They’re about as famous as names come in Fort Mill history. Planners up north don’t want Spratt and Haigler lost to Charlotte history, either.
On Dec. 5, statues of Thomas “Kanawha” Spratt and King Haigler will be unveiled in front of the Philip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Center at Kings Drive and 7th Street, Charlotte. Local artist Chase Fagan sculpted them as part of the privately funded Trail of History.
“The new statues are larger than life size, are historically accurate and are magnificent,” said Dr. Tony Zeiss, president of Central Piedmont Community College and Trail of History chairman. “They are bronze, and they perfectly represent these two historical leaders of the 1760s.”
The unveiling is at 10 a.m. The public is invited. The latest artwork joins statues of Captain James Jack and Jane Wilkes, with three more in production. Planned are statues of Thad Tate, Thomas Polk and William Henry Belk.
The statues are part of an effort since 2005 to preserve Mecklenburg County history. Local historians recommended a list of influential people in the area from settlement by Europeans through the past century.
Statues and markers follow the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, a 16-mile area through downtown Charlotte. Partners include Central Piedmont, Arts and Science Council, The May 20th Society, Partners for Parks, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, Mecklenburg County and The Rotary Club of Charlotte.
According to project research, Spratt settled near Catawba villages during the reign of tribe Chief King Haigler. Spratt’s father bought land near what’s now Fort Mill in 1750, later adding two plantations. The land was part of Anson County, later Mecklenburg County.
The land was part of 225 square miles given to the Catawba, who chose to be part of South Carolina. Spratt and his descendents leased the land from the Catawba.
Spratt and Haigler shared mutual enemies in the Shawnee and other tribes. Both men are credited with negotiating treaties protecting native rights at a pivotal time when an influx of European settlers arrived. The legend has endured that “Kanawha” is the honorary Catawba name Spratt was given.
Ann Evans, consulting executive director with the Fort Mill History Museum, said she’s glad to see pillars of Fort Mill honored and Trail of History is “an exciting project connecting nature and history.”
“Newcomers to our area and the younger generations need to know how we came to be here and to understand our connection to American history,” Evans said.
Among history museum events and history day celebrations in town, Evans works with school groups promoting Fort Mill’s past.
“Thomas ‘Kanawha’ Spratt is a central figure in the history of the settlement of Fort Mill. It has long been written that he was one of the earliest, if not the first, settlers in the area known then as ‘Little York,’ now Fort Mill,” Evans said.
Spratt’s friendship with Haigler led to “extensive settlement of the area.” The Catawba pursuaded Spratt to stay in the area rather than continue to Abbeville, Evans said.
“You could say that this friendship between the two lead to the first successful collaborative effort to develop what is now Fort Mill – long before Baxter Village,” she said.
Anyone with family ties to Spratt or Haigler is particularly invited to the unveiling. For more on the Trail of History, visit charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/ParkandRec/TrailOfHistory.