“A handsome brick building involved in the Jim Williams affair….”
City Directories and History: The financial well being of the Bratton family came from a wide economic spectrum, including the operation of their highly successful
general store, known today as the Bricks. Prior to his death in 1843, Dr. John S. Bratton, began construction of the building at Historic Brattonsville known as the Brick
House. Some data suggests a small store pre-existed 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. The Bratton store ledgers shows 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 following Dr. Bratton’s untimely death. The Brick House remained in its original form until much later, circa 1850’s, 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 2013 the restoration of the Brick House began under the watchful eye of preservation architect Mr. Martin Meek and the roof system as well as the facade are currently (Jan. 2014)
under restoration. 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. It was this store that burned while being used as an educational venue in the early 21st century.
Prior to that, the store had been a central focus of the restoration work of Judge S.B. Mendenhall and his lifetime goal of seeing the entire village restored. This important building featured large counters, numerous pigeon holes, and extensive wooden shelving along both the long interior board walls of the store. The chimney at the rear provided heat and an addition, perhaps even an earlier store had been tacked to the rear chimney for storage. The 1900 census of York County shows N.B. Bratton as age 61 and his wife Minnie age 50. A decade later, 1914, the family had moved to York, S.C. One of the most meaningful manners in which the store was annually used by the staff and volunteers, was in providing a gathering spot for the hundreds of volunteers who helped build Historic Brattonsville during the 1980′s and 90′s. Following the Christmas Candlelight tours, volunteers would gather in the store to celebrate another year of successes and friendships. The demise of the
store was a significant blow to the continued recruitment of volunteers and many old man no longer had a resting spot in which to reminisce and ponder its construction. The store and balance of the Mendenhall’s property were sold to the York County Cultural and Heritage Commission in 2001 and are now an integral part of the restoration efforts. *** Note that on Walker’s map of 1910, the store is no longer actively used or even displayed – information supplied by the CHM’s of York County as well as other sources.
BRICK HOUSE TIMELINE
The long awaited stabilization of the Brick House in 2013-14, is a significant step in preserving this historic structure under the care of the York County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Future
visitors will not the documented history of both a front metal roof and the use of wooden shingles on the rear of the structure. Additional restorations efforts are going into rebuilding the original front porch with its handsome second level as well as re-opening the center door which was not enclosed until the late 19th century. (Compiled and written by the CHM’s of York County, S.C.)
GRIST & ROBERT J. MORROW TRAVEL THE YORKVILLE-CHESTER ROAD The editor of the Yorkville Enquirer, A. M. Grist, and a friend, Robert J. Morrow tour Bullocks Creek township in this Nov. 17, 1933 column, “Just A-Rolling Along the War—Log of the Green Chevrolet as it Voyages over more of York County.” (Note Robert J. Morrow worked for the Bratton family at Hightower for many years.)
……Presently we reached the old John S. Bratton Homestead, later occupied by the late Robert Witherspoon and his family, and a little further on reached the old Bratton homestead known for years and down to the present as Brattonsville. Here is to be seen the old brick homestead of the Bratton family, and a little further on the store building where the late Napoleon B. Bratton did quite a mercantile business for many years after the Civil War. An observer doesn’t have to be told that in the past this Brattonsville community was one of importance, wealth and culture in the days of yesterday. It speaks for itself. Out across the road from the old Bratton home is the monument that marks the site of Huck’s Defeat in the Revolutionary war days. The battlefield is also known as “Williamson’s.” The monument marking the spot, a large boulder of dark granite, bears two bronze plates, one in front and the other on the back. The one on the front towards the roadway, bears this inscription: “Field of Huck’s defeat, where 75 Whigs led by Colonel William Bratton defeated a British and Tory force of 500 men, July 12, 1780.
“Erected by Kings Mountain Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Yorkville, S. C., 1902.” The tablet on the other side of the marker bears this inscription: “To the memory of Mrs.
Martha Bratton, wife of Colonel William Bratton. Loyal in the face of death. Brave in the hour of danger. Merciful in the moment of victory.” Not far from the marker stands the old log house, now weather boarded, known as the “Agnes Harris” house. This old house dates away back, but as to whether it goes back to Revolutionary days, I did not learn. Months ago someone, I have forgotten just who, told me about a grave marker on the Bratton lands, at the grave of one of the Bratton slaves, that had been erected by Colonel Bratton. To be sure I wanted to see this marker and Tuesday afternoon Mr. Morrow and I hunted it up. We found it in a body of woods after quite a bit of search. It is a marble marker and the inscription thereon reads as follows: “Sacred to the memory of WATT who died Dec’r, 1835. During the Revolutionary War he served his Master, Colonel William Bratton, faithfully, and his children with the same fidelity until his death. Also DOLLY, his wife who died July, 1838 who served the same family with equal faithfulness.” The marker bears the words “W. T. White, Ch., S. C.” White was the stone cutter who made the marker. We had started out to find the place and the tree if possible, where Jim Williams, negro, was hanged by Ku Kluxers in the stormy days of Reconstruction. Passing down the old Yorkville-Chester road we noted several places that I had heard of in days gone by, though this was the first trip for me over that road. One place that was of interest to me was the old Scott Wilson place. I never knew Scott Wilson, never saw him; but I recalled the fact that many years ago, in the late eighties, my father and the late Henry Smith spent several days at Mr. Wilson’s home on a bird hunt and killed lots of birds. The old Wilson house is still standing and a big house it is, but oh, my, how it is going to rack and ruin. Farming certainly isn’t what it once was in York county. (Re-print information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Nov. 11, 1891 – “Mr. C. Henry Smith is prop. of the Turkey Creek Training Kennels located five miles south of Yorkville. For several years he has been engaged in training bird dogs for sportsmen. Recently he has begun breeding fine setters and pointers for sale. Last week he sold a thoroughbred Lewellen Setter to a gentleman from Charleston for $125. cash.”
THE OLD FOX PLACE: (A continuation of the article) Leaving the Yorkville-Chester road we turned into the road to McConnellsville. Presently we pulled up in front of the home Will Erwin (see note bottom this paragraph), a negro, and asked him if there was a road that would take us to what was once known as the “Fox place.” There was not. It was on the Fox place that Jim Williams lived when he was taken to his execution. However, the Green Chevrolet made it over a rough farm road to within half a mile of the spot we wanted to reach and then we walked the rest of the way, guided by Erwin. Going along, Mr. Morrow (most likely former caretaker for the Witherspoon Farm – Hightower, Mr. Robert J. Morrow), told me, that here in a bottom, was once located a mill, but it was so long ago that he didn’t know whose mill it was. Years ago, he said, the mill rocks were lying close by where that had at one time been a dam and the bottom is yet known as the “Mill pond bottom.” It could not have been a very big pond, as the only source of water is a small creek or branch that has its head in what is known as the “Fox Spring.” Mr. Morrow pointed out across the hill about the site of the house where Jim Williams lived and the place where the Kluxers got him that night from under the floor of his home. They took him away across the hill by the old mill site, and up on what used to be known as the “Devil’s Backbone,” a ridge rising from the branch, and here on a small pine tree Jim’s body was hanged, but legend says that Jim was dead before he was strung up. Mr. Morrow looked around to see if he could locate the tree on which Williams hanged. It would be quite a tree if it was standing today. It isn’t but close by a big gum tree we found the stump of an old pine and from Mr. Morrow’s recollection of what was pointed out to him as the one on which Jim was hanged, it is quite probable that that was the tree, but off course we could not verify that. (R&R Note: Will or Willie Erwin was the son of Joe Erwin who in 1900 lived south of Guthriesville on Hwy 321. See further detail @Will Erwin history.
R&R Notes: Several early land plats in York County show roads in this area leading to the Strait’s Mill. This was most likely that of the original Fox Mill, in that Sarah Fox (1780-1830), married Leonard Strait (1773-1825), ca. 1800. She was the daughter of Jacob Fox, an early settler in the Bethesda area and land owner just Southeast of what is Historic Brattonsville. The 1790 census shows him living next to Nathan Moore. The old road to the Fox – Strait Mill is in 2019, the Mobley Store Road (The section of Mobley’s Store Road from near the South Fork of Fishing Creek bridge to the intersection with Brattonsville Road was not built until ca. 1946). The old Fox place as related to Jim Williams, was not at this location, but NW of the Brattonsville – Chappell Road crossing, perhaps at the former home of “Phillip”, not Jacob Fox’s home and farm. Phillip Fox is believed to be the brother of Jacob Fox. Note that Jacob Fox is known to have numerous land grants and farms, mostly east of Brattonsville Road. Therefore, most likely lived east of both the Moore homes (on Brattonsville Rd.), Mr. Fox’s land lay along the South Fork of Fishing Creek, in the vicinity of much of the old Chappell Farm complex.
Another source also states that Captain Jim Williams lived at the Scott
Williams / or Scott Wilson house on Brattonsville Road. This too would have been close to the Nathaniel “Nathan” Moore house as shown on Walker’s 1910 Postal Map. However, it is unclear if this was the Wilson house to which the author was referring, or rather that of the C.S. Wilson farm, between the old Alfred Moore house and the Chester Co., line. Importantly, the “Old Fox” place from which some sources suggest Jim Williams was taken, was indeed NW of the C.S. Wilson farm not far from what is in 2021, West Chappell Road, a large farm parcel of which is owned currently, (2022) by members of the Walker Family. ****Additional research needs conducting prior to any conclusion to the location of this house.
See the Built of Brick Jaunt – Driving Tour
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