Every now and then people will ask me about my forefather, Dr. Rufus Burleson (1823-1901), of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Yesterday I received an email asking if I would give some background regarding his life, and so I dug up a couple of articles I had archived and thought I would offer a little information to those unfamiliar with his life.
Rufus Burleson's mother was a direct lineal descendent of Sir William Byrd, founder of Richmond, Virginia. Rufus' parents eventually migrated to a farm near Decatur, Alabama where they raised thirteen children, Rufus being the seventh.
Rufus received a very good education for his day, and in 1846 he entered the Western Baptist Theological Seminary in Covington, Kentucky. He finished the course and received his diploma at this seminary June 21, 1847. Legend has it that while Rufus stood in the shadow of the walls of his alma mater, surrounded by teachers and class-mates, he raised his boyish face toward the skies, stretched his arms to the West, and with both eyes closed as if to shut out the world, he cried: “This day I solemnly consecrate my life to Texas.”
Rufus soon became the pastor of First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, and through a friendship formed with the town's namesake, General Sam Houston, Rufus had the privilege of baptizing Sam Houston. (The link provides a very interesting story of Sam Houston's wife and the General's battle with alcholism).
Rufus Burleson was present at the formation meeting of the BGCT in September of 1848, and served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Houston in the late 1840's. Eventually he became the President of Baylor University, a postion he held for ten years.
Other facts regarding Dr. Burleson can be find in this memorial written just a few days after his death by his close friend J.A. Reynolds.
I take very seriously my heritage in the Southern Baptist Convention, and I look forward to many more years of service as we all seek to continue the work begun by our forefathers over a century and a half ago.
In His Grace,