“Water is the driving force of all nature.”–Leonardo da Vinci

Mike’s family members are thoroughly Michigander. Apparently there is a musical artist by that name. Not talking about him. With a few rare exceptions of family who moved out-of-state in the 1940s or later, the family has lived along the east “coast” of Michigan since the mid to late 1800s. My late mother-in-law was fond of bragging that Michigan would never run out of water, since it bordered four of the five Great Lakes!

None of Mike’s family was involved in the substantial water commerce taking place in Michigan. I’m not aware of any boat captains or merchant marine sailors. Nevertheless, it seems his family was repeatedly drawn to water, as evidenced by the few photos we have. Today’s blog has vignettes spotlighting some of the people, stories, and photos.

In Winter, I already wrote about Patrick Nolan’s (Mike’s maternal great-grandfather) drowning in the Black River, which flows through Port Huron. Water certainly impacted his life. Death. You know what I mean.

Not too far away, on the other side of the family, John Joseph Carmody spent time as the manager of the Lighthouse Park Tourist Camp, near the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. He was the manager from at least 1928 (when his wife died), retiring in 1933.

1902 postcard of the Fort Gratiot lighthouse. The tourist camp would have been there after this photo was taken, on the far side of the lighthouse. In the public domain, original: Detroit Photographic Company. The original uploader to wikimedia.org was Cbl62 at English Wikipedia.

It continued to be a tourist camp until at least 1949, and sported a beach, still popular today. The beach is the likely location of the photos of Mike’s parents, below, taken when they were dating. Even though both lived in Detroit, they regularly headed north to Port Huron. Both had family connections there, and it was an opportunity to get out of the city. Often they “double dated” with Pat’s sister, Sue, and Sue’s boyfriend (later, husband) Gene.

Probably mid-1950s. Mike’s parents, Patricia Kukler and Jerry Bauman. Location not certain, but likely to be the beach at Lighthouse Park or Lakeside Park (a short way further north), Port Huron, Michigan. Both beaches are at the southernmost end of Lake Huron, just before the beginning of the St. Clair River. I don’t believe there are beach areas like this downriver, in Detroit.

Earlier generations found themselves recreating near the water, too. The photos below all came from an album belonging to Mike’s grandmother, Elizabeth Nolan Kukler. We never saw it until after his mom’s death, and her mother had died 13 years earlier. The album was falling apart. It was too fragile to invert and scan, and I didn’t know (or think) to record how the photos were placed on the pages. My bad. I did have enough sense to write on the backs of photos whatever had been written below them on the pages, but many had nothing to identify them. While I was grateful for the names, dates and places would have really come in handy!

The photos below identified the people, but I didn’t know where it was. Initially I thought it might be Boblo—an amusement park I had heard of, on another island farther down the Detroit River. Mike said it didn’t look like that, and suggested Belle Isle, which I’d forgotten about. Searching online, I found postcards consistent with what I saw in these photos, including the bridge in the background of the first photo.

Frank C. Kukler was born and grew up in Detroit. A true city boy. He met his wife-to-be, Elizabeth Nolan, when she had moved from Port Huron for better job opportunities. Between 1907 and 1919, she worked as a telephone operator or in one or more private homes as a governess or domestic. Who was Tressa? My best guess is she was Theresa Krattenthaler, a 24-year old nursemaid in the Lawrence M. Goodman household upstairs at 67 Euclid Avenue West² in 1920. In the 1915 Detroit City Directory, however, I found both Theresa and Elizabeth, working as “domestics” at the same location in Grosse Point Park³—right across from Belle Isle. It’s not too surprising Tressa stored a canoe, and spent free time at Belle Isle!

Another popular water hole for Mike’s family was Houghton Lake, smack dab in the middle of the “mitten,” about 2/3 of the way up. Mike’s Uncle Gene (Sue’s main squeeze, remember?) inherited his parents’ summer cottage on the lake. I don’t know exactly how much time they spent up there, but Uncle Gene had a pontoon boat (much tamer than the speed boats he used to race as a young man!) on the lake, so I presume they made good use of it. Even Elizabeth (his mother-in-law) went out for a spin on the lake in 1984, when she was 93!

1984. Elizabeth Nolan Kukler, age 93, out for a ride on Houghton Lake.

When Mike’s family decided to hold a reunion, we commandeered most (if not all) of the rooms of a nearby strip motel, not far from Gene & Sue’s cottage. There were two buildings of motel rooms running perpendicular between the road and the lake, with a beach, grassy area, and dock between them. It was the perfect place for Elizabeth’s kids (below), grandkids, and great-grandkids to hang out together for a week.

19 August 1989. Five of the six Kukler siblings alive at the time: Pat, Sue, Marge, Bob, Mary. Three are still with us.

We swam, played in the sand, got boat rides, played putt-putt nearby. Everyone enjoyed the week enough, that we repeated it in 1993. Unfortunately, coordinating the schedules of 20+ families is complicated, so it’s been limited to those two times. Better two than none . . .

Water has been called the universal solvent. It breaks apart more things than anything else.

But sometimes it just pulls everything together.


¹Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/) “Belle Isle Park (Michigan),” rev. 31 March 2020, at 09:08 (UTC). 

²1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Michigan, Wayne, Detroit, Ward 2, e.d. 85; Page 2A; dwelling number 19; family number 23; line 12; Lawrence M. GOODMAN household; accessed 5 April 2020. Theresa KRATTENTHALAR, age 24; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 802; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³”U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing R. L. Polk’s Detroit City Directory, 1915. Entry for Elilzabeth NOLAN, p. 1814, and Theresa KRATLENTHER [misspelled], p. 1450, accessed 5 April 2020.

Map It Out

“I wisely started with a map.”–J. R. R. Tolkien

While I like maps, and reference them regularly as I research, I already used up my better examples in other posts:

So this week had me stymied. It didn’t help that I was dealing with a furnace and air conditioner replacement, a retaining wall rebuild, and a continuation of reseeding the yard. Blogging time was non-existant. As I pried out crabgrass Friday afternoon, I remembered the email I’d received mid-week, from someone wondering if she was related to me. Well, actually, to Mike.

She had done a Google search on the Kukler surname, and my blog popped into the results, with Brother (the most recent) leading the way. She provided enough information (great grandfather’s and 2nd great grandfather’s names) to tell me she is connected to another (not Mike’s) Kukler family I had in my file.

In searching for his Kuklers, I ran across records for other, unknown, Kuklers in the Detroit area. It seemed prudent to keep track of them as little “islands,” in case they ended up connecting to his, later on. In my reply to her, explaining that I don’t know whether or not she is related, I listed the strays I accumulated. I hoped that maybe she knew if/how some of them might fit together. I have not heard back, yet.

It occurred to me, though, that maybe a map plotting out the assorted Kuklers might be useful. It won’t create connections directly, but it could help me visualize where they lived in relation to one another. That might make a connection more—or less—likely. Not coming from Detroit, myself, the streets and neighborhoods are not familar to me. This could improve that situation.

So the 2-day project plan is to plot Mike’s Kuklers (in one color) from the addresses provided in various records (census, draft registrations, death certificates). I’ll then move on to the various “islands,” changing color for each one. I should end up with a map showing who was living where.

One unplanned complication arose: address renumbering. Like Chicago did in 1909, Detroit underwent renumbering in 1920 (effective in 1921). So all the older addresses had to be adjusted to their new number. This became a scavenger hunt, as well as a plotting exercise!

The 1870 census (Frank Kukler’s and Anna Plansky’s first one, I believe) has no address: just “2nd precinct, 6th ward.” I was able to find an 1870 map. I believe the bold numbers might indicate wards, placing the 6th ward as the NNE pie wedge. I couldn’t find precinct maps, though, so I’ll use the 1880 pin for 1870 and 1880.

Pins marking residence locations. “Truck” icons are Mike’s grandfather (Frank C.), “factory” icons are his great grandfather, Frank J., and some of his siblings. Those are all green. Lighter green is Anna Kukler, married to Peter Kaiser, who I suspect may be related. Yellow is for the new contact’s ancestors in Hamtramck, Michigan. The “one-offs” in different colors are the stray Kuklers I’ve run across.

After 2 days of battling house renumbering, street names changes, and map disruptions due to the expressways criss-crossing the city, I have the map you see, above. What, if anything, does it tell me? There seem to be several definite residence clusters, but none of them are really very far from each other. Some of the movement probably comes from job opportunities.

If I were to plot addresses past 1942, I’d probably notice a fanning out, or ripple effect that already started as development moved out from downtown.

Some of the outliers (red question mark) may be less likely to have a connection to our Kuklers, but it doesn’t entirely rule that out. Obviously more research is needed to try and determine a definite link or not.

So, was this a useful exercise? I think so.

  • I double checked some of the information I had.
  • I learned far more about Detroit than I ever wanted to . . .
  • I have a new list of resources! (below)
  • I now have a better handle on how Mike’s family moved around—or didn’t move around, but their address changed, anyway!

As new Kukler records with addresses pop up, I will add pins to the map to see how they play out with the earlier ones. It may not give me a direct answer, but it seems to add a little clarity to the situation.


This week has more of a Bibliography than Footnotes. These were sites I found to be useful in placing pins on my map. Some of the images I used are linked above, but I wanted something more “formal” in case I needed to look up something else, later. I’m getting older, and there’s too much crammed in my brain for me to remember it all . . . .

Granzo, T. (2019). Detroit Streets. [online] Historydetroit.com. Available at: http://historydetroit.com/places/streets.php [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019]. Another site I used to figure out the streets.

Hill, A. (2019). DETROITography. [online] Detroitography.files.wordpress.com. Available at: https://detroitography.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/det-city-services-1870.jpg [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019]. Historic map showing wards.

Mitchell, S. (2019). Detroit. – David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. [online] Davidrumsey.com. Available at: https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~30510~1140037:Plan-of-Detroit—Entered—–1879- [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019]. Historic maps–showing old roads, particularly prior to expressways changing/eliminating roads.

Morse, S. (2019). One-Step Webpages. [online] Stevemorse.org. Available at: https://stevemorse.org/census/changes/DetroitChanges2.htm [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019]. Detroit street name changes and renumbering.


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 (seekingmichigan.org), 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 (seekingmichigan.org), 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 (https://www.familysearch.org), 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, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“Michigan Death Index 1971-1996”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), 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.