Jefferson Davis Trail Stop #4
“The York home of one of the region’s most influential citizens and doctors.”
The President spent the night of April 27 in Yorkville at the home of Dr. Rufus Bratton. The residents of Yorkville gathered throughout the evening to pay their
respects to the President, but Davis declined to make a speech. Secretary of State Judah Benjamin, however, addressed the citizens of Yorkville from the balcony of the Rose Hotel. Dr. Bratton later recounted his memories of the President; He appeared to be somewhat fatigued in body and depressed in spirits though easily aroused with his native fire. He caressed and spoke kindly to my four boys, Louis, John, Andral, and Moultrie.
Adolphus E. Fant, wrote years later in the Yorkville Enquirer, concerning a rather humorous incident perportated at the expense of the ladies of the town. Hearing that the President was approaching their town, the women flocked to the roadside where; Many and
earnest inquiries were made by the ladies, their faces sad, tears trickling from their eyes, “do be so kind as to show me the President, do please point him out to us.” Fant, looking around at the group with him picked out the most ragged, dirty, sorriest looking soldier and, pointing to the fellow, said, there is the President. With that the ladies rushed the fellow, at the same time throwing and handing him flowers until he was absolutely hid with them. There he stood with utter astonishment depicted upon his face. The way he stood his ground and looked was indicative of ever remaining in the same place. We moved on leaving him in the care of the ladies and children.
Jefferson Davis in S.C. by Sam Thomas, 1998 the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (See book in PDF form this page.)
The Bratton’s antebellum lifestyle in York was that of opulentance, with investments in real estate, stocks, land, slaves, and even a saw mill which employed five full-time hands. This was one of the few steam driven sawmills in the region and was reported to have sawn 1.3 million board feet of lumber in circa 1859. This was a massive amount of lumber to fuel the need for lumber being used to help with the South’s booming construction industry.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. Rufus Bratton, left his home in York and served for years as a chief Confederate surgeon in Richmond, Va., at the Winder Hospital.
Leaving York, Davis’s party traveled along the Old Pinckney Road toward the Pinckneyville Ferry on the Broad River. Along the way his military escorts and group would have passed close to, or by, many history sites, including but not limited to the following sites:
See additional information on Jefferson Davis as well as local history below…
THE HISTORIC BRATTON HOME IN YORK, S.C.
City Directories and History: 1958 – Bennett’s Gulf Service Station, 1966 – Miller’s Gulf Station
The James R. Bratton (10/12/1821 – 09/02/1897), home originally at this location was one of York’s outstanding pieces of architecture. Not only was Dr. Bratton a wealthy member of the old family from Brattonsville, but he had distinguished himself in medical school, as a civic leader, and later as a Confederate medical officer.
Yorkville Enquirer, November 4, 1863: No SC Troops at Camp Winder
A box of clothing had been sent to Dr. Bratton at Camp Winder. Seabrook Jenkins, “A Surgeon,” at Jackson Hospital sent a note of appreciation dated October 29, 1863 and explained that Dr. Bratton had gone west and there were no SC troops at Camp Winder (Camp Winder was the largest of the Confederate Hospitals where Dr. Bratton worked as a surgeon for most of the Civil War), so the box was shipped to Jackson Hospital [indicating there must have been SC troops there].
THE ARREST OF DR. JAMES RUFUS BRATTON
(Dr. James Rufus Bratton of Yorkville was a Confederate surgeon and alleged Ku Klux Klan leader who fled to Canada from the United States to avoid arrest in 1872. The following story about Dr. Bratton’s kidnapping and arrest appeared in the Yorkville Enquirer, June 20, 1872.)
The London (Canada) papers of the 7th instant, furnish the subjoined particulars in relation to the recent kidnapping of Dr. J. Rufus Bratton, of Yorkville. The Herald and Prototype says: About two weeks ago a gentleman, whose name we suppress for reasons that will be afterward explained, came to this city from the South. He was formerly a resident of York county, S.C. During the American war he served as a surgeon in the Confederate army. At its conclusion he returned to his home, determined to make the best of existing circumstances. He still, however, retained his belief in the principles for which he had risked his life, and he freely denounced the military despotism which Grant has established in the conquered States. His popularity and local influence made him particularly obnoxious to the carpetbaggers, and when it was decided to suspend the habeas corpus Act, in order to carry the elections, his name was marked down as one of the victims. When he learned this, he immediately started for Canada, closely followed by one S. B. Cornell, a Yankee spy, in the pay of Grant’s carpetbagger-in-chief, Gov. Robert K. Scott. The fugitive reached British territory in safety, and Cornell, seeing that Gov. Scott’s warrant was no longer of any use, applied to the United States Secret Service Department for assistance. They placed a fellow named Joseph G. Hester at his service, and the two worthies lost no time in coming on to London to secure their game. There is reason to believe that they dogged him round the city for some days before they got an opportunity of carrying out their nefarious project.
On Tuesday last, about 4 p.m., he was out for a walk on one of the streets in the northern part of the city, when he observed two cabs approaching him at full speed from opposite directions. When opposite him they stopped, and two men jumping out of each cab, rushed at him, and before he could give an alarm, he was seized by the throat and choked until he was insensible. He was then thrown into one of the cabs, the two detectives jumped in after him, and both cabs drove off in opposite directions. Several persons witnessed the occurrence, but presumed that the men were acting under authority, as no one for a moment suspected that an outrage of this description would be attempted in our city. When the men got him to Detroit they procured a warrant and formally arrested him. He refused to disclose his real name to the authorities there, and the warrant was made out in the name of James Simpson. It is this circumstance that has induced us to withhold his name for the present. The first intelligence his friends here received of his fate was in a telegram which he sent them from Leavittsburg, Ohio, in which he informed them that he had been conveyed to Detroit while under the influence of chloroform. He was well known to large number of Southern gentlemen in the city, and they all unite in bearing the highest testimony to his character.
A memorial has been dispatched today to the Dominion Government, praying for their action in the matter. We trust to see it prompt and decisive. No ministry, however popular, could afford to ignore such an outrage. We trust that the matter will not lead to any international difficulties, but whatever the cost may be, our honor must be sustained. If a criminal escapes to Canada, we have extradition laws which will secure his punishment. The very fact that the kidnappers made no attempt to appeal to those laws frilly explains the nature of their mission. We understand that one of our county sub-officials is concerned in the matter, too, though to what extent we are unable to say.
The London (Canada) Advertiser, says: A prominent southern gentleman, lately from South Carolina, Dr. Rufus Bratton, who had lately taken up his residence in London, was knocked down on Waterloo Street in the northern part of this city, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon of the 4th inst, by a United States detective who has been dogging him for some days, assisted by some other persons employed by the detective. Dr. Bratton offered an ineffectual resistance to his assailants, and was finally overpowered and and placed in a cab and driven rapidly away. Dr. Bratton’s friends here assert that he has been guilty of no crime, and that he has been taken away for political reasons only… .The Detroit papers state that the party abducted from here by the detectives is charged with being a member of a gang of Alabama ku-klux. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on March 8, 1893 – “Dr. Sumter Bratton, of York and his family have moved to Columbia to make their home. He is the son of Dr. J.R. Bratton of York and is prominent young physician.”
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