Farmer, entrepreneur and longtime Randolph County resident J. Herman Isner is the subject of a feature story in the current issue of Goldenseal magazine, now on sale. The article titled, "Randolph County Cattleman Herman Isner," is written by Barbara Smith of Philippi, a former professor at Alderson-Broaddus College.
Born in 1918 at Kerens, Isner is descended from pioneer stock on both sides of his family. One of his ancestors, Henry Isner, fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Owen Triplett, Isner's great-great-grandfather on his mother's side, purchased 28,000 acres from George Washington, the article explains.
Herman Isner began dealing cattle at the age of eleven. He estimates that he has bought and sold as many as three million head in his career. He currently keeps a small herd of steers on his 350-acre property, located off Creed Isner Road in Kerens. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Isner's property as a demonstration farm, permanently available to the public for educational purposes.
Herman Isner sits at his home in Kerens. Isner is featured in the latest issue of Goldenseal magazine. (Photo by Tyler Evert)
Also in this issue of Goldenseal is an interview with Marsha Louk and Kendall Waybright, owners of Laurel Fork Farm at Jenningston, located near the Tucker and Randolph county line. Their 175-acre operation includes a goat herd and a thriving home-based business making and selling soaps, lotions, salves and other goat-milk products. The story titled, "'We're Very Blessed': Sweet Life at Laurel Fork Farm," is written by Ohio freelance author Carl E. Feather.
Harman resident Duane "Dwar" Cooper is also highlighted in the magazine. Owner of Dwar's Chainsaw Repair, Cooper operates a small, eclectic shop off U.S. Route 33, south of Harman. In addition to performing saw repairs, Cooper collects country music memorabilia and model cars, and makes stylized clocks often in the shape of an outhouse or a log cabin.
Elsewhere in this issue are stories about the African American campus tradition called "stepping," Wheeling steamboat historian and model maker John Bowman, Kimball's Italian Gianato family, and Clay County traditional music stalwarts John and David Morris.
Goldenseal is West Virginia's magazine of traditional life and is published quarterly by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston. The magazine sells for $5.95 and is available at Main Line Books in Elkins, at MountainMade in Thomas, and at Blackwater Falls State Park, or by calling (304)558-0220, ext. 153; on-line at www.wvculture.org/goldenseal.