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Oliver Cotton Gin circa 1890s

Historical Significance

The Cotton Gin was originally located at Teasley’s Mill in southeastern Montgomery County. Continental Gin Company in Prattville, Alabama built this two-stand gin machinery around 1900. The gin (short for engine) was operated first by Chappell Gray, Sr. and later by his son until 1942. The purpose of cotton gin machinery was to separate seeds from the fiber, a chore that previously had to be tediously done by hand. The invention of the Cotton Gin enabled cotton growers to expand the production of cotton in Alabama, which has the perfect climate for it.

During ginning season of mid August to mid November, seed cotton would be brought to the Gin in a mule-drawn wagon and weighed on the platform scales. After ginning, 1,500 pounds of seed cotton produced a 500 pound bale of cotton and 1,000 pounds of seeds. A vacuum telescope would remove the cotton from the wagon and deliver it to the separator where the ginning process would begin. The gin’s five men crew, aided by the Atlas one cylinder steam engine, produced an average of two bales of cotton an hour. The seeds would be saved for next year’s crop or used for fertilizer, cattle feed, or cotton seed oil.

Architectural Significance

In the early 1980s, the Gin machinery was saved from demolition and stored by Landmarks Foundation, with the help of two local cotton farmers and gin operators who recognized the historic value of the gin, which had never been modernized. Housed in a replicated Gin House, the Old Alabama Town Cotton gin opened in November 1993 and was dedicated to Tommy Oliver, one of those cotton farmers who reconstructed the Cotton Gin.