Guinea barbecue

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Feb 13, 2019 - 01:27 PM

Photo: Bill Hicks, left, and L.T. Wells prepare barbecued pork butts for the fundraiser at Buck’s Store Museum in Bena. At right, the butts are done and ready to be picked up. Photos by Ginny Snowden

Bill Hicks, left, and L.T. Wells prepare barbecued pork butts for the fundraiser at Buck’s Store Museum in Bena. At right, the butts are done and ready to be picked up. Photos by Ginny Snowden

There are three main ingredients to barbecue: meat, wood smoke and flavoring (such as sauce and spices). Barbecue in its current form grew up in the South and went west with the pioneers. Many distinct traditions have been developed on how barbecue should be prepared. Some food critics list Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City and Texas as the major styles of barbecuing.

Somehow they overlooked Guinea in Gloucester, Virginia. Here you discover a style that must be added to the list. To prove it, the Guinea Heritage Association recently barbecued and sold, the day before the Super Bowl, pork butts on the grounds of the old Buck Rowe store at Bena. Today this 1880 building is Buck’s Store Museum.

William Ellis Hicks (known as Bill) is the main cooker. He and L.T. Wells, with the help of Rupert Thomas and Roy Snowden, began cooking pork butts of about seven pounds each at 6 a.m. By 2 p.m., 42 packages of barbecue and sauce were ready for pickup.

Bill has been barbecuing for many years, a skill he learned from his dad and is passing on to his son. “I love doing it. Even my granddaughter loves it and is helping. To each container of butts I add vinegar, applesauce, lots of black pepper and brown sugar. They are basted with this mixture and turned often while cooking. It’s all done on the grill.” The cooking process starts on a high temperature grill for browning and then is maintained at a lower temperature for thorough cooking. A good meat thermometer is a must and within 5 to 7 hours, depending on size, the barbecue is ready for serving.

L.T. keeps his sauce a secret but explained how he developed it. “I was a close friend of Buck Rowe’s (once known as the mayor of Guinea), so he and I took a bottle of sauce off the shelf and worked on it. Then later on I continued working on it and came up with our special sauce.” The heritage committee hopes soon to have L.T.’s sauce packaged in 1-quart containers for sale at the museum. 

This community works beautifully together, whatever the project may be. The cooks even got a nice treat. Rachel Wells had baked an apple coffee cake making their early morning venture a little more comfortable and much more tasty. 

Barbecue or barbeque (both are correct spellings) has a long history. It really began when a human ancestor called Homo erectus began cooking meat with fire about 1.8 million years ago.

Millennia later the meat cooked outdoors on an open fire was covered in spices and basting sauces. The barbecue we know today originated in the Caribbean and so did the name barbecue, “barbecoa.” The word first appeared in print in 1526. Since then, the popularity of barbecuing has spread like wild fire.

Barbecuing in America dates to Colonial times. A law enacted by the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1650 forbade the discharge of guns at a barbecue. George Washington mentioned attending a barbecue in Alexandria in 1769. The end of the Revolutionary War, laying of the cornerstone of the Capitol, and the first bridge over the Missouri were all commemorated by holding barbecues.

Note: Facts on barbecue history were taken from: “What’s the History of Barbecue,” “Barbecue in the United States” and “The History of Barbecue.”

C.B. “Buck” Rowe Jr. was interviewed by this newspaper in 1979, when he said to the reporter, “Excuse me a minute.” During those few minutes of interruption, he cut a chain link, found the right spark plug for a lady’s car, inquired about a customer’s aunt’s sickness, sold an ice cream cone and some groceries, and tried to think of some land nearby that might be available for a friend to buy. Chatting with each one and calling them by name. That’s how Buck ran his business. His recipe for sausage making can be found in “A Day in Your Kitchen.” Here is his recipe for



For large amount. Reduce for personal use.

1 gal. clams, ground coarse

1 qt. clam liquor

Add to the clams and liquor enough self-rising flour to obtain desired thickness. Fry in deep fat until golden brown.