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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Brattonsville, York County, SC

We went to York, SC with Mom and Dad for a tractor show. It was a beautiful day with perfect weather for our outing. It was cool, breezy but the sun was shining and it wasn't too cold or too hot... just right! You can see photos I made of the Rose Hill Cemetery in York, SC.

We had a wonderful Margaritaville pizza here and the waitress was great.

Some of the historical houses in York are beautiful. Surrounded by mature oaks and magnolias, they were very photographic. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get out and walk the area and get perfect photos. These are taken from the car window as we drove through so they aren't the best. First is the courthouse.

This was originally an upscale hotel in town that has been renovated into new apartments.

I wish we could afford to buy this one! But I don't want to own an historic house without having the money to keep it up so it's not likely I will ever own one.

We went downtown to have lunch and then spent the afternoon at Historic Brattonsville near McConnells (southern York county). At the last Kate Barry Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution meeting, the speaker was one of our members. Sheila Ingle has written 2 children's books. The first is Courageous Kate about our chapter's namesake, Kate Barry, of Walnut Grove Plantation in Moore, Spartanburg county, SC. Her second book is Fearless Martha about Martha Bratton and her family in Brattonsville, York county, SC. William and Martha's story got me interested in Brattonsville so when Dad called to ask if we wanted to go with them to York, SC for the tractor show we loaded up.

Historic Brattonsville is a 775-acre historic site that includes a Revolutionary War battlefield. Each July a two-day event commemorating the Battle of Huck's Defeat is re-enacted. In 1971 the Colonel William Bratton House and the Homestead House were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration of the Homestead began in 1975 and it was opened to the public a year later. Since 1998 Historic Brattonsville has been a part of the York County Culture and Heritage Museums. It's a 29-building living history village on the site of the Bratton family plantation. It has a picnic area beside the old home they used for a Visitor's Center.

It costs $6.00@. There is a busy road through the area so be sure to keep children under watch. Next time I would like to take a picnic. But to be comfortable, you might want to choose your weather. In the summer it gets hot in SC and the humidity can be terrible. There isn't a place to go inside with air conditioning. This is all outdoors. Here is the Visitor's Center.

I'm standing at the Visitor's Center looking across the road taking this photo. Across the road is the bigger part of the buildings. the road is between the fences.

The Catawba Indians lived along the banks of the Catawba River in North and South Carolina - York and Lancaster counties. Also known as Issa, Esaw, and Iswa. They live in the Southeast United States, along the border between North and South Carolina near the city of Rock Hill. They called the Catawba and Wateree River, "Iswa". The Catawba were once considered one of the most powerful Southeastern Siouan-speaking tribes. Their first historian, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, said they had lived in Canada until driven out by the Iroquois (supposedly with French help). They migrated to Kentucky and to Botetourt County, Virginia, and then around 1660 settled on the Catawba River, contesting it with the Cherokee. But a later investigator, James Mooney, dismissed this because the Catawba had been recorded by 1567 in the same area of the Catawba River as their later territory. Mooney accepted the tradition that the Catawba and Cherokee had made the Broad River their mutual boundary, following a protracted struggle. The colonial governments of Virginia and New York held a council at Albany, New York in 1721, attended by delegates from the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) and the Catawba. The colonists asked for peace between the Confederacy and the Catawba. The American Indians promised to stay in their own territories; the Iroquois agreed to north of the Potomac. The colonists gained the tribes' permission for European-American colonists to use the Indian Road or Great Warriors' Path (later called the Great Wagon Road) through the Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia backcountry without interference from the Native Americans. This heavily traveled path, used for centuries by the Native Americans, went through the Shenandoah Valley to the South.

Despite modern day visions of Indian tribes living at peace with their neighbors in a world of harmony, this was not true. Native Americans were, and are, like all of mankind. They have the same human nature that we all have. The Catawba were long in a state of warfare with northern tribes, particularly the Iroquois Seneca, and the Algonquian-speaking Lenape, who had become vassals of the Iroquois. The Catawba chased their raiding parties back to the north in the 1720s and 1730s, going across the Potomac River. At one point, a party of Catawba is said to have followed a party of Lenape who attacked them, and to have overtaken them near Leesburg, Virginia. There they fought a pitched battle. They evidently didn't uphold the 1721 agreement. Similar encounters in this longstanding warfare were reported to have occurred at present-day Franklin, West Virginia (1725), Hanging Rocks and the mouth of the Potomac South Branch in West Virginia, and near the mouths of Antietam Creek (1736) and Conococheague Creek in Maryland. Mooney asserted that the name of Catawba Creek in Botetourt came from an encounter in these wars with the northern tribes, not from the Catawba having lived there.

Also, many people today think that European settlers somehow deliberately brought diseases to the Native Americans. There may have been some deliberate attempts to use biological warfare such as giving diseased blankets to natives. But this was probably pretty rare. The "European" diseases had already decimated Europe killing millions of people with plaques that they didn't understand. They didn't know how diseases infected people, how they worked within the body. Those who survived these disease outbreaks must have had some tremendous immunities and strong constitutions. It was these survivors and their children (who would have inherited such genetic and DNA strengths) who migrated to new worlds. Only to meet other peoples who had not been in contact with such diseases. Those diseases would wreak upon the Native Americans the same havoc it had already wreaked upon the Europeans. I would safely say that most of the explorers had no intention of bringing diseases to decimate the American Indians. It happened to them like it had already happened to the Europeans. It's not like today, when our scientists and doctors know all about germs, viruses, diseases; how they are caused; how they are spread; how to study them; treatments; medicines. "Doctors", back then, treated illnesses with folk medicine which we realize, today, were ridiculous, even harmful. It was not deliberate biological warfare. And, may I add, many Americans of European birth, still died of diseases after they immigrated to America from Typhoid Fever, Syphilis, Smallpox, etc. It was NOT isolated to one group or another, both suffered and died with these diseases. In 1738, a Smallpox epidemic broke out in South Carolina. It caused many deaths, not only among the Anglo-Americans, but also among the Catawba and other tribes. Again, in 1759, another Smallpox epidemic broke out which killed about half the Catawbas. If you compared a group of 1,000 British citizens (who were at the same time in their history subjected to the disease) who had contracted and died from Smallpox with a group of 1,000 Native Americans, the deaths probably would have been the same. But if you compared a group of 1,000 Anglo-Americans who had recently immigrated from England with 1,000 Native Americans then it might reflect more Indian deaths simply because those who immigrated to America from England were probably descendants of those who had survived those diseases so had some immunities to it. Those diseases had already killed off the Europeans. Does that make sense? I'm not a scientist and don't know everything but I'm just trying to look at it as a human nature problem. We are all equally human and have the human nature to deal with. No person, peoples, families, tribes, cultures, clans, or ethnicities are better than another. We are equally human and our bodies are built equally strong or equally weak. It does bring up a question that I've thought of. We are so blessed today to have the medical technology that saves lives. Back in the old days the weaker died leaving more of the stronger humans to grow to adulthood and re-produce. That could mean strengths were bred in our genetic/DNA makeup. But today our medical technology is able to save so many lives who would otherwise have died as children. Do you think we may be breeding weaknesses back in our human strain? Hmmmmm. I hope not. I, for one, would have died as a child, even as an infant, if not for medical technology. If I had had children, would I have passed on my weakness? (I had a birth defect that was fixed surgically and through medication.) Oh well, there is no human being that God causes to be conceived, that is not in His Plan. And we must treat each human being as being a God-created creation which should be taken care of to the best of our ability, which includes medical care. So He knows what He's doing!

In 1744 the Treaty of Lancaster, made at Lancaster, PA, renewed the Covenant Chain between the Iroquois and the colonists. The governments had not been able to prevent settlers going into Iroquois territory, but the governor of Virginia offered the tribe payment for their land claim. The peace was probably final for the Iroquois, who had established the Ohio Valley as their preferred hunting ground by right of conquest. The more western tribes continued warfare against the Catawba, who were so reduced that they could raise little resistance. In 1762, a small party of Algonquian Shawnee killed the noted Catawba chief, King Hagler, near his own village. In 1763, South Carolina confirmed a reservation for the Catawba of 15 miles square, on both sides of the Catawba River, within the present York and Lancaster counties. When British troops approached during the American Revolutionary War in 1780, the Catawba withdrew temporarily into Virginia. They returned after the Battle of Guilford Court House, and settled in two villages on the reservation. These were known as Newton, the principal village, and Turkey Head, on opposite sides of Catawba River.In 1826, the Catawba leased nearly half their reservation to whites for a few thousand dollars of annuity, on which the few survivors chiefly depended. In 1840 by the Treaty of Nation Ford with South Carolina, the Catawba sold all of their 144,000 acres (15 square miles) reserved by the King of England to the state but a single square mile, on which they now reside. The treaty was invalid ab initio because the state did not have the right to make it and did not get federal approval. About the same time, a number of the Catawba, dissatisfied with their condition among the whites, removed to the eastern Cherokee in western North Carolina but, finding their position among their old enemies equally unpleasant, all but one or two soon returned to South Carolina. An old woman, the last survivor of this emigration, died among the Cherokee in 1889. A few Cherokee intermarried with the Catawba. At a later period some Catawba removed to the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory and settled near present-day Scullyville, Oklahoma. They merged with the Choctaw and did not retain separate tribal identity. By 1826, the Catawbas were down to only 110 people. This was their lowest number. Today they have increased to about 2,600 people.
William Bratton was born c. 1741-1742 and married Martha Robinson or Martha Robertson, who was born c. 1749-1750. The Brattons and Robinsons were both Scotch-Irish Presbyterian families from Northern Ireland. It's probable that they came to Pennsylvania and lived in Virginia before moving to Rowan County, NC and finally came to the area that would be Brattonsville, York County, SC about 1766. Their earlier history is a little unsettled. One traditions has Martha born on the ship as her family came over to America and others say she was born in Virginia. Some say they were married in Virginia and others say they were married in Rowan County, NC. Some say they are from County Antrim, Ireland and others say from County Armagh, Ireland and, yet others say County Tyrone, Ireland. But the families were definitely originally from Ireland. William and Martha Bratton moved to what is now York County, SC at least as early as 1766. He had neighbors named Thomas Bratton, Hugh Bratton, Robert Bratton, and John Bratton, who were most likely his brothers. They evidently came as a family to the area. All these men owned land on the waters of Fishing Creek and Turkey Creek in present-day York County, SC.

In the beginning, there was "Carolina" which included both North and South Carolina. Prior to 1772, much of upper South Carolina was considered to be part of North Carolina and many of the early land grants and surveys for this area are to be found in the NC records. The York County area was considered to be part of Bladen County, NC from about 1734 until about 1748; from 1749 to 1763 it was part of Anson County, NC; from 1763 till 1768 it was part of Mecklenburg County, NC; and from 1768 until 1772 it was part of Tryon County , NC. In 1772 the line between NC and SC west of the Catawba River was surveyed and agreed upon by both states, and this area became the New Acquisition District of Craven County, SC. In 1785 it became York County of Camden District, SC; in 1791, it was York County of Pinckney District, SC; and in 1800, it became York District, which it remained until 1868 when it finally became York County.

There are several homes on the site starting with a log replica that would have been like the ones built when during the frontier days of 1750. This cabin is typical of those preliminary structures built in the Backcountry between the 1740s and the early 1800s. This one was built in 1980.

There was an onsite blacksmith shed. My Great Grandfather, William Eli Huneycutt, was a blacksmith farmer. My Dad has his Grandfather's bellows, anvil, vise just like these.

A replica of the kitchen garden. Notice the bee hive on the stand in the center.

You can see the adze marks on the logs.

William Bratton purchased 200 acres of land on the South Fork of Fishing Creek in Mecklenburg County, NC, from Thomas Rainey on August 11, 1766. The deed for this transaction states that William Bratton was already a resident of Mecklenburg County and living on the property when he purchased it from Rainey. The deed also refers to improvements such as houses, outbuildings and cultivations existing on the property when it was purchased. On May 4, 1769, Bratton received a land grant for another 200 acres on the South Fork of Fishing Creek in Tryon County, NC, which he sold to his neighbor William Adair in 1771. In July 1769, the Tryon County court minutes confirm Bratton’s appointment as overseer of the road that ran past his house. William Bratton's house was built on the 200-acre tract which he originally purchased from Thomas Rainey, which is now part of Historic Brattonsville in York County, SC. It is not known for certain if the building now identified as the Col Bratton Revolutionary House at Historic Brattonsville was Bratton’s original house, or one built later. In compliance wth legislation issued by the South Carolina Council after the 1772 survey, Bratton filed a memorial with the SC Auditor's Office in 1775 certifying that his land was now in the state of South Carolina, and was issued a South Carolina grant for his property.

William and Martha Bratton had the following children:
Eliza Bratton, born Sept. 7, 1766, married David Sadler.
Jane Bratton, born Oct. 9, 1768, married Dr. James Simpson.
Martha Bratton, born Mar. 19, 1771, married Rev. John Foster.
William Bratton Jr., born Aug. 22, 1773, married Christina Winn (daughter of Col. Richard Winn) and later Isabella Means.
Elizabeth Bratton, born Aug. 10, 1779, married William Ervin.
Agnes Bratton, born May 23, 1785 (born after the War), married George Steele.
John Simpson Bratton, born Feb. 21, 1789 (born after the War), married Harriet Rainey.

The house that the Brattons lived in during the American Revolutionary War. It's unsure when this house was built. Virginia Mason Bratton (1867-1960), the last family owner of the house, claimed that the house was built in 1776, but there is no documentation to support this. The Rainey-Bratton deed transaction clearly indicates that William was living on the property in 1766, but this does not necessarily prove that the house is that old. It is certain that by 1780 William Bratton, his wife Martha and five of their children were living in what is now known as the William Bratton House. The location of the house was well-chosen and lay at the intersection of two important colonial roads: a north-south road known variously as the Armour’s Ford Road, Armstrong Ford Road, or Lincoln Road; and a road running to the southeast known as the Rocky Mount Road. For many years, the William Bratton House probably looked a lot like the McConnell House. It was a single-pen, story-and-a-half log house that rested upon stone piers. The log walls were likely uncovered and the few shuttered windows would have been small. The date of the brick chimney is unknown—it may be original to the house or a later addition. The timber-framed back room was probably added by 1800. Family tradition states that by 1780 a porch was located on the front and archaeological investigations seem to confirm this. Th small window over the porch may have been gun ports. The log structure has been covered, there is a steep staircase with loft bedrooms upstairs. How Bratton operated a tavern on his property is not known. Did his family live in the same house that he operated a tavern at? In 1839 the house underwent a major renovation. Col. Bratton’s son, Dr. John Simpson Bratton, converted the house into a young ladies’ academy for the education of his seven daughters and other local girls. To operate the Brattonsville Female Seminary, he hired Catherine and George Ladd of Macon, Ga. Both were accomplished in their fields. To modernize the old house and make it usable as a school, a frame addition was constructed on the south side of the building. The entire building was covered in weather boarding, the windows were enlarged and glass was added, and new Greek Revival-styled mantels were installed. The total cost for these renovations was $442.32. Thus, the house in its present appearance most accurately reflects the 1840s.

The parlor/living room with the steep stairway to the loft bedroom where the children slept.

The kitchen/master bedroom.

This bed was in the other half of the kitchen room. It was probably where the parents slept.

The Smith Cabin

The cotton gin barn. There may have been two cotton gins at this barn and the Brattons may have had more cotton gins at other locations. (Watch your children while they are upstairs as they could easily fall from the openings.)

After capturing Charleston in May, 1780 the British occupied Camden and established a strong post at Rocky Mount, a high elevation overlooking the area where Rocky Creek enters the Catawba. The Revolutionary War moved full force to the area between the Broad and Catawba Rivers now known as York and Chester Counties. Rocky Mount was commanded by a British officer, Lieutenant Colonel George Turnbull, and was garrisoned by 150 men loyal to the British Crown, including elements of Turnbull’s own regiment, the New York Volunteers, and a troop of British Legion dragoons or light cavalry under Captain Christian Huck. Huck was a lawyer from Philadelphia of German ancestry and a staunch Loyalist. He had a particular dislike for the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the South Carolina backcountry, most of whom were Whigs or “rebels,” as the British called them. In June 1780, Turnbull dispatched Huck to destroy the Whig militia camps at Fishing Creek Church and Hill’s Iron Works, which Huck accomplished with great satisfaction. The Whigs moved to the east side of the Catawba River and began organizing a partisan militia brigade under the command of General Thomas Sumter. On May 29, 1780, near Lancaster, South Carolina, between a Continental Army force led by Abraham Buford and a mainly Loyalist force led by Banastre Tarleton, the Battle of Waxhaws occurred. The American commander refused an initial demand to surrender, but when his men were attacked by Tarleton's cavalry, many of them threw down their arms to surrender. Buford apparently then attempted to surrender, but it was rejected. Tarleton's men continued killing the Patriot soldiers, including men who were not resisting. Little quarter was given to the Patriots. Of the 400 or so Continentals, 113 were killed with sabres, 150 so badly injured they could not be moved, and only 53 prisoners taken by the British. "Tarleton's quarter" thereafter became a common expression for refusing to take prisoners, and in some subsequent battles in the Carolinas few of the defeated were taken alive.

During the American Revolution, William Bratton served as a Patriot militia commander in the New Acquisition District and rose from the rank of captain at the beginning of the war to colonel by late 1780, when he commanded a regiment in the partisan brigade of Gen. Thomas Sumter. Martha Bratton was left in charge of gunpowder hidden on their property in North Carolina (now South Carolina). The British were given a tip about the gunpowder and immediately left to seize it. Martha was told that they were coming but did not have enough time to move the gunpowder. Not wanting the British to get hold of the ammunition, Martha came up with another plan. She poured a trail of powder far away from its location and, when she heard the British approaching lit the trail. The British were furious and demanded to know who had blown up the ammunition. Even with the threat of severe punishment, Bratton willfully replied, “It was I who did it… Let the consequence be what it will, I glory in having prevented the mischief contemplated by the cruel enemies of my country.”

In early July, Turnbull received intelligence that many of the rebels, including Captain John McClure and Colonel William Bratton, had returned home to check on their wheat harvest and to enlist recruits for Sumter’s Brigade. For over a month Turnbull's troops, based at Rocky Mount in Fairfield County, had roamed the upstate, destroying homes and terrorizing the area's Patriots. Turnbull gave Huck instructions to apprehend McClure and Bratton and disperse the rebels in the upper Fishing Creek and Bethesda communities. On the evening of July 10, Huck set from Rocky Mount with 35 British Legion dragoons (known as the Green Dragoons), 20 mounted New York Volunteers, and 50 mounted Tory militia. Early on July 11, he visited the home of John McClure. McClure had already left for Sumter’s camp, but Huck captured McClure’s younger brother and brother-in-law and sentenced them to be hanged the next day. He terrorized the boys’ mother, set fire to their home, and then departed for the plantation of William Bratton some ten miles to the north. Martha Bratton, her children and their slaves were working in the fields, reaping the wheat with reaping hooks. She recieved word that Huck was coming. She sent her slave, Watts, to notify her husband and she moved her family and slaves back to the house. She waited on the porch for their arrival. When Huck and his men reached the Bratton home, a red-haired soldier jumped on the porch, grabbed a nearby reaping hook and held it to Martha's throat. He threatened her life if she didn't tell him where her husband was. Another soldier in the group ran to the porch and knocked the red-haired soldier aside, saving Martha's life, and saying, "We don't war against women and children."

British Captain Christian Huck entered Martha Bratton’s house to question Bratton about where her husband’s location. Martha told the truth, defiantly saying that he was with Sumter’s army. Huck replied that Colonel Bratton should instead join the loyalists. Bratton bravely answered that “she would rather see him remain true to his duty to his country, even if he perished in Sumter’s army." Huck was enraged by this answer and threw her son, who had been sitting on his lap, to the floor, where he hit his head on the hearth. Captain Huck demanded that Martha Bratton prepare and serve dinner for them. Being an herbalist, she had thought about poisoning the soldier’s food, but she knew her husband was close. After she prepared the dinner, she and her children went upstairs and left the British to finish their meals. Captain Huck slept in the house while his men went to one of her neighbors, James Williamson’s, house to set up camp.

Bratton and McClure soon learned that Huck was on the rampage, and they quickly made plans to intercept him. Coming from Gen. Thomas Sumter's camp in northern Lancaster County, the started out for the purpose of intercepting and halting the British advance. Believing that Huck was camped at Walker’s Mill in Chester County, they set off on July 11 in an effort to ambush the Loyalists. Other local Whig commanders, including Colonel Edward Lacey from Chester County and Colonel Andrew Neal from York County, also learned of Huck’s expedition, and began gathering men from all over the area to intercept Huck. When the various Whig companies rendezvoused at Walker’s Mill, they got the word from Watts, that Huck had moved on toward the Bratton plantation. They rode overnight to the Bratton and John Williamson plantations. A force of 133 local militiamen under William Bratton, William Hill, Andrew Neal, and John Moffet of York County; more from Edward Lacey, John McClure and Michael Dickson of Chester County; and Richard Winn of Fairfield County, for a total of about 250 Patriots, they ambushed the force of British Army Provincials and Loyalist militia led by Capt. Christian Huck and Lt. Col. James Ferguson of Chester. Arriving on the dawn of July 12, 1780, they surprised the British and Tories camped there. Captain Huck was said to have come out of the Bratton house in nothing but his long sleeping shirt and his sword. When he realized what was happening, he turned to go back inside only to be met with a slammed door in his face. Martha got her children down, even forced her son to hide in the chimney where he would be safe from stray shots.

Dividing their force in two, the Patriots placed one group to the north of the house while the other circled around to the east. At daybreak, as the British were just climbing out of their bedrolls, the attack began. Surprised by the suddenness of the attack, the British were thrown into chaos. Twice, the British tried unsuccessfully to mount a counterattack but were frustrated by the fencing and woods. Dashing from the Williamson house, Capt. Huck swung up onto his horse and waving his sword attempted to rally his force to meet the rebel threat. Thomas Carroll, sighting Capt. Huck, loaded his gun with two balls, took aim and shot the Loyalist leader in the head, killing him instantly. The British now lost what organized resistance they had and the fight became a running battle back to the south toward the Bratton house where some of the last fighting took place. The battle lasted a little over an hour. The Patriots were victorious. This battle became known as the Battle Of Huck's Defeat or the Battle of Williamson's Plantation (which was just behind the Bratton home). The British had 25 to 50 killed, several times that number wounded, and 29 captured. As was custom for both sides during the war in the backcountry, mercy was not freely given upon successful completion of a battle. Several of those captured were later hung. The only Patriot casualty reported was a man by the name of Campbell. On July 15, Lord Cornwallis reported to his superior, Lord Clinton, "the Captain is killed, and only twelve of the legion and as many of the militia escaped." The battle revived the morale of the people in South Carolina just when British victory seemed inevitable. It served as a rallying point for the backcountry Whigs, and set into motion a series of significant events which eventually led to the even larger Patriot victories at King’s Mountain in October 1780, Cowpens in January 1781, and finally to the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1781. Martha Bratton's stories were documented by Mrs. Elizabeth Ellet in two books written in the 1850's, The Domestic History of the Revolution and the three-volume Heroic Women of the Revolution.

After the war, in 1786, Col. Bratton, eager to take advantage of the heavy traffic on the road that ran in front of his house, obtained a license to operate a tavern. He was again appointed tax collector in 1784 and in 1785 he became a justice of the peace for York County and a district representative to the South Carolina House of Representatives, a post he held until 1790. In 1791 he became a state senator and remained so until 1794, when he became sheriff of the new Pinckney District (1795-98). At some point after 1793 Bratton acquired a cotton gin and began cultivating cotton. To facilitate his cotton planting, Bratton acquired more land and slaves. In 1790 Bratton owned 12 slaves, making him one of the larger slave owners in the region. By the time of his death in 1815, Bratton had increased his slave ownership to 23. William Bratton died on February 9, 1815. The City Gazette of Charleston, S.C., published this obituary: “He was one of the old revolutionary characters, worthy to be remembered... His services were zealously devoted to his country throughout the Revolutionary war and for many years afterward in the [State] Legislature... He has left a widow and numerous family, besides a large circle of friends and acquaintances to lament his loss.” Martha Bratton died a year later, on January 16, 1816. An inventory of Colonel Bratton’s property dated April 12, 1815, valued his personal property (excluding house and land) at $8,247.75. Of that amount, $6,505 was listed as “Negroes.” He was a successful planter and businessman and raised a large family. William and Martha Bratton were associated with Bethesda Presbyterian Church in York County and are buried there. After William Bratton’s death in 1815 and Martha Bratton’s death in 1816, their son took over the home, which he remodeled in 1839. He added a wing, which was used as a school for girls. All of the Bratton children except William Jr. married into neighboring families from the Fishing Creek community; William Jr. moved to Fairfield County, married into the Winn family, and lived near Winnsboro. William Bratton Jr. became a doctor (as did his brother, John Simpson Bratton). William Jr.'s son John Bratton was a Confederate general during the Civil War and commanded Bratton’s Brigade.

Several of John Simpson Bratton's sons served in the Confederate Army as well, including James Rufus Bratton who was an army surgeon, and Napolean Bonaparte Bratton, who built the house now known as “the Bricks” at Historic Brattonsville. John Simpson Bratton Jr. built the elaborate plantation home known originally as Forest Hall, now called Hightower Hall, at Historic Brattonsville.

Located at the northern entrance to the historic site on Brattonsville Road, Hightower Hall is a grand, white frame Italian Villa mansion. The impressive house was built for John Simpson Bratton Jr. and his wife Harriet Rainey Bratton in 1856. Then called “Forrest Hall,” it was the seat of a significant nineteenth and twentieth century plantation. After John and Harriet died, Forrest Hall became the home of their daughter Sophia and her husband Robert Witherspoon. In 1958, the house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. R. F. Draper. They in turn sold the house to the York County Historical Commission so that it could become part of Historic Brattonsville. The house became known locally as “Hightower Hall” in the early 1960s. Hightower Hall has been a well known feature of the York County landscape for years. The house was used as a film location for the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot

Brattonsville also has the next step up from the tiny log cabin to the larger log house with one large room downstairs and a loft bedroom. Moved to the site in 1983, the McConnell House is a historic structure that originally stood in the nearby town of McConnells, South Carolina. It was probably built by Reuben McConnell before his death in 1837. This structure represents a common house type found throughout the Carolina Piedmont from the late 18th century through much of the 19th century.

The Bratton homestead on Fishing Creek soon became known locally as Brattonville or Brattonsville, and in the nineteenth century included a country store, a post office, and a doctor’s office. Both William Bratton Jr. and John Simpson Bratton became doctors, and John Simpson Bratton built the antebellum home today known as the Homestead at Historic Brattonsville.

Business endeavors begun in the 18th century by Col. William Bratton were continued in the 19th century by his youngest son, Dr. John Simpson Bratton (1789-1843). Seizing the new opportunities and wealth cotton planting offered, Dr. Bratton turned a modest plantation into a large one. Records from the York County Comptroller’s Office reveal that by 1827 Dr. Bratton owned 3,540acres (14.3km2), 40 slaves, 80 town lots (most likely in Yorkville), and stock in trade worth $500. As a significant planter and slave owner, Dr. Bratton also acted as banker and store owner, while his son Robert McCaw Bratton served as postmaster of the Brattonsville Post Office. As their wealth increased, Dr. Bratton and his wife, Harriet Rainey Bratton (1795-1874), were able to position themselves as leaders in local society. In the early 1820s they began building a grand new home to accommodate their growing social status. Construction on the Homestead began in 1823 under the supervision of contractor Henry Alexander. The lumber used in the house was likely cut from the property and processed in the Brattons’ own sawmill; the stones used in the foundation were quarried from the property, and the bricks used in the chimneys and outbuildings were made on the plantation. When the house was completed in 1826, it was a typical Federal-style four-over-four with a center hall, interior chimneys, Federal (Adams or Classical) style mantles, wainscoting (the paneled lower part of the walls) and carved staircases. Alexander’s addition of the side wings after 1826 demonstrates a Greek Revival influence. The present porch is a reproduction of one added in 1854.

The inside of the slave cabin.

The weaving house

The bright red and gold paint colors inside the Homestead are one of the most striking aspects of the building’s interior. The paint colors used throughout the Homestead are based on paint analysis of original remains. The painted wainscoting found upstairsis original to the Homestead and is very similar to that found downstairs. Paint was an indicator of the Brattons’ status, as many paint pigments (especially reds and yellows) were costly. ‘Graining,’ or creating a faux finish, was an attempt to imitate more exotic and expensive woods and was considered stylish in its own right. With the exception of the north wing, every room in the Homestead was used in the filming of the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot (2000).

After the death of Dr. Bratton in 1843. The 1850 Federal Census of York District, South Carolina, shows Harriet as the third wealthiest person in the district in terms of land, with real estate holdings valued at $25,000. A decade later the census valued Harriet’s personal property at $85,000, with $24,000 in real estate. Her son, John Simpson Bratton, Jr., had $110,800 in personal property and $24,000 in real estate. He went on to build Hightower Hall (Forest Hall) in the 1850s. At the outbreak of the Civil War, both equally shared land holdings totaling at 8,000acres (32km2). The Bratton family occupied the homes on site into the late 1910s. By the late 1950s the Homestead was electrified (but did not have indoor plumbing) and served as a boarding house, while the detached assembly/dining hall was used for hay storage.

Prior to his death in 1843, Dr. John S. Bratton began construction of the building at Historic Brattonsville known as the Brick House but previously there had been a small store at the general location. It was his intention to use the new enlarged space for a multipurpose facility to house both the Brattonsville Post Office as well as his general store. He contracted with several local builders-masons; John M. Powers, Robert Owens, and John L. Owens to build the brick store house. The Bratton store ledgers show that in May of 1839, these men were working in the area and shopping at the older Bratton store. Construction of the Brick House began in 1841 and was completed after his Dr. Bratton’s untimely death. The Brick House remained in its original form until much later when an addition was placed on the rear of the brick building. It appears this section may have been an earlier dwelling and simply moved and added on the rear of the Brick House. In about 1885 Napoleon Bonaparte “Boney” Bratton (1838-1918) constructed a new wooden framed general store next to the Brick House, in which he and his wife resided. The store was a single story wooden structure with a solitary chimney for heating in the rear of the store. There was a smaller addition on the back which may have been the original store. The store structure burned down in 2004.

The footprint of the old store and it's chimney can still be seen by The Bricks home.

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