Southern Matters

Southern Matters

William Dukes (Quitman, Georgia)

William Dukes and his brother keep alive the tradition of syrup making at Thanksgiving that they inherited from their father, Mr. Charles Dukes (deceased). Although I did not meet Mr. Dukes, I was lucky enough to pass time with Mrs. Dukes, who showed me around (and gave me a bottle of excellent syrup!).

Slide 1 shows the syrup shed, with the furnace and kettle on the left side. The mill, also under the shed, is not visible in this view.

Mrs. Dukes (Slide 2) and her daughter stand under the shed while Mrs. Dukes explains the syrup-making operation. Visiting syrup-making sites would seem to be a benign endeavor, but that dog (and two twins) did not embrace my presence with undiluted pleasure (regrets to the Queen for that bit of plagiarism). Usually, I own one or two big dogs (German shepherds or akitas), and I know enough to give a large strange dog the space he deserves. . . .but sorry to say, I misjudged how much space was needed at one point. I was glad to retire with only a warning.

A cane wagon (Slide 3) delivers the cane directly to a rack in front of the mill.


Pressing the cane falls to a Golden New Model horizontal power mill (Slide 4). I was stymied: the model number of the mill must have worn away, although I found all the other usual castings (patents and so forth).

A sufficient reason to post this site is the kettle mount (Slide 5). Many syrup makers squeeze extra capacity from each’s respective kettle by mounting an external rim or by building to the flange of the kettle with metal or concrete. This one, however, exceeds all others that I have seen.