Really cute drawing of us although it's old and we don't really look too much like that but you know, yeah we do, so it's good 'nuf, which is our house philiosophy.

Nina in 1909

JULY 18,1909 to Nov 13, 2002

MEMORIES: Growing Up In Rural Maine

NINA ALBERTA BURNHAM BYRON ,born July 18th,1909 on Severy Hill, Eaast Dixfield, Maine, a mountain farming community Northwest of the small marketing towns of East Dixfield and North Jay, Maine.Nina was the eldest of (Father)RUEL MESERVE BURNHAM and(mother) NETTIE RICHARDSON BEAN BURNHAM'S (Grandmother-Emma Richardson Bean;Great Grandmother Annis Buck Richardson) three children , with a sister ANNIS(Annis Emma Burnham Soper) & brother DUD- 1923). Father Ruel completed grammar School & at 18, bought his "freedom"(a fairly common rural practice then) from his father for $300 vs staying and working the farm & woods until age 21

RUEL MERSERVE BURNHAM, born July 11th 1883,and Nettie Richardson Bean, born February 15 1885.; RUEL (one of approx 11 brothers & sisters from a CANTON Mountain Family ) meet NETTIE (from a elite successful farming/ manufacturing family-early manufacturers of Apple boxes and barrels in Jay Me) & in 1908 decided to elope to New Hampshire to secretly marry. Accompanied by Nettie’s sister , Lena ,they traveled by train to Old Orchard Beach & then to New Hampshire where they were married;

In 1908 Ruel & Nettie bought(From the Waite’s) the 250 acre Severy Homestead (on the South Eastern slopes of Severy Hill), from one of the founding families that had migrated from Massachusetts in the late 1700s/early 1800s after the Revolutionary War; As the Severy/Waite families had grown old ,1st the old house burned in the early 1890s and was rebuilt, then the Apple Orchard was frozen out by winter's ice; Ruel & three of his brothers cut the Homestead's spruce trees for pulp and paid off the farm in less than two years; Ruel reclaimed the Apple Orchard's by learning (from Univ. of Maine Extension Services) how to graft new tops back on the trees and thus getting an apple crop in seven or eight year vs 15 to 20 years to grow totally new trees & a crop.

Growing up the family lived from home grown produce, meat & apples that Ruel peddled direct From a horse drawn wagon in towns and cities(Paper Mill Towns -Livermore Falls-Rumford-Lewiston Auburn) thereby cutting out the middleman and his profits; Father Ruel became a successful, skilled farmer by understanding people & their needs ;An example was his "cutting out the middle man by having a fancy "peddling" wagon drawn by a "hi stepping" team of horses with harnesses decorated with colorful tassels, brass trim.& (probably) his pure "salesmanship" made the difference)..

For the sisters summer school vacation meant helping their Mother “picking/gathering & preparation/Canning of berries—strawberries, blueberries, raspberries & blackberries; As she grew ,It meant helping Father with the apple orchard “spraying” & in late summer & fall picking & harvesting the apples. A typical weekend consisted of the Saturday”going to town” for supplies and Grange Saturday night; Yearly in late August, at Summers end- after haying & gardening-the family visited distant relatives (Lem Wilson’s) at the shore, Orr’s Island; They traded meat & vegetables for the ocean’s "salt spray", lobster & fish; Thus began her love for the shore & Orr’s Island where she later was to marry.

After WW 1(1918) there was a ”flu like” worldwide epidemic(like SARS today) that reached the USA, Maine & the Severy Hill community; The community reacted & coped by picking 1 family member from all of the families to go to town & do the shopping for all, to reduce the exposure; It was not uncommon to attend an “outdoor” funeral (No visitations at home or in the funeral home) & before you got home another member of the family or another family had died.

One the family's most successful years (1917) they sold & shipped to England $3000(1000 barrels of apples for $1 per bushel-3 bushel per barrel) and bought cash $1200 a 1916 Buick Demo(a Ford's cost was approximately$500).

In 1923 after a summer 3 month bout of appendicitis that nearly caused her death at age 13, younger sister Annis & Nina left home after Grammar School on Severy Hill to board out in Wilton, Me and attend Wilton Academy where she graduated in the class of 1927;In 1927 Nina & Floyd Byron, her future husband, were Co- Captains of of the Men & Women's Basket Ball Teams.

That fall at age 18 after Summer School at Farmington Normal School (For Teachers-now part of the University of Maine System) she was awarded a temporary teaching certificate that allowed her to teach for 2 years, subject to attending and completing summer school & continuing education requirements. Nina's 1st assignment teaching was at the Robertson School, a one-room school consisting of 16 students in various grades from primary to the 8th grade. The community school was located in remote Northwestern Maine, near the town of Weld at the base of Mount Blue & on the west side of Lake Web near the township of Carthage ,Me.

This basic farming/harvesting & wood cutting community and school was made up of the families, Snowman’s, Hammond’s, White’s, Storer’s,& the Carl Witham’s where she boarded during the school year for $3 per week while earning a total of $13 per week; this left her $10 per week to send to the bank, Wilton Maine Trust; These funds later were used to finance her thru the Normal School Continuing Education "summer sessions" that culminated in her full teaching certification and later (funds left) for starting her own family.

In this Northwestern section of Maine, winters were severe with heavy snows blowing into drifts, and commonly only horse and sleigh (no automobile transportation ) and after a particularly severe storms the only way was by foot, on skis or snowshoes as the drifts were too deep for even a horse to get through. Most of her weekends were spent at her parents home on Severy Hill; One of the families would take her to meet her mother on top of Winters Hill (7 or 8 miles-approximately half way to her Severy Hill home);

Her 1st Christmas Vacation from Robertson School (after the school's traditional Plays and Gift giving) began with a severe Friday snowstorm leaving the road near impassable. So she took the horse drawn U S Mail Stagecoach to Weld, Me. By the time she arrived, the coach to Wilton had left; leaving her stranded; Late that Friday evening she was able to return to her boarding room with the Witham’s & on Saturday she called her mother (probably on the old wall mounted, hand-cranked Farmers Telephone System) and arranged to meet her Mom on top of Morrison’s Hill; She waded & snow skied 10 miles to meet her Mother who was a welcome sight, having arrived with the horse drawn sleigh & warm lap robes. Together they traveled another five or six more miles & arriving safely at her Severy Hill home;

Nina continued her teaching & summer sessions of continued education at Farmington Normal School culminating in getting her “full teaching certification”; Her last assignment was another 1 room school in the “Burrough’s” where she boarded with the “Robinson’s” who became life long friends. Like today, teaching salaries were meager, so she joined the Wilton Woolen Co, starting in as wool cloth ”sewer”—later she became a skilled wool weaving machine operator ;Like many women of her time, she worked & raised a family thru the 1930’s depression, the World War II Build-Up & Later the WW 2 “Production for the War Effort”.

In 1932 Nina & Floyd were married at ‘The Little White Church” on her beloved Orr’s Island & started their own family.


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