In terms of
precision in syrup-making methodology, faithfulness to
roots, family orientation, equipment restoration, and
hygiene, this operation cannot be beat!
Take a moment to visit Jerry Brinson, Mrs. Brinson,
their son Anthony, and Mrs. Brinson’s father, Mr. Roscoe
Harrison, while I support those statements.
Jerry and Mrs.
1) stand by a street rod that Jerry restored.
Like the syrup-making operation, there was not a
blemish on the automobile. Following the vintage-automobile theme, Slide
2 shows the front of the syrup house.
The grinding shelter (not shown) is attached and
3 shows a wagonload of C.P. 36-111 under the shed and
ready to grind. (On
exposure to sun, C.P. 36-111 develops color as shown; as
long as the fodder is attached, this cane is greenish.
For more on C.P. 36-111, please see my
essay, the IFAS
site, or the bulletin of Broadhead
and Zummo.) The
Brinsons also grow C.P. 29-116 (Yellow Gal).
syrup-making season approaches, Mr. Roscoe Harrison’s
step gets a little more lively.
Eighty-nine when this photograph was made in 2002,
Mr. Harrison (Slide
4) claims exclusive right to feed the mill, a Golden
No. 27 (Slide
5), which is powered by a Hercules 7-HP engine (Slide
his family has farmed this land since time immemorial, no
one questions Mr. Harrison’s claim.
The Brinson side has also been in the Whigham area
since it was settled, taking part in opening the Hawthorne
This mill and
engine were acquired by Mr. Harrison’s father, Joe
Harrison, as settlement of a debt.
Mr. Joe Harrison used the set-up and ran a
syrup-making operation perhaps 50 m from the present site
in the early 1900s. Over
the years, syrup making ceased and the equipment fell into
started playing with the old engine when he was just four
and, to coin a phrase, the rest is history.
expressed, the juice is pumped into a holding vat (Slide
housing for the vat is a cane wagon that was originally
owned by Mr. Will Walker.
The juice is automatically delivered to a kettle (Slide
kettle is heated by gas burners (Slide
9) of the same general successful design as used by Ronny
gas runs at 20 psi (Slide
A large outer
rim is mounted onto the kettle (Slide
11) and an inner rim, about 7 inches tall, can be
lowered onto the flange by a lever shown at the lower
right of this slide.
Note the operational sink that is connected to the
kettle outer rim. As
shown, this sink facilitates skimming.
12 and 13
show details of the double-rim system and demonstrate the
efficacy of the burners.
As the syrup
nears completion, Anthony (Slide
14) wheels over the bottling apparatus, and then takes
up the syrup, filters it, and bottles it (Slide
Pardon if I get
a bit soppy, but seeing another mill on location was a
kind of spiritual experience.
The Brinson-Harrison operation is between Whigham
just a few miles from Cairo, Georgia.
As many readers know, Cairo was the center for
shipping syrup out of this area and was the home of the
USDA sugar-cane station that was devoted to cane syrup.
16 shows the Chattanooga No. 92 that was used by Yoder
in his work in the early part of the 20th
century! The Chattanooga
No. 92 is quite a big mill (2700 pounds, 12 x 12 inch
large roller (like the No. 72), and a juice output of
2000-2500 gallons per day).
As I understand, this mill was spared a lot of hard
ran single bundles of 10 stalks wired together and
obtained all the needed juice for his experiments.
My thanks to
all of the Brinson-Harrison operation, especially to
Anthony for showing me other syrup-making equipment on
location, Mrs. Brinson for her biscuits, ham and
“mothering” Liz (who accompanied me), Mr. Harrison for
a bottle of the great syrup, and Jerry for his patience in
showing me around.