Boykin Mill


Eight miles from Camden, on SC 261 lies the small community of Boykin Mill. The place had been around since before the Civil War.
William Boykin II settled the area known as Boykin in 1755. His son, Burwell Boykin, became a major landholder of the area, with property holdings both north and south of Swift Creek. Like most people of the time, his chief business was agriculture.
Mills were important back then. The spring fed grinding stones crushed corn to make meal, or wheat to make flour. Those staples helped to keep the population fed during the winter and early spring. The mill at Boykin had its own pond. A smart plantation owner not only grew enough to feed his own, but grew enough to sell off the extra. He also milled for the smaller farmers for a small fee or bought up the small farmers extra.

Because of the time required to grind corn and wheat, many mills also became places where other businesses sprang up. At some old mill sites, you might find a general store, a black smith shop, or a post office. The folks having their wheat or corn ground could attend to other business that way.
At Boykin, a flour and grits mill, a cotton gin, and a saw mill made the area a focal point of the surrounding community.
At some old mill sites, towns sprang up, complete with churches and graveyards. In 1786, a church was established in Boykin. Eventually, a tavern was built there. We get the term "mill town" from these very humble beginnings.

On April 18, 1865, Kentucky cavalry and local militia units engaged the invading northern troops as they moved south via the "King's Highway" during the Civil War campaign known as Potter's Raid. Even though our brave Confederates could do little more than delay the invaders, they did so gallantly. Burwell Boykin, the 15 year old son of Confederate Colonel Alexander Hamilton Boykin fought there, defending his home.

" After Sherman's departure, a small home guard, boys and old men, mixed with a few furloughed veterans, gathered in the vicinity of Camden in an effort to embarrass a greatly superior Federal force again threatening the town. Among the officers directing these defenders were General Stephen Elliot, Colonel W.M. Shannon, Captain Kennedy, Captain Conner and Captain Colcough. The Federals under General Potter entered Camden from the south about twenty-five hundred strong, Tuesday evening, April 18, 1865. They broke into the banks and safes, but were restrained from general pillage of the residences. They departed hurriedly the next morning because of the above mentioned home guards, who had been joined by some 500 Kentucky cavalry of Generals Lewis and Hannon, and who occupied the roads and crossings over Swift Creek along their lines of communications. This little force contested the ground at Boykin's Mill, nine miles south of Camden; but, after considerable firing, being outnumbered and outflanked, fell back to Dinkin's Mill, and on to Statesburg, where they dispersed."*
In keeping with Sherman's scorched earth policy, the mill was burnt down.

So what's there now ?

The Mill Pond and other properties are presently owned by heirs of Lemuel Boykin II, a sixth-generation Boykin from the original 1755 settler.

...The mill, while not the original, is still dated to the late 1800's. The family still operates it, grinding grits and selling the products at the Boykin Company store.

...the marker, erected by the Reactivated 54th Massachusetts Infantry, noting the battle that took place here. The notation about Lt. Stevens is on the north face of the monument. The notation about Burwell Boykin is on the south face of the monument. The west side notes which Federal units participated in the battle, and the east side of the monument mentions the Confederate units that fought in the battle.

Swift Creek Baptist Church was built in 1827 and is registered with the National Register of Historic Places. With reservations, the church is available for weddings and meetings, which is quite handy, since

Rosa Lee's Cottage is available for the wedding reception afterwards. The cottage has a modern kitchen, a wrap-around porch, and a picnic area.

The Broom Place still uses period equipment to make house, hearth, and wisk brooms. The Broom Place is housed in a restored circa 1740's settler's home. If I'm not mistaken, a broom factory is how the family of another famous Boykin, Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut of "A Diary From Dixie" fame, chose to make a living after the War of Southern Independence, so finding the Broom Place there makes perfectly good sense. You can even order a broom and have it shipped to your home.

Boykin Company Grill is housed in a late 1800's wood frame building. I had lunch there on my visit to Boykin. They offered everything from chicken club sandwiches to hamburgers. I had a large hamburger, but instead of french fries ( which was offered, along with cole slaw or potato salad ), I had potato salad. I'll have to say here that I'm usually skeptical of restaurant made potato salad, simply because 1) a bout of dysentery which came about after consuming a "canned" variety that had a certain "super center's" home label on it, and 2) no one has ever made potato salad as good as my moms....ever. I was suprised. The potatoes were firm, the red skins showing me the type of potato used through the salad dressing. It was actually quite tasty. The taste complemented the cheese burger. The burger itself looked like the kind of burger ad companies want people to think they're getting when they order from their clients. The burger sat high, piled with melted cheese, lettuce, and tomato. This was a burger that you couldn't eat while driving. It was just as well. I sat down and enjoyed the meal while the waitress brought refills of sweet tea, then she dressed my table and the other tables with emptied 10 ounce vegetable cans full of fresh cut flowers. While the food was worth the trip alone, I felt that I couldn't leave enough of a tip for the service, so I ended up leaving what I'd paid for the meal, almost.
Connected to the grill is the Boykin Company Store. There you will find freshly-ground grits and cornmeal from the Boykin Mill, plants, gourmet jellies and jams, candies, and other goodies. There are also souvenirs and country arts and crafts, there. The building was built in the early 1900's.

Not pictured ~ Mill Pond Restaurant has been selected as one of South Carolina's best restaurants. Featuring an array of low-country seafood specialities and certified Black Angus beef, other favorites include lamb, pork tenderloins, and cornmeal breaded grouper. The Mill Pond offers the perfect appetizers, side dishes, and wine selections.

And there you have it.The Mill Pond community and its buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic places.

To get there:

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* From Kershaw County Confederate Miscellany
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