Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Stories - Oscar Shuler

Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down by names and dates in some of these histories, but please, try to muddle through and imagine the lives of the people in these stories. What happened to them still has an impact on our local communities today.


Oscar Shuler (1892-1942) Early Southside Farmer

James Cather Shuler (1847-1923) a former Fredricks County, West Virginia Civil War veteran (Union), and Emma Louise Gilbert (1859-1912) OF Indiana and pre-Revolution ancestry, were united in marriage June 15, 1876, in Dawson County, Nebraska. Emma L. Gilbert was a direct descendant of John Howland, a passenger on the “Mayflower” which landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, December 1620. Eleven children were born to James Cather and Emma Louise (Gilbert) Shuler on a farm in Cozad, Nebraska. One was Oscar Franklin Shuler, on June 11 (1892-1942).

Arnold Brunner (1864-1941) arrived in New York City at about 12 years of age from Switzerland. He first worked as a dishwasher, later acquired carpentry and other skills and journeyed to an Illinois farm. While there he married Martha Mary Large (1865-1953) on January 2, 1888. At Forrest, Illinois, two of their four children were born: Walter and Nora Bell Brunner, August 30 (1890-1980). With the small children they moved to a farm in Lexington, Nebraska.

In 1913, Oscar Shuler became a homesteader in Broadwater, Nebraska. To this homestead he brought his bride, Nora (Brunner) Shuler, having married March 7, 1917, in her parents’ Lexington farmhouse. They farmed the homestead jointly with a brother, John Shuler, and family. Here, Mervan Herman Shuler was born on November 27, 1917.
Late summer 1918, Oscar and Nora Shuler left the homestead to the brother and wife. They loaded themselves and possessions in a railroad cattle car for the journey to Sutherland, with a partition separating them from their livestock.

Upon arrival, they unloaded their wagon and horses, and with young Mervan traveled the dirt roads to the 320 acre “Shuler” farm southwest of Sutherland owned by Nora’s father, Arnold Brunner. The little family moved into the wash-house until Mr. Brunner finished the two-story clapboard farmhouse just in time for Cleo Mae Shuler to be born there October 6, 1919. It was in this farmhouse that Merna Joy Shuler, December 5, 1922 and Claretta Shuler, December 21, 1926 were also born. Three of the Shuler men passed away on this farm, Oscar, his father James and a younger brother, Lester.
This is the farm (and farm house) that my family purchased when we moved from the Sandhills to Sutherland in 1974, and that my mom still lives in today. It is the home of "Seifer Farms Pasture Poultry.
Harvested from this dry land farm were corn, alfalfa, and prairie hay. Cattle and horses grazed the pastureland along the channel which flowed the mile length of the farm. Many pigs were raised and butchered.

West of the house were remains of an early sod wall fence outlining a sheep pen and just north of these ridges were several buffalo wallows filled with a soft tight curly grass.

The farmhouse contained no central heating, electricity or indoor plumbing except for one rare convenience, the pitcher pump and sink in the washroom. The sink drained into an outdoor underground cistern. The basement under the house was used for storage of staples.

The four Shuler children attended District 18 West Fairview’s one-room schoolhouse, traveling the mile and a quarter by foot or horseback, welcoming the heat from the large coal burning heating stove on cold winter days. The water pail stood on a bench in the cloakroom with each pupil’s tin cup hanging on a nail behind it on the wall.

Literary night held in the Pleasant Hill schoolhouse, straight west of District 18 school a few miles, was well attended with the local talent performing. One was Nora Shuler, an accomplished pianist. The program always ended with the beloved blacksmith, Grandpa Sharp, and his violin.

Mervan Shuler remained on the farm until he attended an Omaha welding school, then journeyed to California in his Model A Ford Coupe. While there, Pearl Harbor rocked the world and he enlisted in the Marines, serving in the South Pacific.
Returning to Nebraska, he married Ruby Johnson, a Sutherland teacher, on September 27, 1946. They farmed the Brunner home place in Lexington for a year. It was here that Theodore Herman was born on March 25, 1947. They moved to Sutherland operating the Sutherland Apiaries with E.H. Adee before becoming the sole owner. This apiary served the area and surrounding stores with its honey for 35 years. Two more sons were born here, James Oscar Shuler on April 14, 1948 and Ronald Vernon Shuler on September 30, 1950.

Cleo Shuler married Lloyd William Peuppka of Sutherland, a former ranch hand on August 24, 1940. They farmed the Shuler farm and Dennis Arnold Peuppka was born on April 29, 1943, followed by the birth of Karen Ann (Peuppka) Wood on October 20, 1944, in the Sutherland Hospital.

After ranching in the Sandhills they moved to the North Platte area where Lloyd farmed and did carpentry. Lloyd later operated a cleaning service and Cleo was employed as a motel clerk. They were residing in North Platte at the time of Lloyd’s death in 1976. In 1983, Cleo, her daughter, Karen, and two grandchildren moved to Ramona, California.

Merna Shuler married Raymond Edward Branting, April 3, 1940. They lived first in North Platte, then Cheyenne and Denver where they both worked in World War II defense plants. They returned to North Platte to remain where Ray was employed by Union Pacific Railroad until his retirement.

Claretta Shuler left Sutherland in 1945 after graduation for a short stay in Denver, returning to North Platte where her mother, Nora Shuler, then resided. She clerked in O’Conner’s Dime Store a few months before leaving for employment with United and TWA airlines in New York. On October 30, 1948, she married Peter P. Laboranti, later moving to Garden City, Long Island, New York, where Darla Marie was born January 19, 1959. In 1983, Claretta and Pete moved to Poway, California, where Pete retired after forty years of service with United Airlines.


~Submitted by Claretta Laboranti

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