Come experience unbridled history with us! Kershaw County is rich in history and heritage. Camden, the county seat, is the oldest inland city in South Carolina.
Originally laid out in 1732 as the town of Fredricksburg in the Wateree River swamp (south of the present town) when King George III ordered eleven inland townships established along South Carolina's rivers. Few of the area settlers chose to take lots surveyed in the town, choosing the higher ground to the north. The township soon disappeared.
In 1758, Joseph Kershaw arrived from England via Charleston and opened a store at a site he called Pine Tree Hill (the town's second name). Roughly ten years later the town name was changed to Camden in honor of Lord Camden, a champion of colonial rights named Charles Pratt.
Today, there are over sixty sites that pre-date 1865. These sites are included in the A guide to Historic Sites in Historic Camden, our driving guide. This National Register designated district is the essence of Camden. From cottages to spacious mansions, the distric is the reflection of Camden's almost 275 year-old history, ranging from the Revolutionary War era to the antebellum South to the winter residences established in the early 1900s. In addition to the self-guide tour book, maps are also available. Stop by the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center for information and a guide book. The guides are also available at the Camden Archives and Museum, Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, and the Bonds-Conway House, home of the Kershaw County Historical Society.
Many notables have proudly called Kershaw County home, including:
- Brook Benton (International recording star.)
- Sammy Wright (Actor in The Lion King and more.)
- Lane Kirkland (President AFL-CIO.)
- Larry Doby (First African-American in the American Baseball League.)
- Bernard Baruch (Wall Street financier/advisor to presidents.)
- John C. West (Governor 1971-1975 and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.)
- Bobby Ingram Professional football player.)
- John G. Richards (Governor 1927-1931.)
- Joseph Cunningham (South Carolina's 1st millionaire.)
- Bonds Conway (Believed to be the first African-American slave to buy his own freedom and in 1793 became a prominent businessman.)
Six Civil War Generals native to Camden:
- James Chesnut
- James Cantey
- Zach Cantey Deas
- John D. Kennedy
- Joseph Brevard Kershaw
- John B. Villepigue
- Mary Boykin Chesnut (Author of "A Diary from Dixie".)
- William Shannon (Died in the famous Cash-Shannon duel in 1880.)
- Dr. G.R.C. Todd (Brother of Mary Todd Lincoln.)
- Richard Kirkland (Known as the "Angel of Maryes Heights", risking his life to carry water to wounded Union soldiers at the Battle of Fredricksburg. He later died at the battle of Chichamauga on September 20, 1863.)
- King Haigler ("The Patron Saint of Camden", a noble Catawba Indian who befriended Camden's early settlers.)
- Thomas Jefferson Withers (A signer of the original Orders of Succession and a delegate to the Confederate Convention.)
- Daniel DeSaussure(Veteran of the War of 1812 & War with the Barbary Pirates.)