Sugar cane mills were used to make syrup from the sweet sorghum cane that grew extensively along Caney Creek in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Once the cane was stripped, topped, and cut, it was hand-fed into one side of the mill. A series of rollers ground the cane and produced a steady stream of sugar cane juice out the other side. After straining the juice, it was put into a huge kettle, where it simmered for more than four hours.
Impurities in the juice floated to the top, were skimmed, and the mixture evaporated down into thick pure syrup. Eighty gallons of juice would produce approximately 8 gallons of syrup.
This mill, the "Victor No. 6", came from the Ashwood Plantation on Caney Creek. It was manufactured by L.M. Rumsey & Co. in St. Louis, Missouri around 1900 and could produce 170 gallons of juice per hour and up to 40 acres per season. Smaller mills such as this 1,850-pound one were usually horse or mule powered; later small tractors replaced the animals.
It belonged to the Charles Leroy family, who came to Ashwood and established a plantation on Caney Creek before 1910. Their granddaughter, Mae Smith, donated it to the Matagorda County Museum before her death in 2002.