The Riverview Elementary School library was dedicated last week in memory of the Rev. James Spratt, a Fort Mill resident in the Civil War era who had “a tremendous influence on education in our area,” said RES Principal Annette Chinchilla.
Spratt was born in 1845 near where Riverview was built last year. He was a soldier in the Civil War and upon returning home from battle he, along with former slave Solomon Spratt, built a school for freed slaves.
“It was a daring deed then,” said former Congressman John Spratt, a relative of the Rev. Spratt. “By his life he left a lesson for generations to come, not just for himself but for freed slaves, that they too needed an education.”
Solomon Spratt was a slave on the Thomas Dryden Spratt plantation during the Civil War. During the war, he organized slaves and assisted families who were poor and struggling. In 1895 his name was inscribed, along with others, on a monument in Confederate Park, dedicated to the “faithful slaves…who toiled for the support of the Army.”
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Many other Spratt family members gathered for the dedication, including former town councilman Tom Spratt. Also honored were Brenda Spratt Green and her brother James Elliott Spratt, relatives of Solomon Spratt.
Green, like her relative, is dedicated to education in the township, having spent 23 years (and counting) working for the Fort Mill School District. Her family also has ties to the district. Her sister, Rebecca and Pamela, are school bus drivers, her brother Richard serves as custodian of Orchard Park Elementary and Ronnie serves as a substitute bus driver.
The land on which Riverview sits was previously owned by John Spratt. The previous Riverview Elementary School building was used to expand Fort Mill High School.
As part of the library dedication, third-graders from Riverview researched and presented a slideshow about Rev. Spratt and Solomon Spratt. Third- and fifth-graders then joined together to sing “Make a Mark,” a song about making a mark in life and making it matter.
The dedication of the library is a reminder to students that making a mark in life is important, Chinchilla said.
“We appreciate the legacy you all have given us and the mark you have made,” she said.
The Rev. Spratt graduated from Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary. He later settled in Kentucky where he taught and preached at Berea College, a college for orphans. His life was one of service, embodied in the one word he chose to guide his life – “Others.”
“May the students who attend Riverview Elementary School learn that lesson well. Others. Not me, but others. We are so proud to have this affiliation with the young people and the school,” said John Spratt said.
To view the slideshow about the Rev. Spratt and Soloman Spratt, go to rves.fortmillschools.org.