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Early Life on the Nuzum Dairy Farm

By John White

Nuzum family with dairy cows The Nuzum family of Shinn’s Run, Harrison County, ran a successful dairy operation, general store, post office, blacksmith, and grist mill. The Nuzum brothers preferred Jersey cows for their dairy herd. Pictured here, from the left, are Mr. Wilbur, Annie Ryan, George Nuzum, and Dave Nuzum, standing at far right.

Pauline Nuzum Burns grew up on Shinn’s Run in rural Harrison County. Born in 1904, she was raised at a time when nearly a third of the U.S. population farmed; her family farmed in a big way. Their 180-acre operation included a substantial dairy herd, along with a general store and numerous side interests.

Surrounded by pictures and memorabilia from her early days, Pauline spent the final years of her rich life in Loyalton, California, with her daughter and son-in-law, Sue and John White. Before Pauline passed away in March 2001 at age 96, she shared memories and details of those simpler times with John, who was kind enough to write them down and share them with us. —ed.

While talking about the Nuzum clan, Pauline frequently referred to The Nuzum Family History, a genealogical study going back more than eight generations, beginning with the French Huguenots. By 1752, the first Nuzum family came to America. Fifty years later, members of the family moved to Marion County in western Virginia.

Pauline’s grandparents Isaac and Lavina Nuzum homesteaded on 180 acres at the head of Shinn’s Run, nine miles northeast of Clarksburg. Here, in 1873, a crude two-story hewn log structure was built and became the birthplace of Pauline’s father James and his siblings. Later, a two-story frame house was constructed nearby. This is where Pauline was born.

“ Mother wasn’t down but a day or two, then she was back at work,” Pauline said. As a girl, Pauline lived with her parents James and Ella Nuzum, her three sisters, and four uncles. Several live-in hired hands rounded out the household.

Life was never dull on the farm, Pauline told me. Rising at 4 a.m., each member of the family had his or her chores to complete before breakfast. There were livestock to be fed and watered, eggs to be collected, cows to be milked, and cream to be separated and stored.

With 90 head of cattle — at least 40 of them being milked at any given time — there was plenty of work to go around.

You can read the rest of this article in the Spring 2003 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.