Historic Markers Across Georgia

Prater's Mill

Marker ID:  
Location: Prater Mill Road NE (Georgia Route 2), Varnell, GA
County: Whitfield
Coordinates: N 34° 53.731    W 084° 55.218
  34.89551666    -84.9203
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Prater's Mill

Prater’s Mill Dates from 1855 and is in remarkably good shape thanks to the Prater’s Mill Foundation. Built by John Pitner, the grist mill and a nearby sawmill operated from a single water-powered turbine. Together the two mills carved a center of economic activity from lands that had only recently been part of the Cherokee Nation. Eventually, ownership of the mills passed into the hands of Pitner’s son-in-law, Ben Prater. The property stayed in business until the 1960s.

During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers passed through the area. In February 1864, Federal cavalry camped around the mill property while surveying the southern defensive positions north of Dalton. In May 1864, during a skirmish at nearby Varnell’s Station, Ben Prater’s 17 slaves gathered on the front porch of the grist mill from where they listened to the distant gunfire. Following the war, Prater’s former slaves settled near the mill. Many are buried on the property, and some of their descendants remain in the area to this day.

National Park Service Historian Emeritus Ed Bearss has said of Prater’s Mill, “Think of the wonderful stories the mill can tell. This is walking in the footsteps of history.”

Grounds open daily.

Erected by Prater’s Mill Foundation.