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Herty's mission to eliminate 'catface' turpentining
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.


Kenneth H. Thomas Jr.’s book, “McCranie’s Turpentine Still” (1975) stated Dr. Charles Holmes Herty, a University of Georgia professor at the time, was on sabbatical in Europe in 1900 when he saw turpentine cups being used in France.

He returned to Georgia determined to create an alternative to “Cat-facing” trees to collect turpentine gum. After he produced a clay cup, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Forestry hired him.

First, he worked as a “collaborator” making $300 per year, and then, he worked as an “expert” making $2,000 per year. They sponsored his experiments at Ocilla, Georgia.Here, he finalized and then patented a working “cup and gutter system apparatus for collecting crude turpentine” in 1902. The Bureau of Forestry’s Bulletin #40 published his research in 1903.

The article, entitled “A New Method of Turpentine Orcharding,” evoked such a strong response that Herty went “on the speaking circuit.” He spent countless months talking to turpentiners.

He wanted them to switch over to his new “cup and gutter” system, and abandon old method of carving “cat-faces” into the tree by stripping back the bark.

Herty’s ‘cup and gutter’ system consisted of “two galvanized gutters.” They were “each 2 inches wide and each extending across half of the sacrificed face of the tree at an inclined angle.”

One gutter protruded under the other, thereby channeling the resin from both gutters into the cup below. Herty had designed a clay pot with a round bottom to catch the resin.

J.P. Williams wrote Herty on June 14, 1901, telling him “you can (use) one of our stills near Statesboro (working) with Mr. McDougald,” who was manager at the site.

Herty’s Bulletin #40’s report, entitled “A New Method of Turpentine Orcharding,” (1903), revealed Williams “contributed 50 dollars (for) expenses.” Statesboro’s “Naval Factors” gave $150 as well.

The actual location for Herty’s experiments was a tract of land southeast of Statesboro, which was being worked by the McDougald-Outland Company. Herty and his crew got to work.

“Frank Klarpp, a local woods rider, put an eight-foot ladder up on the tree, climbed up and nailed this tin that looked about like a salmon can to that tree.”

In 1904, Dr. Herty went to work for the Chattanooga Pottery Company in order to make sure his new patented clay pot was made exactly to his specifications.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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