Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Memorable May 5th, 1860 Part IV

Part IV: Boykin Mill Pond Tragedy 24 drowned
More from the Sumter Watchman Article of May 5th 1860.

A flat boat of considerable size had, a short time previous, been built and placed upon the pond for purposes of pleasure. A goodly number (thirty or more) of the company embarked upon this boat, intending to pass over and around the pond. These consisted chiefly of young ladies, there being but a sufficient number of gentlemen, as was supposed, to manage the boat and afford company and protection for the ladies.
As you recall from parts 1-3, I had found 11 burial spots ...going with the names that I thought I would have the best chance of finding were the complete names and the ones who had also listed Family members names...so in the original list of names was this one:

  Miss Minnie Alexander daughter of Dr Isaac Alexander of Camden.

What was  unusual about this one was while I was researching the story of the Duel between Mr Nixon and Mr Hopkins that took place in 1829,  I discovered Mr Nixon was buried at the old Presbyterian Burial Ground and I recalled seeing this sign when I went looking for his grave...

DO YOU see WHAT I SEE?? Grave of Dr Isaac Alexander----he was a  Dr. and the father of Minnie Alexander one of my VICTIMS!! SO HE** YEAH -----she was buried right here...!!!
Excuse my excitement...lol

Ms Amelia "Millie" Adamson Alexander, the daughter of Dr. Isaac Alexander....(her name is misspelled on this stone, which was placed later by the historical society) she was the widow of William Adamson,  so a young widow and MOTHER drowns at age 32..


this stone was placed by her son, I am assuming that WA means William Adamson( II. ) ..thats #12 located!!!!!!

Meanwhile back at the archieves old copies of the Camden Weekly Journal issue dated May 15, 1860  a transcript lists:

Among the many sufferers in the accident on Boykin's Mill Pond, was Benjamin Franklin Hocott, in the 20th year of his age.
Died on Saturday May 5, 1860 Miss Sarah A Howell in the 27th yr of her age, she has left an aged grandmother, and joined Camden Baptist Chruch in December 1853..{SO this one I may be able to find out something via the church which is now the First Baptist Church of Camden.} 
Died on Saturday May 5, 1860, Misses Margaret and Lousia McKown, daughter of Mr. John McKown, in the 19th and 17th years or their ages.
 {I found so many variations of the spelling of this last name, from McKown, to McCown, to McKeown and it is the latter that is the correct spelling according to the 1850 census)
While researching online I found a diary of Mr. Ralph LeLand Goodrich.  He was a teacher at the Old McCandless School, I have written about the school before..  This is his account of  that horrid day.

After tea, heard that quite a number of the May party about eight miles away were drowned. Mr. Manget and I started to go down street. Mrs. Mack and Miss Carpenter wished to go to Lucy Fisher’s. We went up with them. Manget left. I stayed. Returned. Found Mr. Manget. A (train) car load had started about two o’clock. 26 were drowned. Hocott, one of our scholars was one of the number.
I have since found that Mr Benjamin Hocott was from Arkansas, probably from an enfluencial family since he was attending the school here in Camden, away from his own home state...
So although no grave site for these 4 named above... (as of yet) I have found their complete and proper names!!
AS much as I would like to say that I FOUND all 24 victims burials as of today I have not..sadly!! ....and trust me I am still following every lead, its like any investigation when your leads dry up or become exhausted you really have to DIG in and GO back through your original research.....and I have no way of knowing IF I will ever find them all but Ive come a long way...
Stay tuned to Part V for the most recent findings...

Meanwhile IN closing more from Mr GOODRICH'S DIARY there are some tips in this paragraph, (the funeral of 10 at the Methodist Chruch and one at the Espiscopal Chruch.)
May 6, 1860
Came home about half past five this morning, feeling sick and tired. I never want to witness such a scene again. It was heartrending. Only 24 were drowned. Attended church in the morning. Afternoon attended the funeral of 10 at the Methodist church. A great many were present [and there were] hundreds of carriages. Walked down to the burying ground. In lowering the coffin [of] one lady, the fastenings broke, & it fell and; broke off the lid. The body nearly came out. It was solemn to see so many buried at once. So many people — so sad. There is a general lamentation. The loss almost entirely falls on the Methodist society. One young girl, a member of the Episcopalian denomination was amongst the number of the dead. She was the staff and comfort of her poor old mother. Mr. Manget worked very hard and; is sick tonight. He went to bed early.

...this bridge is a remnant of the Old Charleston Highway as it crosses the Boykin Mill Pond....George Washington himself traveled this old historic and now defunked highway during 1791 when he rode in his coach on the way to Savannah during his "goodwill tour" of the South.  So this bridge was here on that fateful day in May when the 24 were struck down in the prime of their youth.



  1. With every post I feel more and more like I am watching the birth of a book. It is a sad story but I look forward to every episode.

  2. What an amazing post! Every gravestone hides an epic story it seems!
    Great photos, too!

  3. Fascinating! I'm impressed with all your research, hope you keep finding out more!

  4. Your persistence has been rewarded. This story deserves to be retold.

  5. I, too, look forward to it. And feel, come the end, that I will need to go to the beginning and read in one sitting. Terrific research here.

    Now, I have issues. More my misunderstandings more likely.

    The historical society plaque has inconsistencies within. Millie's marker says that she died aged 32 years in 1860. Yet the historical plaque says she lived from 1840 to 1860 which is a mere 20 years.

    Furthermore, according to the historical plaque, her parents were born in 1812 and 1815. Had she been 32 upon her death, her parents would have been 16 and 13 when she were born. And he a minister of the cloth ...

    Also, the historical plaque surely should styled her name Amelia Alexander Adamson instead of the way it obviously has. Plus, would her own larger grave marker have been provided by her son, who surely would have been very young upon her demise. Perhaps he had it erected much later ...

    Terrific story to have chanced upon, but power to you for chasing it all down. Until next week ...

    1. I agree its very hard to nail down Correct information!! MORE research to find out...the census of 1850 may help me nail that down!! I was happy to find her gravestone!

  6. Such a very sad tale Sondra, and you've done amazingly well to uncover the story so far.

  7. A very interesting post and history.

  8. This is all so fascinating, and the time you have taken to research is just phenomenal. The part about Washington crossing the bridge really makes you stop and think. Thank you for all the amazing information.


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