Photographs in the family collection show a bustle of activity in this area during the ginning season. One dated March 1918 entitled “A busy day at the gin” shows seven or eight mule-drawn wagons fanned out across the slope above the building as farmers waited to deliver their seed cotton.
Wagons would approach the gin house from the east and proceed down slope into the shed porch to be weighed before their load was sucked up into the gin. Farmers would then drive their empty wagons down the slope into Johnson Mill Road, where they could turn to come back and collect their seed from the drive-under seed box on the east side of the gin. They would then wait to collect their baled cotton from the loading dock on the south side of the building.
The building is mainly constructed of ‘Miracle Ho’low Block’ – patented concrete blocks manufactured under license by Mr. Ira’s brother, Scott Ethridge, in Jefferson. The ginning machinery now in the building was installed in 1930. There are three 80-saw gin stands supplied by Lummus Cotton Gin Company in Columbus, Georgia.
A network of pipes conveyed seed cotton to these ma chines and the resulting cotton lint to the press. Mr. Ira’s gin was originally powered by a steam engine and foundations for this engine can still be seen on the west side of the building.
A drive shaft once connected to the steam engine remains in the gin house and a challenge for visitors is to work out which of the various shafts, ducts, and machinery parts belong to the different eras of the gin’s operation.
A two-bin press stands on the platform on the south side of the gin house. The bins can rotate around a central axle to allow for filling and compaction. Finished bales would be weighed before being taken through the sliding door onto the loading dock on this side of the building.