Scott Shuman just assumed when he was going through auction school in the 1980s he’d spend his career calling out bids on farm equipment and at local estate auctions, which would have been perfectly fine with him, he says.
However, his career took a different path — a path that recently cut through 411 historic acres in Virginia, which were once farmed by George Washington’s family, and served as a place of importance during the Civil War.
Shuman is now head of auctions for Hall and Hall, which has offices in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, including its office in Eaton, from which Shuman oversees the companies’ widespread auction operations.
Formed in 1946, Hall and Hall hired Shuman — the 1997 and 2002 National Auctioneers Association auctioneer of the year, and who’s now licensed in 23 states — in 2010 to add auctions to its already long list of services, which includes farm and ranch brokerage, appraisals, resource management and enhancement, and consultation on conservation easements and stewardship plans.
In his first full year with the company in 2011, Shuman and his wife, Krista, organized and conducted nine auctions for the company, where a total of about $60 million in property was sold, including the auction of a 10,500-acre historic ranch in Texas that went for $28.5 million.
And last November, they oversaw a nearly $50 million auction in western Kansas, which earned Hall and Hall the “Agriculture Deal of the Year” from The Land Report magazine, and also earned them the “Auction Marketing Campaign of the Year” award in the 2014 National Auctioneers Association/USA TODAY Marketing Competition.
Then there’s those 411 acres in Clarke County, Va.
The working farm once owned by the family of George Washington sold for about $4.35 million at the auction conducted by Hall and Hall on June 3.
The property, known as “Clifton,” was once part of an estate owned by Warner Washington I — first cousin to George Washington. According to Shuman, George worked as a surveyor in the area and spent significant time on the property, which later served as a place of importance during the Civil War.
During the War, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson quartered his cavalry in the Barracks Barn, the mansion house served as headquarters for General John Mosby’s main Confederate army in August 1864, and later Union General Phil Sheridan directed maneuvers in the northern Shenandoah from the farm.
Shuman said 80-plus people were in attendance at the auction last week, including 13 registered bidders.
“The quality of the crowd was impressive, with some of the country’s top landowners in attendance,” he noted.
Shuman grew up on a farm in eastern Colorado, near Strasburg, and fell in love with the auction business at an early age, he said. He attended the Missouri Auction School when he was still in high school and opened an auction firm shortly thereafter. Using the business to work his way through college, Shuman earned a bachelors degrees in agriculture at Colorado State University, and then completed his masters degree at Purdue University in 1993.
Shuman said much of his success today at his auction operations in Eaton is certainly owed to Hall and Hall’s good name in the industry.
It’s a success he’s certainly enjoying.
“Whatever the auction is, I’m just passionate about what I do, and passionate about the business,” said Shuman, who, in addition to large ag sales around the country, also often volunteers his talents for auctions at local fundraisers. “But when you get to be a part of sales for such historic properties like this one, that’s just a bonus.
“It never feels like work to me.” ❖