Sorghum Making in Dayton

sorghum making


Back in the days when pa and ma were young and grandpa and grandma ran the farm, making sorghum was an annual fall task, and nearly everybody who lived on the farm had sorghum for their winter pancakes.

George Gleim, Ottawa attorney, was one of those who came to manhood in the days when sorghum making was a regular part of farm work.

A few years ago Gleim made a trip to southern Illinois, commonly known as Egypt. There he found that sorghum making was not a lost art, as it had nearly become in this part of Illinois.

That gave him the idea that sorghum making might be revived in La Salle county. Last spring, Gleim induced seven farmers, in Dayton township to plant an acre of cane on their farms. Some of them were from southern Illinois and they readily agreed to raise the cane.

Last week these seven men cut their cane, preparatory to the making of sorghum. Then Gleim produced an old fashioned sorghum mill, operated by a tread mill, with a horse as motive power. He also brought a big pan, fifteen feet long and four feet wide, which he had obtained in “Egypt.”

Four men from the same district who knew how to cook sorghum were also imported into the county. A shed was erected in a woodlot on the farm of Mrs. George Gleim, in Dayton township.

After experimenting with their outfit and getting it in working order, the production of sorghum, at the rate of 70 gallons a day was started last week.

The mill will be in operation for the next ten days, keeping a crew of men busy from early morning till late at night.

William Rexroat is chief cooker. Two men skim off the scum which forms on the top of the sorghum as it is cooked in the huge vat, after being crushed in the old fashioned mill.

James Dixon, Vincent Smith, Arthur Crosiar are among the men who raised the cane, and they are helping to crush and cook it.

The sorghum is being sold at the mill, either in containers on hand there, or in containers which the buyers bring with them.1

  1. The Times (Streator, Illinois), 16 Sep 1931, p. 6

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