Goodlett Cotton Gin
Originally located north of Ozan, this is the only operational steam cotton gin in the United States. Built by David Goodlett in 1883, who purchased the steam engine new for $250. In the 1970s, it was purchased and moved to the state park, where it currently sits on display.
Backstory and Context
David Madison Goodlet was born in Mississippi in 1840, and ten years later moved to Hempstead County where he worked on a farm. He fought for the Confederate effort for four years, then came home to marry and purchase the very farm he had worked on before. By 1885 he owned 200 acres and, with some rented land, cultivated 260 acres. He opened a store in Ozan, Mitchell & Goodlett, through which he moved hundreds of bales of cotton a year.
Besides cotton, Goodlett’s gin also contained a grist and a sorghum mill. All the machinery was run off the one engine, with cotton ginned during the week and the other mills run during the weekend. The gin started at the cotton dryer, after which the cotton was passed into a series of circular saws that tear the fiber from the seed. The fiber is then removed from the saws by the grid, then pressed into a bale usually weighing 500 pounds, then sent to the dock where it’s loaded for transport. The seeds are placed in a cottonseed mail to be later milled into livestock feed or cottonseed oil. The grains and sorghum were poured into containers, with the miller collecting a small amount for his trouble.