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   Becks Creek Sorghum Mill   Written by Alma D. Beck Evans and provided by Candy Hill  and Alma Beck Evans daughter, Sharon.The picture was from Candy's mother, Margaret Beck Vest


Uncle Phlem owned one of the few Sorghum mills in the country. The hint of fall's first frost was the inspiration for Uncle Phlem and his friends to set up the sorghum mill. He always put out a small patch of cane, planted and cultivated it, but before it was ready for the mill, the cane had to be cut and stripped. The stalks were then loaded on the wagon and piled near the mill. They then fed the stalks into the hopper, the horse is the moving power - it is hitched to a pole and moves around slowly. The extracted juice would flow out into a container - usually large milk cans with a cheese cloth and cotton strainer. The crushed cane would come out at an opening at the side of the mill.

The Stoves and the cooking syrup.

The stoves are built of brick, something like a kiln, high at one end and low at the other end. The vats are large metal pans, and to each there is a small opening underneath for a wood fire that is kept going according to the doneness of the syrup. The first vat is filled with raw juice and has the hottest fires. The juice, as it cooks in the first vat, foams and bubbles rise high and must be closely cared for to keep it from boiling over. While the last of the vats has the lowest of fires and the thickest of syrup.

Uncle Phlem was real good at coaxing the sticky goodness from his cane crop and making a goodly supply of molasses each year for all those around him and liked the real good flavor of old fashioned sorghum. Many of his farm friends had their own patches of cane and he would charge every fourth gallon for his pay in making the molasses.

Although commercial sorghum production keeps our grocery shelves well stocked, many natives believed the home made syrup was much the best. As you know, some of these commercial people water it down with corn syrup and put in preservatives. You can taste the difference, the flavor is not the same.