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Open under the rules and regulations of the Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections
750 pieces, 0.75 linear feet
Barnett Spratt, Educator, Author, and Quite Talented “Winthrop Graduate”
by Scott Coleman
Originally Published in the May 2021, Archives Retrospect, Volume 17, No. 2
I have once again been given the delightful task as guest columnist to write about another one of my favorite local and somewhat obscure historical figures, an educator and children’s author, Miss Barnett Spratt who, after a busy adventuresome life, lived to be 96 years old!
Miss Spratt, a descendent of Thomas Spratt, the first white settler in the area today known as Fort Mill, S.C., was born in my hometown of Chester, S.C. She was educated in the public schools of Chester and graduated in 1904 from my alma mater, Winthrop College. Following her graduation, she taught in the public schools of South Carolina starting in her hometown of Chester 1904 – 1907 and in Rock Hill 1908 – 1909. From 1909 to 1919, she was a primary teacher and primary Supervisor of teachers in the Greenwood public schools, and for two years, from 1923 to 1925, she worked as an Instructor in the Standard Training Schools of the Methodist Episcopal Church traveling all over the southwest. She was Principal of an elementary school in Greenville 1925 – 1929 and eventually taught elementary school in Columbia. Spratt ended her career in education as the Principal of the Wiley Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C. where she retired. Miss Spratt was a deeply devoted member of the Methodist Church. In 1930, she was directly involved in lending her teaching talents to the church’s educational opportunities and was responsible in directing a variety of Vacation Bible Schools within the Methodist Training School Programs. She was also skilled in puppetry which she shared with her students.
At first Barnett Spratt didn’t think she could be a writer, but she had always wanted to write children’s stories. So, she joined a group of beginning writers. With her classmates’ encouragement, she wrote three books for children. Two were for fifth and sixth graders: Toppy and the Circuit Rider about Toppy, who after the death of his grandmother goes with Mr. Dan the circuit preacher to find a new home and Tom and the Redcoats, about a local boy’s adventures encountering the American Revolutionary War British General Cornwallis and his red coated troops as they marched past his home crossing through today what is now an upper portion of York County.
Spratt’s third book, written for middle schoolers, is Miss Betty of Bonnet Rock, my first encounter with her work. I had the pleasure of being introduced to this quite talented children’s author by my wife, who, knowing my interest in local Chester County history, especially pertaining to the American Civil War, told me about this novel, based on a true story told to Spratt by her Aunt Margaret Elizabeth Killian. The story is about Killian’s adventures at the Bonnet Rock School where during the last two years of the war, she taught in the one-room schoolhouse. The building is described in the book as a good-sized log cabin and was located in the Armenia section of western Chester County. Because of its proximity to a rather large rock that 19th century residents thought looked like a lady’s bonnet, the school was named Bonnet Rock. The log cabin has long since disintegrated, but the old Bonnet Rock is still there!
Scope and Content Note
The collection consists of published and unpublished manuscripts by Miss Spratt and other authors, newspaper and periodical clippings, three scrapbooks, correspondence, photographs, and personal notes.
The Barnett Spratt Papers were deposited with the Archives by Mrs. James Wilson on 17 September, 1981.
For information concerning copyright please contact the Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections at Winthrop University.
Finding Aid Citation
Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections, Winthrop University, "Barnett Spratt Papers - Accession 426". Finding Aid 1273.
LC Subject Headings
Spratt, Barnett--Archives; Winthrop Normal and Industrial College--Alumni and alumnae; Children's stories--Authorship