Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chapman Levy - Camden SC>Camden MS

Several months ago, I received an email from Mitchell Sawyer, one of my Mississippi readers, regarding a post I had written on my other blog, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek, about Kirkwood Cemetery. Located near Camden in Madison County, Mississippi, the cemetery is named for "Kirkwood," the family home of former Mississippi Governor, William McWillie. The cemetery is the burial place for members of McWillie's family and those of several allied families.

In his email last March, Mitchell told me how he had located the cemetery in 2008 and had initiated a clean-up project that was later completed by the Madison County Board of Supervisors. In a subsequent email on April 9, 2009, Mitchell was kind enough to send me photos of the cemetery and of one of his Hemingway ancestors buried there. Thanks to Mitchell, I learned that Kirkwood Cemetery is actually a part of the old St. Philip Episcopal Church grounds, and its official name is St. Philip Episcopal Churchyard.

Along with the photos of his own ancestors, Mitchell included a photo of another Camden resident who is buried near the McWillie Family, that of Chapman Levy, whose picture is shown here.

Chapman Levy (1787–1849)
Artist unknown, ca. 1835
Watercolor on ivory
Gift of Thomas W. Crockett in honor of Loraine Crockett
Jewish Heritage Collection
College of Charleston Library

Recently, after I was contacted by another reader who may be a descendant of a Levy family member, I began searching for the origins of this family. With some assistance from Mitchell, I found a wealth of background information about Chapman Levy. According to available resources, Chapman Levy was born on July 4, 1787, the son of Samuel Levy, a merchant, who was born circa 1762, and Sarah Moses Levy, date of birth unknown. Research indicated that Samuel Levy's family was one of a small number of Jewish families that resided in Camden, South Carolina during the early 1800s. According to the book, The Jews of South Carolina, written by Barnett Abraham Elzas Abraham and published by Lippincott in 1905, Levy served as an officer in the militia during the War of 1812, became a successful lawyer, businessman, and later a politician, when he represented Kershaw County, South Carolina in the state house and senate.

Levy married his first wife, Flora, who died in 1822 after only five years of marriage. He remarried in 1823, this time to Rosina, Flora's sister, but that marriage ended early, too, when Rosina died in 1828. According references researched, Chapman Levy's father, Samuel, died about 1842 in South Carolina, but the date of his mother's death was not found.

Chapman Levy died in 1845 and was buried in Kirkwood Cemetery. But why was he buried among families named McWillie, Anderson, Hemingway, and others? The answer to this question became crystal clear, when I found during my research that Chapman Levy, former Governor McWillie, and their families knew each other in South Carolina before migrating to Mississippi. I found that McWillie and Levy, both lawyers, also had a common military background, each having served in the War of 1812, and had been business associates in Camden, South Carolina, as well. According to available resources, this friendship continued after the two men migrated to Madison County, Mississippi. Their association included a business relationship, as well, when Levy served in McWillie's administration during his term as Governor of the State of Mississippi.

More about Chapman Levy's life and political career can be read here.


Sawyer, Mitchell, Personal emails, with photos, to the writer, dated March 20, 2009, April 1, 2009, and April 9, 2009.

Elzas, Barnett Abraham, The Jews of South Carolina, from the earliest times to the present day. J. B. Lippincott, 1905 - Google Books, accessed on August 5, 2009.

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, accessed website and its link to Southern Jewish Communities: South Carolina/Camden, August 6, 2009.

Rosengarten, Theodore and Rosengarten, Dale, A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life, Google Books, accessed on August 6, 2009.

1 comment:

  1. I was born in Biloxi, MS and my Grandmother lived in Jackson. As a young woman she attended a school for ladies in Camden, MS and I am trying to find out any and everything I can about the school.. If anyone can help me here, I can be reached at Thanks so much!