The fascinating sketchbook of Phillip Georg Von Reck
After leading three voyages of Salzburg Refugees from England to Georgia, Georg Von Reck never actually developed his own 500 acre estate. Eventually, he returned to Hanover, Germany, but soon moved to Denmark, where he practiced medicine for the rest of his life. It is a good thing. The Kungl Dansk Biblioteket (Royal Danish Library) has the beautiful sketchbook that he maintained in Georgia and it is now online . . . with an English version. I found the website by doing a Google Search in Swedish! To see high resolution photos of each page of the book, click the links in the upper left hand side of the library website.
This is a must see for all Southeastern Native Americans and POOF subscribers. These sketches and water colors are about the only accurate, detailed visual images we have of what the landscape of the Lower Savannah River Basin and the Uchee/Creek People looked like in the early 1700s. The famous painting of the Creek delegation at Westminster Palace, of course, is more sophisticated art, but it was painted in an unnatural setting. You will notice that the Uchee were cultivating pineapples and cacoa in the 1730s. They were varieties of these plants that had been adapted to Savannah’s climate centuries earlier. You will also see sketches of ancient Native American mounds, one of which was being converted to being a fort.
The Salzburger-Lapland connection: The Salzburgers were Protestants, living in the mountains west of Salzburg, Austria, who were expelled from Austria. Virtually no American historians know this, but most of the Salzburger Refugees were NOT ethnic Germans, but descended from Sami, who migrated from Scandinavia eons ago and settled in the high mountains between Austria and Switzerland. They first took refuge in Protestant states within Germany, but because of their dark hair, tan skin and rural heritage, did not feel socially accepted. Von Reck was one of the German noblemen, who hit upon the idea of re-establishing their communities on the frontier of British North America. Their first community was named New Ebenezer. It was formally planned like Savannah and located upstream on the river.
If you recall from our POOF series on the Sami, my traveling companion in Lapland, was a descendant of these Salzburger Protestants. Her family lived in such a remote location that the soldiers couldn’t find them. She had black hair, brown eyes and a deep natural tan. Joana was a biologist and Reserve Lieutenant in the Austrian Army. EVERYBODY, we encountered, including the local Sami, assumed that we were a nice young Sami couple . . . perhaps on our honeymoon. Swedish tourists would stop to ask us for directions. LOL
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