Sample article from the Society's February 2001 Update newsletter.
A Pageant of Local Area History, was filmed in Camden, South Carolina, in 1925 and shown in movie theaters here and elsewhere.
(Excerpts below quoted from April 1925 issues of the Camden Chronicle)
Yesterday and Today
Portrayed in Historical Pageant
Costumed by One of Nations Best Costumers
Place: Kirkwood Golf Links, Camden, S. C.
Time: Friday: May 1, Beginning 3:30 P. M.
Music Furnished By
ADULTS $1 CHILDREN 50 Cents
Held Next Friday
The Camden City Schools will present on May. 1st, 1925, the historical pageant, “Camden Yesterday and Today,” depicting scenes from 1750 up to the present day.
The pageant will begin with a symbolic prelude showing the days of Pine Tree Hill (Camden’s first name) when the Spirit of the Wilderness held dominion. This spirit will be surrounded by flowers of every hue: by butterflies, by Rain Elves and Sunbeams; by boisterous Elves and naughty Jack Frost. The prelude will be marked by dances of each flower group.
Episode One will show King Haigler, the beloved chief of the Catawbas and members of his tribe. Indians will dance before the King until the approach of a brave, who is followed by Samuel Wyly and a band of Quakers. Many in this episode are direct descendants of the early Quaker settlers. Wyly agrees to conduct the correspondence of King Haigler and to survey the land. Indians and Quakers exchange gifts and the Quakers, promising to return, depart in one direction as the Indians leave the opposite way.
Episode Two represents early Colonial days. John K. DeLoach will take the part of his great-great grandfather, Joseph Kershaw, who was known as the “Father of Camden.” This episode takes place before the first store in Camden--that of Kershaw & Company. At that time Camden was divided into the Whig and Tory elements. Those belonging to the two factions will be shown by the difference in costumes.
Cornwallis, Lord Rawdon and Stedman, conspicuous Revolutionary figures, will be seen in the first part of the next episode. In the second part Agnes of Glasgow, in search of her lover, an English soldier, comes in with friendly Indian squaws. Indian youths are sent in search of the soldiers but their quest is futile. In vain does an Indian dancer try to amuse the Scotch girl and all mournfully depart.
Baron deKalb, the beloved officer of the Revolution, will play the leading part in the clash between the Whigs and Tories…
In 1791 Washington visits Camden, and is joyfully received by old and young. The minuet will be danced in his honor and the same speech made by Joseph Kershaw, mayor of Camden at that time, will be given by John K. deLoach, a direct descendant. Bissell Kennedy will take the part of George Washington.
An episode will be devoted to a revue of the historical and interesting costumes of the pageant. Among the most interesting will be that of the governor in 1825 at the visit of Lafayette, three costumes worn by Mrs. Van Buren, nee Singleton of Camden, during her husband’s administration as president of the United States in 1837.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the visit of LaFayette to Camden. Descendants of the chief and assistant marshall of that day, of the little girls who strewed flowers in the path of LaFayette, of the Governor of South Carolina in 1825, will greet LaFayette today. The part of LaFayette will be played by Kirkland Trotter, who is himself a descendant of the one of the earliest settlers, Henry G. Nixon, an eloquent lawyer of that period who greets LaFayette will be played by Mr. Mendel L. Smith, one of Camden’s most eloquent speakers.
The antebellum South in all its beauty will be shown in the Eighth episode. Beaux and belles will dance the Virginia Reel and a chorus of fifty negroes will sing the old spirituals…
The pageant will begin on the Kirkwood Golf links at 3:30 on May 1st. Miss Mary F. Blackwell [later Mrs. Donald Morrison] collected and arranged the historical data and is directing the pageant. She is ably assisted by other members of the faculty.
The music will be furnished by Professor Levy and his orchestra of Columbia, S. C. The costuming of the important characters is by Wass and Son, of Philadelpia.
Pageant in Motion Pictures
The Camden Chronicle May 8, 1925, states that “Motion pictures of the Pageant of ‘Camden Yesterday and Today’ will be shown at the Majestic Theatre Monday and Tuesday, May 11th and 12th.” Another article, “The Pageant Friday,” lists names of all in the three-hour pageant.
May 15 the paper stated: “‘Camden, Yesterday and Today,’ took the spotlight of public favor…‘An historical pageant, written and directed by Mary Francis Blackwell, and produced by the Camden city schools’… was necessarily the source of utmost pride to all who watched each shifting scene and recognized among them many familiar faces.
“The films which included every important event in local history depicted here less than two weeks ago in Camden’s mammoth pageant were made by the Haminton-Beach Company for a number of local citizens led by T. Lee Little of the Majestic.”
Although articles refer to wide-spread newsreel coverage of the pageant, no film copies have been recently located.
Anyone with recollections or memorabilia of the pageant is requested to share these with the KC Historical Society.