Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Prater’s Mill’s heritage runs back to the days of the Cherokee Indians. Built by Benjamin Franklin Prater in 1855, the water powered mill was originally fitted with the latest in grain cleaning, grinding and sifting machinery, all powered by the Coahulla Creek.
As the mill’s popularity grew, Prater added a cotton gin, a saw mill, a wool carder (device that combs sheep wool), a syrup mill, a general store and blacksmiths shop. For almost a century, farmers lined up their mules and wagons before dawn, waiting for their turn with the millers.
During the Civil War, the mill was used as a campsite by soldiers from both sides. While occupied by the Union army, the mill was considered a valuable resource for food and was not destroyed. The Prater family operated the Mill until the 1950’s. A succession of millers ran it until the 1960’s. In 1971, the all-volunteer Prater’s Mill Foundation took over the Mill and began its extensive restoration and preservation efforts. Today, the mill is best known for the arts and crafts festivals held each October. Throughout the year, the grounds are a popular site for fishing, cookouts and family reunions.
Tragedy struck on May 20, 1995 when fire was intentionally set on the north side of the mill. Two arson convictions have been made to date. Most of the damage was sustained on the interior of the mill as the flames shot around the hand-hewn timbers. The force of the fire blew out most of the windows, damaged the roof, siding, electrical system, and destroyed an antique display case.
Civil War Time Line
- January 19, 1861 – Georgia secedes from the Union.
- October 1862 – The first Confederate troops arrive in Whitfield County.
- 1862-1863 – Benjamin Franklin Prater sells corn, hay, fodder, bacon, split rails and planks to the Confederacy for $1,591.17 Confederate dollars.
- 1863 – Ben Prater, age 37, enlists as a third lieutenant with Company I, First Regiment Georgia State Guards, also known as the Red Hill Home Guards.
- February 23, 1864 – Union forces under Colonel Eli Long camp at Prater’s Mill with 350 mounted infantry, 250 Cavalry and 12 prisoners.
- April 13, 1864 – Confederate General Joseph Wheeler’s Calvary camped at Prater’s Mill.
- May 9, 1864 – Battle of Varnell’s Station. General Joseph Wheeler, CSA, with 900 men, routed 5,000 Federals under Brigadier General Edward McCook. Ten Confederates and 150 Federals were killed. Wheeler took over 100 prisoners.
- May 1865 – The war is over. Ben Prater frees his seventeen slaves and gives several acres of land to each family.
Blue & Gray Trail
Prater’s Mill is located on the Blue and Gray trail which covers an area from Chattanooga down to Marietta, just north of Atlanta. There are a number of Civil War related sites in this area including battlefields, houses and buildings, cemeteries and museums. To find out more about the Blue and Gray Trail, please visit their web site.
National Register of Historic Places
Prater’s Mill is one of the 70,000 properties on the National Register of Historic Places. Included in the list are all historic areas within the National Park System, over 2,200 National Historic Landmarks, and properties across the nation that have been nominated for the honor.
Prater’s Mill is proud of our association with the National Register, and invite you to visit the official web home of the list. National Register of Historic Places
- Library of Congress Local Legacies
- Georgia Historical Society
- Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway
- Creative Arts Guild
- Chestnut Tree Foundation
- Historic High Country