Oh brother!

Mike’s grandfather, Francis Charles Kukler (Gubby), was born 8 September 1891, and died 2 January 1972, long before I came on the scene. You met him and his wife, Elizabeth Gertrude Nolan (1891-1987) in Valentine.

Francis Charles Kukler (Gubby) with oldest grandchild, Betty, ca. 1946.

Frank was the oldest of the eleven children of Frank J. Kukler and Mary Magdalena Schmitt. Two of his sisters and one brother died in infancy. Brother Clarence (1907-1916) died at age 8 of “valvular heart trouble”,1 and Edward/Edwin (1905-1924) died age 18 of mitral regurgitation2 (also a heart valve problem), leaving Frank with one sister (Margaret) and four brothers. We’ll focus on the brothers, this time.

Frank’s younger brother, Joseph, leaves me with many unanswered questions. Born 25 June 1894, he was required to register for both the WWI3 and the WWII4 drafts. That wasn’t a particularly unusual situation. The odd thing is that he registered with a middle name of Charles in WWI, and Martin in WWII! He appeared as Joseph M. in the 1910 census5, as well as the Michigan death index6.

Middle initials can be mistaken, but for both draft registrations, Joseph was there in person, stating his full name. It would seem he had two middle names, though I’ve yet to find any document containing both. Two different men, you are thinking? Possibly, but birth dates and employer (Sherwood Manufacturing Company, 1910-1942+) match consistently across the records, so I really don’t think it’s two different guys.

Charles J., born 17 June 1897, came next. After a brief stint working for the railroad as a baggage foreman (1920), he also ended up working for a brass factory — probably the same one as his brother, though it was not specifically named. None of the documents so far clarified what the middle initial “J” stood for.

The next batter in the lineup was John L. (1898-1986). Like his older brother, Joseph, he played fast and loose with middle initials/names, bouncing between “L,” and “C,” and “Charles:”

  • “John”
    • 1910 census (age off by a year)
    • 1920 Detroit city directory (street renumbered, but address matched)
    • Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 — 1926, to first wife, Clara (correct parents listed)
    • 1940 census (with 1st wife, Clara)
    • Social Security Death Index
    • BIRLS Death file (Veterans Affairs) — exact birth date match
  • “John L.”
    • 1900 census (confirmed Florida death index entry, because the enumerator included the date as well as the month!)
    • 1918 Detroit city directory (lived 6 numbers down from father & brothers)
  • “John C.”
    • 1916 Detroit city directory (“Jno C”) — same address as father & brothers
    • 1920 census (lived at home with parents)
    • 1930 census (lived with wife, Claire)
    • 1951 marriage to 2nd wife, Florence E. Pipper
  • “John Charles”
    • Florida Death Index, 1877-1998

Apparently neither he nor his parents could decide what to use for his middle name! John also seemed to spend most of his working career in the brass factory, like his brothers.

The fourth surviving brother was Lawrence Anthony (1904-1994). Thankfully, he didn’t seem to have the middle name issues John and Joseph had! Being the youngest, occupation was listed only in the 1930 and 1940 censuses. Both times, he was working in an automobile factory. The brass factory hadn’t closed, but perhaps they weren’t hiring. Or maybe the auto factories paid better. Times changed, so people’s livelihoods did, too.

July 1956. Kukler brothers: Charles, Jack, Frank, Lawrence, Joe in front. It appears to be celebrating a birthday, since there is a cake on the table. Charles and Joe both had June birthdays (which would be consistent with the July developing date). Charles’s was the 17th, and Joe’s was 25th. Since Joe was the one seated, my best guess is that they were celebrating his 62nd birthday. The photo had no information on the back, but Mike’s aunts (Frank’s daughters) identified them for me.

All the brothers married, a couple more than once. I haven’t been able to determine if the second marriages were due to deceased or divorced spouses, yet. It appears only the oldest (Frank) and youngest (Lawrence) had children, however. Their sister, Margaret, did also.

I find it curious that Clarence and Edward both died from what would seem to be congenital problems with their heart valves. Might something similar have contributed to the stillbirth and two infant deaths? I don’t know. The stillborn daughter simply listed that as the cause, and I haven’t been able to locate images of the death certificates for the other two, yet. They may be horribly misindexed, or simply not recorded.

Other than what I can find in the records, I don’t know much personally about Frank’s brothers. Mike doesn’t have many memories of these granduncles. While they all stayed in the Detroit area, by the time his grandparents (Frank & Elizabeth) gathered together their 7 children and 2o grandkids for a holiday or party, the house might have been too crowded to include Frank’s brothers! Or if they were there, the kids probably hung out together, leaving the adults alone.

I like the birthday photo, though! It makes me smile to think even as they aged, they still got together to celebrate birthdays. A brother connection is not easily broken . . .


1“Michigan Death Records, 1897-1920”, database, Michigan Historical Society, Seeking Michigan (, accessed 10 July 2018, entry for Clarence KUKLER, 8, 5 January 1916, citing Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, registered no. 198.

2“Michigan Death Records, 1921-1947”, database, Michigan Historical Society, Seeking Michigan (, accessed 3 August 2019, entry for Edwin KUKLER, 18, 8 January 1924, citing Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, registered no. 295 [written].

3“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (, Joseph Charles KUKLER, serial no. 255, order no.60, Draft Board Ward 17, precinct 12, Wayne County, Michigan, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1,675,256, accessed 13 November 2016. Registered 5 June 1917.

4Joseph Martin KUKLER, serial no. U3609, order no. not given, Draft Board 11, Wayne County, Michigan; citing World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Illinois. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication M2097, 326 rolls. NAI: 623283. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A.; accessed 29 June 2019.

51910 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Wayne, Ward 17, Detroit, e.d. 249; Page 8A; dwelling number 152; family number 153; line 43; Frank J. KUKLER household; accessed 29 April 2017. Joseph M. HUKLER [KUKLER], age 15; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 680; digital image, (

6“Michigan Death Index 1971-1996”, database, (, accessed 23 June 2018, entry for Joseph M. KUKLER, 26 July 1971, citing Michigan Death Index, death certificate number 40086, Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records, Lansing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s