WSFA 12 On Tour: Daniel Pratt and Prattville's History

Prattville's founder and namesake, Daniel Pratt grew up in New Hampshire. He wanted his city on the creek to have the appearance of a New England village.

His training as a carpenter and his entreprenurial spirit served him and that part of Alabama well.

Pratt left home at 16 to work on a sailing ship. On board he learned to be a carpenter. Later with little more than a dream and a few dollars he set out to build houses in Georgia.

Jule Bugaya, a Daniel Pratt descendant, says, "Hhe arrived with $25 in Georgia and he started that was borrowed from a sea captain and he was quite a man of integrity and years later after he made his fortune he went back and found that captain and paid back the $25. He became Alabama's first millionaire."

Pratt came to Alabama to build cotton gins. He settled on the banks of the creek because of its abundant water power.

He did not only gin manufacturing but other things, too. He started a cotton mill and he did a sash and blind factory. He created a carriage factory, tin shop, print shop. He was into everything and a foundry. He really made the entire area prosper and brought in people to work for him.

Sixty years after Prattville was founded the face of the downtown district was changed dramatically by a huge fire.

Bugaya says, "It burned all of downtown Prattville. If you'll notice the buildings on both sides are turn of the century. This building on the corner and the one next two it survived the fire, but everything on both sides, the fire actually leapt the street, but everything on both sides was burned."

A couple of years back the cotton mill building burned and this Spring the Cobb Building also caught fire. The downtown area has also been plagued by floods when Autauga Creek left its banks on several ocassions. But through it all, the downtown has survived and is flourishing.