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The area that is now in Kershaw County was originally part of the Camden district. The county itself was formed in 1791 from portions of Fairfield, Lancaster, and Richland county. Camden, the county seat, was in Lancaster county until then.

This part of South Carolina was first settled in 1758, when Joseph Kershaw came up from Charleston to Fredricksburg (which no longer exists). He set up a store on a 150 acre tract (that wasn't surveyed to him, it belonged to William Ancrum) and called the place Pine Tree Hill. It was in the southeast corner of what is Camden today.

President Bill Clinton is "rooted" in Kershaw county. His great-great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Spradley, was the granddaughter of James Spradley (abt 1765-1808), from Kershaw County. (Any more cousins out there?)

Kershaw County had the first millionaire in South Carolina -- Joseph Cunningham. His home still stands in Liberty Hill. One resource says he came to SC as a child with his family from Ireland, the other says he was born here. Either way, he earned everything he had. (Thanks to Angela Cox for the info!)

The Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site is a park associated with the National Park Service. Fourteen battles of the Revolution were fought in the area. There are walking and driving tours of the area, where Camden, South Carolina's first inland city, was established as a trading post in the 1730's. (For information about the tours and the park, call 803-432-9841.)

President Clinton isn't the only president with Kershaw County roots. The family names Nixon and Milhouse probably sound familiar, as in Richard Milhouse Nixon. Maybe there's a genetic link to politics in the area! (Thanks to Doneva Shepard-Shannon for this tidbit.)

During the Civil War, one of my ancestors named "Toby" (a slave) on General Chestnut's plantation warned the General that the Yankees were approaching the Chestnut Plantation called Mulberry Plantation. The Yankee soldiers attempted to burn the house down but Toby and other slaves fought tirelessly to extinguish the fire and saved the house. Mary Chestnut's Diary written by General Chestnut daughter mentions other stories which occurred during the Civil War. (Thanks to Frances Hooks for her story.)

The Haile-West connection that spanned a century (or more)

In History Camden, Kirkland and Kennedy recount the arrival of Benjamin Haile in what was then Lancaster County, where Benjamin purchased land from one Samuel West. Benjamin found gold on what had only recently been West land.
Fast forward to around 1907. Laura Belle Haile, great-great-granddaughter of Benjamin, married Walter Franklin West, the great-grandson of Samuel West.
(Contributed by Carolyn West Cochrane Leonard, the granddaughter of Walter F. West & Laura Belle Haile. If anyone knows of the company in the Charlotte NC area that is selling coins certified as Haile gold, please contact her at

Do you have a Kershaw county story, or trivia, or something that might fit in here? Please send it to me!

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