“This is a town of ghosts … and people like ghosts,” Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site Executive Director Joanna Craig said about Camden.
One might expect ghosts -- or at least tales of them -- especially in a town that is considered the oldest inland city in South Carolina. Craig believes there have been quite a few unexplained occurrences and sightings at Historic Camden during its years of history.
“You can’t have as much that has happened down here and not have that presence,” Craig said.
The site where Historic Camden is located was a military station and burial ground for British and American soldiers during the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century.
“It was a British garrison for 11 months that was a main supply post; soldiers were bought here after battles to be in the hospital. We know that there are British soldiers buried here who died here,” Craig said. “We know there were American soldiers who were bought here, died here and were buried here. We know that way before that, Native Americans were here. So are they here? Yes…you can feel their presence.”
While Craig said she has not personally seen any ghosts, unsuspecting Historic Camden visitors have reported sightings.
“Do they show up? Some see them, those who have those capabilities,” she said.
Craig recalled an incident about eight years ago when a tailor came to town to help actors make period clothing.
“There were about 20 people here, all working. Two young ladies who were here went out to the back yard in the garden area (at the Joseph Kershaw Mansion). They said that over by the gazebo there was a man dressed in green, period civilian clothes and that they were real snappy. They said to the man ‘Oh those are great looking, did you make those?’ thinking he was one of the people in the group making clothes. They walked over, got closer to talk to him and he disappeared,” Craig said.
When the women shared the incident, Craig recalled, no one seemed too surprised.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh yeah, there are people all around,’” Craig said. “They said his clothes were meticulous and beautifully made. They just assumed he was one of the reenactors because a lot of them make their own clothes.”
Another incident occurred at a Christmas party at the 1795 McCaa house
“We were doing our Christmas party at McCaa and someone who has that ability came into the party and said ‘It’s so nice to see that you have a visitor here. He’s right over in the corner and he’s commenting that he’s so happy to see the house being used with such gaiety again.’ So was that Dr. McCaa or someone else? We don’t know,” Craig said.
In another incident, a British soldier reenactor reported that he saw someone take a flag from his camp.
“One man came and said that he was the only one left at the campsite, everyone else was getting ready for the battle and a soldier came up, pulled out his flag and immediately went around the fence. He jumped up and went after him and looked further down the road but no one was there,” Craig said.
Historic Camden’s Craven House is one of the places mentioned in Camden Ghost Stories and Legends by Rachel Montgomery. Craig said interesting occurrences have been reported about the house in the past.
During her time as executive director, Craig said she’s received requests from paranormal organizations asking to come to the site -- but she won’t allow it.
“This is a very special sight … and we want to protect it,” Craig said. “There are the other stories; the headless horseman up at Hobkirks Hill, Agnes of Glasgow, if someone wants to know more they can take a look at the book (Camden Ghost Stories and Legends). We have it here.”
Craig says she’s not at all spooked about the numerous sightings around Historic Camden.
“Do I ever worry about it? No, I feel very comfortable. If nothing else, I feel everyone knows we are trying to protect them and live in harmony.”