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Camden visits Camden: Museum welcomes 1,000th visitor

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A mannequin dressed as a Confederate soldier in the U.S. Civil War stands watch over the The Battle of South Mills exhibit at the Camden Heritage Museum, Saturday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, August 10, 2018

CAMDEN — The Camden County Heritage Museum recently welcomed its 1,000th visitor — and fittingly, his name was Camden.

The story is too good to have been made up, as Camden County Heritage Museum volunteer Brian Forehand has relished telling people since Camden Spence of Raleigh became the 1,000 visitor at the museum on July 28.

Forehand explained that the teen was in Camden with his parents, Bobby and Melissa Spence, on July 28 for the Seymour family reunion. While they were in Camden they wanted to visit the museum, which opened in September 2017.

Museum volunteers knew that the museum was fast-approaching welcoming its 1,000 visitor, so they had a book ready to present to the person as a memento of the occasion. When the Spence family arrived and volunteers told the family that the teenager was the 1,000 visitor, his mother said, “Guess what his name is?”

“Camden Spence,” Melissa Spence told them.

“She said he was named for Camden County,” Forehand said, noting Melissa Spence is a Camden native.

“I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’” Forehand said. “But that’s the way it turned out.”

The Camden County Heritage Museum tells the story of Camden County from the time of its early indigenous population through the Colonial period, the eventual separation from Pasquotank County to become a separate county, the Civil War, Moses Grandy’s life as a slave who bought his freedom and worked for the abolition of slavery, World War I, World War II and more recent times.

A special exhibit is devoted to Grandy’s life and there is a replica of the Wade Point Lighthouse — an example of screwpile lighthouses once common at the mouths of rivers along the North Carolina sounds and the Chesapeake Bay — and a replica of a steamship that once traveled the Pasquotank River and beyond.

Forehand said the museum has welcomed visitors from places as far away as Washington, Oregon, California and New Mexico.

The museum grew out of the collections and historical research of Forehand, Sandra Leary, Alex Leary, Anne Jennings and Dewey Burgess. Forehand said the Camden County Heritage Museum has sought from its inception not to merely display artifacts but to tell the story of Camden County.

And now that story includes the time a teenager named Camden walked into the Camden County Heritage Museum and became its 1,000th visitor. 

The free museum, which is located in the Courthouse Complex, is open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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