Folks can experience Fort Mill history this weekend, or they can take it home and read about it.
LeAnne Burnett Morse, 44, wrote the latest and most recent hometown history book in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, “Fort Mill.” The April 20 release features almost 200 photos and borrows from the Fort Mill History Museum and other sources.
“There was a lot of Fort Mill that I did not know, that a lot of people may not know,” Morse said.
The book begins with the Catawba Native American tribe and its first contact with incoming European settlers, and accounts the rise of mill work and military service from town residents. Largely in pictures and accompanying paragraphs, it details Fort Mill life from the African-American experience in the Paradise community to marching-band titles and social clubs.
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“I worked really closely with Fort Mill History Museum, the Springs family archives, as well as private contributors,” Morse said. “There are a lot of people who have been around this town a really long time.”
A Kentucky native, Morse moved to Fort Mill in 2001. She has more than 20 years of experience in writing and television production; current work includes production of a historical television series and an historical fiction novel based on the H.L. Hunley, the first known submarine to sink an enemy vessel.
Morse said she found “a treasure trove of information from people who have lived it.” She feels history is increasingly important as Fort Mill grows.
“Fort Mill has so much history,” Morse said, “and to think about the way it’s changing so much and be able to reconcile that this has always been a very special place from the beginning.”
Morse said she never fully appreciated her Kentucky hometown until she left and returned. The book is a way to preserve the place where her sons’ childhood memories took place.
“This is the place that my children will look back on,” Morse said.
The H.L. Hunley replica Confederate submarine returns for the second annual event, as will re-enactments, encampments and demonstrations from most every war in the country’s history.
“That was a big draw,” said history museum Deputy Director Kira Ferris. “Each of the encampments is going to be larger.”
New will be Catawba drumming and dancing, along with pottery and demonstrations. The event sets up something of a timeline along the walking trail park, where people can pace through the town’s history from its earliest days to more recent times.
Last year the inaugural event brought in an estimated 2,500-5,000 people. This year, with an anniversary of the last Confederate cabinet meeting, organizers expect more. They also will host 657 third-graders from throughout the Fort Mill School District ahead of the event to show local history that matches school standards.
“This was the best way to incorporate, lets hit everything in Fort Mill history in 10- or 12-minute sessions,” Ferris said.
Canon firing is a big hit, as are re-enactors who will explain day-to-day life in their given eras.
“I cannot stress how knowledgeable they are,” Ferris said. “This is not a dress-up party.”
John Marks • 803-547-2353
Want to go?
Book signings will be 6 p.m. April 23 at the history museum, and at both Fort Mill History Days and the South Carolina Strawberry Festival. The History Days event runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.