- Van Wert
An up close look at President Paul Shoemaker
Paul Shoemaker has been a member of the Gallia County Farm Bureau for 30 plus years. He has worked in some form of agriculture his entire life. When Paul was young, he lived with his parents, along with his grandparents on a small hillside farm.
“My grandfather worked at the Hobson Railroad yard as a blacksmith repairing railroad cars, and my dad worked as a farm hand for different farmers in the area, he said.
Paul and his family moved to Rutland from Meigs County in 1940 from his grandparent’s farm to a farm of their own. They had sheep, hogs, dairy cows, and a small herd of Hereford beef cattle. When Paul and his family moved to this farm, they didn’t have any electricity. They had to wait until 1947 until they did finally get it.
Paul said, “I did my school lessons by kerosene lamp for many years, and I can remember how they learned the right of way for the lines by hand and strung the lines with horses.”
Paul said that he always looked forward to cutting and harvesting wheat. He said after the wheat was cut and shocked, they would leave it in the field to ripen, and then the farmers would get together with horses and wagons and help one another with the threshing. After the wheat was threshed, the straw was blown into a large pile. When it was time to bale the straw, they used a stationary baler. Paul said to use this type of baler, it would take 10 or 15 young men to move the straw into the baler. It took four men to operate the baler -- one person to feed the straw into the bailer, and the other three people worked at the rear of the machine.
“My job was to poke the wires into one side of the bale and another person on the other side tied the wires that held the bale together. Then the straw would be removed from the baler and stacked on the wagon to be hauled away. While the men were working in the field, the wives would all get together and cook a big meal for everyone. Paul said that those were “some of the best meal you ever ate. This was a time when you helped your neighbor.”
In the winter months, Paul and his family worked in timber. “We would cut locust posts, and sell them to truckers that hauled them up to the western part of the state for farmers to use to build fencing.” Paul said at that time, they sold the posts for 35 cents each and considered that a good price. Today a pine post that you would use for the same job would cost you anywhere from $8 to $10.
Paul graduated from high school in 1955. “I stayed at home and worked in large timber until I was married in March 1959, and then my wife Katie and I moved onto our own farm.”
On June 24, 1963 the Shoemaker’s son Michael was born. Paul worked at a sawmill until December 1959, and then went to work for the Gallipolis State Institution. When Paul started working for them in December 1959 he started out milking cows.
“When I started out, we milked 175 cows in can milkers, no pipeline!" he said. Paul worked milking cows until June 1960. It was then that he was drafted into the Army. Paul spent two years in the army, six months in the states and 18 months in Germany. When he came back home, Paul went back to milking cows until February 1976. At that time they transferred Paul from milking cows to farm manager. Paul was the farm manager until 1978.
“We raised hay and grain, dairy beef and slaughter hogs. We were hauling milk to five other institutions, because our institution had reduced its population from 2,400 in 1959 to 400 in 1978.” Paul said, “They just didn’t need the farm any longer."
At that point, they asked Paul to go to work for the institution as a maintenance supervisor. Paul stayed in that position until he retired in December 1995. After Paul retired, his son Mike and daughter-in-law Sharon bought a small farm with a two-story house, barn, and tool shed that had not been cared for and needed a lot of work. Paul and his son remodeled the house and rebuilt the tool sheds. They also made repairs to the original barn.
“My son teaches school, so I help them get their hay harvested and raise a few pigs for the children to take to the fairs, and we raise feeder pigs. I enjoy helping them with the animals and any farm related jobs. It keeps me busy, and helps them out too."
He also enjoys spending time with his grandchildren Kaci and Briggs. Both of his grandchildren are active in agriculture. Besides being a longtime member and board member of the Farm Bureau, Paul also has been a 4-H adviser for 36 years. He serves on the 4-H extension advisory board, ag Extension advisory board, County planning commission and Gallia county fairboard. When Paul can find a free minute, he loves to do carpenter work, horseback riding, and deer hunting. Paul loves spending time with his family.
"My wife Katie and I have enjoyed Farm Bureau very much, and have gained many friends over the years," he said.