One of Hollsopple’s most well-loved residents, Merle Mishler, 82, died Tuesday after a lifetime of community involvement as an auctioneer for 68 years.
“Dad started auctioneering when he was 14,” said his son Dale Mishler.
He said after observing local auctioneers, his father rounded up livestock and machinery on the family farm and conducted a practice auction. Soon after he began auctioneering professionally.
“His dad had to haul him out of school and hauled him to the auction,” said his wife of 60 years, Esther Mishler.
Dale Mishler said the auctioneers told his father he would learn more with them than in school.
He said he acquired knowledge about many things through selling items. Some of his favorite items to sell were farm equipment and Soap Hollow furniture, a valuable antique made by Amish-Mennonites in the nearby Soap Hollow region.
In an interview in 2007, he told the Daily American he sold his first piece of Soap Hollow furniture for $27.50 more than 50 years prior. He sold a similar piece in 2006 for $58,000.
“It had a deep history,” said Conemaugh Township Area Historical Society member George Spangler.
The furniture was made from 1834 to 1928. Its unique attributes are a brilliant red finish, detailed stenciling, scroll backboards, bracket feet and a stenciled date and initials of the person for whom it was made.
Mishler was described as an authority on the furniture by author Charles Muller in the Maine Antique Digest six years ago.