By Gerri Miller
River Region Staff Writer
“There’s a grave on a hill,
High above a rusty old mill,
Where the father of Southern industry,
Rests with his family.
Daniel Pratt was his name,
And his town’s called by the same,
As he carved his place in history,
He paved the way for you and me.”
This ode to Daniel Pratt was sung Friday by Kenneth Hoomes during a wreath laying ceremony honoring Pratt’s 219th birthday and almost two centuries of southern industry history. The song pays tribute to the fact that it was the men and women of Prattville who produced the best cotton gins in the world for almost 180 years.
“Prattville is on the map because of Daniel Pratt,” said Mayor Bill Gillespie. “No one man has done more for this city than he has.”
Ann Boutwell of the Autauga County Heritage Association said it is a special day each year when the community pays tribute to Prattville’s founder. “We all benefit from Pratt’s vision,” she said. “The tone that he set in creating a wholesome village is still evident today.”
After the ceremony, the large crowd of participants returned to the Prattaugan Museum on Main Street to see a cotton ginning demonstration with a circa 1900 70-saw Pratt Cotton Gin. The gin, which was originally made in Prattville, has been donated to the organization. It has been rebuilt and is much larger than a gin that was brought to Prattville in June for a ginning event.
In that event, area residents were given a rare opportunity to see an 1886 Daniel Pratt Cotton Gin ginning cotton on the banks of Autauga Creek. Kevin Harbin, of Seneca, South Carolina, brought his restored Daniel Pratt Gin Co. to the city for that event.
Boutwell said although today’s gins have a much greater capacity for ginning cotton, the technology itself is basically the same.
If you would like to learn more about Autauga County’s history, come volunteer for the Heritage Association’s document preservation project or other organization projects. The organization is one of the most active and involved historical groups working to save history for future generations.
To volunteer or for more information, call (334) 361-0961 or visit the organization on Facebook at the Autauga County Heritage Association.
River Region News
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