Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Kratt Family of Lorain

Remember my post back in March with the "then and now" photos of the house on Ninth Street in Lorain? For me, it was pretty much a 'filler' post – something hastily prepared and barely researched (I'm embarrassed to admit).

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from someone who knew all about the house and its inhabitants – because she was related to them!

Diane Fort (who also provided me the vintage photo of the Lakeview Park War Memorial from yesterday's post) emailed me to let me know that she was related to the family that lived in that house and even provided a great family portrait (below).

As Diane explained, "Here is a picture of the residents of that 9th Street home that you blogged about recently. George & Katie Kratt; their children: Elsie (10), Oscar (8), George (5), Carl (3), and William – the infant. Their last child, Arthur, my grandfather, is not pictured."

Little William is the grown-up gentleman posing in front of the Lakeview Park in yesterday's photo.

Diane provided some sad news about Oscar, who was standing on the porch of the house in the vintage photo featured in the "then and now" pairing. "Oscar died only 2 1/2 years after that postcard you pictured was sent."

Here's another view of the stately Kratt Family residence on Ninth Street.

Diane also provided some other information about the Kratt family. "My great-grandparents settled here at the turn of the century," she pointed out. Her great-grandfather George Kratt bought land and opened a lumber yard.

A circa 1904 clipping Diane provided told about George Kratt's lumber company. "The George Kratt lumber yard is an institution which, although as yet but little known to the general public, is now about to take its place with other enterprises of a like nature in the city. Today an entirely new branch of the lumber trade, as far as this company is concerned, will be launched in the opening of an up-to-date planing and wood working mill, which when in full operation will give employment to thirty men.

1912 City Directory Listing
"Mr. Kratt, who is sole owner of the concern, came here entirely unknown less than a year ago. He purchased seven lots at the corner of Washington Street and the Nickel Plate tracks and began the erection of a large lumber shed. Business increased until he found it necessary to erect a planing mill, and this was completed yesterday. Today the machinery will be operated on actual work for the first time. At the start about ten hands will be employed but the proprietor has plans which, if they develop, will within a few weeks require the mill to run steadily to its full capacity."

The article went on to state that the new planing mill building was forty by seventy feet in dimensions with fourteen large windows to provide light, and that the warehouse at the plant was sixty by ninety-six feet. It also revealed that Mr. Kratt was a contractor who had "seen experience in nearly every state in the Union."

Here's where the Kratt Lumber & Manufacturing Company was located (at the blue dot).

Lastly, thanks to some clippings that Diane provided me, it turns out that the Kratt Family had some excellent athletes. Two of the Kratt sons depicted in the vintage family photo – George and William – are in the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame.

It's interesting that both of them played for Coach George Daniel at Lorain High School, for whom Lorain's stadium on Oberlin Avenue is named.

George Kratt was inducted posthumously in the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame in March 1975.

William Kratt's nickname was "The Krupp Gun." His bio even features a nice Frank Katrick drawing. 

William Kratt passed away on November 26, 1971.


Special thanks to Diane Fort for sharing her family photos and memories.


Loraine Ritchey said...

Oh the stories of these old houses and the people who built this city - the before and after of that house makes me so sad..... I don't understand the throw away society we have become here in Lorain- what makes something "worthwhile" here. great story- and one that makes you think Loraine

Bob Kovach said...

Your so right Loraine !