Beard is a native of Florence who has collected firearms most of his life. It was through his friendship with FBI agent, and South Carolina native, Melvin Purvis, whom Beard refers to as his "second father", that developed this interest and collection. Purvis was responsible for killing or capturing such notorious criminals as John Dillinger, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd and "Baby Face" Nelson. Many of the items in the collection deal with these events such as:
• The pistol used by Purvis to kill John Dillinger
• Dillinger's straw hat & sawed-off shotgun
• The weapons used to kill "Baby Face" Nelson and "Pretty Boy" Floyd
• A letter of appreciation from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Purvis for his role in the death of "Pretty Boy" Floyd
There are several other items from this period including newspaper front pages, "Junior G-man" credentials and other awards.
The collection also includes weapons as early as the 1600s to the present day.
The Camden Archives and Museum is open 8-5 Monday-Friday and 10-4 on Saturday. The museum is located at 1314 Broad Street and is housed in what was Camden's Carnegie Free Library. Outside the museum is a sculpture of Camden natives Larry Doby and Bernard Baruch. It is about a 30-45 minute drive from Columbia.
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