This history of early life in Logan County, West Virginia, was written by Howard and Daisy Adams. Howard (1906-1976) and Daisy (b.1915) were children of Major and Belle Dora Adams of Trace Fork of Harts Creek. Titled “The life of pioneers during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the 19th century” and written in the late 1960s or early 1970s, their history marks the only known attempt by local people to reconstruct the story of pioneer life. This final part of the history includes information regarding sugar-making.
So the time of year for sugar making has arrived. You see, the sugar and syrup supplied on the farm came from big sugar maple trees. This operation began usually in the early spring and lasted about 30 days. First the trees had to be tapped. To do this a large 2 inch auger was used to bore holes at a 45 degree angle downward in the tree or if no auger was available deep cup like notches were cut in the trees with an ax. Then a small auger was used to bore holes slanting upward into the holes made by boring with larger auger or ax. Now a little hollow piece of wood called a spline was needed. To get this elder bushes were used. A piece about a foot long with the ___ removed forming a pipe. This was driven up ___ in the small holes in the tree. he spline extended out from the tree far enough to reach buckets or troughs. The juice from the trees poured out through the splines into the troughs. The troughs were made by cutting down a buckeye or basswood tree about 16 inches in diameter and sawing in block about 3 feet long. These blocks were splint in halves and each half or the flat side chopped or dug out as it was called. A foot adz was used for this operation. These troughs, which held at least 5 gallons were placed under the splines in trees to catch the sap or juice. They usually had 75 to 100 trees tapped. Several large kettles were set in rock and clay furnaces. Also the molasses pan was used, too. The sugar water or juice from the trees was carried and poured in these kettles and the evaporator pan. Fires were built and it was boiled in to syrup and sugar. Boy, this took a lot of work and long hours. I’ve heard Granny tell many times about sugar making time. I have eaten some of this sugar and syrup and it was sure good. Even if the old pioneer lived a hard life I’ll say one thing: He sure had better food than we have now.