The town of Camden was surveyed as Fredericksburg in 1733 as part of an order by King George, II, who in 1730 commanded that 11 townships be founded in the South Carolina backcountry. By 1750 the area’s first permanent settlers – a group of Quakers – had arrived, and the town began to develop.
In 1759 a Quaker leader named Samuel Wyley conveyed four acres of land to the religious group for the purpose of a meeting house and a burial site. The agreement stipulated that the land would be owned by the Quakers for 999 years in exchange for “One Pepper Corn Per Year.”
Though the Quaker meeting house that sat on these grounds is no longer standing, a stone marker commemorates the site where the simple building once stood. The cemetery continued to grow throughout the years, with people deeding their land to the burial site and more property being purchased by the Quaker Cemetery Association.
In 1874 the City of Camden conveyed additional acreage to the cemetery. Today the cemetery spans 50 acres and is nondenominational.
Several historical figures are buried here, including Dr. G.R.C. Todd, brother-in-law to President Abraham Lincoln. Also buried here is Joseph Brevard Kershaw, a Confederate general during the Civil War and grandson of Colonel Joseph Kershaw, who established Camden as a trade center in 1758 by building a store, saw mill, and grist mill in the village, among other enterprises. It was the elder Kershaw who renamed Fredericksburg Pine Tree Hill, as it was known until he suggested the town be officially named Camden in 1768 for colonists-rights supporter, Charles Platt, Lord Camden.
Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Donald Leroy Truesdell is honored with a monument in the cemetery. A native of neighboring Lugoff, Corporal Truesdell served in the United States Marine Corps during the Occupation of Nicaragua in 1932. He lost his hand while attempting to throw away a grenade before it could explode and kill those in his patrol. Truesdell achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer before retiring in 1946.
The Quaker Cemetery is listed in the National Register as part of the Camden Historic District:
Architecturally and militarily significant, Camden was a center of activity in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and its architecture reflects the two centuries of its growth. The city was named in honor of Lord Camden, British champion of colonial rights. In 1774 wide streets were laid off in a grid pattern. The town expanded northward as shown in a 1798 plat. The plat set aside six parks which formed the basis for the city’s present 178 acres of beautiful parkland. Most of the original town was destroyed by the fire of 1813. This accelerated growth northward to the Kirkwood area, north of Chesnut Street. Originally, the houses in this area were summer cottages, but by 1840 Kirkwood was a year-round residential area of handsome mansions and elaborate gardens. Many of the mansions were built around the cottages, which still survive at their core. Contributing properties are mostly residential but also include public buildings, a church, and a cemetery. Camden’s architecture is classically inspired and includes examples of Federal and Classical Revival, in addition to cottage-type, Georgian, Charleston-type with modifications, and mansion-type houses. Several of the city’s buildings were designed by noted architect Robert Mills.
More Pictures of Quaker Cemetery