Upcoming Program: “Jak Smyrl’s Camden & Kershaw County”

The Kershaw County Historical Society invites you to our Society Program on Sunday afternoon, July 24, 2022, 3 p.m. at the Woolard Technology Center (WTC) at 70 Innovation Drive, Camden, SC, a cool place to enjoy in hot July!

This is our first time to meet in WTC’s roomy new high-tech center with audio-visual excellence, spacious seating, ample parking, and easy access. Just 5 minutes south of Historic Camden and beside Central Carolina.

Jak Smyrl’s Camden & Kershaw County

Speakers: Joan and Glen Inabinet

authors of The World of Jak Smyrl — SC Artist, Journalist, Cartoonist

Selections of Jak’s Art will also be exhibited, including woodcarvings privately owned and not previously displayed.

Copies of the book and inscriptions available. $35.
A History of Kershaw County available. $50

“Hot weather was Jak’s favorite season,” the biographers may mention about the Camden-born artist (1923-2007) whose art and words recorded much of the history and ways of his hometown and Kershaw County in a long career that included over 38 years on the staff of The State newspaper.

Born in the Roaring Twenties, growing up in the Depression, reaching adulthood in World War II, the Camden High graduate joined the Marines in time to engage in the Battle of Okinawa and serve in Occupation China. At mid-life he and wife Betty took months off work to travel the world.

The biographers’ rich sources bring to light the local influences that shaped Jak and the ways he left his marks on Camden/Kershaw County.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Uncategorized

“Growing Up Southern—Then and Now”

The Kershaw County Historical Society invites you to our Society Program on Sunday afternoon, June 5, 2022, 3 p.m. at Liberty Hall, Revolutionary War Visitor Center, 212 Broad Street, Camden, SC (beside Historic Camden).

Come early. A great place and date to be hosting our program! Nearby:

  • Observe the Bonds Conway House, moved to Historic Camden. Anticipate evolving Living History displays in the house where we’ll keep an office.
  • Catch the final hours of SC Ag-Art artisans and farm at Historic Camden.
  • Enjoy the Revolutionary War Visitor Center’s great features, some new.
Tom Poland, Southern Writer. Visit his website at www.tompoland.net.
“May my words preserve this land, this people, this way of life.”

Tom Poland, Guest Speaker, at 3 p.m.
“Growing Up Southern—Then and Now”

“I prefer forgotten backroads and places where the pace crawls, where old mansions crumble, and orchards go untended,” says Tom Poland. Long a Columbia, S.C., resident, the Georgia native calls himself “a blue-collar historian” and writes about “memories, special places, and unforgettable characters” in the South he knows best, calling his area “Georgialina.”

Author of a dozen books and a thousand-plus articles and columns, journalist-professor Poland is a former editor of SC Wildlife. His widely distributed column appears regularly in the local Chronicle-Independent.

A lively, popular speaker, he is a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto.

Posted in Uncategorized

Moving Forward!

The Kershaw County Historical Society has been ON THE MOVEliterally.

The historic Bonds Conway House, which has served for 42 years as the Society’s headquarters at 811 Fair Street, Camden, was moved with great excitement on March 30 to a more visitor-accessible setting on the grounds of Historic Camden, which is at 222 Broad Street beside the new Kershaw County Revolutionary War Visitor Center, 212 Broad.

On the Historic Camden campus, the House will sit with other period buildings in a village setting, east of the Craven House and west of the McCaa Tavern, as seen in photos here. (More photos of the move process will be posted soon, and other photos will appear in weeks ahead as the house continues its transition to reopening.)

The Society has donated the House and its collected antique furnishings to the Historic Camden Foundation to become part of the interpretative history of the area. KCHS will continue use of the House’s office and upstairs storage for Society purposes, and will work with HCF, the Camden Archives, and Conway family researchers on developing related historical presentations.

Take a look at the history of Bonds Conway as presented in a popular KCHS-distributed account and recently updated on its webpage.

In 1977 the Society purchased the then-unnamed house under condemnation at 411 York Street, saving it from demolition, and then purchased the Fair Street property on which to renovate and use the house while continuing to research its history. The Society retains ownership of the 811 Fair Street property.

Over the years, as interest in the Bonds Conway house and its history increased, the concept of moving the house to Historic Camden was talked about at other intervals for the same visitor-accessible reasons, but the pieces finally came together after specific planning which began before and continued in the long months of Covid.

Read here about some of the Society’s other recent and ongoing activities. The Kershaw County Historical Society is excited to continue MOVING AHEAD!

Posted in Uncategorized

Camden, an Inland Port on the Wateree River

To a large audience of more than 80 persons, the Kershaw County Historical Society and the Camden Archives and Museum co-hosted a program Nov. 7, 2021, featuring detailed new research on the Wateree River and its fascinating history. The main points were the river’s importance in the Revolution and Camden’s development as an inland port.

Open to the public at the newly developed Kershaw County Revolutionary War Visitor Center, the meeting was held in the spacious facility Liberty Hall, 2l2 Broad Street, Camden, S.C.

Based on years of persistent study, historian Lon D. Outen presented extensive research and revealing perspectives in his talk and slides on the topic:

The Wateree River, Inland Port at Camden

From canoes to steamboats, Outen’s program traced the evolution and demise of the Camden port, which evolved from pre-colonial days to Revolutionary times through nineteenth century succcesses and twentieth century attempts at revival.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina in education and history, Outen has been employed at the Camden Archives for about a dozen years. He has served on the Board of the KC Historical Society and was its past treasurer. He and his wife live in Kershaw.

Among his other publications, Outen is also the author of a book about Kershaw County’s other important river system. It is entitled A History of Lynches Forks and Extended Areas on Big and Little Lynches Rivers, S.C.

On Nov. 7 program attendees were able to arrive early to view the adjoining Visitor Center museum exhibits (Sunday hours 1-5 p.m.). The program also recommended visits sometime soon to public park sites along the old Wateree River port areas–the Riverfront Environmental Park (Camden side) and the Wateree River Veterans Park (Lugoff side).

Outen’s books may be purchased at the Camden Archives and Museum as well as other area book outlets.

Posted in Uncategorized

MYSTERY OF A WATEREE SWAMP SKELETON

You will know about this true story if you are following the Historical Society’s monthly column!

Are you reading it?

The Kershaw County Historical Society column appears by permission for first printing on the second or third Friday of the month in the Camden, S.C., newspaper Chronicle-Independent, a print publication also available digitally to subscribers.

 “Mystery of a Wateree Swamp Skeleton,” by Joan A. Inabinet, appears in the October 15, 2021, Chronicle-Independent. (Its content is described in the catalog below.)

A catalog of recent KCHS columns follows:

The Society also plans soon to post the recent columns on this website. (They are archived as well on the digital Chronicle-Independent and may be searched there.)

Author of the following columns is Joan A. Inabinet. All columns include recent or more detailed research, or a fresh focus on historical topics, all directly related to Kershaw County past and present.

In 2020

  1. May “1918—What Happened Here?”  The 1918 flu epidemic (“Spanish influena”), schools, churches, and public entertainments closed by public health directives.
  2. June “We Must Not Forget Again.” Events of the time that obscured public memory of the 1918 flu epidemic, continuing previous column.
  3. July “A Centennial for Women Voters.” Reactions to women registering to vote.
  4. August “Kershaw County’s First Women Voters.” Details on individual women (A-K).
  5. September “More KC Women First-Time Voters.”  Continued (L-Z).
  6. October “A Long Tradition of Sharing Historic Treasures.” Details of a sample 1957 KC Historical Society meeting that set a pattern of work and programs.
  7. November “A Fresh Perspective on Collective Community Preservation.” 1960-1980: The Historical Society, District Heritage Foundation, Historic Camden, the Camden Archives and Museum. KCHS’s rescue, move, restoration, and use of the historic Bonds Conway House.
  8. December “A Very Noisy Christmas to You!” Fireworks of years gone by. Carton by Jak Smyrl.

In 2021

  1. January “Yep, He Sure Would Take It!” Smallpox, pest houses, local outbreaks, vaccination, turn of century. Photo grave of victim Joanna Morris.
  2. February “Hearts and Valentines—1921 Style.” Customs of the time. Old photo of couple at the Precipice.
  3. March “A Shout-Out to Teachers”—Teachers’ names/addresses at Camden and county public schools (white and “colored”) and at private Mather Academy, from a 1925 phone directory.
  4. April “Historic Home Recalled in Memoir.” The Douglas-Witherspoon-Reed House, from early 1900s memoir of Sarah Mickle Marsh. Illustrated by a painting by Mary Ellen Jenkins.
  5. May “A Gardening Book, A Love Story, and Life in 1800’s Camden.” Story of Phineas and Elizabeth Thornton. Illustration from book.
  6. June “Mission in Mind—An 1819 Visitor to Camden Area.” Englishman William Faux’s visit regarding his relative Revolutionary Loyalist Col. Henry Rugeley.
  7. July “Outside Camden—An 1819 Visitor in ‘the Wilderness.’” Continuing William Faux’s mission to learn more, visiting Rugeley’s kin. Image of Drakeford House. moved to Historic Camden.
  8. August “Terrible Gale and Conflagration.” Horrifying woods fires with widespread outbreaks statewide and beyond, bring great damage on March 9, 1855, to county areas. Image, modern controlled burn by foresters.
  9. September “A Legacy of Change and Roots.” A 1976 Bicentennial article on early 1900s Cassatt in Kershaw County Legacy inspires a review and update.
  10. October “Mystery of a Wateree Swamp Skeleton.” In 1943, an extensive and futile search of the dense Wateree Swamp for a Shaw Field pilot trainee whose plane was lost. In 1946, discovery by chance of a skeleton in the swamp. Who was this young man?

Thanks if you are reading along with us! Please start and catch up if you have not been reading! Your responses and suggestions are welcomed.

Posted in Uncategorized

Summer 2021 at the Bonds Conway House

Rain storms and high winds brought broken limbs, and grass and fences required regular attention outside our headquarters at the Bonds Conway House. Thanks to our volunteers who helped out! Our old-time pear tree, transplanted years ago we are told from an old plantation garden, produced abundantly all summer. Just one collection of fine pears, donated to Food for the Soul, yielded 45 pounds of fresh fruit. We also had three families of bluebirds to hatch out of our weathered handmade birdhouse and fly away.

Nature outside mirrored the way our Society’s work progressed fulfilling other goals–some plans were damaged but are repeatedly being repaired with attention of persistent volunteer efforts. We find our work also bearing fruit and we are ready to keep moving forward!.

THANKS TO ALL OUR FAITHFUL SUPPORTERS!
Your contributions of funds, efforts, and positive words constantly encourage us and are much appreciated.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Turning Point

An audience of more than 50 persons, socially distancing with lawn chairs and masks, encircled the front of the Camden Archives and Museum April 25, 2021, for the first Kershaw County Historical Society public program since the local outbreak of the Covid-9 pandemic.

Sunny spring sunshine and gentle breezes invited lingering conversations sparked by the timely program, co-sponsored by the Archives. Speaker John Miller informed and entertained as he told vivid stories of the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, fought only a few blocks north of the meeting site exactly 240 years ago that same day.

Before and after the outside program, meeting guests visited the inside Archives exhibits on two Revolutionary War “turning points,” the battles of Camden and of Hobkirk’s Hill. Society members hoped the meeting would prove a “turning point” in opportunities to return to active programming.

Posted in Uncategorized

“A Turning Point” Invitation

(Image in “Turning Points” exhibit,
Courtesy of Don Troiani, copyrighted)

At the Camden Archives & Museum
Co-Sponsored by The Kershaw County Historical Society


We invite you to observe a Revolutionary turning point
Sunday afternoon, April 25, 2021
240th Anniversary on this date of the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill

3:00 p.m. Outdoor program on the battle’s importance
Speaker (with microphone): John Miller
At front center entrance of Camden Archives & Museum
(1314 Broad Street, Camden, South Carolina)

Park your car at indicated areas. Bring your own lawn chair.
Seat yourself socially distanced. Masks required in Archives.
Archives will open at 2:30 and until 5:00 for viewing its exhibit:

The Battles of Camden—Turning Points of the Revolution.

In case of rain, re-scheduled until next Sunday, May 2

Posted in Uncategorized

Inviting You To Change 2020 to 2021

Your Renewal or New Membership helps us continue preserving Kershaw County History

Thanks to our current Members! Your support has been faithful and has been valued in Covid year 2020. For what we hope to be a brighter year ahead, the Kershaw County Historical Society invites present members and other interested persons to join us to sustain the legacy of Kershaw County history in 2021.

Membership renewal cards have been mailed to current members for updated information and dues payment to be sent by mail/email or by Paypal.

Other interested persons, or members lacking a renewal card, may join by clicking the homepage tab “Membership” on the Kershaw County Historical Society webpage for steps to submit information and dues by the same ways.

We thank you for joining us! Membership is invaluable to our mission. We will be posting again soon with other updates.

Posted in Uncategorized

In the Interim of Coronavirus Covid-19

Since our most recent Society program (Feb. 16, 2020, see views below), we have all been thrust into the present history-making period of unexpected changes, adaptations, and waiting.

Now in mid-May we pause broad societal reflections to mark within that time also three losses of significance in our Society’s history—the last two surviving charter members of our 66-year-old organization, and our immediate past president:

  1. Last surviving charter member Harvey Stuart Teal 1928-2020
  2. Charter member Henrietta McWillie 1923-2020
  3. Immediate past president Katherine Williams Hill 1949-2020

Acknowledging appreciation to the above for their contributions to the historical community and the Society, we will continue to meet current challenges.

Looking Ahead—Canceled Plans Still Hold Interest

Three scheduled 2020 activities of our Society during the past three months have required postponement to an indefinite time because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  These include:

  1. A field trip to view archaeological work at Kershaw County’s White Pond, with Dr. Christopher Moore
  2. Program with Tom Poland, speaker, on Carolina Bays
  3. Program on The World of Jak Smyrl by the Authors, on his Kershaw County roots. Preview here.

Click on the hot links above to understand our interests.  (Yes, it’s like online adult-home-schooling for the historical society! Feel young!)

Research, information gathering, preservation, and planning go on.

Thanks for your continued support!!

Below, our February 16 program.

Posted in Uncategorized