Judge Gideon Draper Camden


The Wheeling Intelligencer., April 23, 1891

Image of Judge Gideon Draper Camden

He Dies at Hot Springs, Arkansas — Sketch of His Career.

Special Dispatch to the Intelligencer.

CLARKSBURG, W.  VA., April 22.– Judge G. D. Camden died at Hot Springs, Ark., to-day of general debility, in the eighty-sixth year of his age. The funeral will take place here Saturday afternoon.

Gideon Draper Camden was born in Montgomery county, Maryland, 86 years ago. He was a son of Henry Camden, a Methodist preacher, who moved to Harrison county, this State, and was one of the pioneers of Northwestern Virginia.

Young Gideon worked on his father’s farm until the year 1822, going to the common county school during the winter months. He received no other education, so that he may be emphatically called a self made man.

In 1822 Mr. Camden entered the office of the Clerk of the County Court of Lewis county as a deputy, and performed all the duties of the office, working day and night.

During the spring of 1827 he left Weston on horseback and traveled through Greenbrier, Monroe and other counties of Virginia to the Court House of Wythe county to attend the law school taught by General Alexander Smyth, who figured in the war of 1812 in the northwest, near the Canada line, and afterwards wrote the Apocalypse of the Bible.

In the fall of 1827, he obtained a license to practice law, and returning home was admitted to the bar and soon built up a good practice. In April, 1828, he was elected to the Legislature from the county of Lewis, and again in 1830.

Headstone inscription of Judge Gideon Draper Camden

Soon after he was tendered the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Lewis county by Lewis Sommers, who was then Judge of that court, which position he accepted.


In 1834 he removed to Clarksburg and joined John J. Allen in the practice of law. He continued to conduct the large business of the firm until he was promoted to the bench in 1852. In 1869 he was member of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Virginia, which reformed the State government by giving the right of suffrage to all male citizens of the State that were twenty-one years of age, and provided for the election by the people of the Governor, Judges and all other State and county officers. It also provided for a public school system. Mr. Camden championed all these reforms.

Under this constitution an election of judges was held and Mr. Camden was chosen judge of the Twenty-first circuit, composed of the counties of Marion, Harrison, Taylor, Preston, Barbour, Randolph and Upshur, by a majority of 5,000 votes. He was re-elected eight years afterwards for another term. During the sixteen years he was on the bench only a half dozen of his decisions were reversed.

Judge Camden was opposed to secession, but when Virginia did secede he deemed it his duty to go with his State, and was one of the commissioners appointed to the Congress to be held at Montgomery, Ala. He adhered to the Confederacy during the war and was at the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

Judge Camden was a man of large common sense, of sterling character, of great energy and decision of character. At one time he was within a few votes of an election to the United States Senate by the West Virginia Legislature. He enjoyed the possession of large wealth which he earned by his own toil.

Various Items

Sketch of Death coming

Spirit of Jefferson., April 28, 1891

Judge Gideon D. Camden, of Clarksburg, died at the Hot Springs, Ark.

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