A HISTORY OF THE FORMATION OF THE YORKVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Clyde Oran Smith, October 2007
I feel embarrassed writing this history of the Yorkville Historical Society. I accept no credit for its organization, but I believe its record, particularly as a historical society, should be accurately preserved for the future.
I mistakenly assumed that the formation of the Yorkville Historical Society was well known. Recently, however, I read an article in a local newspaper that credited the York Crust Breakers with initiating the society. As a member of this club, Mr. Harold C. Johnson probably did encourage its members to attend and participate in the society. If anyone deserves credit for the society’s formation, it is Mr. Johnson. The society was his idea, and he did most of the work. Mrs. Jane Bratton Spratt and I simply served as co‑chairs.
The mayor and city council appointed Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Spratt and I to secure a chairperson for York’s Bicentennial Committee. After an unsuccessful search, Mr. Johnson approached Mrs. Spratt and I and suggested that the three of us serve as co‑chairpersons of the Bicentennial Committee. Both the mayor and city council of York approved our appointments.
During our year of service, we helped plan activities in celebration of York’s bicentennial. Mrs. Spratt hosted all of our meetings in her residence. At our final meeting as co‑chairpersons, Mr. Johnson proposed the formation of a York historical society. As Mr. Johnson envisioned it, the society would continue long beyond our year as co‑chairs. We agreed that this was a great idea.
Persons interested in forming a historical society met at the home of Gladys Montgomery on Kings Mountain Street. All present supported the idea and agreed on the Yorkville Historical Society as the group’s official name. Several committees took shape that night, and I served on the bi‑laws [sic] committee. At the meeting, Mr. Johnson voiced our mutual desire for a formal record of York’s history. We did not, however, discuss the impetus for the society or document its establishment that night.
An organizational meeting was scheduled and held in the auditorium of the York Agricultural Building on South Congress Street. Mr. Johnson asked me to preside over the first part of the meeting, until officers could be elected. Mr. Johnson nominated Joey Rainey as our first president. Someone mentioned that the nominations be closed and Mr. Rainey be elected by acclamation. Mr. Rainey became our first president. Although I’m not certain of the other officers, I believe that Nannel Moore served as our first secretary. All present that day signed a tablet of charter members.
After Mrs. Spratt’s death in 1980, Rock Hill Evening Herald staff member Judy Hoffmeyer wrote an article in which Mr. Johnson is quoted, saying, “We felt if the three of us worked together and each took care of something different, it would work out.” Herald photographer Andy Burriss photographed Mr. Johnson and I seated in the gazebo at Moore Park on Kings Mountain Street. The article refers to Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Spratt and I as the organizers of the society. As Ms. Hoffmeyer wrote in her 1987 article, “The three had in mind a society to help preserve historical sites and buildings, to cooperate with the chamber [of commerce] and the city to share the city’s history with others.”
I hope that this brief statement helps clarify the history of the organization for future generations. I was glad to have a small part.
This information is from the March 2010 edition of the Quarterly of York County, South Carolina, a publication of the York County Genealogical and Historical Society.