Joseph Bernard Muecke (Mickey) was born July 2, 1902 in Denver. He moved at age 2 to Humboldt, Kansas, where he graduated from high school. He attended St. Mary’s College. Muecke was an electrical contractor at Humboldt until moving to Ottawa in 1940, where he established Ottawa Engraving Co.
Muecke was also a photographer, freelancing for the Ottawa Herald, insurance companies, the police and sheriff’s offices, and other industries, as well as maintaining a portrait studio. He wrote several booklets, including “Ottawa’s 1951 Flood,” “The Western Sport of Rattlesnake Hunting,” “Old, Old, Western Recipes, Used Before 1867,” and “The Ottawa-Kansas City Tornado Disaster of May 20, 1957.”
He was instrumental in restoring the Forest Park gates, which were created in 1899 as a memorial to Spanish-American War veterans.
On July 22, 1931, he married Mary Elizabeth Simpson at Humboldt. She died August 15, 1985. J.B. Muecke died sixteen days later, August 31, 1985. The Mueckes had two sons and four grandsons.
Muecke photographed people, events, business and home interiors, the aftermath of disasters, machinery and equipment, agriculture, technological advancements, and the construction of infrastructure. His photographs provide an extraordinary look at Franklin County life in the 1940s and 1950s. E. Morgan Williams, originally of Ottawa, purchased the residue of Muecke’s photography career—over 6,000 negatives and prints—before the photographer’s death, and later donated them to the Franklin County Historical Society.
During a period of three years, museum and archive assistant Ashley Brannan scanned and cataloged the collection, organizing them into a searchable database. The quest to identify all of the people featured in Muecke’s photographs continues.
Researchers and genealogists interested in viewing or learning more about the collection should contact the Records and Research Center at (785) 242-1232 or through our Contact form.