Kershaw County, South Carolina

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Kershaw County, South Carolina



1732 Camden, Kershaw County site was settled by English traders and farmers who moved inland from Charleston. Kershaw County was named for Joseph Kershaw (1727-1791), an early settler, "father of Camden". [1]Originally this was part of Camden District. [2]
1732 The county seat is Camden, the oldest inland city in South Carolina. This site was settled around by English, Scottish, Irish, and more traders and farmers who moved inland from Charleston.ref name=wiki />
Early migration routes to and from Kershaw County for European settlers included:[3]
Occaneechi Path pre-historic
migration routes
Camden-Charleston Path 1732
Fall Line Road about 1735
Great Valley Road (south fork) 1740s
1776 Revolutionary War
Historic Site Camden
Revolution War
June 1780 to May 1781 Battle of Camden British occupied Camden
April, 1781 Hobkirk's Hill Nathanael Green led the American army in defending the ridge called Hobkirk's Hill against British troops, led by Francis Rawdon. Greene retreated, leaving Rawdon's soldiers in possession of the hill. A marker is present on Broad St. See above.

1776-1781 During the American Revolutionary War, the British occupied Camden from June 1780 to May 1781. [1]
Aug 16, 1780 Battle of Camden (14) battles took place in the area, including the Battle of Camden  :April 25, 1781 the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill occurred.[1]
Spring 1880 - 1781 -Charleston was lost. After this Camden was captured and served as the main British supply post during the Revolution. Later the British army was garrisoned in Camden during 2 major battles, Battle of Camden and Battle of Hobkirk's Hill. [4]
With this control of Camden, the British maintained control of South Carolina's back country. At the time, Camden had two city blocks of period homes and military barracks surrounded by a palisade log fence. Fortifications protected it. The British were determined to control this area, as they could see that Camden was positioned near a crossroads of routs to Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.[4]
5 redoubt further protected it
a fortified house
a Jail
Powder magazine - all were strategically 100-1000 feet outside the town.[4]
The Battle of Camden was 9 miles North of the site. Other skirmishes (minor battles within 20 miles of the town. [4]
1781-82 In this one year span the British were victorous in many of these assaults, with the expense of high casualty and mortality rates. This weakened the British Redcoats and further intensified its anti-war movement within the British Isles. [4]
Camden is significant due to the role it played during the war. It was a direct result of England's attempt during late 1779 to attempt to gain control of all the southern colonies.[4]
The battle area is bisected by South Carolina HWy 58, with a marker in the location where Baron de Kalb fell. Size of battlefield was 1 mile east-west and 3 miles north/south. It is an area of grasslands and forest. Nearby is Gum Swamp creek and Lake Shamokin on the north. [5]
1791- Originally part of Camden District, Kershaw County was formed from parts of Claremont, Lancaster, Fairfield, and Richland counties. It isi named for Joseph Kershaw.[1]
The county seat is Camden which has the honor of being the oldest inland city in South Carolina. [4][6]
1798 -Kershaw County, one of the north-central counties, formed from old Craven County, was organized in 1798.
1800-04 - First of the Camden (horse) Races held (January). Newspaper begina printing in Camden. Methodist Church built in Camden.[7]
1805 - Camden Library Society disappears in 1852. Camden Orphan Society home and school operates in the Joseph Kershaw house (1805-1822). Presbyterian Church building built, near present-day Quaker Cemetery. [7]
Oct. 23,1812 -Two main town squares, including the original town market at corner of Bull and Market Streets, destroyed by fire (October 23)[7]
1816 - Town market built at site of old jail, then sold in 1859. Camden Jocket Club, Camden Fire Co. begin. Sidewalks paved. Camden Gazett news begins publishing..[7]
Slavery Slavery on the Move
1818 - First race course in Camden; ran around the blocks bounded by Lyttleton, DeKalb, Mill, Laurens Streets. Wateree & Santee Steamboat Co. [7] Sidewalks on Broad Street paved, from Big Ditch to DeKalb Street
1822 - Establishment of first bank in Camden (branch of the S. C. State Bank); falls into bankruptcy in 1865[7] Two Academies (one for males; one for females) built on DeKalb Street (near Presbyterian Church) by Orphan Society. Camden Chronical begins publishing.
1825 - Steeple over Town Market completed. Old Town Clock and bell arrive from Philadelphia--placed in steeple over town market. Gen Lafayette visits Camden, lays cornerstone of DeKalb Monument.
1826-27 - Mill’s Courthouse (Kershaw District Courthouse) built in Camden (re-modeled in 1847), King Haigler weathervane installed over Camden Market. Camden Journel published. First time Wateree River known to have frozen over (January 3). Bridge over Wateree River at Camden completed [washed away in flood, 1831][7]
Nov 23, 1829 - Independent Fire Engine Company incorporated. Huge fire destroys Camden's business district (85 buildings). Death of Henry G Nixon in duel with Thomas A Hopkins, Camden Anti-dueling organized.(reorganized 1878) Hook and Ladder Fire Company formed. Episcopal congregation begin, titled Grace Church.[7]
1831 - A sudden rise in the level of a stream, caused by heavy rains (Freshet) occurs washes away 1828 Wateree Bridge, damages $300,000 worth to crops. Wateree Bridge Company begins operating ferry; then discontinued it in 1838. [7]
1835 - Seamboat, "Wateree & Santee" arrives in Camden; the "Cheraw," from Charleston. Baptist Church bought by City; used as theatre until torn down/burned in 1850)[7]
1836 - Bank of Camden established (October); falls into bankruptcy in 1865.
1838 - Dekalb Cotton Factory established (burned 1855). Bridge over Wateree rebuilt and replaces the ferry which operated after 1st bridge washed 1831. Bridge was burned by Sherman, 1865!!
1840 - Formation of the Dekalb Rifle Guards later are Dekalb Rifle Guards plus the Alarm Corps who patrol at Christmas.[7]
1847 -Last Revolutionary War soldier of Kershaw District, Major Samuel Jones' death. [7]Mills Courthouse remodeled inside and out; six portico columns replaced with four Doric ones
1848-49 Railroad reaches Camden (November 1)--branch of the South Carolina Railroad, Infirmary for chronic diseases formed by Dr W. J. McKain & Dr. C.J. Shannon. Cadets of Temperance organized, for boys between 12-18 years[7]
1856 Col. J.P. Dickinson monument erected in Monument Square, at Dickinson’s burial site.[7]
1862 - Confederate Hospital opens in Camden, in old hotel, George Rogers Todd Clark a surgeon. Richard Kirkland is hero at Battle of Fredericksburg by giving enemy troops water. [7] [1] Six men served in the American Civil War as Confederate Generals. [4]
Joseph Brevard Kershaw (1822-1894)
James Chesnut (1815-1885)
James Cantey (1818-1873)
Zachariah C. Deas (1819-1882)
John Bordenave Villepigue (1830-1862)
John Doby Kennedy (1840-1896). Confederate hero at the Battle of Fredericksburg
Richard Rowland Kirkland was also from Kershaw County, and served under General Kershaw
Feb 1865 --Union troops under Gen. William T. Sherman burned parts of Camden. Kershaw-CornwallisHouse destroyed by fire (February 24). Fires set by Gen. William T. Sherman's troops destroy east side of Broad Street between DeKalb and Rutledge (February 24). Camden occupied by Federal troops under Gen. William T. Sherman (February 24-25). [7][8]
Apr 18, 1865 - Battle of Boykin’s Mill , Camden town currency issued. Town council is relieved of duty during the Federal occupation. Camden occupied by Federal troops (June 14, 1865-March 24, 1866). [7]
1865 - Wateree River Bridge burned by Sherman's troops; Bridge Co. begins ferry (until 1872).[7] Public school system created by State Constitution [7]
1872 - Legislation is passed to include Kirkwood in city limits, then amended 1878, then increased again 1906.Wooden bridge over the Wateree River completed (State deemed it a hazard and ordered its destruction in 1878).[7]
1874-75 - First street lighting in Camden -- 20 gasoline lamps installed. Fire destroys buildings on west side of Broad Street, between DeKalb and Rutledge Streets. [7]
1877-78 End of Reconstruction, redemption of local currency. Fire destroys area near Broad, Rutledge St. Bridge Company operates ferry across Wateree River, until 1883 when a new steel bridge is completed. [7]
Mulberry, Kershaw county, SC
1880 Cash-Shannon duel (July 5); William M. Shannon killed by Col. E.B.C. Cash--last duel in South Carolina. [7]
1883 Confederate Monument erected at intersection of Broad and Laurens Streets (moved to Monument Square in 1949. Steel bridge constructed over the Wateree River (raised 5' in 1902 to protect it from damage during floods)--washed away 1908.[7]
1886 Camden Opera House completed, (remodeled in 1934). Town Market constructed on Broad Street, one lot south of Opera House; demolished in 1901. King Haiglar weathervane and town clock moved to town tower at Camden Opera House. [7]
1887 "Three C's" railroad line constructed; Southern Railway took it over in 1902. [7] Town of Kershaw incorporated
1890 -Camden Cotton Mill established; reorganized as Hermitage Cotton Mill in 1905. New charter issued establishing the City of Camden, with Mayor and City Council form of government. Fire destroys parts of downtown Camden again 1893. [7]
1896-97 Camden Water, Light, and Ice Company established (furnished water and electricity to the city); power house burned May, 1902 [7]
1899 Seaboard Railroad line established through Camden. Most extreme cold temperature ever recorded: -12 degrees below zero.[7]
1900 Dekalb Cotton Mill (later Pine Creek Mill; later Wateree; later Kendall) established. Northwestern Railway builds line connecting Camden with Sumter; later owned by Atlantic Coast Line. [7] First car comes to Camden. Town of Bethune chartered[7]
1901-02- New jail constructed between DeKalb and Lafayette Streets (later becomes County Health Department) Infirmary built near the Laurens Street home of Dr. John W. Corbett. Cotton Seed Oil Company built; branch of Southern Cotton Oil Company. Fire destroys part of the square on the west side of Broad Street. [7]
1907 First movie theater in Camden. Town of Blaney incorporated (January 23)--name changed to Elgin in 1962. Pine Grove Academy (located in Hampton Park [7]
1910-1916 New bridge over Wateree River opens; free to traffic. washed away 1916. Last public hanging in Kershaw County . Pantheon monument in Rectory Square dedicated (May 10) Richard Kirkland Fountain installed in intersection. Free mail delivery begins in Camden. [7]
Episcopalian Church, Camden
1915 Camden Milling Company organized (corn meal and hominy). Post office, Catholic Church and Library built. Catawba-Wateree flood: Wateree Bridge washed away, replaced by ferry.[7]
1918 -During World War I, 2 Kershaw County men were awarded the Medal of Honor in two separate actions in France in October 1918. [1]
Oct 11, 1918 Richmond Hobson Hilton, was awarded his medal for actions in the Great War, during which he lost an arm.
Oct 15, 1918 - John Canty Villepigue actions in World War I that resulted in his death months later from injuries received. Villepigue was a descendant of General John Bordenave Villepigue .[1]
1919 -20 Wateree Dam constructed and Lake Wateree created; Wateree Power Company builds power plant. Wooden toll bridge across Wateree River opens; replaces ferry (February 3) [7]
1922 Kershaw County's first black lawyer admitted to the bar (Herbert F. McGirt). Camden Hospital opens. Murder at Wateree toll bridge; Smith killed by bridge keeper Owens. [7]
1969 - both battle sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [4]

Government Offices

Historic Courthouse was designed by Robert Mills 1825 and construction was completed by 1827.

Robert Mills historic Courthouse, Camden.

Mills Courthouse remodeled inside and out; six portico columns replaced with four Doric ones

1905 Courthouse built on site of Lafayette Hall, corner of Broad and Lafayette Streets

Kershaw courthouse


In 2016 census, the population was 64,097.

Size - total area of 740 square miles (1,900 km2), of which 727 square miles (1,880 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (1.9%) is water.
Lake Wateree -Kershaw County is one of three counties that compromises Lake Wateree, in which the lake is compromised with Wateree River, which flows through Kershaw County.
Kershaw - a district in N.E., central part of South Carolina
Size: area of 756 square miles.
Rivers/Creeks- intersected by the Wateree river, bounded on E. is Lynche's creek. Little Lynche's, Rice, and Pinetree creeks drain the county.
Topography - surface is moderately hilly, the soil in some parts is productive.
Crops: Cotton, Indian corn, oats, and sweet potatoes
1850 this district produced 9015 bales of cotton; 362,165 bushels of corn; 23,510 of oats, and 54,880 of sweet potatoes.
Other industry- 4 tanneries, 1 cotton factory, 1 grist, and 2 saw & planing mills.
Churches - 13 churches
Other -1 newspaper office
Education -340 students attended public schools, and 735 attending academies or other schools. :Wateree river is navigable by steamboats in the S. part of the district.
Railroad -Camden to the Columbia Branch railroad.
Named in honor of Colonel Joseph Kershaw, of South Carolina.
Capital, Camden.
Population, 14473; of whom 4895 were free, and 9578, slaves.

Size: 673 square miles, (430,720 acres).
Population of 29,398 (census 1920) is 12,284 native white, 17,065 African American, 49 foreign born.
Type- N part belongs to the Piedmont Plateau, with red hills, red clay subsoil, with out-croppings of a superior granite, and produces a fine texture of cotton.
Middle region is in the Sand Hill or Upper Pine Belt, a part of the old Coastal Plain, well adapted for peaches and grapes.
Climate - mild winters.
Humidity, Dry and health giving.
Southern part - in the river terrace or flood plain region, with level, rich alluvial soil, subject to occasional overflow in the river valleys. Largest plantations are located here. See model State Farm.
Soil - 18 types--1) Congaree/First Bottom (5%) 2) Norfolk sands(47%) 3) Georgeville (8%) and 4) Cecil Clays (11%)
Crops - Cotton is main crop, also corn, wheat, oats
Average growing days - 245
Snowfall - 3 inches to negligible.
Rivers - Wateree River on the west, Lynches River on the east, and streams give drainage and water powerth their subsidiary streams, afford ample drainage and water power. The Wateree above Camden is a good distributing station for the Southern Power Company.

Adjacent counties

  • Richland County - southwest
  • Lee County - southeast
  • Sumter County - southeast
  • Fairfield County - west
  • Lancaster County - north
  • Chesterfield County - northeast
  • Darlington County - east
Formed From
1791 The county was created from parts of Claremont, Lancaster, Fairfield, and Richland counties.
  • 1798--Kershaw County was created in 1798 from Camden District.

Protected areas

Table Rock Mountain State Park.


In 2000, there were 52,647 people residing in the county with a population density of 72 people/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 71.61% White, 26.29% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.62% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 1.68% of the population were Hispanic. By 2010 there were 61,697 people living in Kershaw co. with a population density of 84.9 inhabitants/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 71.3% white, 24.6% black or African American, 0.5% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 3.7% Hispanic. Ancestry percentages were 28.1% were American, 7.8% were English, 7.7% were Irish, and 6.3% were German. The median income for a household in the county was $38,804, and the median income for a family was $44,836. The per capita income for the county was $18,360. About 9.70% of families and 12.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.90% of those under age 18 and 14.10% of those age 65 or over.[9]


US 1
US 521
US 601
SC 34
SC 97
SC 341
SC 261
SC 12
  • Kershaw County is part of the Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area
  • Central Carolina Technical College has two branches located in Kershaw County.
  • Kershaw County is home to Camden Military Academy, the official state military academy of South Carolina.
  • Montessori School of Camden is a private school located in Camden.
  • Seaboard Air Line traverses the county, northeast to southwest;
  • Southern Railway crosses the center, north to south;
  • Atlantic Coast Line has a spur from Camden to Sumter.

High schools

  • Camden High School
  • Lugoff-Elgin High School
  • North Central High School

Middle schools

  • Camden Middle School
  • Lugoff-Elgin Middle School
  • North Central Middle School
  • Leslie M. Stover Middle School

Elementary schools:

  • Camden Elementary School
  • Lugoff Elementary School
  • Wateree Elementary School
  • Blaney Elementary School
  • Doby's Mill Elementary School
  • Baron DeKalb Elementary School
  • Mt. Pisgah Elementary School
  • Midway Elementary School
  • Pine Tree Hill Elementary School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • Woodward Field (Kershaw County Airport)
  • Camden station


Towns/CDP's/Uninco Communities


Census-des places CDP

Uninc communities

County Resources

  • Historic Camden American Revolution site
  • Table Rock mountain State Park
Table Rock Mountain State Park

  • Bernard M Baruch (1870-1965) Statesman, financier
  • Lane Kirkland, labor leader b in Kershaw County, SC
  • Larry Doby, the first African-American baseball player in the American League. Former South Carolina *Governor John C. West former SC governor was from Kershaw County

:During World War I, medal of Honor recipients for fighting in France (2) Kershaw County men were awarded the Medal of Honor in two separate actions while fighting in France. *Richmond Hobson Hilton, WIA, awarded his medal for actions, during which he lost an arm.

  • John Canty Villepigue on October 15, 1918 resulted in his death months later from injuries received. Villepigue was a descendant of General John Bordenave Villepigue.

Civil War Generals

  • Joseph Brevard Kershaw (1822-1894)
  • James Chesnut (1815-1885)
  • James Cantey (1818-1873)
  • Zachariah C. Deas (1819-1882)
  • John Bordenave Villepigue (1830-1862)
  • John Doby Kennedy (1840-1896). Confederate hero at the Battle of Fredericksburg
  • Richard Rowland Kirkland was also from Kershaw County, and served under General Kershaw


1800 --- 7,340 —
1810 --- 9,867 34.4%
1820 --- 12,432 26.0%
1830 --- 13,545 9.0%
1840 --- 12,281 −9.3%
1850 --- 14,473 17.8%
1860 --- 13,086 −9.6%
1870 --- 11,754 −10.2%
1880 --- 21,538 83.2%
1890 --- 22,361 3.8%
1900 --- 24,696 10.4%
1910 --- 27,094 9.7%
1920 --- 29,398 8.5%
1930 --- 32,070 9.1%
1940 --- 32,913 2.6%
1950 --- 32,287 −1.9%
1960 --- 33,585 4.0%
1970 --- 34,727 3.4%
1980 --- 39,015 12.3%
1990 --- 43,599 11.7%
2000 --- 52,647 20.8%
2010 --- 61,697 17.2%
Est. 2016 ---64,097




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  • "Revolutionary war pensioners, 1841," Carolinas Genealogical Society Bulletin, November 1965, Volume 2, Issue 3. Carolinas Genealogical Society: Monroe, NC. FHL Collection Book 975 B2c.
  • List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883; Giving the Name of Each Pensioner, the Cause for Why Pensioned, the Post-Office Address, the Rate of Pension Per Month, and the Date of Original Allowance... Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883. FHL Collection 973 M2Lp v. 5; digital versions at Google Books and Internet Archive. [See Vol. 5, South Carolina, Kershaw County, p. 186. Identifies War of 1812 veterans living in this county in 1883]
  • "Henry Felder Rev. War petition excerpt, 1785," Catawba-Wateree Messenger, June 2007, Volume 20, Issue 6. Catawba Wateree Genealogical Society c/o Camden Archives and Museum: Camden, SC
  • "Patriot defeat at Camden, 1780," SAR Magazine, Summer 2005, Volume 100, Issue 1. National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution: Louisville, KY. FHL Collection Book 973 B2sa.
  • "Battle of Camden and preservation of the field, 1780," Periodical:Journal of America's Military Past, Winter 2004, Volume 30, Issue 3. Council on America's Military Past: Ft. Myer, VA.
  • "SC Royalists, 1781, Camden," Dutch Fork Digest, June 2002, Volume 17, Issue 1. Dutch Fork Chapter, South Carolina Genealogical Society: Chapin, SC.
  • "Rugeley's Clermont, 1776-80," Update, February 2002, Issue 3. Kershaw County Historical Society: Camden, SC.
  • "Colonel Rudgely surrenders to William Washington, 1780, SC," St. Lucie River Whig, Spring 2001, Vol 9, Issue 2. St. Lucie River Chapter: St. Lucie, FL.
  • "Battle of Camden," Update, February 2001, Issue 3. Kershaw County Historical Society:Camden, SC.
  • "Capt. Martin Livingston's Royalists," Dutch Fork Digest, January 2001, Volume 16, Issue 1. Dutch Fork Chapter, South Carolina Genealogical Society: Chapin, SC.
  • "Muster, SC Royalists, 1781," Dutch Fork Digest, July 2000, Volume 15, Issue 3. Dutch Fork Chapter, South Carolina Genealogical Society: Chapin, SC.
  • "Battle of Hobkirk Hill," American Monthly Magazine, January 1909, Volume 34, Issue 1. Daughters of the American Revolution: Washington, D.C. FHL Collection Book 973 B2dar.
  • "Battle of Camden losses, 1780," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, October 1873, Volume 27, Issue 4. New England Historical and Genealogical Society: Boston, MA

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