For Immediate Release:

May 12, 2021


Contact: Marie Cheek, Community Relations Coordinator, Culture & Heritage Museums 803.909.7312


Historic Brattonsville accepted to National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and prepares new exhibit to tell the story of one of its freedom seekers

McCONNELLS, S.C. – The National Park Service recently announced that Historic Brattonsville has been accepted to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. The program added 16 new additions this year and now has 680 listings in 39 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the network. Comprised of national parks, sacred sites, and historical landmarks, the Network to Freedom Program coordinates nationwide preservation and education efforts to unfold the many stories of freedom seekers who escape from slavery. In an April 23 news release, NPS Chief Historian Dr. Turkiya Lowe said “The Network to Freedom Program is dedicated to amplifying diverse histories and providing a platform to convey a more complete history of our country.”

At least four freedom seekers fled from slavery on York County’s Bratton Plantation throughout the 19th century. Little is known of the first three: Bob, Lewis, and Henry. The fourth, James Williams went on to become a prominent civil rights leader during Reconstruction. In 1865, he escaped the Bratton plantation and joined the Union Army. Upon his return, he became an active civil rights leader in York County and was lynched by the Klan in 1871. This incident is emblematic of the social and political upheaval that rocked the South during the decade after the Civil War.

With the support of a Major Grant from South Carolina Humanities, Historic Brattonsville is preparing to coordinate new educational programs and interpretive exhibits that reflect the stories of freedom seekers and foster a deeper understanding of the Reconstruction Era.


Historic Brattonsville’s Brick House, restoration completed in Jan. 2021, is now listed in the NPS National Underground Network to Freedom Program. Photo courtesy of CHM. For a high resolution image, contact

Historic Brattonsville has modified operations with safety protocols in place due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Please visit for the most up to date information on Culture & Heritage Museums’ sites and programs.

About Culture & Heritage Museums:

Culture & Heritage Museums is a family of museums in York County: Historic Brattonsville in McConnells, the McCelvey Center, which includes the Historical Center, in York, and the Museum of York County and Main Street Children’s Museum in Rock Hill. CHM is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. According to AAM, accreditation is “the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field” and “signifies excellence and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies and to the museum-going public.” In South Carolina, there are only twelve museums or museum systems that have achieved this distinction.