Southern Matters

Southern Matters

Snapshots 1-15

Virginia Weeks (Monticello, Florida) uses her grandmother’s small syrup kettle as the fire pit for her grill at her bed and breakfast (Slide 1).

Jackson Moore (Nashville, Georgia) stores his grandfather’s mill (Slide 2), which was manufactured by the F. M. Co. /Valdosta, Georgia, along with his grandfather’s kettle.  (Should the inscriptions be interpreted as Valdosta F. M. Co (Valdosta Foundry and Machine Company)?  The two-roller open format of this mill resembles many others manufactured in the area.

Travis Bennett (Lenox, Georgia) bought and lives on the farm of Claude Walker, his father’s sister’s husband. (Travis’ maternal grandfather, Jerry Sutton, was sibling to my paternal grandmother, Della Sutton.)  Mr. Claude Walker and his brother lived on adjacent farms, each with a syrup operation.  Together, they grew 20 acres of sugar cane.  Mr. Walker used this mill made by Quitman Manufacturing Company (Slide 3) and a 100-gallon Kehoe kettle, which is under a shed nearby.

This Goldens' No. 2 (New Model) (patent dates of Sep 1905 and Jan 1906, but those dates were inscribed over a large range of manufacturing dates) was for sale at Exit 109 Antiques (Vienna, Georgia). The king roller gives no indication that it was grooved (Slide 4).

Mr. Hurst (Norman Park, Georgia) owns this latter style Goldens' No. 2 (New Model), as indicated by guide-knife design for which the patent was issued in 1924.  Note the flare on the bearing box (Slide 5), which I have not seen on other No. 2s.

Three Parramore brothers migrated from the Carolinas down through Screven County (Georgia) to Quincy, Florida, and obtained a land "patent" sometime after 1812. One of the many descendents was Seborn Alonso Parramore. Mr. Parramore married Gertrude Nell Booth (1892-1960, Slide 6), the daughter of John W. Booth. Mr. Parramore not only obtained Mr. Booth's daughter in marriage, but later on (1918-1955), he took over Mr. Booth's job as Section Foreman on the railroad between Quincy and Chattahoochee. This photograph of Mrs. Parramore was taken in 1944 and was sent to her son, Hootie, who was in the Army Air Corps in Foggia, Italy. In those times and before, it was customary for the Parramores to cook several kettles of syrup a day in a 100-gallon kettle and pack it in 35-gallon barrels. The syrup was then traded with a local store, which issued tokens that could be used for other merchandise. (Thanks to Mr. H.A. Parramore for the photograph and historical information.)

Andersonville ,Georgia, is best known for the infamous Confederate prison, exceeded in death rate only by the retributive Union prison at Elmira, New York.  This mill, a Goldens' No. 2 (New Model) (Slide 7), is part of a pioneer village near the prison site.  A syrup shed with a wood-fired furnace is nearby.

Slide 8 is of a Chattanooga No. 22, which is used for demonstrations at Callaway Plantation, (Washington, Georgia).  Rated at just over 40 gallons an hour, the No. 22 was a large, one-horse mill weighing 700 pounds.  Other mills in this series and manufactured for export (Nos. 22-25) ranged up to 2000 pounds, had a king roller of 18 inches in diameter, and required four horses. (Thanks to Ken Christison for information on the mills).

The Freemans are superb folks, who are interested in almost all things old, ranging from railroads to tractors to several types and makes of mills.  I could not do justice to them, but some of their syrup-making activities are shown on Ken’s siteFreeman's Mill is a comprehensive site that depicts their overall interest in maintaining southern traditions. Slide 9 shows the Freemans, mother and children, by a cooking of syrup.  L-R, Tim (sitting by kettle), Stacey, Teresa Witt, Mother Nancy, and Steven.

Tommy Fletcher, who lives between Lenox and Nashville (Georgia), married my second cousin and his sister married another second cousin.  He owns this Quitman Foundry & Manufacturing No. 14 (Slide 10).  This is one of several mills of a similar design that were made in south Georgia, many of which are shown on this “Snapshots” page.


I could have listened to Virgil Herndon (Clarksville, Florida) all day!  He lives on land his grandfather William Herndon acquired in 1902.  In the mid-1920s, his father, John, bought this mill (Slide 11) and, like my grandfather, kept it running for about a solid month in the fall.   They filled 35-gallon barrels and shipped them from Altha, Florida, to Cairo, Georgia, to a packer.  They also filled small jugs and buckets, some of which were distributed as a sweetener and others as feedstock for moonshine.   The school bus used to stop in front of the old house (which was located on the other side of the mill) and all the children would get off and get a cup of juice.  Haven’t times changed!  The mill, a Columbus No. 14, is a two-horse mill, weighing 1310 pounds and having a juice output of 100 gallons an hour.  (Thanks to Ken Christison for the specifications.)  Incidentally, one of the bearing boxes for the small rollers could not be used, so yaupon was substituted.  (I had heard of heated persimmon being substituted for a bearing . . . .)

Daniel McMillan came to south Georgia with the surveyors.  He acquired wealth and, indeed, bequeathed the money to start the cemetery in Alapaha, Georgia, where he is buried.  His son, Malcolm, was also prosperous, owning several lots of land, and prolific, having 16 children.  Malcolm bought this mill from a foundry in Macon, Georgia, for $5.  As the railroad did not extend as far as Tifton, Georgia, then, he retrieved it from Sylvester, Georgia, in a wagon, about 30 miles away from its home, Enigma,Georgia, for more than 100 years now.  It is a large mill; one roller weighs 430 pounds and the one with the extended journal weighs over 500 pounds.  The journals are about 4 inches in diameter.  The mill is now owned by Malcolm's great-grandson J. L. McMillan Jr., who himself is a great-grandfather.  Mr. J.L. built the current stand—the posts are PT wood, the bottom cross member is lighter pine, and the top member is oak.  Mr. J.L. also mechanized the mill.  As shown from the discharge side in Slide 12, a tractor pto feeds into the right-angle drive salvaged off a peanut lifter.  The top gears are from an old hay press.  I measured its rotation at 9 rpm.  Mr. J.L. indicated that it can fill the nearby Rourke 60-gallon kettle in 15-18 minutes when two men feed the mill.


This demonstration mill (Slide 13) is by the Cultural Center in Quitman, Georgia.  The plaque reads: "Many farms in the first half of the last century had a cane mill and syrup vat.  Cane was made into juice squeezed by the mill, usually horse powered, and syrup was boiled from the juice, a food item for the farmer and a source of extra income.  This helped to diversity the farm economy at a time when cotton prices were low due to overproduction.  //  "This mill was used on the William Edmondson plantation at Morven, a section of which was sold to the Lester family in the 1920s.  R.H. Lester made plans to give the old mill to the Museum but died in 1999 before this was done.  Dr. Stephen Edmonson, a great-grandson of William Edmondson, bought the mill from the estate sale and donated it to carry out Mr. Lester's wishes.  // "The mill was made by the Southern Machinery Company of Quitman, located on East Foundry Street.  The company was still operating in 1926.   Many similar foundries produced a a range of cast metal equipment in the South before the Great Depression, among them the Morven Foundry and Machine Company before World War I."

These kettles are owned by Andy Palmer, a Pavo, Georgia, antique dealer.  The type of kettle at the left (Slide 14), with a small rolling flange, is often called a salt kettle.  Bill Smith, whom I met through Doug Croley, tells me that these kettles were narrow so that they would fit into a wagon.  The wagon, along with a crew, would travel to the coast and evaporate seawater, making salt.   Then, the salt would be used to preserve mullet, which were caught in sloughs and runs.  Back at the plantation, the mullet were enjoyed for months.  The kettle in the background is a typical New-York pattern syrup kettle. 


Mr. E. Green (Havana, Florida) and his son-in-law used this Chattanooga mill (Slide 15) to produce syrup until 2000.