Burelbachs Were Only Residents Of House At 510 W. Fourth On Cameron Hill

  • Tuesday, September 20, 2022
  • John Wilson

Major Martin Joachim Burelbach and May Burelbach were the only occupants of a house they built at the top of Fourth Street high on the side of Cameron Hill. They lived nearby at 236 Arcadia Ave., then moved into 510 West Fourth St. in 1917.

Fourth Street went up the hill until it hit a steep section at Cypress Street. There was a jag to the left on Cypress, then Fourth went another block up to Pleasant Street (later made part of Cypress). It was in that top block of Fourth where the Burelbachs settled. The couple had no children.

The site where the Burelbachs built had long been a part of the Hooper House property. This historic home that faced Cedar Street near Fourth had been used as the headquarters of General George H. Thomas during the Civil War. When the rear of the Hooper property was partitioned off, the Burelbachs were able to obtain one lot 

Martin Burelbach was born Sept. 18, 1884, in Perham, Minn., the son of Matt and Sophia Doll Burelbach. He joined the Army and came to Chattanooga in 1905. He spent three years at Fort Oglethorpe with the 12th Cavalry. He graduated from his training camp as a captain, and he had reached the rank of major when he left the Army in 1920. He afterward held a commission with the National Guard.

He married May Dunbar, of Chattanooga and Crossville, on July 19, 1911. She was the daughter of Henry G. and Susan W. Dunbar.

Martin Burelbach operated the Arts and Crafts Store at 318 West Eighth St. Then from 1915 to 1917 he was Scout Executive with the Boy Scouts of America with offices in the Chamber of Commerce Building. Prior to becoming Scout Executive, he had "shown marked ability both as a Scoutmaster and in handling weekend hikes and short-time camps."  He had previously operated private camps for boys.

Due to limited funds, he was only paid $80 per month for his Scout duties. He kept costs down by furnishing his own typewriter, doing his own stenographic work, and walking or riding streetcars for business travel. He sought to expand Scouting in Chattanooga, including starting new Scout patrols in the Jewish synagogues.  

After war was declared on Germany on April 6, 1917, Major Burelbach had to leave the Scouts and go on active duty. 

After the war, he was involved in cutlery, then for many years he was the attendance officer for the City Schools.

Later in life he developed an interest in photography and won many prizes for his prints. He won a national Eastman photography award with a picture of his mother-in-law baking pies. His photos won international interest with one set of prints being shown in 20 exhibits in South America. One of his pictures won a $500 prize. He also published many articles in nature and outdoor magazines. He was elected as an associate of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1940. 

May Burelbach for many years worked in the offices of attorney Joe V. Williams and Joe V. Williams Jr.

Major Burelbach died in Chattanooga on Jan. 26, 1952.

After the death of her husband, May Burelbach stayed on in the house at 510 West Fourth. She stayed until she was forced out by the Chattanooga Housing Authority.

May Dunbar Burelbach was living at Crossville when she died in October 1970 - far from the old homeplace that was no more on Cameron Hill.

Photos have not yet been located of the Burelbach homes on Cameron Hill.


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