Pages Navigation Menu

The Birthplace of Effingham County

John Adam Treutlen

Johann Adam Treutlen

Johann Adam Treutlen arrived in Georgia in 1746 at the age of twelve with his mother and brother.  The Treutlens came in a traveling group known as the Fourth Palatine Transport which crossed the Atlantic on the Judith.  Clara Treutlen came to Georgia as an indentured servant.  She and her two sons worked on a farm in Vernonburg, just south of Savannah.

Young John Adam, recognized as being intellectually gifted, was permitted to go to Ebenezer to attend school under the tutelage of Reverend John Martin Boltzius.  Upon reaching adulthood, Treutlen remained at Ebenezer, where he was first a schoolteacher, then a store owner and finally a planter.

The enterprising and astute young man built a large, productive plantation;  Soon he was the wealthiest man in the area that became Effingham County.  In the early 1770s, Treutlen became one of the foremost leaders of the American independence movement in Georgia.  When the state adopted its first constitution in 1777, Treutlen was elected governor.  Tradition purports that he was brutally murdered by Tories near Orangeburg, South Carolina, at the end of the Revolutionary War.

Recent Research Findings

Treutlen’s origins and his death have been a mystery for a long time.  First thought to be a true Salzburger and later a Palatine, recent research by Dr. Helene Riley of Clemson University identifies Treutlen as being of Swabian ancestry.  Dr. Riley located the birth record of a Hans Adam Treutlin in Kürnbach, Germany, a village between Karlsruhe and Heilbronn in Württemberg (Southwest German).  The date of birth is January 16, 1734.  His parents were Hans Michel Treutlin, a cooper, and Clara Job.  Hans Adam had an older half brother named Friedrich.  An entry in the church books in Württemberg noted that Hans Michel “Left with his wife and four children in April, 1744 for Pennsylvania.”

These records are in harmony with Georgia records for the Treutlen family.  Dr. George Fenwick Jones, the foremost authority on the Germans of colonial Georgia, noted that “The fourth Palatine transport was recruited from a party of Germans who had departed for Pennsylvania a year earlier….”.  Dr. Jones reported that the ship was seized by Spanish warships and Treutlen’s father was taken prisoner and never seen again.  The ship returned to England and most of the group boarded a ship, the Judith, headed for Georgia.

The Judith arrived at Frederica January 22, 1746, after an unbelievable voyage – the captain, first mate and a number of sailors died at sea.  Dr. Jones located a passenger list in an unpublished volume (XXXI) of Candler’s Colonial Records of Georgia.  Included in the list is a woman named Maria Clara Treutlen (the surname was misspelled Frideling), who came with two sons: Friedrich and Johann Adam. (See Jones: Detailed Reports, Vol. X, pages 158-160)

A report of Treutlen’s death was supplied by the Archives of the Francke Foundations, Halle, Germany.  Treutlen’s death was reported in a 1790 letter written by the Reverend Johann Ernst Bergmann, Pastor of Jerusalem German Lutheran Church, Ebenezer, Georgia, who said that Treutlen “was cut to pieces 80 English miles from his plantation in South Carolina by the British.” (Transcribed into modern German by Dr. Jürgen Gröschl, Francke Foundations;  Translated by Dr. Lothar Tresp, Athens, Georgia)

Georgia Salzburger Society
2980 Ebenezer Road
Georgia Highway 275
Rincon, GA 31326
[email protected]