Take a Step Back Into Time!
By Jay Whipple/Trend Magazine
If you are looking to take a step back into a not so memorable time in American history, just head on down across the border into South Carolina a.k.a. Souf Kakalaki. Smile. I have been asked many times during my Charlotte Daily City Tour and Charlotte Daily Black/African-American Heritage Tour(sm) about the past institution of Slavery in Mecklenburg County/Charlotte, NC. Although the Slave population in North Carolina had risen to 54% (Over 350,000) when Slavery was abolished in 1864, it was close to 60% (Approximately 450,000) in South Carolina. In addition, the plantations in South Carolina were much more elaborate and expansive than the ones just across the border in North Carolina.
So if you are looking to re-visit the past institution of Slavery in this part of our State, the best place to go is to the town of Brattonsville, South Carolina, which is named after the plantation owners who once controlled 139 Slaves on 6,000 acres of land. The Brattons like most of the settler’s in this area were Scottish-Irish descendants who migrated here from Pennsylvania and West Virginia looking to strike it rich off of gold. My visit to this site took place on Wednesday September 2, 2009, and yes, it was still rather balmy in Souf Kakalaki when I made the trip down.
The journey itself prepares you for what you are about to experience as you stroll down one long and winding country road after another. One can not help to envision Slaves working the rolling acres of farm land on both sides of the back roads leading up to the old Brattonsville plantation. It also makes you wonder how many of the Slaves perished under the hot sun or while attempting to escape to the North to be free. I have heard tales of folks calling certain trees the hanging tree – so sad.
Upon arriving at the visitor center for your ticket(s), you may be greeted by one of a few cats (four-legged kind) that call the plantation home. The visitor center has a neat souvenir shop that sells books, postcards, and other types of non-needful things that will help you remember your visit. Be aware and careful to ask for specific directions to the start point as the map they give you is not properly orientated. I found that out the hard way after spending nearly an hour lost in the woods – and I am a retired Infantry Soldier and Drill Instructor. Also, make sure that you where comfortable shoes, long pants, socks, and shirt sleeves – even in the Summer – as them woods are full of mosquitoes and other pests that are happy to see you in their place. Some of the trails are over grown during the summer months. In addition, bring some bottled water with you just in case you get lost like I did and plan for at least a half of day for this trip.
All in all this was a memorable day trip as you re-visit the past institution of Slavery in the South. The staff is very knowledgeable of the history of the plantation and if you get lucky, you will meet a young lady by the name of Kitty Wilson Evans who plays a Slave so well that you will be tempted to set her free. You will also be able to enter some of the actual buildings used during the filming of The Patriot – starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger – back in 1999.
If you would like to re-visit the past institution of Slavery in Mecklenburg County/Charlotte, North Carolina, check out our annual Pilgrimage Tour in February – Black History Month.