City Directories and History: The large timber frame gin house at the rear of the Homestead house was donated to Historic Brattonsville by the Williams family who lived on the corner of Highway 49 North and Atkins Road. It was here that the gin house had been used for generations by the community to gin their cotton and have it baled for market. The building was carefully moved and restored on the foundations of the original cotton gin after archaeological confirmation by archaeologist Ms. Rita Kenion. The Roddey – Williams gin house (see Watson House)was in excellent condition and fit within a few feet of the Bratton’s original layout. This move was made
expertly under the hands of Angle & Chisholm, who were contracted to disassemble and re-erect the structure on the original site of the Bratton’s gin house. The building itself houses an historic cotton gin which originally would have been turned with a system of wooden gears and a large round central sweep pulled by animals. The historic building, a timber frame construction, was dismantled and relocated to its current site by the firm of Angle & Chisholm of Chester, S.C. under the watchful eye of Joanna Angle. The cost of dismantlement, moving and re-erecting it at HB was $14,225. and the project was completed on schedule in 1992. In the mid 1990′s a beautifully constructed gin sweep was procured for installation through the donation of David R. Clark’s family (J.E. Timberlake, III and W.E. Monroe, Sr.) in Columbia, S.C.
The donation in 1995, by the Clark – Timberlake families and Timber Lands Company of Columbia and Chapin, S.C., was that of a circa 1840 wooden sweep for turning the gin machinery. This highly prized and extremely rare piece of wooden technology (still in storage) was also accompanied with the financial means to move the large piece consisting of a central shaft, round gear and carved wooden cogs. It is unclear who built the gin sweep but only a hand full of individuals have ever been recorded as having that skill in South Carolina and only one in the region of Saluda County, Mr. George S. Smith from Orangeburg County, SC who in 1850 was thirty-five years of age and reported that he was a professional cotton press builder. It is unknown as to his involvement in the construction of this gin sweep, perhaps none at all, but it clearly shows this was a highly skilled occupation. Many plantations had gin houses and sweeps but very few have survived.
The gin sweep was in a fine old gin house on the edge of Lake Murray but the building itself could not be saved. The staff at Historic Brattonsville was most fortunate in that not only did a dozen or more volunteers camp out for two days working on the gin sweep’s safe removal and preservation. The preservation effort was also assisted via the #122 Engineer Battalion of the National Guard. On April 27, 1996 the guard provided invaluable assistance in relocating it to the storage facility at Historic Brattonsville. Research suggests the gin was constructed for either Absalom Hendrix or Michael Sutton who both lost properties to John Long in March of 1847 at a Sheriff’s sale. John Long Senior’s estate, of Lexington County, sold the property to Frederick H. Dominick of Newberry County for $1,225.00 which consisted of 304 acres in the 1880’s. In 1920 the property described as, “All that piece, parcel or tract of land situated in Saluda Township, in Lexington County, South Carolina containing 138 acres on branch of Saluda River.” The property was acquired by J.E. Timberlake in 1937 at a cost of $1,500.
A few of the volunteers who spent their valuable time included; James I. “Rusty” Robinson, Bob Runge, Gene Copeland, George Hampton, Roy Gugel, Bob McCanes, R. E. “Ernie” Johnson, Arnold Carter, Bill Rogers, and Risher Fairey who volunteered to complete a transfer of historic property deeds. Much of this work was paid via a donation received in 1996 from the Millikan Foundation for $10,000.
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Informative link: Eli Whitney
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Stuart Platt says
Where was this Gin near Lake Murray?
James Major says
Near present day Timberlake Golf Club, Chapin, SC.