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‘André Michaux’ to revisit Camden during KCHS program Sunday

Posted: May 29, 2014 5:35 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Provided by Charlie Williams/

Charlie Williams, an André Michaux scholar and re-enactor, in front of a historical marker at the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site in Johnson City, Tenn., one of numerous national sites recognizing the internationally noted natural scientist. Williams, as Michaux, will speak during a members-only Kershaw County Historical Society program at Bloomsbury Inn on Sunday. New members may pay their dues at the door.

The “ticket” to attend a lively Kershaw County Historical Society program Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Bloomsbury Inn in Camden is a paid-up membership in the society.

The members-only program will revive “André Michaux,” 18th century naturalist, for a guest appearance courtesy of scholar and re-enactor Charlie Williams of Charlotte, N.C.  In period attire as Michaux, Williams will bring to life the personality and international work of the French botanist who, under commission of the government of France, catalogued much of the natural world of post-Revolutionary America, as well as other parts of the world.

Williams will issue a public request that Kershaw County citizens join the lookout for a plant that Michaux first found and identified as “new” when he traveled through the local area in the 1790s. The Kalmia cuneata (or white wickey), which Michaux located about five miles north of Camden toward Flat Rock, is a rare Sandhills laurel with a bloom season in June. At issue is whether the plant has become “lost heritage.” The program is timely to inspire woodlands visits in the coming month to seek an answer to the mystery.

Bloomsbury (1707 Lyttleton St.) was the home of late Camden lawyer, mayor and author Henry Savage Jr. when he, with wife Elizabeth, wrote a major biography of André Michaux and his son, François, published in 1986.

New information -- for example, regarding Michaux’s passages through the local area -- is being brought to light by current work of Williams and fellow scholars who for future publication are collecting, translating and annotating the botanist’s American logs and letters. A yet-unpublished log entry documents a dinner Michaux enjoyed with Camden citizen Dr. Isaac Alexander, who has descendants still living locally.

Dr. Bruce Brown, present owner of Bloomsbury Inn with wife, Katherine, will conduct society members on a tour through the first floor of the historic home, a luxury bed and breakfast. Refreshments will be served from the porch. The program will be conducted in “the ole kitchen house” on the grounds at the rear of the home.

By its constitution, the Kershaw County Historical Society operates “for the enjoyment of its members and as a public benefit to seek, acquire, study, conserve, record, compile and publish information concerning the history of Kershaw County” and to present programs to “educate its members and the public in regard to the history of Kershaw County.” The society lately commissioned the publication of A History of Kershaw County by Joan A. Inabinet and L. Glen Inabinet (USC Press, 2011). On behalf of the society, Harvey S. Teal regularly writes an historical column published in the Chronicle-Independent. Members also receive a quarterly newsletter, Update, with additional program information and other topics of historical interest.

Although the society’s Web page is undergoing revision, up-to-date information is currently available on its Facebook page, which includes a link to the new Web page, soon also to be viewed at its former Web address. Questions about memberships or book purchases may also be telephoned to the society at 425-1123, or in person at its headquarters at the Bonds Conway House, 811 Fair St., open 1-5 p.m. on Thursdays.

Memberships not yet renewed or new society memberships may be paid at the entrance to the June 1 program. A brief bit of business will be the election of new officers.

(This information provided by the Kershaw County Historical Society.)

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