Sometimes by visiting one historic site, I learn about another one of interest. While visiting Cowpens National Battlefield and chatting with one of the park rangers about my research interests, he mentioned Brattonsville, South Carolina. After a brief debate, we determined we could drive there before the park would likely close for the day. So off we went. And boy, was I glad we did!
Historic Brattonsville was a gold mine for my research. Not only does the site feature 18th century buildings, but also ones from the 19th century. The comparison between architecture styles proved fascinating indeed. Additionally, the office had a gift store, with a fine selection of music and books. Books that helped me with my research in several ways, as did the period music I played while writing. The music really set the mood. I’ll talk about one of the books in particular in a later blog post. I’ve learned, though, that the books available at historic venues are often very helpful and specific to the area where the site is located.
The earliest buildings in this living museum date from the 1760s, and many were open so my hubby and I could tour them. I’ve said it before, having the ability to walk on the wood floors and climb the creaky, steep steps in an historic structure feels like stepping back in time. I try to imagine living or working in the building, listening to the sounds, and smelling the aromas or odors of the place. Stopping at an upstairs window, I gaze outside and imagine what a person living in the 18th century might have seen in the fields, roads, or lawn stretching beyond the sometimes cloudy glass. Would there be a wagon loaded with hay, perhaps? Or someone herding cattle? Dogs and children? Would chickens be running in front of a horse and rider trotting along the road?
What about soldiers marching by, or worse raiding the house and barns? Where would they hide? Or would they defend themselves? My imagination takes off while visiting sites such as this one.
I wonder how they used the small buildings. Did they work in them, or use them as storage? This one didn’t have windows, so the only light came from the open door. To work inside, you’d have to have a lantern of some kind. I also look at the construction technique. Isn’t it amazing how simply this building was made, and yet it still stands today just as strong and secure as when it was first put together. Being able to stand in or near these historic homes and buildings also gives me a sense of space and size. Aspects important to consider when depicting any buildings in my stories.
If you’re ever in South Carolina, especially in the northeast part of the state, you might consider stopping in to take a tour of this lovely place. I know I’m glad I did.
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