Oriana Gilmore

(McConnells, S.C.) — To celebrate Black History Month, the museum at Historic Brattonsville offered special tours of African American history throughout February focusing on three generations of slaves from 1780-1865.

The event, entitled By Way of the Back Door, featured guided tours of the former plantation in McConnells with historical interpreters, storytelling and activities.

Historic Brattonsville interpreter Sonja Burris said the event allowed visitors to learn about the lives and contributions of the families enslaved at Bratton family plantation.

“The African American story is definitely (a story) that completes the history here,” Burris said.

The tour included a replica of Col. William Bratton’s 18th-century home and took guests through three generations of life at the site.

Burris said Brattonsville has preserved the plantation, which includes several replica buildings and four original buildings including a domestic slave home.

Along the tour, she said, tourists got the opportunity to meet the descendants of the enslaved families.

“We are talk about a people who, through the storms of life, worked and lived here to really help this plantation to grow, to be what it (was) during its wealth,” Burris said. “I feel like I pay homage to them and honor them…and their descendants by telling their story.”

Wali Cathcart, said his great-grandmother, Lila Crawford, was only 7 years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Crawford had two children who were said to be the children of one of the Bratton’s sons, according to Cathcart.

He said Brattonsville holds sentimental value to him as an African American descendant of slaves in York County.

“Historic Brattonsville represents to me…an on hands opportunity…to revisit my ancestors. To be able to pass on that kind of knowledge that I know should be passed on to my family, because growing up I didn’t get that because of the stigma attached to slavery,” said Cathcart.

He said he takes every opportunity to conduct more research about his family lineage and learn about the history of Brattonsville.

Burris said the By Way of the Back Door tours are an example of how Brattonsville offers an interactive way, through education, to preserve local African American history.