Even though the South is steeping with revolutionary history, there are very few places that have the number of acres and buildings in one location that Historic Brattonsville does. With over 775 acres and 30 buildings it’s considered to be one of the most important and heavily visited historical sites in South Carolina.
The Bratton family were Ireland immigrants that came to the United States in the 1730’s. They first lived in Pennsylvania and Virginia before settling in what is now York County in the mid-1760’s. There were five brothers, Robert, John, William, Hugh and Thomas that all settled in the area. The Bratton family was known as family of physicians with a good majority of the family being in the medical profession and making best MCAT Prep for students. In addition to a huge working plantation, the Bratton family owned several homes that are now in the historical district. In the 1950’s and 60’s different Bratton family buildings and acreage was acquired from the Bratton family and other stewards and in 1971 the Brattonsville Historical District was created. Not all of the buildings are original to the site however, as several have been brought from other areas of the Piedmont to provide visitors an overview of the evolution of southern culture and architecture.
Slaves were an important part of the plantation life and Brattonsville is one of the few living history sites that have African-American interpretations. At one point it was estimated that the Bratton’s had 139 slaves who worked and lived on the plantation.
The Battle of Hucks Defeat was an important event in the Revolutionary War and was fought at Brattonsville. In 1780 a British Legion under the command of Captain Christian Huck was dispatched by loyalist Lieutenant Colonel Turnbull to destroy Whig militia camps in the area. Huck was also given instruction by Turnbull to capture Colonel William Bratton (and others) who had just returned home to enlist more recruits for the war. The Whigs heard of this plan, rallied against the British soldiers and won the battle, killing Captain Huck in the process. This battle is believed to have revived the morale of the people in South Carolina and was the beginning of a series of victories including battles at King’s Mountain and Cowpens which eventually led to the British surrendering at Yorktown in 1781.
Here are just a few of the buildings you can explore;
The Homestead is a classic southern plantation house and was built between 1823 and 1826 for John and Harriet Bratton. John was a doctor and used one of the rooms downstairs for his medical practice. There are displays of medical instruments for that time period.
The Bratton House is the original log cabin built by William Bratton when they first came to the area. William served as a Colonel in the Revolutionary War and fought at the Battle of Huck’s Defeat.
Slave House There are both an original rare brick slave house (most slave houses were made of other materials-not brick) and a reproduction house you can tour. The Bratton’s owned many slaves and this house would have been for the slaves who worked at the house.
Hightower Hall is a little set apart from most of the other buildings and is actually the first building you see as you drive into Historic Brattonsville. This house was built for John Simpson Bratton Jr. and his wife Harriett in 1856. It was originally called Forrest Hall and is built to look like a grand Italian villa.
After wandering around for a while you might think that you’ve seen some of this before, maybe in a movie. And you have, portions of The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson, were filmed here.
Brattonsville does a good job at bringing the past to life. Every Saturday is Living History Day with costumed interpreter’s onsite. You can learn to make linen thread from flax, tend the garden or even shear a sheep depending on the day’s activities. They also do special events throughout the year. Their next big one is Children’s Day on March 24th, 2012. You can learn what it was like for rural children in the 18th and 19th century with special crafts, games, pony rides and visiting farm animals.
Hours and Admission:
Historic Brattonsville is open Tuesday thru Saturday: 10 a.m. until 5p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Keep in mind though if you are going on a Saturday, the interpreters usually leave around 3 p.m.
Admission is $6.00 for Adults, $5.00 for seniors (60+) and $3.00 for kids (4-17). There are special events throughout the year where admission may be higher. It’s best to check before you go.
For more information on Historic Brattonsville visit their website at: http://chmuseums.org/brattonsville/