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Cane syrup cooking in Guyton

POSTED: December 14, 2017 10:26 a.m.
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Master Cane Grinder Russell Evans enjoys feeding the cane mill and Brice Nettles and Kirk Palis

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A few weeks ago I was invited by a classmate, Wilson Lawson and his wife Vivian Owens Lawson, to their syrup cooking. They have a beautiful home just outside of Guyton on property that was Vivian’s maternal grandparents’ property (Floyd and Margaret Brogdon).
The preceding days are spent stripping and cutting down cane grown by Wilson and Vivian.
Vivian and Wilson have a syrup boiling shed in their yard and this is the 10th year they have made cane syrup. They have a lot of family and friends who help cook the syrup and share the rewards. Russell Evans is the “Master Cane Grinder”. All pitch in to keep batches going. The syrup is labeled “Lawson Family and Friends”. They cook each batch around 2 hours and 15 minutes utilizing a firebox that is very controlled by John Wallace, Jr., the fireman for the boiler. They cooked 6 batches of the syrup the day we were there and another pot on another day.
The regular crew who helps each year include: Wilson and Vivian Lawson, Susie Siddall, Chuck and Kay Evans, Russell Evans, John & Stephanie Wallace, Meghan Wallace, Kirk Palis, Walter and Rosanne Lawson, “Head” Bath, Michael Nettles, Randy Scruggs, Kris Brackbill and Brandon Evans. Earl Owens and “Peck” Lawson (Vivian and Wilson’s fathers) have been the senior advisors from the beginning offering advice from growing cane to boiling syrup.
As many as 150 come and go during the days when they grind the cane and cook syrup. The lucky ones get to take some of the sweet stuff home. It is good to know the tradition of making cane syrup is still alive in the Guyton area.

This was written by Susan Exley from Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 912-754-6681 or email hesheraldexley@aol.com

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