their time in pharmacology and were quick to have their own apothecary and medicinal herb garden” (Moravian Museum at Bethlehem 1999). The colonists at New Ebenezer also had “…quite well prepared medicines from England and Halle”. In addition to these, they experimented with various herbs and medicines which they used among themselves and sold to other settlements. Their interest in remedies was apparent when Pastor Boltzius’ remarked that he wished an old Indian woman had waited to show him the plant of the root she brought him to cure his wife. Boltzius goes on to say that “Undoubtedly there are many such plants in these woods. My desire to collect some of these for our and our friends’ benefit is quite great” (Tresp 1963:23). The affinity towards understanding and producing medicines held by the Moravians and the New Ebenezer colonists may have been associated with their German background. Such proclivities may serve as ethnic markers, located in the archaeological record in the form of medicine bottles, pharmaceutical preparation aids such as mortars and pestles or other equipment, and ethnobotanical remains.

Obviously, German ethnic markers in the southeastern archaeological record are scant, at best. This is due to the lack of archaeological investigation on such sites and the rapid rate of acculturation during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Acculturation appears to have happened swiftly by the late 18th century, based on several indicators. The 1790 census records 2,300 people in South Carolina and 7,400 people in North Carolina claiming German nationality (U.S. Population Census 1790). (Statistics are unavailable for Georgia.) These totals reflect less than one percent of South Carolina’s population and just under two percent of the total population in North Carolina. Such low percentages (compared to approximately 50 percent during the second quarter of the 18th century) suggest that second and third generation German immigrants no longer called themselves German.

Language is another indicator of acculturation. Before 1800 the inhabitants of the Dutch Fork area of South Carolina spoke German, but by 1824 none of the school children were able to converse in that language (Mayer 1982:6). By 1825 the congregation of New Ebenezer was worshiping in English (Jones 1967:98). This appears to have been a natural evolution, since English had been taught regularly to the school children of New Ebenezer during the 18th century. The older generation of many communities was not as quick to abandon its heritage. As late as 1891, a German Dutch Fork resident reported that gatherings of old ladies brought out the “mother tongue” in earnest.

The elderly German residents maintained their ethnicity through their clothing, as well. Historical accounts describe old German men in the Dutch fork area who, “..tottered about the yard in their tight knee breeches giving quite a bow-legged appearance to their nether limbs; and while displaying bright silver buckles on their shoes and broad brimmed hats…would revel in an overflow of German, -singing songs and telling anecdotes..” (Mayer 1982:6-7).


Having suggested that ceramics, architecture, tobacco pipes, and medicine paraphernalia may be markers of German ethnicity in the archaeological record, we must confess now that we are grasping at straws! Many factors conspire against identifying such ethnic markers. The lack of extensive archaeological investigation on German colonial sites is one over-riding factor. Another is the very fact that most of the Germans strove for rapid acculturation in the colonies, as indicated by primary historical documents. A third, and very strong factor against locating ethnicity on these sites is the nature of the sites themselves. At New Ebenezer, Germans owned both a house in town and a 50 acre farmstead outside of town. Excavations on the town lots and farmsteads–often on ones owned by the same people–reveal two drastically different material culture patterns (Elliott and Elliott 1992). One might assume incorrectly that the local pottery of the farmstead and lack of fancy tablewares was a product of German ethnicity, rather than a truer reflection of geography and site function. Likewise, intra-site patterning on these sites does not necessarily reflect ethnicity, as the British authorities dictated the layout of towns such as New Ebenezer and Vernonburg, even stating where on each lot the residence was to be built. German settlement of colonial sites involved a complex interplay of economic, geographic, political, military, and trade factors. As a result, no one “smoking gun” of German ethnicity exists, to date. We have not given up, however, and feel that when these factors are considered along with a much more intensive level of archaeological excavation on these sites, a clearer picture of German ethnicity will begin to emerge.


References Cited

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  1. Very interesting post — doubly interesting to me, since I work as an editor at _The Georgia Review_, an old article from which is cited in your piece, and because I have long been interested in the history of Purrysburg and have visited the site. As kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist, but somehow ended up as a literary editor, so my “digging” is confined to the stacks of thousands of manuscripts that are submitted here at GR every year.

    I also read “Maxey’s Dump” — now that’s an interesting story. Almost tempted to head down to Maxey’s and see what remains — not far, I’m in Athens GA.

    I’ll be a regular reader of this blog from now on — thanks!

    David Ingle
    Assistant Editor
    The Georgia Review
    ingle.david@gmail.com

  2. The Orangeburgh Township Swiss settlers were NOT Lutheran. Yes, I know Alexander Salley speculated that they might be, but we now have the Swiss parish records on many of them, and they were without exception Swiss Reformed. Hans Ulrich Giessendanner, who served as their pastor for a year, was a Pietist, after having been raised in a Reformed family. The rest of the group was plain vanilla Swiss Reformed. Even the Swiss brochures that solicited settlers specified Reformed. Further, the Swiss and German settlers (who arrived in the area 15 or so years later than the Swiss, and were indeed Lutheran) were not the same culturally. The difference is as pronounced as English speaking Anglicans and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.

    For specific references to parish records on the Orangeburgh Township families go to http://www.ogsgs.org and look under “First Families.” It is long past time for these errors to stop appearing in academic works.

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