Following the publication of the article I wrote for the December issue of Camden News, I received a phone call from our local Camden Community historian Ron Manger. His response puts some light to the above question. Ron has been a respected researcher of the history of this community for several years. The following is what he told me in his story ‘the Power of a Preacher.’
The locality of Camden was called Shingle Creek back in 1857. As you may know, this was a hub for the lumbering industry. Evidence of the prominence of lumbering here remains with the bronze statute by artist Rodger Brodin commemorating his grandfather, a Swedish immigrant and sawmill worker, that stands with axe in hand at Webber Park. The C.A. Smith Lumber Company was recently given historic status by the City of Minneapolis with a couple of its remaining buildings on Lyndale and 44th. A former rooming house for lumber workers on 42nd and Aldrich still stands. Water swells the picturesque Shingle Creek through Shingle Creek Park in the spring. This body of water once carried wood downstream towards the Mississippi River for the lumber industry.
Ron Manger states proof that this area was identified as Shingle Creek, not Camden, is revealed in a couple of trading cards he has procured. A trading card back in the 1800s can be likened to what we now know as a business card. Both of Manger’s cards list the addresses of the advertisers as having their businesses in Shingle Creek, Minnesota. Further evidence of the settlement name resides in a box of historical materials, once located at the Methodist Church on 44th, and now at the Special Collections Department of the main Hennepin County Library downtown Minneapolis.
The story goes that a Methodist minister took the pulpit of the church on 44th around 1879, coming from Camden, New Jersey. He was said to have felt that the name Shingle Creek was not refined enough. He tried to get authorities to change the name but going to the political channels and neighborhood leaders was to no avail. Thus, he went to the powerful SOO Railroad folks and they agreed to call the settlement Camden Place upon his urging. They posted signs indicating the change and we now retain the name of Camden, all due to the power of a preacher.
Herein is a “thank you” to Ron Manger for his decades of enthusiastic dedication to uncovering and sharing the history of the Camden Community. We love you, Ron!