Welcome to Fort Mill's History
As we looked back in time to events that helped make this community what it is today, we found it was not just historic events that brought us to the present day but a combination of events, people from all walks of life, special places, and childhood memories. The stories we hear that make up the fabric of "community" are so interesting! They must be collected, preserved, and shared with all who are here today and those who will come this way tomorrow!
The beautiful works of art you will see here and in the museum's education gallery are creations of very talented local artists. They give you a glimpse of what Fort Mill was like from the 1600s to today. As the museum grows, the timeline will grow. Important dates and events that occurred throughout the history of this community will be added. Oral histories will also become a part of the timeline and throughout the museum.
The past is definitely coming to life at the Fort Mill History Museum and we invite you to become a part of it. Come join in our mission!
Catawba Indian and Thomas (Kanawha) Spratt
Artist: Alexa Spratt
Legend has it that Thomas "Kanawha" Spratt became Fort Mill's first white settler quite by
accident. According to the memory of his grandson, around 1760, Spratt was on his way to
settle in the Long Caines of Abbeville County when he and his wife, Elizabeth, set up camp on the banks of the Catawba River. That night, as the story goes, he made friends with some Catawba Indians around his campfire, and they offered him a vast amount of land to live among them instead. Though there are no known records of this agreement, a land survey made in December 1787 shows him having over 4,000 acres.
Pictured here with Thomas "Kanawha" Spratt is King Haiglar. He was chief of the Catawba Nation from around 1749 until his death at the hands of the Shawnee in 1763. This painting highlights the goodwill between early white settlers and the Catawba.
Little York (Fort Mill in 1870)
Artist: Brenda Stewart
The initial European settlers in the area now known as Fort Mill were mostly Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Pennsylvania and Virginia. They came down the Wagon Road in the 1750s to escape the fierce
inter-tribal fighting that preceded the French and Indian War. Some came with land grants, and most came in groups of families, friends, or church communities.
As the numbers grew, a sense of community took hold, and structures such as a mill, tavern, store, and church were built to provide the necessities. The painter depicts these early years of "Little York," which wouldn’t be named Fort Mill until 1833. It took 38 more years for Fort Mill to become an incorporated town on February 13, 1873.
Did You Know?
Fort Mill's name was derived from two historic structures: the first gristmill of Little York and the remnants of the abandoned efforts to build a fort to protect the Catawba from the Cherokee. Can you find the gristmill in this painting?