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Hufham, James Dunn

by R. Hargus Taylor, 1988

26 May 1834–27 Mar. 1921

A photograph of James Dunn Hufnam published in 1921. Image from the Internet Archive.James Dunn Hufham, Baptist clergyman, editor, and historian, was born near Faison, Duplin County, the second of nine children of the Reverend George Washington and Frances Dunn Hufham. His great-grandfather, Solomon Hufham, an Englishman, settled near the juncture of the Duplin-Bladen-New Hanover county line before 1751. His maternal ancestors went to Virginia soon after the founding of Jamestown, moving later to Maryland. The family arrived in Duplin County in the late eighteenth century.

Hufham studied at Green Academy, near Faison, and was prepared for college by Dr. James Sprunt of Kenansville. He was graduated from Wake Forest College with the B.A. (1856) and M.A. (1860) degrees; in 1878 the college awarded him the D.D. degree.

After graduation, Hufham returned to Duplin County where he taught for a year at Warsaw High School (1858), served as pastor of the Bear Marsh Baptist Church (1857–61), and engaged in itinerant pastoral and missionary work within the bounds of the sprawling Eastern Baptist Association, whose churches were located from Wayne to Carteret to New Hanover counties. He also served for brief periods as pastor, or pastoral supply, for the Baptist congregations at Chinquapin, Clinton, and Kenansville.

In April 1861, Hufham retired temporarily from the pastoral ministry to become editor and sole proprietor of the Biblical Recorder, the weekly Baptist journal published in Raleigh. He continued as editor until 1867, and later served as associate editor from 1874 to 1877. Returning to the pastorate in 1868, he subsequently served Baptist churches in Sawyers Creek, Camden County (1868–70); Second Church (now Tabernacle), Raleigh (1874–78); Scotland Neck (1878–91); Tarboro (1891–94); First Church, Shelby (1894–96); and First Church, Henderson (1896–1903). While in Scotland Neck and Tarboro, he was also engaged in pastoral and missionary work throughout Halifax, Edgecombe, Martin, Pitt, Washington, and Beaufort counties. In 1903, he was forced to retire from regular pastoral services due to an injury sustained from a fall.

The Biblical Recorder of 24 Apr. 1861—the first edition to appear after Hufham's purchase of the journal—stated his editorial policy succinctly: "I claim for myself perfect liberty to say what I believe and to act as I think best.—I have already received much excellent advice, and I have no doubt but that it will be freely given in the future; but brethren must not complain if even after they express their opinions, I think for myself, praise what appears to be commendable, and condemn what is blameworthy." That same liberty was extended to his correspondents. Hufham became widely read and favorably known during this trying period in the state's history. His editorials during the Civil War displayed an ardent patriotism and a profound sympathy for the Confederate cause. Near the end of the war his press was wrecked by Union soldiers, said to have been incensed by the tone of an editorial that he had prepared for publication.

The affairs of the Baptists in North Carolina had no more loyal supporter and advocate than James Dunn Hufham. Apart from championing the work of the denomination and the churches through the pages of the Biblical Recorder and in his own ministry, he served the Baptist State Convention as recording secretary (1862–67, 1875–78) and as corresponding secretary (1871–74). He was financial agent for Wake Forest College (1877–78) and a longtime member of its board of trustees (1866–1921). In addition, Hufham was a member of the Convention's Board of Missions—predecessor of the current General Board—from 1874 to 1909. Much credit is due him for encouraging North Carolina Baptists to support the Thomasville Orphanage (now Mills Home of the North Carolina Baptist Children's Home, Inc.) and in the establishment of the Baptist Female University (now Meredith College) in Raleigh.

Hufham's interest in the history of his denomination, in general, and of North Carolina Baptists, in particular, was first evidenced in a lengthy "report" he submitted in 1860 as a member of the History Committee of the Eastern Baptist Association. In 1885 he was instrumental in the organization of the North Carolina Baptist Historical Society, serving as vice-president and historian. He expanded upon his earlier interest in a series of eleven lengthy articles on "The Baptists in North Carolina" that appeared in North Carolina Baptist Historical Papers from April 1897 to July 1899. This quarterly—published under the auspices of the North Carolina Baptist Historical Society—was edited by Hufham. The only book he wrote was his Memoir of John Lamb Prichard, Late Pastor of First Baptist Church, Wilmington, NC, published in 1867.

On 23 July 1863 Hufham married Mary Anna Faison of Sampson County. They had six children: George, James Dunn, Annie Hinton (m. James R. Singleton), James Needham, Thomas McDowell, and Mary Faison. Hufham was interred beside the remains of his wife and firstborn son in the cemetery adjacent to Trinity Church, Scotland Neck.


Annual Proceedings of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (1862).

Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, vol. 3 (1905).

Biblical Recorder, 2 Jan. 1935 (portrait).

George Washington Paschal, History of Wake Forest College, vol. 2 (1943).

Thomas Jerome Taylor, A History of the Tar River Baptist Association, 1830–1921 (n.d.).

Additional Resources:

James Dunn Hufham Papers, 1895-1969 (MS57). Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, Wake Forest University.

Image Credits:

"James Dunn Hufham." Photograph. Annual of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention 1921. Richmond, Va.: Richmond Press, Inc.  3. (accessed October 24, 2013).

Origin - location: