M.J. Burelbach

1915-1917

Martin Joachim Burelbach was Scout Executive from 1915-1917.  He was born September 18, 1884 in Perham, Minnesota.  Prior to becoming Scout Executive, he had "shown marked ability both as a Scoutmaster and in handling weekend-end hikes and short-time camps."  He had served 3 years in the calvary branch of the regular army as a non-commissioned officer and until his appointment as Scout Executive he held a commission as lieutenant in the National Guard.  He also had operated private camps for boys.


Major M.J. Burelbach became the acting Scout Executive for the Chattanooga Council on March 20, 1915 following the resignation of W.C. Fowler.  He volunteered in this role until the executive committee officially appointed him as Scout Executive on June 18, 1915, for a salary of $80 per month.  Limited funds required this small salary, and Burelbach led the Council in keeping office expenses to a minimum, using the free space afforded to the Scouts by the Chamber of Commerce, furnishing his own typewriter, doing his own stenographic work, and walking or riding streetcars for business travel.  Sacrifices such as these helped "keep the movement alive."


Burelbach had worked extensively with the Boy Scouts in many places, and was a highly capable leader. The Chattanooga Scoutmasters and Scout commission fully supported his selection as leader.  Burelbach aimed to expand Scouting in Chattanooga by adding new troops. The new executive sought to start new "Scout patrols" in the Jewish synagogues of the city: East Lake, St. Elmo, and Rossville.  When Burelbach took over, there were about a dozen troops and about 200 boys already enrolled.


On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, and within thirty days, Scout Executive Maj. M.J. Burelbach was in military service. He was relieved of his capacity in the Scouts on May 1, 1917.


On July 19, 1911, he married May Dunbar.  Major Martin Joachim Burelbach survived the war and died in Chattanooga on January 26, 1952.

Burelbach's obituary called him a "retired school teacher, boy scout leader and internationally known amateur photographer."  Here is a copy of his obituary:


Funeral services for Major Marvin J Burelbach, retired school teacher, boy scout leader and internationally known amateur photographer who died at his home on West 4th Street, Chattanooga Saturday, January 26 were held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Bryan Funeral Home in Chattanooga. Burial was in the National cemetery.  He is survived by his wife, Mrs May D Burelbach, Chattanooga; 2 brothers, John and George, Perham, MN; 2 nephews, Jack of Perham and James J of Charlotte, NC.  Major Burelbach was born September 18, 1884 in Perham, MN, the son of Matt and Mrs Sophia Doll Burelbach. He came to Chattanooga and joined the Army in 1905, spent 3 years at Fort Ogelthorpe with the 12th Cavalry. In July 1905 he married Miss May Dunbar of Chattanooga and Crossville. She is the daughter of Henry G and Susan W Dunbar, who makes her home with her daughter, Mrs Ernest Hughes, Ozone.  For 25 years Major Burelbach was connected with the Chattanooga city school system as book custodian and attendance officer. He had retired from this work only 3 years ago.  In later life he developed great interest in amateur photography and won many prizes with his excellent prints. One year he won the national Eastman photography award with a photograph of Mrs. Burelbach's mother baking pies. His photos won international renown through exhibitions, the latest a set of prints which was shown in 20 exhibits in South America.