Located in South Carolina, Brattonsville is a historic park much like Old Sturbridge Village, just on a much smaller scale. It encompasses 775 acres of over 30 colonial and antebellum structures, two house museums, a Revolutionary War battlefield site and walking trails. In April, when I was visiting my friend in North Carolina, we took a trip out there and spent the day walking around admiring the buildings and enjoying part of the South’s history, something I’ve experienced very little of!
I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but definitely not the many similarities I saw. They called lunch dinner and dinner supper, just like in the northeast. The pottery, dishes and house hold items were similar…so similar in fact that if I’d seen them out of context I’d have said they belonged in 1830s New England not 1840s South Carolina. Even the house designs showed similarities—though I have to say the South’s foundation systems greatly amused me. With no need for root cellars in every house, warm weather, and clay-like soil the houses were built on top of (typically) brick or stone piers.
The Scotch-Irish brothers William, Robert and Huge first settled in the area in the 1760s. William Bratton married Martha Robinson and they had eight children. Over their life they managed to make their plantation grow and thrive. [choppy] After their deaths, their son John S. Bratton inherited the plantation, which continued to expand and prosper. John and his wife had fourteen kids and in 1823, construction began on a larger house that would become known as The Homestead. Through the years additions were added to the house as the family’s wealth grew.
The biggest difference (aside from the weather :)) was the fact that this was a plantation, not a farm, and like most plantations in the south, it had slaves. Unlike farms in New England, which were typically large enough to feed the farmer’s family and maybe make a small profit on some excess harvest, the plantation was large (over 225 acres) and was meant to produce enough harvest to sell and make a profit. One family (husband and what sons he might have) couldn’t work a plantation on their own like most farms in the North. I never really thought about that difference and how it really did shape the South and its need for “workers” as opposed to the North. Or as my friend pointed out maybe the slaves were the reason for the plantation economy in the South. Either way they probably fed off each other.
I found the visit extremely interesting. Especially for this Northern girl who always thought the South was so different from the North.