North Augusta, SC (WJBF) – The town of Hamburg, South Carolina was filled with promise, potential and people until a major flood.
Believe it or not it was re-populated until an incident at a parade ignited an argument.
Hambrug, South Carolina, a thriving town that was once located near the present day Fifth street bridge. It was founded by German immigrant, Henry Shultz in 1821. He wanted to compete with Augusta for the Savannah River trade.
Milledge Murray, “and this town kinda sprung up over night, and it is amazing all of the things that were in this town. they had hotels, they had businesses, they had a couple of newspapers. probably 25-hundred people lived there.”
Milledge Murray is the President of the North Augusta Heritage Council. We met at the Arts and Heritage Center, which is open to the public. He shared how his grandfather had a business in Hamburg and he also shared the highs and lows of the community during the 1800’s.
Milledge, “Hamburg had times when it flourished, but with the advent of the railroad, Hamburg’s economy dropped very very badly.”
In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and many freed slaves made Hamburg their home….and they flourished.
They founded a municipality and formed a militia: Company A, Ninth Regiment National Guard of the State of South Carolina. they were also issued firearms by the state under Governor Robert Scott.
Cotton was a big money maker for the town. In 1827, 190 thousand bales of cotton were sold in Hamburg; and one local business even made clocks which sold throughout the country.
The black armed militia, who were republicans, didn’t set well with the local white democrats.
By July 4th 1876, things would take a turn for the worst as the town celebrated Independence Day with a parade.
Milledge, ” a couple of white guys wanted to cross through the parade and it just caused a ruckus of some sort.”
Tensions flared…between the 4th and the 9th of July…..in all one white man and 8 black men lost their lives as a result of the clash.
In 2016, a marker and a grave stone marker were dedicated at the corner of Barton and Boylan to remember the black men who were killed during the hamburg incident.
Milledge, ” on the marker we have the names of all 8 of the people who lost their lives, between July the 4th 1876 and July the 9th, 1876.”
In North Augusta, where Georgia Avenue and Carolina Avenue split, there stands the Merriweather Monument, dedicated in 1916. It recognizes the only white man killed during that same incident.
By 1888, another major flood hit hamburg. The town sat right on the banks of the Savannah River without protection, homes and businesses were wiped out.
By 2017, there are very few remnants that show the town of hamburg even existed. However, those who understand the significance of history are working to preserve it and share.
The monuments and the markers are free for the public to view. The North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center has a complete historical footprint of the Hamburg incident and other notable historic events.