COTTON GIN CELEBRATION AT MADISON-MORGAN CULTURAL CENTER
On Sunday, March 16, 2014, the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center celebrated a significant recent addition to the Center’s History Museum when trustees, donors, members, elected officials and community leaders came together in honor of the recently installed c. 1876 Winship and Brother Cotton Gin.
Education has always been an important focus of the Center’s arts and humanities programming, and the Piedmont Georgia History Museum is an example of one way the public can learn the history of our area.
Recognizing the important role of cotton production in this area, the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center was grateful to be the recipient of this significant artifact with a strong connection to local history.
Steve Schaefer, Chairman of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center Board of Trustees, recognized many of those responsible for this recent addition. Mr. J. Gordon Farmer of North Augusta, SC was a collector of many different antique artifacts who donated the cotton gin to the City of Madison in 2010 when he realized the Winship family manufacturing business had been located in Morgan County. Mr. Farmer’s only request was that the gin be made accessible to the public. Mr. Gordon Farmer’s nephew, George Farmer of Atlanta and his wife Anne represented the family of Mr. Farmer who died in 2012.
City of Madison elected officials who donated the gin to Madison-Morgan Cultural Center in 2013 were acknowledged, including Mayor Bruce Gilbert and council members Fred Perriman, Michael Naples, Whitey Hunt, Rick Blanton, and Joe Diletto. City Manager David Nunn provided staff support for the actual moving of the gin into the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center.
Special thanks were expressed to the Georgia Cotton Commission, which sponsored the installation of this significant addition to local history. Mr. Richey Seaton, Executive Director of the Georgia Cotton Commission in Perry, Georgia spoke about the role of the commission in promoting Georgia’s cotton crop through research, education and promotion activities such as this. Marvin Ruark, Georgia Cotton Commission member from Morgan County, was also recognized.
Kathryn Dixson of Avient Museum Services presented a brief program based on the research, design and installation of the Winship and Brother gin as part of the Cultural Center’s History Museum.
Board Chair Steve Schaefer thanked Cultural Center trustee Chris Lambert, Chair of the Center's Collections Management Committee, who was the common denominator for this project, working with City of Madison officials, the Georgia Cotton Commission, and Morgan County cotton producers to make it all come together successfully.
Ruth Bracewell, Madison-Morgan Cultural Center Director, noted another historical connection to the cotton industry in Morgan County was recently announced when he Madison-Morgan Conservancy discovered that Georgia’s first cotton mill was located on the Little River in Morgan County.
Following the program, Bracewell invited guests to a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and pointed out several exhibit factors of interest. For example, with the gin is displayed open, 40 sharp saw blades are visible but are covered by specially designed acrylic covers to allow viewing but not touching. Marvin and John Ruark of the Bostwick Cotton Gin provided a great deal of assistance by demonstrating the operation of the gin, which is depicted in the text and photo panel behind the gin. The Ruarks also donated baskets of “touchable” cotton – including samples of cotton before and after ginning, and cottonseeds.
Pictured above: Georgia Cotton Commission Board Member Marvin Ruark and Executive Director Richey Seaton.