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There's No Place Like the Home Place

Coosa County Family's Rural Roots Date Back to 1925

For the Prater family, there's just something about Coosa County. For decades they've been drawn to the quiet, rolling countryside of the notably sparsely populated county.

It all started with William Jefferson "Will" and Valera Prater. Will was an optometrist in the county seat of Rockford during the early 1900s. When he wasn't caring for patients, he spent his time capturing images of local folks at his photography studio until dusk, at which point he headed out to turn on the street lights. Faithfully, he'd return each morning to turn them off.

The couple lived in Rockford, which today is a quiet, unhurried one­stoplight town. But in the early 1900s, the place was vitally important for the county, and played host to much trade and commerce. In 1925, Will, Valera and their three children who were still at home left the hustle and bustle of city life for property southeast of town, near the rural community of Hissop, that featured a simple two-room logging shack that would become the family's home.

The 60-acre tract cost the couple $2,000, and although they had a solid down payment of $1,300, they needed a little help with the remain­ing $700. That's when they turned to their local farm loan association and district Farm Credit bank, later known as Alabama Ag Credit and the Federal Land Bank of New Orleans, respectively.

Paying annual installments of a whop­ping $45.50, the couple paid the loan off in full in 1961.

Ed Prater, the couple's grandson, said his father, Clyde, was 15 when they pur­chased their new piece of paradise. His grandfather grew to love his new home, Ed said, and eventually passed that love down to Clyde and his siblings.

Clyde married a young lady named Sadie Belle and started a new life on the prop­erty. The couple raised seven children, Ed being the second youngest. Ed said life in the country didn't lend itself to a whole lot of organized activity, but he highlighted fond childhood memories of time spent on the estate.

"It was a big day when the rolling store came through," Ed said. "We'd all line up to get our piece of candy."

And while others may have seen an old dark, dusty crawl space beneath his Grandmother Valera's home, Ed saw some­thing much different.

"I used to have a whole road system under the house for all my toy cars;' he laughed. "It was the country- there wasn't much to do, so we found ways to entertain ourselves."

Clyde eventually got a job at a glass factory in town, so he, Sadie Belle, Ed and the other children all moved to Montgomery.

While the couple enjoyed city life, Clyde's Coosa County roots ran deep, and upon his retirement in 1972, they moved back to the property where they would live for the remainder of their lives.

While Clyde was working toward his retirement and migration back to Coosa County, Ed started a family of his own. He married Bobbie, his sister's roommate, whom he met in the hospital after his sister was involved in an accident.

Ed accepted a career with Alabama Power, a job that often relocated him, Bobbie, and their
two children, Kena and Eric, all over the state - Montgomery, Wetumpka, Birmingham and Eufaula.

But like his father and grandfather before him, he found the allure of Coosa County to be strong. In 2001, upon Ed's retire­ment, the couple purchased a new home place, not far from the original property, where Ed's mother was still living. Not only did the move get the couple closer to his mother and the family property, it is halfway between their children and grandchildren, as Kena and her family live in Alabaster and Eric and his family live in Montgomery. And just as his grandfather had done, Ed partnered with Alabama Ag Credit in purchasing the new estate.

One visit with Ed and there's no denying the family's love of their Coosa County roots - a fondness passed down from Will to Clyde, from Clyde to Ed, and now from Ed to his children, who are already committed to passing it on to the next generation. In fact, they're working on that already, as Kena's girls - Meg, 19, and Reid, 17 - and Eric's sons - Will, 18, and Matt, 14 - enjoy hunting at the property.

Eric, who is also an Alabama Ag Credit member, highlighted that the land is home to many a "gobbler:' He laughed while say­ing that although he, his boys and nieces don't always hit what they're aiming for, they enjoy "chasing" those turkeys around the property.

Today, nearly a century after William Jefferson and Valera set out for a quiet country life, the family has expanded their Coosa County property to more than 500 acres. Steve Oswalt, Alabama Ag Credit vice president of lending in the Montgomery branch, is proud to work with the Prater family in that expansion. And he is quick to note that while the Praters are great customers, they are even better friends. In fact he said it is divine intervention that he inherited their busi­ness relationship.

"Eric and I first met at church before I ever worked for Alabama Ag Credit, Oswalt said. "So I value the relationship I share with the Praters on a very personal level."

Oswalt's friendship with the family runs so deeply that when his mother called him to tell him she suspected her home was on fir:e while he was away on a business trip, his first reaction was to call Eric. Eric promptly dropped what he was doing and rushed to help.

"That's the kind of people they are," Oswalt said. "They're great friends, and working with them to grow their family land is a tremendous blessing."

There's No Place Like the Home Place

Coosa County Family's Rural Roots Date Back to 1925

For the Prater family, there's just something about Coosa County. For decades they've been drawn to the quiet, rolling countryside of the notably sparsely populated county.

It all started with William Jefferson "Will" and Valera Prater. Will was an optometrist in the county seat of Rockford during the early 1900s. When he wasn't caring for patients, he spent his time capturing images of local folks at his photography studio until dusk, at which point he headed out to turn on the street lights. Faithfully, he'd return each morning to turn them off.

The couple lived in Rockford, which today is a quiet, unhurried one­stoplight town. But in the early 1900s, the place was vitally important for the county, and played host to much trade and commerce. In 1925, Will, Valera and their three children who were still at home left the hustle and bustle of city life for property southeast of town, near the rural community of Hissop, that featured a simple two-room logging shack that would become the family's home.

The 60-acre tract cost the couple $2,000, and although they had a solid down payment of $1,300, they needed a little help with the remain­ing $700. That's when they turned to their local farm loan association and district Farm Credit bank, later known as Alabama Ag Credit and the Federal Land Bank of New Orleans, respectively.

Paying annual installments of a whop­ping $45.50, the couple paid the loan off in full in 1961.

Ed Prater, the couple's grandson, said his father, Clyde, was 15 when they pur­chased their new piece of paradise. His grandfather grew to love his new home, Ed said, and eventually passed that love down to Clyde and his siblings.

Clyde married a young lady named Sadie Belle and started a new life on the prop­erty. The couple raised seven children, Ed being the second youngest. Ed said life in the country didn't lend itself to a whole lot of organized activity, but he highlighted fond childhood memories of time spent on the estate.

"It was a big day when the rolling store came through," Ed said. "We'd all line up to get our piece of candy."

And while others may have seen an old dark, dusty crawl space beneath his Grandmother Valera's home, Ed saw some­thing much different.

"I used to have a whole road system under the house for all my toy cars;' he laughed. "It was the country- there wasn't much to do, so we found ways to entertain ourselves."

Clyde eventually got a job at a glass factory in town, so he, Sadie Belle, Ed and the other children all moved to Montgomery.

While the couple enjoyed city life, Clyde's Coosa County roots ran deep, and upon his retirement in 1972, they moved back to the property where they would live for the remainder of their lives.

While Clyde was working toward his retirement and migration back to Coosa County, Ed started a family of his own. He married Bobbie, his sister's roommate, whom he met in the hospital after his sister was involved in an accident.

Ed accepted a career with Alabama Power, a job that often relocated him, Bobbie, and their
two children, Kena and Eric, all over the state - Montgomery, Wetumpka, Birmingham and Eufaula.

But like his father and grandfather before him, he found the allure of Coosa County to be strong. In 2001, upon Ed's retire­ment, the couple purchased a new home place, not far from the original property, where Ed's mother was still living. Not only did the move get the couple closer to his mother and the family property, it is halfway between their children and grandchildren, as Kena and her family live in Alabaster and Eric and his family live in Montgomery. And just as his grandfather had done, Ed partnered with Alabama Ag Credit in purchasing the new estate.

One visit with Ed and there's no denying the family's love of their Coosa County roots - a fondness passed down from Will to Clyde, from Clyde to Ed, and now from Ed to his children, who are already committed to passing it on to the next generation. In fact, they're working on that already, as Kena's girls - Meg, 19, and Reid, 17 - and Eric's sons - Will, 18, and Matt, 14 - enjoy hunting at the property.

Eric, who is also an Alabama Ag Credit member, highlighted that the land is home to many a "gobbler:' He laughed while say­ing that although he, his boys and nieces don't always hit what they're aiming for, they enjoy "chasing" those turkeys around the property.

Today, nearly a century after William Jefferson and Valera set out for a quiet country life, the family has expanded their Coosa County property to more than 500 acres. Steve Oswalt, Alabama Ag Credit vice president of lending in the Montgomery branch, is proud to work with the Prater family in that expansion. And he is quick to note that while the Praters are great customers, they are even better friends. In fact he said it is divine intervention that he inherited their busi­ness relationship.

"Eric and I first met at church before I ever worked for Alabama Ag Credit, Oswalt said. "So I value the relationship I share with the Praters on a very personal level."

Oswalt's friendship with the family runs so deeply that when his mother called him to tell him she suspected her home was on fir:e while he was away on a business trip, his first reaction was to call Eric. Eric promptly dropped what he was doing and rushed to help.

"That's the kind of people they are," Oswalt said. "They're great friends, and working with them to grow their family land is a tremendous blessing."