Gerald Griffin (Alapaha, Georgia)



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Gerald Griffin (Alapaha, Georgia)

According to his mother-in-law, Jerry was born 100 years too late in the same year and location as I was. And, then, he was Berrien-County Superintendent of Schools, a position my father occupied during my youth. Finally, his brother, Robert Earl, a former beekeeper, married my first cousin once removed. In sum, these facts give me a special bond to Jerry, but he could stand on his own without these props. He’s a nice fellow, friendly, helpful, and interested in a range of old farm items, hobbies he shares with his wife, Linda. Now that he has retired, he can be more devoted to his hobbies.

Slide 1 is the back side of his syrup shed on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, the traditional day that syrup makers have open house.


Slides 2 and 3 are views of Jerry’s Golden No.3 mill (as identified by Robert Earl). This was Jerry’s second mill, and he has rebuilt it (poured Babbitt &c.). The syrup meisters are (L-R) Jerry Griffin, Brian Griffin, Matt Hughes, Will Outlaw, and Robert Earl Griffin.


Slide 4, is an overall view of Jerry’s Chattanooga  No.44 and John Deere set-up. Bruce Shepherd seems to supervise, but he is usually a very hands-on part of the operation. Close-up views of this mill are shown in Slides 5 and 6. Jerry explained that this particular mill is an older model: the pulley-shaft housing is separate from the rest of the mill. This mill originated in Enigma, Georgia, and was sold to an antique dealer. This mill, along with my Southern Plow No.5, was purchased and moved to Covington, Georgia, to a sorghum operation. Both mills obviously felt better in sugar-cane country and returned to the deep south.


Jerry stands by his first-class furnace and kettle (Slide 7). His rim is hanging behind him. Slide 8  is an “action” shot showing Robert Earl tending the syrup.   Note the burlap filter surrounding the removable rim.

Postscript. I note with sadness the passing of Robert Earl Griffin in January, 2007. I regret that my personal circumstances did not allow me to be present and pay final respects, but I will remember fondly our many hours discussing our shared interests of citrus, sugar cane, and honey bees. I will also remain grateful for the many kindnesses that Robert Earl and his spouse, Katie Mae, bestowed on my mother, who shared a nursing-home room with Katie Mae's mother (the wife of the son of my paternal grandfather's sister).