Historian Milledge Murray honored for ‘outstanding service’ in North Augusta

September 20, 2018

NORTH AUGUSTA — Milledge Murray, one of Aiken County’s foremost authorities on local history, got a salute from his peers Tuesday evening at the Heritage Council of North Augusta’s meeting.

Brenda Baratto, executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum, presented Murray with the Robert N. Pryor Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes “outstanding lifetime volunteer service” to a member of an organization in the Confederation of South Carolina Local Historical Societies.

Baratto, the confederation’s president, now lives in Aiken and lived previously in North Augusta. Murray, who was born in Augusta, moved to North Augusta at age 5. The two frequently work together on history projects.

The heritage council’s president, Merrilee Anderson, noted that Murray is a longtime council member and a past president. His name, she added, has strong connections to regional history, as “Milledge” is the name of the Georgia governor linked to the city of Milledgeville and Augusta’s Milledgeville Road. Murray’s middle name, Galphin, came down from the name of an Indian trader on Murray’s family tree.

“He has spread history far and wide in this area,” Anderson said. “He talks to a lot of local groups and like-minded organizations.”

Murray was the featured speaker at the council’s Sept. 19 meeting, recalling the history of Hamburg, a town that sprang to life on the edge of the Savannah River, competed heavily (for commerce) with Augusta and reached its peak in the 1840s, all under the leadership of German immigrant Henry Shultz.

It became the western terminus of the South Carolina Railroad, which had Charleston at the other end and was the world’s longest railroad line at the time of its completion in 1833.

Murray also displayed a new roadside marker summarizing the town’s tale. It reads, “Hamburg, located in the surrounding area, was a thriving river port and trading center for cotton and tobacco. Founded in 1821 by Henry Shultz and incorporated on Dec. 19, 1827, Hamburg became the most important interior port in S.C. With changing times and fortunes, prosperous Hamburg declined. The flood of 1929 destroyed what had been left of the town – ruins remain.”

Hamburg’s former acreage is now largely known as The River Club and East Shoreline Drive. It mainly occupied the riverside land across from the area between Augusta’s 8th Street and 5th Street, Murray said.

Murray had his hands full after Tuesday’s meeting, as he and Allen Riddick, with the Aiken County Historical Society, put the new marker into place. Aiken County’s 62nd such sign, marking the former location of Hamburg, is now in place between Jefferson Davis Highway and the RiverNorth neighborhood.

A similar sign had been in place on the highway, a few yards uphill, but the location proved less than ideal because there was no safe way for travelers, moving at highway speed, to read the marker and there was no parking nearby for those who might want to stop to read it.

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