By: James Bryan Lowder
Historic Brattonsville is probably the most well
known historic site in Rock Hill, not to mention York County. It
is visited by people from everywhere and is a great place to go if you
what to see what Revolutionary and Civil War era plantations were like.
On this web page, I will share with you the history of Brattonsville and
why it is such an interesting place.
Revolutionary War Period
John Bratton Era
Harriet Bratton Era
Dr. John Bratton, Jr.
Era & Decline
The first settlers to the York county area arrived in the 1740's
and 50's. They settled in the southeastern section all along Fishing
Creek. The Bratton family were normal Scotch-Irish settlers.
William Bratton came from Northern Ireland to Pennsylvania. He then
progressed to Virginia and finally to North Carolina where he met and married
Martha Robinson. He also purchased 200 acres of land on the South Fork
of Fishing Creek from Thomas Rainy in 1765. He and Martha did not move
there until 1774. They lived off the land and built their homes out
of logs at first. Some of the log-notching styles that they used were
Half Dovetailed, Full Dovetailed, and V-notching. Brattonsville was
born! Brattonsville was part of the Bethesda settlement which was centered
around the Bethel Presbyterian Church. This is the oldest settlement
in upper state South Carolina.
Revolutionary War Period:
William Bratton was a very important rebel leader in upstate South
Carolina during the Revolutionary War. In July of 1780, Loyalist
Captain Christian Huck led a force of mixed loyalists and British Militia
to capture any rebels in the area. Huck's goal was to capture or kill
the rebel leaders William Hill, John McClure, and William Bratton.
When Captain Huck began his search, he found no rebels at Bratton's home
so he continued to James Williamson's home to camp for the night.
Willam Bratton and his rebels arrived at his home and planned for a surprise,
pre-dawn attack. Bratton ordered the rebel force to split in two.
One group circled the British camp on the north, the other, on the south.
At dawn, the rebels attacked and the British were so surprised that they
could not mount a counter attack. During the skirmish, Captain Huck
was shot in the head. This skirmish became know as "The Battle of
Huck's Defeat." Many historians believe that it set in motion the
events that led to the Battle of King's Mountain and eventually to the
Patriot victory at Yorktown. Because of his leadership, William Bratton
became Justice of the Peace, a judge, and a member of the South Carolina
House and Senate.
John Bratton Era:
The Brattons had now become part of the South Carolina Piedmont aristocrats.
Brattonsville was not yet a plantation but it was starting to grow from
its family farm state into one. In 1815, William Bratton died and so
did his wife a year later. Their son, John Simpson Bratton inherited
the farm. Under John's supervision, Brattonsville was transformed into
one of the leading agricultural and business concerns in the area.
He also began to grow cotton. With his newfound wealth, John began
the construction of the "Homestead" in 1823. It took 2 to 3 years to
complete and was a prime example of Georgian architecture with a heavy influence
of Greek Revival. These styles were used by wealthy people to display
their prosperity. The house had large central hallways, high ceilings,
raised floor plans, end chimneys, and detached kitchens. It also
has white paneling, classic mantels, beautiful stairways and on the porch
there added wings and fluted columns.
During the 1820's, John Bratton
began to build the brick structures at Brattonsville including the slave
cabins. These cabins were ahead of their time because most slave
lived in cabins made of logs then. There were three different types
of masonry used in the construction; 3, 5, and 7-course American Common
Bond. By the 1840's Brattonsville had become a plantation because
of John's great leadership.
Harriet Bratton Era:
When John Bratton died, his wife, Harriet Bratton inherited the plantation.
She proceeded to expand the dairy operation, grew more cotton, and educated
and married her daughters off. She also started the construction of
the Brick Home which her husband had left plans for. Brattonsville
now had a store, post office, gin and cotton press, sawmill, blacksmith shop,
and brickyard. All of these activities brought money to the family
and more people to the plantation. There were approximately 200 people
there in the 1840's.
Dr. John Bratton, Jr. & Decline:
Dr. John Bratton took over Brattonsville in 1850's when Harriet Bratton
died. He then began to build his house called Fair Forest now known
as Hightower Hall. Dr. John Simpson Bratton, Jr. was a medical doctor
but he never practiced medicine. He preferred to experiment with
fruit trees and tend to business concerns. He also served in the southern
militia in the Civil War and was a widespread politician. Dr. John
gained more land and more money for the Bratton estate. He and his
family subscribed to the popular newspapers and magazines of the time.
They also traveled a lot and Fair Forest was furnished with things from all
over the country. After the Civil War and during the Reconstruction,
Brattonsville suffered greatly. John had to begin leasing the land
to survive. Finally, when Dr. John Bratton died the land slowly fell
out of the family's control.
As you can see, Brattonsville is a very interesting place full of history.
Most of the buildings are still there today and you can tour most of them
as well. I hope that you enjoyed and learned a lot from my web page.
I know I enjoyed building it. Thanks!
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