Cotton Press (Latta, South Carolina)

Early Cotton Press
Latta cotton press in 1987
Cotton Press (Latta, South Carolina) is located in South Carolina
Nearest city: Latta, South Carolina
Coordinates: 34°20′16″N 79°31′26″W / 34.33778°N 79.52389°W / 34.33778; -79.52389Coordinates: 34°20′16″N 79°31′26″W / 34.33778°N 79.52389°W / 34.33778; -79.52389
Built: 1798
Architect: Berry, Stephen
Architectural style: Early Cotton Press
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 72001206[1]
Added to NRHP: November 15, 1972

The Latta Cotton Press is an early mule-powered, wooden cotton press built around 1798. It was built and operated at Berry's Crossroad on South Carolina Highway 38 south of Latta, South Carolina in Dillon County. It was moved about 2.5 mi (4 km) west around 1950. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places on November 15, 1972.[1][2][3]


Detail of the Latta cotton press

The cotton press was built around 1798 for baling ginned cotton. It is constructed of pegged and doweled oak. It has a 16 in (406 mm) diameter oak screw that was hand chiseled. Turning the screw compressed cotton into a wooden frame to form a bale. The press has a small rectangular, shingled hip roof to protect the machinery from the weather. Four beams forming a pyramidal frame support the screw. Two long shingled booms that are hinged to the screw extend out from the machine. These booms or poles have been called "buzzard wings."[4] Mules or oxen were used to rotate the screw.[3][5][6][7] The cotton press was either built by or for Stephen Berry[3] or "Buck Swamp" John Bethea.[6]

In 1950, it was moved from Berry's Crossroad to private property on the south side of South Carolina Highway 38 about 0.5 mi (0.8 km) west of its intersection of South Carolina Highway 917 and can be viewed from the roadside.

Except for minor repairs at its base and roof, the cotton press is constructed of original materials. In 1961, the press was considered to be in excellent condition and an excellent example of handmade craftsmanship.[3] It is the only cotton press of this era in South Carolina.[5] There is a similar wooden cotton press on the Town Common in Tarboro, North Carolina.[8] Another antebellum cotton press without the buzzard wings poles is at Magnolia Plantation near Derry, Louisiana. This press has a fixed screw and its base is rotated to compress the cotton.[9][10] There are additional pictures of the cotton press taken for the Historic American Engineering Record.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "Early Cotton Press, Dillon County (jct. of SC Hwys. 917 & 38, Latta vicinity)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 22 April 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d McGrath, Dollie (4 August 1971). "Early Cotton Press" (pdf). National Register of Historic Properties Inventory - Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved 22 April 2009. 
  4. ^ Jones, C. Allan (2005). Texas Roots. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1585444294. 
  5. ^ a b Pittenger, Nancy; J. Tracy Powers. "Cotton Press, Near Routes 917 & 38, moved from Berry's Crossroad, Latta vicinity, Dillon County, SC (Site Data Form)". Historic American Engineering Record. National Park Service.,+Near+Routes+917+++38,+moved+from+Berry's+Crossroad,+Latta+vicinity,+Dillon+County,+SC)). Retrieved 25 April 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Stokes, Durward T. (1978). The history of Dillon County, South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. p. 50. ISBN 0872493660. 
  7. ^ Julien, Carl Thomas; James McBride Dabbs (1951). Pee Dee Panorama. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. 
  8. ^ "Norfleet Cotton Press, Tarboro, North Carolina". The Built Heritage of North Carolina. North Carolina State University.,-Tarboro,-No. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  9. ^ "Magnolia Plantation". Cane River National Heritage Area. National Park Service. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  10. ^ Fricker, Jonathon; Fricker, Donna (November 1999). "Magnolia Plantation" (pdf). National Historic Landmark Nomination. National Park Service. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  11. ^ Boucher, Jack (7 April 1987). "Cotton Press, Near Routes 917 & 38, moved from Berry's Crossroad, Latta vicinity, Dillon County, SC (Photographs)". Historic American Engineering Record. National Park Service.,%20Near%20Routes%20917%20%26%2038,%20moved%20from%20Berry's%20Crossroad,%20Latta%20vicinity,%20Dillon%20County,%20SC&displayType=1&itemLink=S?pp/hh:@field(TITLE+@od1(Cotton+Press,+Near+Routes+917+++38,+moved+from+Berry's+Crossroad,+Latta+vicinity,+Dillon+County,+SC)). Retrieved 22 April 2009. 
  12. ^ Baldwin, William (2007). Carolina Plantations: Lost Photographs from the Historic American Buildings Survey. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. p. 87. ISBN 1596293470.,M1. 

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