This mill (Slide 16) had cast on one side "Columbus No. 18" and, as shown, had a bolt-on plate on the opposite side that indicated Southern Plow Co. This large power mill was found in Norman Park, Georgia.
Don and Carol
17) stand in the steam of a kettle of syrup at one of their cane grinding days at Don's heritage farm.
Postscript. It is with profound regret that I note the passing of Don in March, 2008. A brief biography from his services is posted here. Don was a friend, generous to a fault. Certainly, all who knew Don would gladly recall his or her favorite story or stories. As a starter, my favorite would be his cutting a truck plus a trailer of cane and driving it to Tallahassee--all as a gift to me. . . . or answering endless trivial questions about cane mills. . . .or copying and sending me out-of-print literature. Don was a leader and the founding president of the Southern Syrupmaker's Association; I last saw him at our 2007 annual meeting at the Pandhandle Pioneer Settlement and photographed him addressing our group. Don's passion for syrupmaking and cane mills culminated in a unique and priceless resource, The American Cane Mill, which was published posthumously and which I heartily recommend to any cane-mill enthusiast. Don was a rare individual, leaving many to mourn his death and miss his guiding hand.
(Enigma, Georgia) inherited this mill (Slide
Jake McMillan. As
I understand it, it was never in heavy use, being only
used to make syrup that was fed, along with sweet
potatoes, to the hands who worked the farm.
The mill is a Goldens' No. 14 (New Model), a large two-horse
two-roller enclosed mill that weighs 835 pounds and was
advertised to have a juice output of 70 gallons per hour.
(Thanks to Ken Christison for the specifications and Mr. J. L. McMillan for historical information.)
Ken and Connie Christison (Slide
19) make sorghum syrup in Conway, North Carolina.
Ken’s knowledge about old equipment and almost
everything else is intimidating. He’s an amazing fellow!
I’ve gained more than I could explain from our
internet friendship over the past few years.
Noah Clayton Ralerson headed one of the four original
pioneer families who moved into Osceola County, Florida.
His family settled near present day Holopaw, Florida.
That was convenient because it was near a mail drop on the
pike that connected Fort
Drum and Fort
Christmas. That property has been passed down
through the ages and thus remains in the family. New
blood from the north, Ralph Kaschai, married into the
family. The Kaschai family has a dwelling on the
property, and both Ralph and his son, Cash, are retired.
They have collected cane mills for more than a decade and
have two especially well-preserved ones (a Columbus No. 18
and, my favorite, a Kentucky No. 0 [which has a patent
date of 1877]); I was very happy to be able to buy a
Goldens' No. 2 (Old Style) mill from them. Their
family mill was a Victor No. 2 (Slide
20). Although it has been moved from its
original location, Cash set it up as his grandfather had
used it. The mill was mounted low and emptied
directly into a kettle, the bottom of which was cemented
in place. The fire was then simply built around the
kettle. Although I have seen scores of historical
sugar-cane syrup operations, this is the first that I have
seen with a kettle fired in this manner. The syrup
was used for family consumption and for moonshine.
Ronald Pascal (Metasville, Georgia) uses this Goldens'
No. 2 (New Model) (Slide
21) in his sorghum operation. Although this
photograph does not reveal it, this mill is in perhaps the
best shape of any unrestored mill that one will find.
(Troy, Alabama) is an outstanding complement to the Agrirama,
which is covered more extensively on this website.
The Pioneer Museum has a comprehensive inside
display, covers a somewhat longer period, and the outside
display is, in general, of a more primitive era. Both of these sites are terrific and both are
irreplaceable assets; together, they provide visitors an
important window into our past. Before I visited
this museum, I had considered only two kinds of
Chattanooga No. 12s, viz. the original
and the Improved, which was patented in 1890. As I have mentioned before, behind Goldens' No. 2
(New Model), the Chattanooga No. 12 (Improved) appears to
have been the most popular mill in South Georgia and North
to my previous observations, the Chattanooga No. 12
(Improved) has a juice spout cast underneath the base
plate (as Page 3 of the 1919
22), I noticed that this Chattanooga No. 12
(Improved) had a juice spout that was formed from a
channel in the base plate (i.e., similar to the
Chattanooga No. 12 (Old Style) and the Goldens' No. 2 (Old
Style and New Model). I put this problem first to Ken Christison, who
found a repair manual (probably from 1913) that showed the
style of base plate here. That manual also carried a footnote that indicated
that “Improvements involving changes have been made in
our mills from year to year . . . .” In the end, sleuthing by Don Dean and Ken
Christison seems to put this mill as a “Second Series”
of the Chattanooga No. 12 (Improved). All Chattanooga No. 12s manufactured after 1905
were of the pattern that one normally sees (as mentioned,
with the juice spout under the base plate). Thanks to Ken and Don for sharing their encyclopedic knowledge.
with the fancy feedbox missing, the Kentucky No. 0 is as
cute as a bug's ear (Slide
23). From the Kaschai
collection (see Slide
20), this mill has a patent date of
1877, though some small details (shape of journal lids and
top-plate reinforcements; perspective of lever cap) differ
from the patent illustration. (Thanks to Ken Christison
for the patent information.) As usual, Don Dean was able
to supply interesting information, some of which is
incorporated into the remaining narrative. The parent
company was founded in 1855 in Louisville, KY, and went
through several management and name changes, finally being
acquired in 1904 by Blymyer Iron Works. A very
recognizable name associated specifically with this mill
is Brennan and Co., which also made mills for Belknap
Hardware. This mill weighs only 400 pounds, had an
advertised juice output of 33 gallons per hour, and cost
$50 in 1877. It is slightly larger than a Goldens' No. 1
(New Model), which weighs 375 pounds and cost $30 around
1916. (See Ken's
Catalog.) The rollers are one-half inches
longer than those of the Goldens' No. 1 (New Model), and the small
rollers are one and on-half inches larger in diameter.
Although not shown on these views, the bottom journals for
the small rollers are adjusted in the normal way (i.e.,
with jamb nuts). A very uncommon aspect of this mill,
however, is the external square oil wells that are
channeled to the lower bearings (See also the Kentucky No.
1). (Thanks to Jerry Patrick, who owns a similar mill and
provided photographs of the disassembled lower plate.) As
far as I am aware, only one other mill, a type of Southern
Plow (Thanks, Don!), has external oil channels. For an
inside view of this mill, go to the patent office and
search for patent 192076.
Jarvis (Moultrie, Georgia) stands beside a frameless mill
24) made by Kehoe Iron Works (Savannah, Georgia). This
mill is part of the "yard art" that surrounds
his expansive antique collection, which is one of the most
interesting that I have seen. Terry takes antiques
seriously: in addition to more modern buildings, a vintage
local cabin was moved onto his site by a pond
piece-by-piece. Even alone, this cabin is a museum, having
the oldest washing machine I have seen as well as a
cooling board. Terry's collection includes many odds and
ends (e.g. a two-hole corn sheller, a massive blacksmith
bellows, a range of tools), but his personal focus is on
oil cans, turpentine equipment, and cast-iron cookware.
His cookware collection, numbering into the scores and
dating back to the 1700s, is stunning.
Evers (Norman Park, Georgia) is a sideline antique dealer.
This vertical power mill (Slide
25) is one of the more interesting of his collection.
It had no markings that either John or I could find, but
Keith Kinney (who owned a Southern Plow) and Don Dean (who
owns a Southern Plow power mill similar to this one) were
able to identify it as a Southern Plow. Don also mentioned
that some of these earlier mills did not have company
marks cast into the plates, but used bolt-on labels. This is indeed the case of the two Southern Plow vertical mills that I own.
Smith (Tallahassee, Florida) has a lifetime collection of
antiques, including some real jewels, as well as
everything else he has encountered. Of particular
interest, he is shown (Slide
26) here holding a syrup dipper with the inscription
"D.H. & M. Co." followed by what may be
"Woosters, NY" or "Wooster St, NY." No
solder was used in the construction of the dipper and Mr.
Smith places its manufacture in the late 1700s.
J. Kehoe, an Irishman apparently with some eccentricities,
established his Kehoe Iron Works in Savannah, Georgia, in
1874. This photograph of his foundry (Slide 27) is
identical to, but not copied from, a print at Armstrong
Atlantic University, where, as I edit this entry in 2008, my daughter is a professor.. His foundry made cane mills
24, above) and kettles, the latter not being uncommon
in the areas I visit. Indeed, note the kettles in front of
the building. Of course, the foundry made a variety of items, such as this manhole cover, all of which made him a wealthy man (his house, now a toney bed-and-breakfast, a short history). To see an engraving of this beautiful building,
look at the company
letterhead. (Thanks to Doug Croley for this
composite image (Slide
28) includes a cut of a Golden horizontal power mill
(feed side, upper left; discharge side, lower left). This
cut is from Golden
Cat. No. 53 (1933), but it appears to be identical to
one in Cat.
No. 34 (~1916; identical meaning down to the shading
and brick spacing for the foundation). This cut of a
Goldens' No. 36 (New Model) is not an exact image of a Goldens' No. 27 (New Model), but
is sufficiently close for comparison with the mill on the
right, about which more below. Note the cut shows that the
bearing housing caps that secure the small rollers have
four fasteners each in the cut, but those of the Goldens'
No. 27 (New Model) have only two each. The mill on the right was made
by Thomasville Iron Works, Thomasville, Georgia, which was
operated by a Mr. Thompson. (As one notes, the Thomasville
Iron Works mill is missing the discharge chute and the
gear covering.) According to Wesley Pope's cousin, that
foundry once had a sign in front that read "Golden
Brothers Foundry," but Mr. Olin Pope does not
remember such a sign. At any rate, this Thomasville Iron
Works mill was owned and used for years by Olin Pope of
Barwick, Georgia, and Mr. Olin's son, Wesley, worked on
this mill and rebuilt a Goldens' No. 27 (New Model) (Pope Photogallery, 6.4MB). Wesley wrote this comparison
of the Thomasville Iron Works mill and the Goldens' No. 27 (New Model):
"The only difference between the two mills is the
configuration of the reduction gearing and the height of
the right and left hand housing units. The small roll gear
was housed on top of the spur gear on the Thomasville mill
and side by side on the Goldens'. The bases for both mills,
including the pattern of the hold down bolt holes, were
the same-except for the placement of the reduction gearing
and housing units covering the gears. The right and left
hand roller housing units were the same, except the
Thomasville units were 1" higher below the small roll
journal boxes than the Goldens'-all other parts were
interchangeable." Thanks to Wesley Pope for the
information above and thanks to Ken Christison, who
corrected an error. Also, thanks to Anthony Brinson, who
points out that he has seen a mill exactly like the Pope
mill, except it was the size of a Goldens' No. 36 (New Model), and some
of the parts had been replaced by those of a No. 36
(identifiable by number).
the beginning of the 20th century, Cairo (Georgia) was the
center for shipping syrup out of the surrounding region. This
history is reflected in Cairo's high school, the teams of
which use the moniker syrupmakers (Slide
Cane-mill expert Anthony
Brinson put me onto another mill made in Thomasville,
30; cf. Slide
28). This mill, made by Thompson Foundry
and Machine Co. and owned by J. Jones (Climax, Georgia),
is apparently like the Goldens' No. 36 (New Model) and, indeed, it has
"36" cast in small letters under the rollers
(see also the News
Sun). (Note that the pulley on the mill in Slide 30 is
not the original, which was lying by the mill. Also note
that the beads welded across the rollers were done by the
Jones family to improve feeding of cane
stalks into the mill.) Anthony recalled that Mr. Amos
Jones and Mr. Louis Jones picked up the mill new in
Columbus, Georgia, although it had been bought from Mr.
Thompson. Apparently, a number of power mills in south
Georgia are basically Goldens' mills, but were made by, or
used replacement parts from the Thompson or other
foundries as indicated by differences in details such as
lubrication or thickness of parts. Thanks to Mr. Jones for
giving me access to the mill and discussing its history.
(Finally, this brief note would be incomplete if I did not
note that my maternal grandmother's mother was a Thompson,
the daughter of Berry C. Thompson, and this fact adds interest for me.)