Absalom Pratt House - Brierfield, Alabama
|Absalom Pratt House
Built in 1835 around an even older
home, the Absalom Pratt holds a
unique place in the history of Alabama
and Wilson's Raid of 1865.
Absalom Pratt House
Arriving in Alabama just after the
Creek War of 1813-1814, Absalom
Pratt was head of a large family.
Civil War Landmark
The Absalom Pratt House survived
General James H. Wilson's Raid
during the closing days of the Civil
Absalom Pratt House - Brierfield, Alabama
175 Years of Alabama History
For 175 years, the Absalom Pratt House has been a landmark in the rolling hills
of central Alabama.
Built in 1835 around a section that was part of an even older home, the
beautiful old frame structure originally stood eight miles west of its current
location. It was moved to its current location at the entrance to Brierfield
Ironworks Historical State Park and restored in 1994 by the Cahaba Trace
Commission and restored by the Alabama Ironworks Commission. The joint
effort assured the preservation of one of the state's most important historic
The builder of the house, Absalom Pratt, first moved to Alabama during the
years following the Creek War of 1813-1814 and signing of the Treaty of Fort
Jackson. He and his brothers Hopkins, Josiah and John Pratt were present in
the River Bend area of the Cahaba River as early as 1816-1818.
The area was then still a wild wilderness, recently taken from the Upper Creeks
as a result of their involvement in the was against the whites. Behind they left
scattered village sites and cleared fields and it was to these that early settlers
like the Pratts flocked.
The brothers were soon followed into the area by their parents and by 1822 the
family was well enough established that Absalom maried Mary Dickerson. The
couple would go on to parent twelve children. One of their sons, Richard
Hopkins Pratt, was a noted figure in the early history of education in Bibb
The current house was built in around 1835 to provide space for the growing
family. In the time and place that it was constructed, it was a remarkable
structure and the quality of its construction shows through in the fact that it still
Like many Southern homes of the day, it is long and narrow with a wide
veranda. This design captured breezes, allowing them to easily flow through
the house on hot days. The design allowed natural light to enter the home and
a central hallway improved the flow of air. In addition, the front veranda
provided a shaded and comfortable place for family members to sit and talk at
day's end, a Southern tradition that is fading but continues to this day.
It is believed that in addition to his farming interests, Absolam Pratt operated a
ferry across the Cahaba River. He was elected to the rank of regimental colonel
in the Alabama militia in 1841 and was an active officer in the Schultz Creek
Baptist Church. Like many early settlers he lost his life to disease, dying in a
typhoid outbreak in 1845.
Upon Absalom's death, his wife and sons took over the operation of his farming
and business interests. Mary Dickerson Pratt continued to live in the house and
operated her late husband's ferry over the Cahaba River.
It was this latter enterprise, according to local legend, that brought her into
contact with the soldiers of Major General James H. Wilson's army during the
spring of 1865.
Wilson was moving south through Alabama from the Tennessee River,
destroying farms, ironworks, public buildings and anything else that might
support the Southern war effort. His men often seized ferries, using them for
their own purpose and then destroying them as they road away.
Determined to do her part to delay the Union army and give Confederate
General Nathan Bedford Forrest time to oppose Wilson's movements, tradition
says that Mary Pratt cut loose her own ferry and set it adrift before the
Federals could use it to cross the Cahaba.
Members of the Pratt family continued to live in the Absalom Pratt House until
the 1980s. It now stands at the intersection of Alabama Highway 25 and
Furnace Parkway at the entrance to Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park.
The grounds are open daily at no cost.
Please click here to learn more about Bibb County, Alabama.
|Copyright 2011 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: May 2, 2015
Historic Sites in Alabama