Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Burrus Memorial, Hamburg, Madison County, Florida

Hamburg Florida is a small community in Madison County, Georgia. It's about 18 miles south of Quitman Georgia, and therefore the biggest town around would likely be Valdosta, Ga, on I-75.
I can't tell if any buisness are left in Hamburg, but looks like there's Shiloh United Methodist Church and some homes. And there used to be a Universalist Church there.

At first it was a preaching station.
Universalism came to Madison County around the 1840s, when Samuel S. Hinton (1812-1872) moved there from Abbeville, SC. His father was one of the co-founders of the Universalist Church in Abbeville in the 1830s. His brother-in-law, Judge James P. Martin (1838 - 1916) proudly had the slogan " A True Universalist" carved on his tombstone. Hinton's father, Thomas Z.  Hinton (1789 - 1863) moved to Hamburg himself in 1862, with him came other members of the Hinton family.

The Elijah Linch family was living in nearby Madison, Florida in the 1840s-1860s ( His father was Elijah Linch Sr - the Universalist minister of Newberry SC. Son, Hezekiah,  was active in Georgia Universalist Convention in the 1880s ).

Thus when Universalist ministers came through the area, there were enough folks for a good
service, if not enough for a good congregation. By the way, Judge Martin was not known to be a liberal in politics, just in religion.

Finally after 50 years, it was time to start a formal church.  The Church was named Burrus Memorial, for the circuit rider and Universalist Herald editor. Sometimes called Burress Chapel.   It is also frequently called the Hamburg Universalist Church. The church building was adjacent  to the Ebenezer Methodist Church.

December 1905, Rev Q. H. Shinn  holds meetings in Hamburg. Thomas Martin, the county clerk, is an Universalist. His wife and most of his children are Methodist. Douglas Martin, who was  then (Shinn reports) ten years old, rides his pony home to ask his mother if he has her permission to join the Universalist Church. She agrees, and after his 20 mile round trip ride, he is baptized and joins as a member of the new Universalist Church.

Thomas Martin (1860 - 1926, and son of Judge Martin), Douglas Martin (1893 - 1978).
The math does suggests that Shinn was off by a few years in his story.

Feb. 1907 building dedicated, and the Florida Universalist Convention was held at the church.

1907 - 1908 Isabelle "Belle" Martin (1868 -1944), daughter of Judge Martin, lay leader in 1907-1908. The church is served by supply ministers, and 6 families make the membership.

1907 - 1910 William C. Smith (1872 -1937) , member of the congregation, is active in the Florida Universalist Convention, serving as President in 1908 - 1909, and Treasurer in 1910. His wife is another  daughter of Judge Martin.

June 1923 Rev. Stanley Manning preaching there.

1929 Rev. A.G. Strain was doing some regular circuit riding in Hamburg.

1932 Rev Thomas Chapman does preaching (he is a circuit riding minister covering from Mississippi to South Carolina).  Present in March, July, and November, doing 3 services per visit.

1932 - 1939 + William "Carlton" Smith (1899 - 1963), son of the above William Coffee Smith, was a lay leader of the church.

1943  Miss Belle Martin  (see above)  listed as lay leader  prior to 1943. (report in late 30s or early 40s)

 May 22, 1960 large turnout at the Homecoming at the Church. Service by the Rev. L. C. Prater.

1961/1962 Not listed as one of those churches that joined the new Unitarian Universalist Association.

other members  
John "Luther" Sullivan (1882 - 1978) converted while Rev Strain was the minister (c1928) and considered himself to be a member up to the end of his life.  In the timber, turpentine, and land buisness. 

Newspaper article from 2008 including photograph of church 
The building was still standing and visitable as of 2008.

Updated Dec 18, 2011 (twice), August 1, 2012, August 28, 2012

1 comment:

Steven Rowe said...

states "Mr. Luther joined Burress Chapel Universalist Church during the pastorate of A. G. Strain. Impressed with the personality of Reverend Strain and the spirit of light and freedom in the church, he has left his name on the books and still considers himself a member there, as indeed he is." from a salute to him in 1972

John "Luther" Sullivan (1882 - 1978)