Discover Aiken: History of Hamburg – Buildings are reminder of towns that came before

September 25, 2018

North Augusta is the second largest municipality in Aiken County, and it comes from a long history of towns before it.

Hamburg was a town of mostly black residents originally located in part of North Augusta’s current limits. In 1876, a riot incited a massacre, known as the “Hamburg Massacre,” in which seven black men and one white man died as a result. Historical markers memorializing the event and the lives lost are erected in the city in Calhoun Park and off Barton Road.

Local historian Milledge Murray said the massacre caused a decline in residential growth and business activity in Hamburg. A flood in 1988 lowered the population again to only about 400-500 black residents, Murray said.

The town was struck again by flooding on Sept. 28, 1929. The flooding caused the evacuation of the town.

“The American Red Cross agreed to give assistance to these displaced Hamburg residents toward the securing of lots and rebuilding of homes provided the beneficiaries move from Hamburg to some location on higher ground protected from recurring floods,” Murray said.

Under this plan it was stated: “Under no circumstances will aid be extended to families who remain in Hamburg.”

No physical evidence of Hamburg remains today, Murray said. Highway 1 runs through parts of it, and the land along the Savannah River between the Fifth Street bridge and the Sixth Street Railroad bridge is part of what was downtown Hamburg.

The evacuees of Hamburg moved to an area, later named Carrsville, near Barton and Boylan roads. What remains of the two towns is both physical reminders and notes from the history books: First Providence Baptist Church and the Young Men’s Society Building, which is currently being restored, remind current North Augustans of the towns that stood there before.

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