This article is about Antone Kuckuk, a person who built businesses in Shawano, served in the state senate and offices in Shawano, and participated in various ways to move the city forward toward what it is today.
Mr. Kuckuk was one of Wisconsin’s native sons, born February 10, 1863, in Schleisingerville (Slinger), Washington county, son of Henry Kuckuk, who in 1843 emigrated to the United States from Germany.
When Antone Kuckuk was twelve years old, he began as roustabout, in the “Wisconsin Hotel,” at Hartford, Wis., his salary being $5 per month, and about two years later he went to Wausau, Wisconsin, where he entered the employ of John Kiefer, a general merchant at that place, as clerk. In four years, in April, 1881, he found an opening in Shawano, a situation having been offered him by H. H. Andrews, with whom he remained nearly five years.
In September, 1885, Mr. Kuckuk embarked in a new enterprise, taking charge of the jewelry business previously conducted by G. D. Tolman, which came into his hands as the principal creditor; the stock on hand wasn’t more than $250. He increased the amount of stock and devoted himself to making his new business a success. By May 1887, the building was too small for prosperous and increasing business so in 1890 the Kuckuk & Pulcifer building was completed in its prominent location on south Main Street in Shawano. This building had two businesses; one occupied by the jewelry business on the south, of which Mr. Kuckuk was sole proprietor, and the other on the north side of the building, a grocery business of Kuckuk & Pulcifer in which he has a half interest.
On February 2, 1895, Mr. Kuckuk received a diploma from the Chicago Ophthalmic College, and he was the only graduate in ophthalmology in Shawano County. He had a jewelry business the size of which would do credit to a city double the size of Shawano. His jewelry business included dealing in pianos, organs and other musical instruments. Over the years he added sewing machines and photographic equipment.
Mr. Kuckuk was always giving in his time to any enterprise for the improvement of Shawano and the advancement and welfare of the community in general. He served as a director of the Shawano Water Power and River Improvement Co., a member of the county board, and was supervisor of the Second Ward of Shawano for one term.
He later became interested in banking and manufacturing, being one of the organizers of the Wisconsin National Bank, Shawano; the Farmers State Bank, Gresham; the Farmers State Bank of Beaver Dam, and the State Bank of Caroline. The industrialist was also interested in the Menominee Motor Truck Manufacturing Company, the Four Wheel Drive Auto company of Clintonville, the Iwen Box and Veneer company, Shawano, and Retail Lumber and Supply company, serving in an executive capacity or as a member of the board of directors. He was also a stockholder in the Shawano Shoe Manufacturing Company.
In 1898, Mr. Kuckuk purchased and platted the Wescott and Kuckuk addition and assisted 63 families to own homes in that location. Mr. Kuckuk is president of the H. Iwen Box and Veneer Company and is also president of the Retail Lumber and Supply Company. As a member of a special committee on highways, Mr. Kuckuk became sponsor of highways 17 and 55 through the reservation and also took a leading part in the law which made Green Bay Street bridge over the Wolf River possible.
Mr. Kuckuk was in the assembly from 1907 to 1909 and a State Senator from the 14th district from 1917 to 1925. He was on the Bank and Insurance Committee and the committee on education and public welfare and was chairman of that committee in 1919. As the chairman of a special committee to raise the Teachers Retirement Fund, he put the fund on a sound basis. He was a member of the Finance Committee from 1923 to 1925 and was appointed a member of the Retirement Board during Gov. Zimmerman’s administration and was re-appointed by Gov. Kohler.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge at Shawano for over 50 years, being its oldest living member. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Scottish Rite at Milwaukee.
In his travels he saw Europe in 1921, Panama, Central America and Cuba in 1927, and Mexico in 1938. Winters were often spent in California.
On October 20, 1885, Mr. Kuckuk was united in marriage, in Shawano, with Miss Mary E. Pulcifer, who was born January 27, 1865, in Fond du Lac, Wis., daughter of Daniel H. and Anna E. (Wright) Pulcifer. Antone and Mary Kuckuk had four children: Athol O., born January 28, 1887, Inez B., born July 13, 1892, and Roland A., born January 24, 1907. One child, died in infancy. In 1890 Mr. Kuckuk built a beautiful home in the Second ward of Shawano. Mr. Kuckuk was a member of the Methodist Church. Antone Kuckuk died on October 4, 1946, days before their 60th wedding anniversary. The family’s graves are located in Woodlawn Cemetery in Shawano.
With all of these absorbing interests, all of the large affairs with influential people throughout the nation, Antone never lost the human touch. He “held the family together.”