Antebellum & Historic Homes
Graham - Gaughan - Betts House
The house is on West Washington Street was the best and most handsome that could be built at the
time and under the circumstances. It was constructed for Major Joseph M. Graham in 1858. The
doors, blinds, windows, transoms, etc., were all hand built by E. Sifford, who was a skilled and
painstaking craftsman. The house is made from heavy timbers and held together with wooden pegs. The large open fireplaces, built-in cupboards, and broad stairway with handrails of walnut were
principal attractions of the home. The Gaughan home ahs an unusual architectural treatment of the front porch. On the porch or wood lyres that were built with the original home, which at one time was painted yellow with purple blinds. The rooms are twenty feet square and the ceilings fourteen feet high. It is supposed to be a copy of a house in North Carolina. The house was approached by a circular driveway bordered by hyacinth and jonquils.
Mrs. Graham was intensely Southern in her sympathies and did much to alleviate the discomfort and suffering of Confederate soldiers as they retreated when Camden fell into the hands of Union forces in April, 1864. She also could be a charming host. When the Union Commander Frederick Steele made his headquarters at her home for a brief period, she managed to discover that they had mutual friends in New York, which gave the general such a congenial feeling toward her that he never did learn that the bacon from her smoke house was hidden under the trundle bed where her children slept.
Later the home was bought by the Honorable T. J. Gaughan, who brought his bride to live in it in
1899. Mrs. Gaughan, the daughter of Dr. Junius N. Bragg, one of the foremost citizens of pioneer
Ouachita County. It was the home of the family of Senator J. A. "Dooley" Womack for several years until it was bought in 1973 by the Albert Betts family. On the National Register of Historical Places. [TOP]
McCollum Chidester House
The McCollum Chidester House was built in 1847 by Peter McCollum, who acquired title to the
place through a land grant signed by President Franklin Pierce. Later the home was sold to Colonel
John T. Chidester.
The house is a story and a half structure, with three rooms upstairs and seven downstairs. There are
five fireplaces in it, and the home featured the first iron stove in Camden. It was the first house built of planed lumber in the county, with the lumber shipped by river. The rooms all have the old-fashioned twelve-foot high ceilings, and the first wall papered walls in Camden. Wooden pegs, square headed, and round headed nails were used in the construction.
The house is still furnished with the same furniture it had during the Civil War period, including the
canopied beds, one of which Confederate General Sterling Pierce slept in during a week's stay in the East Room. [TOP] See featured section on the McCollum Chidester House Museum. On the National Register of Historical Places.
Official Site: The McCollum Chidester House
The Smith House
The Rowland B. Smith home, located on the corner of Agee and Maple, was built in 1856. The
house was originally built in the form of a square, with a front porch extending the length of the
building, two large rooms in front, three small rooms behind, and a back porch. Later two "L"
additions were made. The building is of frame construction, plastered inside, and has fourteen-foot
high ceilings. Several pieces of the original furniture are still in the house. The owner was the first boy born in Camden in 1825. On the National Register of Historical Places. [TOP]
The Bragg House
Built by Peter Newport Bragg in 1850 was built for the family farmhouse and is located four miles west of Camden. When Mr. Bragg purchased the land, it included a sawmill there in the 1840's. He had planned to use it to saw lumber for his house. However, his was the only mill in the area, and he received so many orders for him neighbors for lumber that he could not get to that needed for his own home. The two story home has welcoming porches and fine craftsmanship for the day.
During the Civil War it appeared that the Bragg home might be destroyed by Union soldiers who
called it "secesh harbor" and resented the hospitality that always awaited Confederate troops there.
There was a minor skirmish between the two armies in front of the house, and bullets may still be
found embedded in the oak grove trees in which the house nestles. One bullet passed through a
window and lodged in one of the walls. On the National Register of Historical Places. [TOP]
The Elliott-Meek-Nunnally House
The Elliott home is located on west Washington Street and was built in the 1857 by James Thomas
Elliott. The Union General Frederick Salomon occupied the home in 1864 during a stay in Camden. It is said the family lived upstairs during the occupation.
Originally the kitchen was a detached building and slave quarters were situated in the lower part of what is now a back garden. In approximately 1890 the kitchen was joined to the house.
In 1916 a rising young Camden attorney, Albert N. Meek, bought
the place. A daughter was born in the home to Emma Young Meek,
delivered by Mr. Meek's father, Dr. J. W. Meek. In 1918 Albert
Meek died of influenza. The home has the Greek Columns so
familiar in Antebellum Homes of the period.On the National Register
of Historical Places. [TOP]
The Powell -McRae-Godwin House
The McRae home, located at 305 California Street was built in 1856 by Benjamin T. Powell. The house was coated in "Steamboat paint" (today known as white enamel). One of it's main features planned was a handsome stairway of hand-carved black walnut. Before the house was completed, however, the war began, and the walnut shipment was delayed, so the stairway was constructed of Arkansas pine. When the long-delayed walnut did arrive, Mr. Powell gave it to some confederate soldiers in Marmaduke's command, and they made furniture and gifts of it to supplement their meager pay.
In the Spring of 1861, the oldest son, John Powell went to war and sent home many young cedar
trees from Aquia Creek, where he was encamped. They still grow in the yard of the home, but he
was killed in the battle of Chickamauga and never got to see them.
In April, 1864, as Confederate forces retreated from Camden, the Powell ladies gathered at the front gate with water and food for them. Federal General Rice established headquarters in the Powell Home and remained until the night Camden was evacuated.
The house was eventually sold by the Powells to Solomon Block
who in turn sold it to W. E. McRae of Mt. Holly, in 1886. About
1925 the house was completely remodeled and modernized by Mr.
& Mrs. Carl Ramsey (Mrs. Ramsey, a McRae descendant) who
occupied it until it was sold to Elbert Godwin a few years later.
Mrs. Godwin and her children owned the house until October 1962
when it was bought by Mr. & Mrs. R. Paul May, who sponsored
its restoration. On the National Register
of Historical Places. [TOP]
The Christopher C. Scott House
The Scott house, located two and a half miles west of Camden, affords ample evidence of the skill of master carpenters of the Nineteenth Century. Everything about the house is handmade - the doors, window facings and quaint old mantel.s The hand-hewn, hand-finished lumber is put together with wooden pegs. All is the handiwork of John Hawkins, master craftsman, who began the house in the fall of 1843 and finished it tin 1844. What he had done, modern precision machinery could have done no better.
The home was constructed by Hawkins for the Honorable C. C. Scott, then Circuit Judge of this
district. Because of the profusion of roses about the place, it was called "Rosedale" or "Valley of
There were four rooms to the house and the Judge's law office, a one-room building, was located
between the home and a large oak tree which grew at the edge of the yard. In 1848 Judge Scott
became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and had to be much away from home then and
during the trying years of the war. When the war broke out, two sons left to join the Confederate
army and their mother and sisters went to Alabama for safety.
During at least part of the time when Steele was making his ill-fated foray into south Arkansas, the
confederate's brilliant French Infantry Officer, Brigadier General C. J. Polignac, stayed in the Scott
The Scott's were reunited in their home in 1866 and found it almost miraculously undamaged. [TOP]
The Ramsey - McClellan House
William K. Ramsey, a lawyer/politician and steamboat captain built the house on N. Cleveland
Avenue in 1904. Noted Little Rock architect Charles L. Thompson designed it. In the receiving hall,
there is a handsome staircase to the upper floor. There are two custom-built mantels in the home and one is decorated with ornamental tile imported by the builders from France.
One of the intriguing and romantic features of the house - the Widow's Walk - legend has it that
Captain Ramsey stood and looked off to the Southeast so he could spot steamboats chugging up the Ouachita River from New Orleans.
It was later the home of another lawyer/politician, John L. McClellan, famed as a U. S. Senator and
as a partner in the establishment of the Kerr-McClellan navigation system on the Arkansas River.
The home is supported by four massive Greek columns and circular wrap-around porches and
The Walter Ritchie House
The Walter Ritchie Home on Clifton Street was constructed in 1909. The house has drawn much
attention as the Maud Crawford House. Mrs. Maud Crawford, a local attorney, disappeared in
March of 1957 and was the subject of a nationwide search - she has never been found. [TOP]
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