Texas County, Missouri — On a warm autumn day in the Ozark Mountains, four generations of the Kirkwood, Shelton and Hayes families gathered together for the first time in eight years to cook molasses the old-fashioned way. In the 1960s Elmer Kirkwood bought a sorghum mill for $5 at an auction; afterward, he taught his kids how to make molasses.
“Mom and my Aunt Bonnie are the last of grandpa’s children who grew up doing this every year,” LeAn Shelton Stallcup said. For years the clan discussed the need to start cooking again before it was too late, but never made plans until now. “Our parents are getting older, and we really needed their guidance,” Stallcup said. “We felt like we needed to stop putting it off.”