This house is part of Historic Brattonsville – a 775-acre Revolutionary War battlefield site with over 30 historic structures dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. On July 11, 1780, a British Legion troop led by Captain Christian Huck (also spelled Houk) of Philadelphia arrived at the plantation of Patriot colonel William Bratton, who had recently been at home to check on his harvest and recruit for Sumter’s Brigade.
Prior to Huck’s arrival, Colonel Bratton had learned of Huck’s impending attack and set off with his troops to intercept them at Walker’s Mill in Chester County, where he erroneously believed the Tories were camped. When Captain Huck and his men reached Bratton’s home, they found only his wife, Martha, and threatened her for information on her husband’s location. Martha famously refused, and Huck moved to the nearby property of James Williamson to await Bratton and his men.
Back at Walker’s Mill, Bratton received word that Huck’s force was encamped at Williamson Plantation. Bratton planned to ambush the Tories at dawn. At daybreak on July 12, 1780, Huck and his men were soundly defeated by Colonel Bratton and his force in a battle that lasted about 10 minutes.
The event restored the morale of the Patriots, which had been in decline since the Seige of Charleston that May. The battle was one of several American victories that led to our nation’s ultimate triumph and independence.
The Bratton family continued to prosper after the war. Their small family farm was transformed by the prosperity of cotton, and it became a large plantation with many slaves. As the family’s wealth increased, the Brattons became leaders in local society.
They began building an impressive estate in the early 1820s to reflect their wealth. Many of the buildings were constructed from lumber and bricks cut and made right on the property. The Bratton family lived here until 1910. It was then maintained by tenets and farmers working for the Brattons until the 1950s, when it was divided and sold.
The new owners restored many of the buildings. By 2001 York County had gained possession of much of the land and turned it into a living museum. The Homestead House, however, is still owned by descendants of the Bratton family and is operated by the York County Culture and Heritage Commission.
The plantation became internationally famous when it appeared in the filming of the Revolutionary War movie, The Patriot. Annual events at historic Brattonsville include the Battle of Huck’s Defeat, the Piedmont Pottery Festival, Civil War reenactments, and Christmas candlelight tours.
The Homestead House with its double porches is one of the most striking homes on the property. This dining room, which served the Homestead House, was prominently featured in aforementioned The Patriot starring Mel Gibson.
Interior Pictures of Homestead House
Brick House – Historic Brattonsville
The Brick House at Historic Brattonsville was constructed in 1855. The two-story brick facade has end chimneys with a porch extending across the front, supporting an upper porch in the center of the home. A two-story wooden wing extends off the rear of the structure.
The brick portion is one room deep with a central hallway, upstairs and down. Interior features include most of the original glass, a circular staircase, Adam mantles, heart pine floors, and iron locks.
Due to the success of an academy at Brattonsville, this brick structure was originally commissioned to be a boarding school for girls, though it is unclear that it ever served as this purpose. The structure did operate as a store and home for Napoleon Bonaparte Bratton, the youngest son of Dr John S. and Harriet Bratton. The interior of the home is furnished like a typical schoolhouse from the era and it remains in excellent condition.
Hightower Hall – Historic Brattonsville
This impressive Italian Villa, located at the northern entrance of Historic Brattonsville, was built between 1854 to 1856 for John Simpson Bratton, Jr. and his wife Harriet Rainey. In 1850, the couple were still living on John’s mother’s estate, The Homestead, and owned nineteen slaves which they used to operate a farm worth $9,000. The house plans were chosen out of a two-volume book entitled “The Architect” by William Ranlett. The house was originally known as Forrest Hall. The property consisted of 4,000 acres of land valued at $24,000, thirty-eight slaves and in 1860 over 60 bales of cotton and 1,500 bushels of corn were produced. The original outbuildings consisted of a separate kitchen, smoke house, barns, and twelve slave dwellings.
After John and Harriet’s death, the estate passed to their daughter, Sophia and her husband, Robert Witherspoon. Once they passed away, the home was rented out to tenant farmers by their descendants until the house was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. R.F. Draper in 1958, Mr. Draper was an executive with IBM. Mr. Draper owned the property until his death in 1995 and during his tenure, he acquired property until the total acreage amassed nearly 1,300 acres. With the help of the National Ford Land Trust, Friends of Historic Brattonsville, Historic Brattonsville, and the York County Council, the plantation home and 485 acres were acquired and made part of the Historic Brattonsville site. The remaining Draper property was purchased by the South Carolina government and used as the Draper Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the South Carolina Department of Resources. The property became known as Hightower Hall around the 1960s and is a popular location for events such as weddings, receptions, and historic re-enactments. The house was also used as a filming location for the Mel Gibson movie “The Patriot” in 2000.
Historic Brattonsville is listed in the National Register:
Brattonsville is a small but important area of York County significant for its architectural record of South Carolina development. Brattonsville Historic District includes three distinctive homes built between 1776 and 1855 by the Brattons, a prominent York County family. The Revolutionary House, built in 1776 by Colonel William Bratton, was originally a one-room log house with a small porch. It was the home of Colonel William Bratton who fought in the Revolutionary War. Later additions were added to the original structure and clapboard siding was placed over the original logs.
The Homestead, Brattonsville’s second house built ca. 1830, was the home of Dr. John S. Bratton and was significant as a center of an 8,500-acre agricultural complex. This twelve-room, two-and-one-half-story antebellum mansion is an example of Greek Revival residential architecture. The interior features Adam mantels, exquisite dadoes, and a carved staircase. The Brick House, built in 1855, has a two-story brick façade with end chimneys, a two-tiered portico, stucco-over-brick columns, and a two-story wooden wing at back. It was originally a private boarding school for girls.
Reflections on Brattonsville
Contributor James Boone, who visited the living museum in 2013, shares with us his Brattonsville experience:
“We visited a community this weekend called Brattonsville near McConnells, SC, a 775-acre site with 30 structures dating back to the 1760s. The community is located off Highway 321 close to Rock Hill, SC. The Brattonsville site represents the history of Scots-Irish and African-American people in South Carolina before lives changed during the Civil War. Three brothers – William, Robert and Hugh Bratton – settled the property in the 1760s, and all the brothers fought during the Revolutionary War. The brothers fought in a battle near the current museum [against] overwhelming British forces and defeated them, which was a turning point in the war, on July 12, 1780.
“There are more than 30 structures on this site which preserves the way of life during the early 18th century and beyond. Brattonsville is the site of Huck’s Defeat in 1780, which was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Later, Americans also won victories over British forces at Kings Mountain in October 1780 and then at Cowpens in January of 1781.”
Historic Brattonsville Info
Address: 1444 Brattonsville Road, McConnells, SC 29726
GPS Coordinates: 34.864725,-81.175523
Historic Brattonsville Map
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