What’s in a name? Many of the sites and streets around Kershaw County have a story behind how they got their monikers.
This stately home was built in 1854 by Col. James Chesnut for his wife, Civil War diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut. The couple named their summer home after the remote Siberian peninsula with a slightly different spelling, Kamchatka.
There are two reports on the reason they chose the name.
One says Chesnut avidly followed reports of the Crimean War, which was fought around the Gulf of Kamchatka on the Siberian Coast, while the house was being built and that he named the house in honor of the victories won there.
The other theory is that his wife named the house after the remote peninsula because at the time, it was more than two miles from town and must have seemed as isolated as if she were in Siberia.
This area, a couple of miles east of downtown Camden, got its name during the prohibition era. Legend has it that there was a bootlegger who did such good business that the bend in the dirt road was constantly dusty.
Though the road was paved in the late 1920s to early 1930s and the bootlegger went to prison in 1924, the name stuck. Today, the area houses legitimate businesses in several shopping centers.
Several areas in Kershaw County were named after workers on the Seaboard Air Line Railway, which was built in 1899. Lugoff was named for Count Lugoff, a Russian engineer who helped build the railroad. Other areas, like Cassatt and Blaney, were named after Russian laborers he brought with him.
Blaney‘s name was later changed to Elgin in honor of a watch company that located there and then closed down several years later.
The Kirkover Hills neighborhood was named after Harry D. Kirkover, a popular winter resident of Camden who, along with Ernest Woodward, helped start what became known as the Carolina Cup.
The neighborhood was created in 1950 when Du Pont built its May Plant in Lugoff. Noticing a housing shortage, company officials formed a corporation and bought 200 acres, which were owned by the Kirkover family.
Many of Camden’s street names are straightforward. Commerce Alley is the street that runs alongside parking lots and back doors of Broad Street businesses, where much of the city’s commerce is conducted. Broad Street got its name because, even though it was narrower than some other streets, it was – and still is – the main thoroughfare in Camden. The town’s other main street is DeKalb, named for the Revolutionary War hero Baron Johann de Kalb, who died in the Battle of Camden in 1780.
Church Street was the site of the town’s earliest churches. Market Street was the site of the town’s first market. Fair Street contained the town’s fairgrounds. And Mill Street was the main route to the town’s mill.
At least two streets were named by founding father, Joseph Kershaw, for whom the county is named. York Street was named after Kershaw’s native Yorkshire, England. In the late 1700s, the street was the northern boundary of the town. Ripponden Street is thought to be named after the market town of Ripon, near Kershaw’s hometown in England. Kershaw’s grandson would later become a Civil War hero.
Other streets were named after famous politicians, war heroes and settlers.
Sources: “Names in South Carolina,” edited by Claude Henry Neuffer (Volumes I-XII, 1954-1965), published 1976; “Historic Camden” Part One Colonial and Revolutionary, by Thomas J. Kirkland and Robert M. Kennedy, published 1905; Camden Archives and Museum.