Appling Co. Living 2015 - Page 78

Appling County brothers Bill and Lewis Parker were born and bred for the pecan business. While pecan farming runs in their family, they have stayed active in the community in a number of ways. Lewis retired after 20 years of serving as Sherriff of Appling County and Bill retired as Chief Deputy from the department. Lewis currently serves as the Chairman of the County Commissioners, while Bill serves as a Lt. Security Supervisor at Plant Hatch. Generations before their part in the pecan industry, their grandfather, W.L. Veal, worked for a timber company in Appling County which constantly cut timber down, but never replaced the trees; soon there wasn’t much timber left for the company and it moved to Florida. W.L. and his wife Georgia purchased around 9,000 acres of land in 1913, a few miles down 10-Mile Road. At the time, the road was a narrow dirt path made strictly for buggies to travel down, and animal trails through the woods were the only way to maneuver through the land. W.L. started cutting timber down, and for every tree he cut down he planted three in its place after he bought his partners out. 76 Appling County Living W.L. wanted Appling County to have somewhere fun for families to get together on the weekends, so he also built a golf course on part of the land where locals could come and play golf, and built a pool house open to the public in the middle of the course beside a pool, called Veal’s Pool. The house would feature dinner and dancing for couples and families. Soon, they started running a small-scale gum distillery on the land – cooking rosin and making tar to be used in paint and a ton of other products. It didn’t take long for W.L. to realize that this was hard work for his wife and five daughters, and he was looking for a business that could easily be mana ged by “his girls” if something were to happen to him. W.L. soon discovered that the girls could pick up the pecans and make enough profit to pay for taxes, cars, food, and their basic necessities. So around 1931, he began planting an orchard. He and his employees began digging holes for each tree, using shovels and manpower; if there was a stump in a hole, they would break dynamite into pieces and place it in the hole, then they would blow the stumps out of the ground.