Camden History

Camden Main Street 1909 (source Carroll County Historical Museum)

Camden Main Street 1909
(Carroll County Historical Museum)

Carroll County, Indiana – Named  in 1828 for Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The sixteenth section of every township was set aside by the Indiana Congress as the property of the schools and the care of this section was entrusted to the School Commissioner.  The Commissioner was empowered to sell land within this section and use the funds to support the school.  Camden occupies a section of  the “school section” of Jackson Township.  In 1832 (or 1830 by some records) this section was sold for less than $1500 and sixteen acres were reserved by the Commissioner for the purpose of laying out a village plat, to which the name of “Camden” was given.  The community consisted of five houses – a little log cabin and four other dwellings.  All but one were log buildings. The town was incorporated in 1908.

The original town, platted from Water Street west, was laid out in rows of lots on the north and south side of the road, later known as Main Street, running east and west.  This dirt road was only a wagon track and was often mud with dense brush and undergrowth on each side.  The sidewalk was a path on either side of the road.  Improvements were made over the years and the street was upgraded to brick pavement between 1912 and 1916.  Main Street was made a State Road in 1940 or 1941.

Early entrepreneurs include Col. Wm. Crooks who was the School Commissioner and manager of the first store.  Other shop owners were Mr. McCurdy and Matthew Rogers.  Dr. James M. Justice was the village’s first physician.  James R. Laird built a tavern soon after the town was laid out.  Other individuals who were instrumental in the growth and development of Camden include pioneer physician and legislator Dr. F.G. Armstrong and first postmaster John E. Snoeberger.

Camden Depot 1900 (Carroll County Historical Museum)

Camden Depot 1900
(Carroll County Historical Museum)

Jonathan Martin purchased some of the original land in this section and several town lots.  From this land he donated an acre or acre and a half for a cemetery and a church.  On the corner of the cemetery lot a framed school was erected in 1835.

Among the first settlers were the names of Allridge, Brown, Porter, Ballard, Armstrong, Odell, Harter, Lenon, Fisher, Armstrong, Hewitt, Cline, Martin, Mundy, McFarland, Shanks, Blue, Lake, Kuns, Wise, Musselman and others.
Information from: “The Town of Camden, Our First One Hundred Fifty Years” booklet

History of Carroll County, 1882 Thomas B. Helms