Historic Markers Across Georgia

Cotton Gin

Marker ID:  
Location: Prater Mill Road NE (Georgia Route 2), Varnell, GA
County: Whitfield
Coordinates: N 34° 53.713    W 084° 55.146
  34.89521666    -84.9191
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Cotton Gin

The cotton “gin” (short for engine) was first patented by Eli Whitney of Massachusetts in 1793. The purpose of a cotton gin is to remove the cotton seeds from cotton fibers.

Simple ginning machines were being used prior to 1793 to clean the long-fiber Sea Island cotton grown on the Georgia coast. However, these early gins were not able to clean the seed from the short-fiber variety of cotton grown across the rest of Georgia. Whitney’s gin was able to remove the seeds from this short-staple, upland cotton, allowing “King Cotton” to become a major cash crop in the South.

Cotton planting and harvesting with slave labor became extremely profitable for plantation owners. The abundant supply of southern cotton made northern factory owners and merchants wealthy. Ironically, it was the North’s massive industrial capital, generated by the South’s agricultural, slave-based cotton economy that aided the Union is defeating the Confederacy and abolishing slavery.

The original Prater’s gin stood just north of the mill. This gin was moved from the Earl Shugart farm in Cohutta in the 1980s.

Erected by Prater’s Mill Foundation.