By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulloch History with Roger Allen
Gruber becomes Groover in Bulloch
Placeholder Image
Michael Gruber was born in Lehn Grube, Gastein. He married Magdalena Amoser in 1695, and had four children: Peter, Hans, Michael, and Thomas. Peter Gruber, born in 1697 in Taxenbach, Berchtesgaden, Austria, decided to flee his Salzburg homeland with some 21,500 of his fellow countrymen because of religious persecution. He had married to the Widow Maria Kraher (or Kroer) Mosshammer. In Augsburg they joined nearly 300 of these “Salzburgers” who had agreed to travel to the New World. The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge arranged for them to sail from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1734 for Dover. Reaching there after three weeks at sea, they all swore allegiance to King George of England, and were awarded the rights of natural born Englishmen (and women).
They then set sail on the Salzburg Transport Ship #1, the “Purysburg”. This 200 ton ship, captained by Tobias Fry, took 8 weeks to reach its final destination, the Savannah River and the British Royal Colony of Georgia. They settled in the new Salzburger community of Eben Ezer, whose name meant “Stone of Help” or “Monument to God’s Protection”. Peter was a brother-in-law to both Reverend Johan Martin Bolzius (senior minister for Ebenezer for some thirty years) and Reverend Christian Gronau (Bolzius’ assistant), who had married Gruber’s wife’s sisters in an effort to further cement their ties to their flock.
Peter and Maria had two children: Peter Jr., who died shortly after birth (1738); and Johann (1739-1780). Peter served with a company of volunteers under Governor James Edward Oglethorpe (1738-9) keeping watch at Fort Frederica. Returning to Ebenezer, he died of a heart attack on December 2, 1740 at Eben Ezer and was buried in Savannah. The family named slowly changed, as the spelling of Gruber first changed to “Gruver” and then to “Groover”, as the pronunciation of “b” was replaced by the pronunciation of “v”. 
His widow then married Charles Fluerl (or Flerl), who raised young John as his own son. When Johann grew up he married Mary Magdalena Kalcher at Zion’s Church in Ebenezer in 1766. They raised 7 children: John Junior, Josua (or Joshua), Solomon, William, David, Elizabeth, and Charles. As the oldest son of one of the original settlers of Ebenezer, John Sr. was awarded several pieces of land, including land in Ebenezer, as well both Saint Philip and Saint Matthew’s Parishes. Shortly thereafter, he acquired 150 acres at Cowpens Branch just above the land of Martin Dasher, also a Salzburger. He moved his family and built a home on this land.
In December of 1778, the British troops and their Tory sympathizers, under command of the notorious British officer Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell, took control of the Ebenezer community. They selected those Salzburgers whom they suspected of having aided the American revolutionaries, and after evicting them from their homes used their houses for cannon practice. Ebenezer Church itself was turned into stables for the British horses.
The same forces went up to Cowpens Branch, where they murdered John Senior. His widow and her sons soon relocated further inland, away from the depredations of these raiders. Along with their mother, John Junior and Solomon both settled in what is now Brooks County, in the community of Grooverville. Charles and David first moved to Bulloch County, but eventually moved to Florida. William, a minister, moved to Bulloch County, where he became the preacher at Lower Lotts Creek Baptist Church. Here many of the Groovers assumed important roles within their communities, including one who became one of the first Councilmen of the new town of Statesboro (D.R. Groover).

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter