Daniel Pratt is a hero to a lot of the people in the South. I don’t think that a lot of people outside of the American South have even heard of him, but that’s always the way of it. If it weren’t for him, Alabama probably would not have the industry that we so take for granted today. If you live in Prattville, you’ve been hearing about how great Daniel Pratt is all your life. It might not seem like a lot to those of us outside of Prattville, but it means a lot to me.
Daniel Pratt was actually born a Yankee, but he moved to the South in short order. He had an apprenticeship as an architect back in New England. He then became something of a successful architect-builder in the South. He worked with Samuel Griswold, who ran a factory that manufactured cotton gins. Soon afterward, Daniel Pratt managed to go off on his own and he started his own cotton gin production. His settled cotton gin factory was built in 1838, and he built it all himself. He then more or less created the whole town of Prattville for the people who would work in the factory.
Alabama didn’t have that much industry before then. Cotton gins became the first major product of Alabama. Prattville was the largest producer of cotton gins in the world, and it really helped to expand the economy of the American South and Alabama in particular. A lot of people don’t even know about Prattville today, but they would probably have known all about the cotton gin and everything connected to it historically.
I’ve been to the old Daniel Pratt Mansion. This is the kind of place that we used to visit in school field trips, just to give you an idea of what it was like and how we tried to make sure that the kids were connected to their heritage, for better or for worse. This mansion has literally stood the test of time. It’s a historical landmark that has managed to exist for a long time and that can still be educating people for years to come. I hope that it’s going to stand strong long after I’m gone and that kids from all over the world are going to continue to visit in order to learn about the history of Prattville. This is not a place that lots of people know, but that could change in the modern world.