My address is in Camden, Ohio. I live Out-In-The-Country-Camden; not the Village-Proper-Camden. Little Camden. It isn’t the most progressive place in the world, but 2,083 of us like to call it home. This year, the Village of Camden will be celebrating their Bicentennial. I am sure it will be a Beast of a Feast. They will probably close the street, and everything. Yes. Camden. Established in 1818. Time flies when you are having fun. Black Walnutty Fun.
But. On the list of old places in America, Camden is just a babe in the woods. The very oldest city distinction belongs to St. Augustine, Florida. Right down there at the top of the handle. A couple of counties south of Georgia.
St. Augustine was founded on Sept. 8, 1565. Whew. 1565. It went “official” just 11 days after the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés came ashore. And guess what day that was. It was the feast day of St. Augustine.
For a very long time, it was the capital of Spanish Florida. I’m talking 200 years, that capital. But then people started scurrying over “ownership” of the city. Skirmishes and such between the Spanish and the British. Blah, blah. Then finally the U.S. took control by treaty in 1822.
St. Augustine, our oldest city in the U.S.
Jamestown, Virginia is next. It was also the site of the first permanent English colony in North America. It was founded on April 26, 1607. When it first started out, they called it James Fort after the English king.
But it is hard starting a town way back then. Dang hard. The settlement couldn’t quite get rolling in its first years. It was briefly abandoned in 1610. But look, it probably had a Donut Shop and a Laundromat. So, by 1624, when Virginia became a British royal colony, the Brits said, “Heck. Why not? I mean, we need donuts, right?” So in 1624, Jamestown had become a small town, AGAIN, and it served as the colonial capital until 1698.
And the Bronze metal then goes to, Santa Fe, New Mexico, which came into being in 1607. But it is kind of a special, special old place. Santa Fe holds the distinction of being the oldest state capital in the U.S., AND it is also New Mexico’s oldest city.
But let us be realistic about this place, and the others for that matter. Long before Spanish colonists arrived in 1607, the entire, big, beautiful area had been occupied by Native Americans. One Pueblo village, founded around 900 A.D., was located in what is today downtown Santa Fe.
So there you have it. 1, 2, 3. St. Augustine; Jamestown; and Sante Fe.
Three very cool, and old cities. All worth a visit.
But as Buckaroo Banzai said, “No matter where you go there you are.”
And here I am, bumping elbows with the other 2,000 Camdenites.
Camdeninians? Camdenoles? Yeah. There I are.
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz