Peanut Butter Fest features mule-driven cane mill

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Chattanooga 22 cane mill that will be grinding cane for the 23rd Annual Peanut Butter Festival in Brundidge on Saturday is probably the only model of its kind in the United States.

“It’s very rare,” said Joe Todd, who owns and operates Todd’s Syrup Farm in Headland. “I bought the Chattanooga 22 in Toccoa Falls, Georgia and restored it. The trailer that it will be set up on is a World War II Army jeep trailer. So there’s a lot of history surrounding this cane mill.”

The mill will be “mule-powered” and will grind some of the sweetest cane juice this side of heaven, Todd said.

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“We’ll be grinding cane just like it was done back when my daddy, L.D. Todd, was grinding cane and making syrup in the Hamilton Crossroads-Tennille area back years ago,” Todd said. “My family has a tradition as syrup makers. I’m dedicating this mill to the memory of my grandfather Billy Todd, who was a syrup maker. My brother, Max, and I will be running it Saturday. We are looking forward to being back ‘home’ and a part of the Peanut Butter Festival.”

Billy Todd walked to Pike County from Early County, Georgia after the Civil War.

“He got a job as a farm day laborer at Hamilton Crossroads,” Todd said. “He was a progressive farmer. He set up a peanut picker and bought one of the first tractors around here. He was a good syrup maker and got our family established in the trade.”

Todd’s great-great-grandfather Luke R. Simmons was a member of one of the first seven “settling” families in Troy and was elected as a representative to the State Legislature.

“Troy was originally Deer Stand Hill and my great-great-grandfather is said to have renamed it Troy in honor of his friend, Troy Alexander, who was one of the original settlers.”

Todd will bring with him stories to share about his ancestors and the roles they played in settling Pike County and as syrup makers.

The juice that the Todd brothers grind will be for sale in cups, in half gallons and gallons. They will also have syrup made the old-fashioned way, in a kettle over and open fire.

“We have three kinds of syrup – pancake, old-timey ribbon cane and a thick syrup we call molasses,” Todd said. “They’re all good.”

Todd also makes pepper sauce, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes. And, he’ll bring along several jars of them.

“And, we make it all the old-fashioned way,” he said.