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In Their Own Words

December 10, 1737

Salzburgers Shared Good Land

A common source of unhappiness among Georgia colonists was the varying quality of land they were assigned. In many instances, a particular land grant consisted of pine barren or other land unsuited for farming. Upriver from Savannah, the Salzburgers encountered this same problem. Their solution, however, suggested a much more communal society than was true for English colonists, as evidenced by Johann Martin Boltzius’ journal entry for this day:

“Seeing that only little good soil is to be found on the land that has been surveyed for the plantations and that most of the people here have been assigned poor land which, by all human judgment, will not suffice to nourish them, I have recently suggested and again urged today in our convocation that those who have been allotted good land by the surveyor for their plantations should share their good fortune with the others. This is not only demanded by common fairness and the laws of Christianity, but is also suggested by a letter in my possession in which the Honorable Trustees express their desire that each man should have at least one piece of good land that might enable him to use the less advantageous plots in the course of time. It is impossible for one person or family without fieldhands to work and plant a plantation of 48 acres, and this is another reason why several men should share in the good land, especially since one of them is as good as the other. This would have the further advantage that the fieldwork would be done not by one man working alone but by several who could assist each other in their work and it would also be advantageous in the event that one of them should injure himself or incur some danger. Good friends who stand by each other can work together and have the freedom to associate for their purposes. These propositions were well accepted by all, except for N. [the obstinate Ernsts], who is said to have uttered harsh threats against all those would want to share in his plantation … .”

Source: George Fenwick Jones and Renate Wilson, Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America … Edited by Samuel Urlsperger, Volume Four, 1737 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976), p. 214.