Our first event was a sugar cane juicing and boiling celebration in Coward, SC. The Russ Brothers farm was opened to the public and on this crisp Saturday morning the smell of fresh sugar cane being boiled down in 100 gallon vats was intoxicating. They used a piece of equipment from 1905 to press the juice from the cane. It was a real treat to step back over 100 years to this early process for industrialized sugar production. We then were able to sample this syrup on free pancakes, biscuits, and sausage while marveling at how lucky we were to be a part of this local tradition. The day was so enjoyable we decided to venture on to a local living history farm for a full fall farm experience.
Many of my relatives lived on farms through the 18th, 19th, and into the early 20th centuries. I hadn’t been on a farm in years and it was nice to spend the rest of the day there without having to actually do all the work! It was easy to see the need for large families. The L.W.Paul Living History Farm has a sawmill, blacksmith, gristmill, smokehouse, tobacco barn, sugar cane pot (60 gallons), and other barns and out buildings. There is even a small chapel. Last Saturday was particularly active with sugaring, smoking, tool making, plowing, cotton picking, yarn dying, sawing, smoking, and various “putting up” activities. This work would have been vital activities to our ancestors. It was especially interesting listening to one grandmother explain each of these processes to her grandchildren.
I could not help but chuckle as the boys stood wide-eyed when she told them how they used corn cobs for toilet paper. They thought she was kidding until another older gentleman corroborated the story and said he still grabs corn cobs when he goes out hunting – just in case. When I called my mother later in the day she chuckled, too, and then said – Yes, of course, that’s what she used, too, as a child.
So – take some time to visit living history centers and heritage events and absorb some of the daily events your ancestors participated in as part of their daily life.