Thursday, November 13, 2014


Merlin Nicholas Schuster (my 8th cousin), the son of Emil Schuster and Elizabeth Hoefer (descendant from the Hober line), was born on 25 Nov 1923 in Farley, Iowa.  He joined the service on 18 Jan 1949, after working on his family's farm in his teen years, and was discharged a year later.  Merlin, however, was called back as a reserve on 27 Sep 1950 (due to the Korean Conflict) and was sent to Korea in November of 1950.  Merlin was a radar man for the 82nd Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion and 2nd infantry division.

On 13 Feb 1951, Merlin was taken captive as a Prisoner of War by the North Koreans while he was fighting near Hoensong, South Korea.  PFC Merlin Schuster died a few months later, on 6 Jun 1951, while he was a prisoner in a North Korean camp.  Merlin was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Sources: WWI, WWII & Korean War Casualty Listings (
               US Korean War Casualties, 1950-1957

Note: I truly believe that it is important that we don't lose the stories of our family members, living and those that have gone long before us.  To that end I think that telling these stories and creating books with these stories will hopefully preserve their memories for generations to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Every Veteran's Day, I think about my Dad and his two older brothers who served in the Armed Forces.  According to family history, Charles (known as Chuck and 2nd from the right) served in the Air Force while Eddie (with the white sailor hat) served in the Navy during World War II.  My dad Donald (on the far left) served in the Korean War from 1951-53.

My Dad never spoke with us kids about his time in the military.  Interesting enough, I probably have more photos of my Dad from 1951 to 1953 than I do from the rest of his life.  Every time I look at this photo, I have to laugh because my Dad probably wanted his photo taken with this sign not because it was on the border of North Korea but because it said Notre Dame on it.  My dad was a huge Notre Dame fan!

So, to my Dad, Uncle Eddie, Uncle Chuck, several of my cousins and 2 of my nephews as well as all veterans -- thank you so much for your service, we owe you a debt of gratitude!  Happy Veteran's Day!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


As a child, I remember waiting with much anticipation for the arrival of the Sear's Christmas Catalog. My siblings and I wore out the pages of the catalog, looking at all of the toys and making our lists after perusing that catalog.  

Imagine my surprise when I read Anton Vincent Hoefer's (a 6th cousin 3 times removed) obituary which mentioned the purchase of a house from the Sear's catalog.  What?  I had never heard they sold real houses!   "Florence and Frank (2 of his children) were born in the house that Anton bought and built from a Sear's catalog".  Then he later built another house -- this time it was a 2-story square house.

So, of course, I had to research this practice of "purchasing a house kit from the Sear's catalog.  How do they delivery it?  Who builds it?  I found out that 70,000 of these ready-to-assemble kit houses were sold through the mail order from 1908-1940.  These kits contained 25 tons of material with 30,000 parts and were shipped by railroad.

I wonder how many pages there were in the instruction booklet for these house?  Is planning on offering these house kits anytime soon?