History of  Gallatin County, Part 16


Sugar Creek is a beautiful little stream which flows down from the Oakland hills and empties its contents into the Lordly Ohio.  It has been described by the primitive settlers as being rich in legendary lore, so invaluable in true history.  The result of these researches reveals Sugar Creek as being the "Maple Camp" where the pioneers procured the bulk of their syrup and sugar, from whence this sequestered stream received its name.  At that time it was shaded by miles of rich woodland sugar maples, a wild, lonely, wilderness, over the brinks of which impending trees shot their branches, so that one only caught glimpses of the azure sky, and bright evening cloud.

After the first winter's thaw which usually comes in February and continues in intervals from four to six weeks, the sap begins to appear.  Just what the force of nature is that sends forth sap has never been satisfactorily arrived at by scientists.  Much of this work was done by moonlight, while among the naked branches the moon glittered as she rolled thru the deep vault of a cloudless sky (which often appears at this season of the year).  Oftentimes the ground was sheeted with a slight cover of snow, which here and there sparkled as the moon beams caught a frosty crystal, and at a distance might be seen a thin transparent vapor stealing up from the low grounds and threatening gradually to shroud the landscape.

These conditions were favorable to sugar making.  Camps were erected, kettles brought forth and placed in readiness, troughs dug out of shot logs were placed at the root of the trees and wooden tubes about 15 inches in length were driven into holes bored into the trees not far above the ground.  The stem of the elder with the pith removed was often used as the tube.  Soon the sap began to ooze from the trees into the tubes, and drop by drop fall into the troughs.  After the troughs were filled, which occurred perhaps twice per day, the sugar water was carried to the camp where it was put into large kettles to be boiled.  The water evaporated as the boiling went on, until after a time it produce a syrup which grew thicker.  When it became thick enough for table us a part of it was taken out and poured into receptacles and was known as maple syrup.  The remainder was boiled still longer and run off into molds which when cooled, hardened into sugar.  Every farmer had a sugar chest made by the cabinet maker who resided in the community.  The chest was filled to the overflow with this sweet of all sweets, maple sugar.  It required 40 gallons of water to make one of sugar.  After all preparations had been made early in the day neighboring people, and not all of them near neighbors, began to assemble.

The young people predominated because a “good time” was promised.  Rustic maidens, accompanied by their swains, and rugged farmers with their families came on foot as well as horseback.  Oftentimes fiddlers of local repute made an  appearance - a small space was cleared away which was used  by the younger set thru the day for dancing.  This was the only by which they could procure sugar or molasses.  Later, the opening of the Mississippi and the gradual development of the southern sugar plantation brought “Orleans sugar” in the market twenty years later.  Among the early settlers on Sugar Creek were the Hon families of whom our worthy citizen John Hon and the late Peter Hon are descendants.


circa 1928, believed to be from the Gallatin County News