Looking Back: Camp is a ‘First Citizen’

Published 10:32 am Friday, April 18, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.

April 18, 1964

To the list of Franklin’s “FIRST CITIZENS” add the name of William M. Camp. This week, Mr. Camp was selected “First Citizen of Franklin for 1963”, according to an announcement by Mrs. Mildred Keeter, president of Franklin Business and Professional Women’s Club and Mrs. William R. Ellis, Jr. chairman of the Club’s civic participation committee. The BPW Club has sponsored the award, periodically, starting in1952 when Miss Fannie Webb, local educator and historian, was honored. Other honorees over the years since then are Thomas C. Holland, Jr.; Rev. Robert D. Stephenson; Claude J. Edwards; James L. Camp, Jr.; Rev. J. Spears Maxey; E. N. Wilkinson; George Pillow and Dr. Burton Ray.

Camp was born in Franklin in 1900, a son of James L. Camp, Sr. and Caroline Savage Camp formerly of Como, NC. James L. along with his brothers Paul D. and Robert J. founded Camp Manufacturing Co.

In his earlier years, William M. managed Camp Manufacturing Co. operations in Marion, SC. He is married to Edith “Cissie” Clay Camp. They have two sons William Jr. (Billy) and Clay.

William Camp, the honoree, is active in the affairs of Franklin Baptist Church. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Atlantic Rural Exposition. Camp also serves on the Boards of Virginia National Bank, Franklin Chamber of Commerce and Tidewater Virginia Development Council.

Camp serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia. He also serves on the University’s Executive, Finance and Building Committees.

He holds memberships in Franklin Rotary Club, Hunterdale Ruritan Club and the Franklin Chamber of Commerce. He is a past president of the Chamber.

He owns and operates Holliknoll Farm, a dairy operation, located in the heart of Franklin’s northeastern section. He holds national production records for some of his “Golden Guernsey” cows.

Franklin’s “FIRST CITIZEN OF 1963” will be publicly acclaimed at a BPW banquet in Cypress Cove Country Club later in the month.



Back in July of 1963, Franklin voters approved, by a narrow margin, the establishment of a redevelopment and housing authority for the new City of Franklin.

In the early part of 1961, when Franklin was still a part of Southampton County, voters through a County-wide referendum overwhelmingly defeated a proposal that would have given approval for Franklin to establish a redevelopment and housing authority. As a result of this defeat, Franklin officials “stepped-up” their efforts to petition for City status. City status allows Franklin officials to take steps independent of Southampton to establish both a housing authority and a separate school system. The idea of an independent school system, as well as a redevelopment and housing authority, has been under discussion for quite some time now by some Franklin officials and a pretty good number of its citizens; however, many people in the community are not in favor of government being directly involved in redevelopment.

A poll was taken early this week. The question put to eight Franklin citizens, at random, was “Do you NOW favor a redevelopment and housing authority for the City of Franklin?”

Mrs. David Deloatch, 901 Walnut Street, said “I am very much in favor of the redevelopment program.” “Franklin needs more houses in the average bracket.”

Mrs. Marvin Land, 208 Fourth Avenue, said “It will be a great improvement for Franklin.”

“I would like to see the redevelopment program carried out. It will improve the looks of Franklin”, said Mrs. John Magee of 211 Beale Court.

Mrs. R. E. Owens, 507 Clay Street, said “It’s a good thing. I think the City needs to take care of places that are unsightly and do some reconstruction.”

Mr. Emmitt Stephenson, 217 Artis Street, commented on the program. “It will mean much to Franklin.”

Mrs. Lucy Bundick of 113 Bank Street said “It will make things look much better and people will enjoy shopping here.”

Mrs. Maxie Day of 1022 Clay Street is in favor of the redevelopment program. “It will help Franklin much”, she said.

G. J. Johnson who resides at 407 South High Street said “I would like to see the program go ahead.”

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is cpjeep99@yahoo.com.