The Mansfield Savings Bank

The Mansfield Savings Bank & Trust Co. Almanac, 1923


Brief History of Mansfield ... Sugar Camp Homes


Source:  Mansfield Savings Bank & Trust Co. Almanac, 1923, pp. 36 & 38


The late William WALTERS, at the time of the Mansfield Centennial Celebration, contributed a paper of which the following is taken. "About the year 1827, my father, John WALTERS settled on a one hundred and sixty acre piece of land, two and one-half miles northwest of the courthouse square, not far from VanHorn's Hill -- known now as the Lumbermans Heights. The first two or three years after settling in the woods they had no corn with which to fatten their hogs. But they were worried not for that. The hogs fattened upon acorns and beechnuts, without expense to their owners. When my father and mother took up the land it was in the spring of the year and they were the only members of the family. The erected a dwelling known as a "sugar camp". The "sugar camp" was about twelve by fifteen feet, built up of small logs. The roof was of clap-boards sloping all one way and over hanging in front far enough to cover two rows of large kettles. The camp was enclosed only at the ends and back, the front being left open. This camp was made as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, to be used as their only dwelling until after the sugar-making season was over, by filling the spaces between the logs with moss and leaves to keep out the wind and snow. The arrangements in front for boiling the sap were two rows of kettles, four in each row. The kettles were suspended from poles which rested on posts, two at each end. In the eight kettles about twenty barrels of sap could be boiled down into syrup in twenty-four hours. Twenty barrels of sap would make about one hundred pounds of sugar, which was worth in trade, from eight to twelve cents a pound, according to grade. In this rude dwelling no wooden floor was necessary, Mother earth was good enough. No fancy bedstead, but for a substitute four small posts were driven into the ground, upon which were placed poles for the rails, and elm bark took the place of rope, for cording, upon which the bed was made. No stove or fire chimney; their meals were cooked over a fire made upon the ground. This temporary dwelling was kitchen, dining room, bedroom and parlor. The wind blew the snow in over their beds and to keep from freezing they covered their heads. In a few months after the sugar making season was over, a new log cabin was ready for them to move into, which although only a log hut, with its clap-board door, and puncheon floor, very primitive in style, made a much more comfortable and convenient home than the "sugar-camp" which they were about to vacate and in which they had spent some happy days.