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A century of farming

March 14, 2006|by JEFF SEMLER

The year was 1875. General George Pickett, President Andrew Johnson and author Aleksey Tolstoy breathed their last, while the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burrows was born.

In the same year with little fanfare, German immigrant Georg Adam Shinham purchased a farm on the banks of the Conococheague Creek in Fairview in Washington County.

This was not un-usual as Washington County had long been a spot where German immigrants settled - Jonathan Hager being one who comes to mind.

However, recently, the Shinham family was recognized by the Maryland Department of Agriculture as a "Century Farm."

The "Century Farm" designation is given to a family whose farm has been in the family for at least 100 consecutive years. While the applications are available from MDA, the burden of proof is on the family. This takes research into family records and deeds.

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This research was done by Charles David Shinham, Georg's great, great grandson, with the aid of his father, George, and cousin, Robert.

So I will take you on a short history trip of the farm.

Georg Adam Schindhelm was born in Mark, Germany, in 1812. He and his wife, Anna Margaret, immigrated to the United States in 1837.

Their first home was in the Marsh area north of Hagerstown. They moved to Fairview after a seven-year stint in Claylick in Franklin County, Pa. Georg became a citizen in 1847 and the "c" was dropped from the name.

The name morphed several more times on census record to Shindham and then in school records to Shinham. Georg and Anna had 10 children, with the youngest, David Martin, following in his father's farming footsteps at the home farm in Fairview. The farm then passed to his son, Ralph. Ralph's son and the current owner, George Fiery Shinham, bought the farm in 1968 after his father's death.

Ralph ran a diversified farm with crops, hogs, chickens and fattened beef cattle. Like many of his fellow farmers, Ralph used horses until the late 1950s. He had a blacksmith's shop where he repaired and improved his farm equipment.

George helped his father on the farm until he left for World War II. Upon returning from the war, he worked for more than 30 years as a rural mail carrier. C. David remembers playing in the piles of chopped corn stover in the barn.

David and his wife, Fanny, lived on the farm and had a small vegetable and strawberry business. Dave recently retired after 30 years of service with the Animal Health Division of the Maryland Department Agriculture.

Today the farm is rented by a local dairy farmer. And, Dave's daughter, Adina Shinham Linn, lives on the farm with her husband and daughter Madison. Madison is the seventh generation to live on the farm.

In addition to being a Century Farm, the property is home to one of the largest trees in Maryland.

The tree is a Bur Oak which measures 18 feet 2 inches in circumference, over 100 feet tall and has an 82-foot crown spread. The age of the tree has not been determined, but the family estimates the age at 200 years.

Having seen the tree, suffice it to say, it is a very large, stately tree.

If you think your family's farm would qualify as a Century Farm, feel free to contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture or Maryland Cooperative Extension. If you are interested in history, I would recommend the Western Maryland Room at the Washington County Free Library or William's History of Washington County.

Until next week, enjoy the warming weather and the agrarian surroundings which are our past, present and, hopefully, our future.

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