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The Birthplace of Effingham County

Old Ebenezer

Old Ebenezer Site
The original corner stone of Old Ebenezer

Old Ebenezer has been described as a strategic site on a sluggish stream in Georgia…later named Ebenezer Creek. Oglethorpe led the Salzburgers to this site he described as a fitting place for them to settle. He assumed the creek navigable to the Savannah a River and a strategic area suitable for a military outpost. The Salzburgers were then allowed to choose the perfect spot for their town. Giving thanks to God, they named their town Ebenezer, meaning “The Lord hath helped so far” and “Stone of Help”.
Aided by English sawyers, as well as by African slaves ” lent by Paul Jenys of South Carolina” and Noble Jones’s indentured immigrants from Savannah, the Salzburgers made progress felling trees and building their huts and bridges on the 50 acres allocated to them by Oglethorpe.
Noble Jones of Wormsloe Plantation, hired in the capacity of surveyor spent many days trying to cut his way through Ebenezer Creek without success. He failed to succeed in measuring out the Salzburgers’ lots due to the sickly indentured help dying from the strenuous work in the swampy areas. At that point, many settlers were sickened by various diseases such as scurvy, dysentery, typhus and malaria. The troubles of sterile soil, swamp lands, and poor growing conditions were compounded by cypress knees and old trees blocking their access for travel by streams and creeks. These things followed by disagreements with Oglethorpe regarding his plans for them to work as a communal workforce and to become a military outpost created continual setbacks and very little progress toward the Salzburgers creation of a comfortable homesite. Nursing the sick and burying the dead left very little time for clearing their 50 acres of land at the Old Ebenezer site. What did get planted was sparse and poor crops failed in the infertile soil.
After two years of sickness and struggles, the Salzburgers finally persuaded Oglethorpe to allow the move to a new site with the agreement that they would keep the same name given originally to the town so that the Trustees of London would not know of the change. He agreed with the Red Bluff site, a high bluff located where the mouth of Ebenezer Creek enters the Savannah River and the move to build the new town began on March 3rd 1736.

Site of the sawmill at Old Ebenezer
The supposed site of the Old Ebenezer Cemetery

In 1970, because there was no marker to identify the historic site, the Georgia Salzburgers along with the family who owned the site of old Ebenezer began to plan proceedings to mark the site for posterity.

There is little visual evidence of the once vibrant village, but there are a few landmarks to define the area. One spot along the creek bank there are a few decaying pilings from the sawmill footings and a rack of old planks from the sawmill as a reminder that Oglethorpe did not allow the settlers to remove anything from the old village to take with them to start over at New Ebenezer.

Where they think the cemetery was located at Old Ebenezer.

One has only to stroll through the quiet undeveloped site to sense what remains of the site of Old Ebenezer. Experience the cool air, shady trails, and flowing creek. Listen to the birds sing as the wind is rustling the leaves of old growth trees and feel the unpaved earth beneath your feet.

Where the storehouse might have been located