Salzburg Protestant Expulsion

Salzburg Protestant Expulsion

Some of my relatives had a hard life but they persevered and began a new life in a new World. This is about that struggle from Salzburg, Austria to Ebenezer Church in Effingham, GA.

In 1684, the Catholic Prince/ Archbishop Max Gandolf von Kuenberg decided to expel the Protestants living in the remote Defereggen Valley of Austria after receiving complaints of traveling Catholic token sellers being mistreated while in the area. This deserves further inspection. 

As a part of this expulsion, all children under 15 were forced to remain and be raised and educated as Catholics. The expelled parents were then charged a 10% tax on all of their possessions to pay for this Catholic education. (😥WTH?)

In response, the Protestant Party in the Reichstag protested the expulsion under existing peace treaties. 621 adults and 289 children were expelled. After 5 years and new government leadership, the children were offered reunification but only 14 children asked to be reunited with their parents outside of Austria.

Fast-forward 50 years or so and in 1731 another Prince/Archbishop decided to expel all remaining Protestants from Salzburg (meaning salt castle). They had 8 days to sell their property, settle their affairs, and leave Austria. This time all children 12 and under were required to remain under Catholic education. Why, oh why?

After protests were raised to other countries such as England for help and political pressure was exerted, they were allowed to remain until April 23, 1732. They were allowed to retain their property for 3 years. They were not informed of this stipulation and a government official handled the sales. Needless to say, the Austrian government helped themselves to plenty of taxes. Out of 2.1 million Prussian thalers (like dollars but worth less), only about 300,000 thalers were ever recovered.

The Prussian government declared Salzburgs to be bona fide Lutherans and entitled to travel and live in peace in their new homeland.

The King of Prussia saw this as an opportunity to resettle his East Prussian territory after the area was decimated by the plague a few years earlier. He issued a Patent of Invitation for protection and to provide land, supplies, and tax exemptions. 

To clear this land for the Salzburgs, the King expelled Mennonites that refused to enlist in military service due to their religious beliefs. 😮What? Why?

Catholic Prussians were threatened with retaliation if they mistreated any Salzburgs. How did this go so wrong?

Over 200,000 Protestants left Salzburg for Prussia. They traveled in 26 marching columns of 800 emigrants each. They were each required to pay a 10% tax on all of their belongings prior to leaving Austria. This became a great spectacle throughout the journey and the German residents would offer food and money to them as they passed through each town. Several hundred died during the journey.

A famous poem was written about a rich merchant's son falling in love with a refugee and his father wants him to marry someone respectable with a large dowry. The poem is called Hermann and Dorothea by Goethe.

Another several hundred of these Salzburgers traveled under protection of King George II to his British Colony of Georgia. Some of these were my relatives and some began a religious community called Ebenezer near Savannah, GA. 

I visited there and it has a beautiful congregational area next to the river. Some period homes are on display and the bricks in the more modern church still have fingerprints in them. Kinda cool.