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Baker’s Corner Memories and the Sorghum Factory

The official Bicentennial photographic history book (available at select retail stores and online) includes personal stories from contributors. In this submission, Mark Raines shares his fond memories of growing up Adams Township.

My dad, Jesse Raines, was born January 2, 1915, just west of Bakers Corner in Adams Township to Ellis and Elma (Mundy) Raines. Jesse was a twin, but his brother died in infancy. He was 3 and his sister Ardath was 5 when their mother died.

Jesse spent his growing-up years near and in Bakers Corner. His father was gone a lot and would bring home horses to buy or trade. My dad told us how he had to work with these horses. By the time he would get one to the place where he could do something with it, Granddad Ellis would come home with another one and sell the one that Dad had trained to work or drive.

I remember one story about a stallion his dad brought home that would chase my dad clear out of the barn and into the barnyard every time he went in and opened the stall. Jesse finally had enough and surprised the horse one day by getting into the stall before he knew he was there, taking ahold of his ears and working his backside over with a switch. This calmed the horse down, but a few days later, he met Jesse at the door with his teeth bared and attempted to bite him. I figured that was one horse he was glad to see sold!

Mark Raines' father, Jesse Raines (pictured), cooked sorghum at Pickett's Autumn Gold Sorghum plant for 40 years.

In Bakers Corner, life revolved around Pickett’s Autumn Gold Sorghum factory. My dad started working there as a young man and cooked sorghum for 40 years. Harvesting cane usually started in late August or early September. The sorghum cane was cut and bundled by machine and loaded by hand onto flatbed hay wagons the day before milling it.

The next morning would start around 2 a.m., when Jesse would head across the road to start the day by running the first load of cane through the mill. When there was enough juice running through the big tank down by the mill, Dad would go upstairs and start pumping the juice to the warming pans and slowly pump it from the warming pans to the cooking pans.

From there, it was a slow process to the finishing vats, holding tanks and finally to the commercial containers. The process took until afternoon to complete. The final product, Pickett’s Autumn Gold Sorghum, has never been duplicated in quality or taste since the factory burned to the ground several years ago.

On June 26, 1939, Jesse married Hannah Lou (White) Raines. They began their life together in the house in Bakers Corner across the road from the sorghum factory. Besides the sorghum, there was grain farming and cattle to care for. Life was busy. Together they had three children, two boys and one girl.

Bakers Corner was a small close-knit town in those years. I mostly remember the 1950s and 60s. I can remember Casey Jones's Store on the south side of the road. As a kid, I thought you could get just about anything you needed there. We had a Hucksters Wagon, a Peddler who made his rounds, and of course the Omar Man. Life was good!

Jesse Raines and Hod Pickett were often the target of their sons' practical jokes.

We also had a great bunch of neighborhood boys who sometimes thought up some of the darndest stunts to pull on our dads (meaning Jesse Raines or Hod Pickett). Two of those boys wired the old wall phone in the factory to connect to the keyhole and the doorknob on the factory door and “patiently waited” for their first victim. The crank part of the phone was still in working order, and when Jesse came along and unknowingly stuck his key in the lock and grabbed the doorknob, the boys started cranking the phone. Jesse’s hair immediately stood up on end, he jerked the wires loose, turned the air blue and charged through the door. The guilty parties, of course, were already out the back door and long gone.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but were taught that money isn’t everything. Looking back, I realize how very fortunate I was to be raised in my family with these parents, at this time and in this place.

The Hamilton County Bicentennial is proudly supported by Duke Energy, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Hamilton County Tourism Inc., and Hamilton County Historical Society.


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