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The Birthplace of Effingham County

Honoring Martha O. Zeigler

Honoring Martha O. Zeigler

0314_MarthaZiegler2Martha Zeigler is retiring after 15 years as curator of the Georgia Salzburger Museum at Ebenezer. The Georgia Salzburger Society presented a Resolution of Thankfulness and a reception in her honor at its last board of directors meeting.

She began in 1999 and the late Jan Stephens of Savannah became her assistant in 2000. Jan’s husband Roger assumed those responsibilities, working with Martha after Jan passed away.

Martha was the daughter of the late Mary Eva Moore Oglesby and George Langford Oglesby. At age 3, Martha moved back to the family’s home county of Effingham. Shortly thereafter her father was murdered, leaving Martha’s mother, who was expecting her 13th child, to a monumental task of rearing the children.

Of her siblings, only two survive today. No doubt her mother’s situation of learning to “make do” and hard work are what gave Martha the foundation for her tremendous work ethic and strong desire to help others as she had been helped in her childhood.

Graduating from Rincon High School in 1945, Martha worked in several positions over many years. When she left after a one-day job of catching bags at Union Bag (now International Paper), she took a position there in food services. She worked in Rincon Elementary and Effingham High School in the lunchrooms with a total of 19 years of service.

On Dec. 28, 1947, Martha married Arthur B. Zeigler. He had been a military policeman during World War II, witnessing the plane that left the island of Tinian in the Mariana Islands carrying the atomic bomb. They were parents of five children: Keith Zeigler, Glynn Zeigler, Pamela Hartsell, Robin Leach and Sharon Ackerman. Martha shared 60 years with Arthur, who passed away Sept. 8, 2007.

She and Arthur were members of Jerusalem Lutheran Church, where Martha served in many capacities, including singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, LCW and vice chairman of the congregation. Martha is now a member of Rincon United Methodist Church.

Martha’s volunteer work has kept her very busy. She has volunteered approximately 8,000 hours in the Effingham Hospital Auxiliary. She was Southeast District director of the Council of Auxiliaries for two years. She served in many areas, but her last 10 years or so were spent managing the hospital gift shop and she is now an associate.

When the Treutlen House was built, Martha was chairman of outreach and helped to raise funds. She has remained involved in this ministry, selling Christmas ornaments and offering support.

While her children were in school, Martha was a band booster at Effingham County High School, where all of her children were in band. She made the first flags for the flag girls for the marching band.

Martha has been active with what was formerly known as Lutheran Brotherhood, now Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. For many years, she was active on the committee to select and offer matching funds for various projects of churches or individuals having medical issues with great financial need.

When former state Rep. Ann Purcell organized the Adopt a Highway Program in Effingham County, Martha was an active participant.

In 2001, Martha and her daughters traveled to Salzburg and Germany, visiting many places connecting to their Salzburger heritage. This inspired some of the exhibits later in the museum.

In 2009, Martha was recognized by the Rotary Club with their Volunteer of the Year Award.

Martha holds life membership in Historic Effingham Society and the Georgia Salzburger Society.

Her work with the Georgia Salzburger Society at the museum is extensive. Her commitment to keeping the museum open for programs and tours as well as regular museum hours have offered thousands an educational opportunity.

Prior to becoming curator of the museum, Martha organized the first German-style marktplatz for the GSS Labor Day Festival and it continues to this day. Among the many items offered for sale in the museum, Martha designed a boy and girl Salzburger pair of dolls and later a Salzburger teddy bear. They became very popular gift shop items among many others added during her tenure in the museum.

Through her years there were many new exhibits, display cases and interactive activities offered revitalizing the museum. She has coordinated participation in Super Museum Sunday each February since it was begun by the Georgia Historical Society.

In 2007-08, Martha inspired and chaired the Boltzius statue committee to commemorate the beloved pastor of the Salzburgers, who served from 1734-65. She managed fundraising and coordinated a dedication ceremony for the life-sized bronze statue of Rev. Johann Martin Boltzius erected on the grounds of the Jerusalem Lutheran Church near the museum.

Martha never was one for idleness. She enjoys gardening, canning, jelly and jam making, cooking and crocheting. Her desire to help people has been a driving force in her volunteer work.

At 85, Martha has decided to step back, relieving herself of some of her many obligations and enjoy her family. All of her children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren live outside Effingham and she plans to spend more time with them.

You can bet she will still show up in the museum on an afternoon here and there. Giving back to the community is in her blood.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: [email protected].