Baldree (Omega, Georgia)
Baldree is an interesting, friendly man. He has one of the
largest if not the largest syrup-making operations in
south Georgia. Once each year, he has an open house when
friends and family watch syrup being made and enjoy a
breakfast of sausage and pancakes (with his syrup, of
course). His syrup is a blend of cane syrup and corn syrup
(corn syrup prevents granulation and dilutes the taste of
cane syrup as he and others explained to me). Mr. Baldree
also supplies other syrup makers with containers and corn
syrup. I am much obliged to him for showing me around. (.
. . may not have hurt that I was with his and my cousin
1 shows wagon-loads of sugar cane and gives an
indication of Mr. Baldree's seriousness of purpose. Slides
show the center of Mr. Baldree's operation a Mobile Pulley
and Machine Works No.D74 mill. Grinding is more-or-less
automated, with bagasse being removed by conveyor and with
juice being collected and pumped to his syrup house.
4 is a photograph of an evaporator that is not presently
in use. Slide 5 is another evaporator, which is in
storage. This top view shows the arrangement of the
baffles around which the juice moves as it cooks into
Mr. Baldree has three cast-iron kettles arranged in a
row (Slides 6
The furnace for each kettle is
constructed with a section between the kettle and the
flue. That section provides the base for a pan that holds
juice and warms it while a previous batch is being cooked.
Note the last of the skimmings (which boil over the
rim) are being removed with a scoop.
10 are three different views of a McKinnon mill.
This mill is of recent vintage. Mr. Baldree is rebuilding
it. The springs holding the rollers together did not exert
sufficient force. Another modification is required because
the deep grooves in the rollers clog.
11 is a view of the inside of a Chattanooga mill. Slide 12
shows a Golden No.54 awaiting repairs.
13 and 14 are of an unknown brand of mill. The name
was cast on the backside of one of the plates but Mr.
Baldree could not recall it off-hand
Postscript. Charles Baldree died of a massive stroke and was buried July 23, 2007, at Pine Grove Cemetery. His passing will be a loss to family, friends, syrupmakers and all who enjoyed his syrup and annual open house. Charles and I visited back and forth from time to time, my last trip being his last open house. The particular purpose of my last trip was to show Sherry and Mark Guenther the production of sugar-cane syrup in the deep South. Mark is shown in deep discussion with Charles in this photo. I also turned my camera one of the boiling kettles and Charles' main mill (to provide updates). Luckily, I found my cousin Talmadge Sutton enjoying the open house, as he and I had done together on an earlier occasion.
As of this update in 2010, the family continues to make syrup using Charles' methods. His daughter, Marie, can be contacted at 229-392-6680.