Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

George Franz  

George Franz - came to Culver in 1957 from the Crown Point area. Because work in his profession was hard to come by because of 'dirty politics' and he was determined to not get into it. He called Mr. Kizer a real estate agent in Plymouth and told him he was interested in a farm in the Culver area - he had three pieces of property to show him - the one on Mill St, the Dean Manchester farm now and the Ira Fa ulkner farm. George and Maxine chose the one on Mill St. as they had been there before!

He first purchased property on Mill St. (probably 115 W. Mill which is owned by a Patrick) it is the last house on the southwest side of Mill Street before you get to the factory and sits across from the Portside Marina. He related how the street only went to the property he bought and how he cleaned and bulldozed the street on out to the county road - Thorn Road beyond new St. Rd. 17 and the country graveled it and that later the county wanted to close it - but NIPSCO refused to let it be closed since their poles and power lines ran the length of it. When St. Rd. 17 was created in 1959-1960 the access of Mill St. then a county road was closed off as it is still today.

Shortly after he purchased the Duddleson farm on Tamarack Rd. which became S. Main the old farm house - he spent a year remodeling for his mother-in-law Lela Bell (Bussard) Sperry.

At one time George Franz owned all the farm ground from Tamarack Rd & Main St.; the farm ground behind the row of houses on S. Ohio St.; Mill St. to - new St. Rd. 17. He told of how the State paid him for the strip of land which became St. Rd. 17 in 1959-1960.

In 1965 he sold 57.607 acres to McGills helping bring Culver 's first factory to town which is now Medallion - over the years he has sold off: 32A which is owned now by a Roberts, 30A now owned by a Mc Gee; 22.63A & 425 S. Ohio now owned by Johnson; unstated Acreage Town of Culver ; and their are other small parcells of property that were probably a part of these two farms along Mill St. (4 houses) & Ohio St. all but the 14.45 & 6.15 acres he lives on today.

After moving to Culver he still worked in the Crown Point areas for awhile till becoming established in Culver .

He done excavating work - working around The Culver Motel at the west end of the Culver Academy ground; the Venetian Village; Culver Marina when they moved to the east side and done the welding for the steel seawalls and the cranes that took the boats in and out of the lake; the work for the Cove and Chadwick Shores; Lake Latonka and many other places.

He told of how the house at corner of Mill and Ohio 405 S. Ohio (Guess property at one time) in the 1950's was moved from the bank parking lot which is in back of the bank and library today for Bryce Bigely. And some other points of history of Culver that are noted in their pages on elsewhere on the site.

In 1979 he opened 'George's Place' a bait shop in the basement of their home at 1155 S. Main St. and then built a seperate building for the business behind the house. He closed the business in 2000.

George's Place (Bait Shop) New Bait Shop Opens

Culver - George Franz is shown in his new bait shop which opened officially on March 10. The spacious shop in the basement of his homefeatures bait. Fishing tackle and many other supplies for the fisherman Stop by and look it over. It's located across from the cemetery

Pictured above is George Franz

and below George is sitting and talking with Fred Banks.

The double wide home that George lives in now - was moved from the hilltop where the orginial farm house stood - years ago. George said he orginially sold the old farm house property to Rod Martindale and that he had the house tore down.

He told of his airplane and the airstrip he had on the property on S. Main St. and how many of the academy parents and patrons landed their planes there - Lori his granddaughter remembers waking up one morning to visions of many airplanes just outside her bedroom window! He told of how he flew to get bait for his brother-in-laws bait shop James "Wally" Sperry. In 1974 - the barn where the airplane was kept was destroyed by a high wind.

Culver Citizen
25 September 2008
George J. Franz Jr.
October 29, 1924 - September 20, 2008
George J. Franz Jr., 83 of , Culver , Indiana, died at 1:15AM on September 20, 2008 at his home in Culver , Indiana.

George was born to George Sr.and Lucille (Demmon) Franz on October 29, 1924. He was married to Maxine Sperry.

She preceded him in death on June 26, 1997.

George is survived by his son - Keith Franz of Culver , Indiana, daughter - Nancy Stanford of South Bend, Indiana, brother - Robert Franz of Kentucky, 5 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his father - George Franz Sr., mother - Lucille Franz, wife - Maxine Franz, 1 brother, and 1 sister.
Visitation will be at the Bonine-Odom Funeral Home Culver , Indiana on September 22, 2008 from 7:00PM - 9:00PM.

Father Glenn Kohrman will officiate the service which will take place at 2:00PM on September 23, 2008 at St. Mary's of the Lake Catholic Church, Culver , Indiana. Interment will follow at the Culver Masonic Cemetery in Culver , Indiana.

In 2007 Lori Mc Abbe e-mailed me about my site and she thought her grandfather co uld provided interstings facts for it - I in turn contacted Jeff Kenney who then was working at the lobrary as he was taping and filming interviews of people of the area. Jeff and I met with George, his daughter Nancy and her daughter Lori on a Saturday morning. We spent at least 3 hours with George letting him talk - every once in a while we wo uld ask a question to pry a little more information out of him. Jeff wrote of this interview after his death on 16 Oct 2008 in the Culver Citizen - some which appears may be written above - here is Jeff Kenney's article regarding the interview we had with George - that Saturday morning:

Franz helped usher in Culver Progress

Culver Citzen
16 october 2008, Thursday
Jeff Kenny, Citizen editor

When George Franz died Sept. 20, Culver lost not only a 50-year oplus resident, but also a man who helped built portions of the town through the years, was partially responsible for the arrival of the town's first major industry, and was known even beyond INdiana for his bait shop and air strip in Culver .

Originally from the Merrilville-Crown Point area, Franz - in a 2007 interview - said he grew tried of "dirty politics" that forced him to "pay somebody off to let you work". Having met his future wife and obtained his marriage license in Plymouth in 1951, Franz eventually decided to move to Culver . Here he purchased one 90-acre farm from John Hawk (whose pioneer ancestors are responsible for the name of the lake just west of Maxinkuckee) and a second piece of land from Tressie Hawk. Evenutally, he wo uld own 187 acres, all of the land west of Ohio St. to today's state Road 17.

George and Maxine in 1969
"When I moved here." he recalled., "South Main was road 17. It changed over (to new 17) in 1958-59".

It was a few years later, in 1965, that Franz's land became home of McGill's, Culver 's first major industry and a great boost to the local economy (the same building today houses Medallion Cabintery).

From 1969 to 1975, Franz owned and flew his won ariplane and built a hanger and 1800 foot airstrip - which ran the enitre length of his land. In those days, he said, a number of parents and other guests flew in via his air strip to visit the Academy. "One monring," he recalled with a laugh, "I woke up and there was seven twin engine (planes) sitting in my front yard!"

Franz worked during those days for "Col" Parker, famous sponsor of Elvis Presley. "I would fly all over the country selling lots for him," said Franz. "he sponsored me to build Tippecanoe Shores (housing developement south of Culver }.

Franz also cleaned up some key moments of Culver history. There was the huge Lake Shore Garage fire in the late 1960's [note this is incorrect! - This occured on the last Monday of Janaury 1972 at about 11:30 a.m.]; at the site of today's Osborn Minimarty on Lakeshore Dr.). He tore down a two story hotel once known as the Johnson Hotel on the same street at the site of today's Bennet's shop.

He cleared a dump on the south portion of the land today occupied by the Lake Shore Clinic. He cleared away debris and filled in the foundations where fourhouses had been at the site of today's First Farmer's State Bank parking lot, just west of the bank andn library (those houses were moved to other locations Franz said). He did all the excavating work to put in the "new" marina on ths outheast shor of the lake ("I did alot of dredging to make that work." recalled Franz of the swampy land there.

Along with Dick Zehner, he said, Franz did all the excavating work for the Culver Cove during the 1980's on land that was famously swampy. "When they built the Cove, they used telephone poles as pilings to stabilize the building. Warren Bickel did that. They would drive the poles to in the ground and keep banging until they didn't sink any more. They drove people nuts with that banging sound!"

Franz also extended Academy Drive to the west; it had once ended at the Lake Shore Drive intersection, and Franz's efforts in the late 1950's eventually extended it the length it is today. "College Ave. was the last street in town", Franz recalled. "I helped Wayne Von Ehr put the sewer and water lines in."

Prior to 1972, Franz was in the sweet corn business, and people called from neighboring states to ask if Franz's famous sweet corn - which he used to sell to area grocery stores as well - - was ready.

IN 1979, Franz opened what became the community's only bait shop - and a naturally pop ular one - - for many years, moving the operation from his basement to a free standing building. The bait shop closed it doors in 2000.

"I couldn't hack the hours any more!" said Franz. "It was from five in the morning 'til 10 o'clock at night. People came from Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, the upper UP. I even had a sea captain from Athens, Greece with an interpreter. He bought a fishing license , he came down here a few days to fish.

"(George Franz) loved the lake, the won and the people in it," says Franz's granddaughter Lori McAbee. "You can look any where in town and see his contributions. He took great pride in his work and helping out anyone he could...I feel, and so do many other I spoke with, that Culver will not be the same without him.