Family Name Can Be Traced Back Centuries
A long-forgotten 1770s-era graveyard, discovered recently during construction of a Mercy Hospital addition off Randolph Road likely included the remains of Mecklenburg County's first permanent settler.
Thomas Spratt was certainly not the first European settler to visit the area; explorer Hernando De Soto passed through two centuries earlier, and John Lawson visited around 1700 while surveying the Carolinas for the English lords seeking treasure beyond the coast. Spratt, however, is credited with being the first to establish a homestead in what is now Charlotte.
He built a rough cabin, cleared the woods, and established a farm in the vicinity of today's Caswell and Randolph roads. The farm was on a ridge just south of the Native American trading paths that would become the crossroads of downtown Charlotte.
Spratt, sometimes spelled "Sprot," was a surveyor by trade and made his way down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania to Mecklenburg County in the early 1740s. He first settled along the Rocky River in what is now Cabarrus County. He later moved to the Waxhaws, along the future border of North and South Carolina.
Spratt and his wife, her name lost to history, had a daughter, Anne. Another daughter, Susan, married Thomas Polk, who became a founder of Charlotte and a Revolutionary War leader. His grandnephew was James K. Polk, eleventh president of the United States.
For seven years, before a courthouse was built at Trade and Tryon streets, court was conducted in Spratt's home. A marker in the 1900 block of Randolph Road reads: "Site of the first court held in Mecklenburg County, February 26, 1763. Home of Thomas Spratt, first person to cross the Yadkin River with wheels. Here was born Anne Spratt, first white child born between Catawba and Yadkin Rivers."
Numerous Spratt descendants still live in the area, including U.S. Representative John Spratt of South Carolina and Jane Spratt McColl, wife of former Bank of America chairman Hugh McColl. —Joe Goodpasture