Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Look at the Life of Dr. Rufus Burleson

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,

Wade Burleson


Rex Ray said...

Your forefather was quite a person and you said, “I take very seriously my heritage in the SBC.”
You said he was present at the formation of the BGCT in 1848, but did not say he became its president 44 years later.
Do you think your forefather’s heart would be broken today at the ‘treatment’ of the BGCT?

For the record; the BGCT is as conservative as anyone, but they failed to be “one of us.”
Rex Ray

Bob Cleveland said...

What with the Alabama connection .. that I didn't know about .. I'm now betting that you're related (distantly) to John Burleson, who was a pawn broker here in Pelham. He was a good man, and was murdered in his store some years ago.

I knew John casually but frequently, as I was a reserve police officer then, and we had a lot of contact with him. said...

Thanks Rex for the reminder. I do know Rufus integrated female education while at Baylor, and his history has been one of inclusiveness rather than exclusion.

Bob, probably a distant relation, but was unaware of him. Sad story.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, What a great and telling story about Dr. Rufus Burleson....You must be thankfull for your Christian heritage. I am sure that you can see, that by Rufus obeying God so many years ago, that it is still impacting the world today through you and your dad...... I think I now see where you got that lightning rod from.

Gary Snowden said...


I wrote my doctoral dissertation at SWBTS on R.E.B. Baylor and Rufus' name appeared repeatedly in the investigations I was doing of early Texas Baptist history. I remember the story (apocryphal or not I don't know) that when Rufus baptized Sam Houston, Rufus urged Houston to remove his watch and chain so they wouldn't get ruined. He handed them to Rufus who then suggested he also remove his wallet from his pocket. Houston is reported to have said, "No thanks, pastor. I'm afraid it needs baptizing too."



I have visited Independence Baptist numerous times, being close to my hometown of College Station, TX. Could you confirm one of my favorite stories about Sam Houston's baptism?

The story goes that after Dr. Burleson baptized Sam Houston in Brushy Creek, he announced "Brother Houston, your sins are washed away!" To which Houston replied, "God help the fish!"

Thanks for sharing the history of Dr. Burleson.

Kevin Bussey said...


You family is from God's country, Bama!

SigPres said...

Have you ever been to the little museum at Independence Baptist Church, just down the hill from the old Baylor campus? I think there are some photographs of Rufus in the collection. It's my favorite place for a spring picnic. said...


Have not been there, but have heard about it. said...


I've heard that story, but I think it was another pastor friend of the General's who asked the question, to whom Houston made his funny remark. said...


I have heard that story as well. said...

Out to my Friday golf game!

Then on to watch my son play ball.

Everyone have a great Friday. said...


I only give honest answers.

(1). No

(2). No

(3). No said...

Please, no more interrupting my golf game :)

CB Scott said...


We have gone back and forth this week. We have established that two do not have agree on all things to walk together toward a greater understanding of our Lord.

That was not our intent. It just happened that way.

(naturally some things must be agreed upon as was proven also)

With that in mind I want to take liberty to break into your comment thread with something totally off subject. Delete me if you must.

Jeremy Green has posted a comparrison on his blog.

(if you can call it that due to his refusing to allow comments due to pridefulness)

The comparrison is between you and Molly Marshall. At the time of the comparison she was Molly Marshall-Green of SBTS fame back in the day.

Without going into great detail I want to say you are nothing like Molly Marshall-Green. I was active during her "high times" and watched it play out.

Jeremy Green is 29 years old. He was not there. Can one read of Moly Marshall-Green and get a grasp ot her theology and political positions? Sure.

To make a comparison of you and her being alike in any way is pure subjectiveness on his part. I did not read such a disclaimer. If there is one I apologize now and will send him a written apology.

I remember Molly Marshall-Green and have spoken to her relating to issues of the SBC on more than one occasion.

I have spoken to you as recently as this past week and at other times relating to issues of the SBC.

My opinion is the two of you are not alike.

Young Mr. Green may have talked to Molly Marshall-Green in her high days at SBTS also. If so it would be while she was baby-sitting him. Remember he is 29

Mr. Green,

There are so many issues of substance you could post about and debate if you would. What is it that you think you have to gain by this or have you already gained it or been promised it?

Let me tell you from experience. It is not worth what this will do to you in the scaring of your ministry and moreso your soul.

I am not angry with you this time. I am realizing Brad was right. You are really as I was 30 years ago.

I really am praying for you now as I do others like you that seek what is not there and never will be.

Wade, I am sure we will cross swords again. That is the way of folks like us, but here I must stand if I am to have integrity later.

cb said...

Thanks CB.

I really appreciate it.


Jeremy Green said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeremy Green said...


In regard to your comment:

CB: “Jeremy Green has posted a comparrison on his blog. (if you can call it that due to his refusing to allow comments due to pridefulness) The comparrison is between you and Molly Marshall. At the time of the comparison she was Molly Marshall-Green of SBTS fame back in the day.”

It appears that you have conveniently neglected to note that I have not personally made any comparison between Wade and Mrs. Marshall at all. If you are suggesting otherwise, then you are mistaken. I simply posted a quote from another individual’s blog.

The only comments of mine in the entire post were introducing the author, Aaron Weaver, and then one sentence to conclude: “Truly, Weaver's analysis of the similarities between Burleson's ‘Big Tent’ inclusivism and Marshall's ‘Large Room’ inclusivism is extremely interesting.”

Anyone desiring to read the post can do so on my blog entitled, “Weaver on Burleson’s ‘Big Tent.’”

I will not respond to your disparaging comments towards myself, although they were not as vitriolic as usual, as I have learned that you have a tendency to become verbally abusive whenever you dislike, or disagree with, someone. Thus, I will not comment to this again and will allow you to say whatever else you please. God bless!!!

In Christ,

CB Scott said...

Mr. Green,

Thank you for saying you will not comment on this anymore. You should not have comented in the beginning. I have been guilty of the same as have many that blog.

I don't dislike you I just called your hand here because no one can do so on your blog.

Also I must have failed to state my point properly. I said you did not give any disclaimer.


Tim Rogers said...

Brother CB,

I must call you attention to something. As an ex Airborne ARMY Soldier, I know that you believe once a Marine always a Marine. I also know that Marines do not leave their wounded behind. These are qualities that I admire and respect. You possess these qualities and I do love you as my Brother in Christ.

I must ask, what do you expect to prove by changing this comment stream? If you have personal differences with Brother Jeremy, you should bring that to his attention privately. Our young Brother has not been in this comment stream. You called him out and in his youthful zeal he responded. Also, his response reveals something--he did not do the comparing--Big Daddy Weave was the one making the comparison.

Help me understand how this helps in bringing out the truth. Also I understood that Marines stood strong on a position and only went on the offensive when it would advance their position. Or is this a "code red" that you are giving to a fellow Marine?


Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

Sorry for the double post. Very intersting family tree. I wish I could follow my tree. You certainly come from a line of impressive accomplishment for Baptist.

Tim said...

No problem Tim.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

Steve Young said...

Your Sooners kind of took out some frustration today didn't they!? Sometimes it feels good to get a blowout win.