The photograph of Christine Lorenz

During the last two years, I set out in an attempt to pay heed to Women’s History Month by researching the lives of some of the “lesser known” women from Manistee’s past…women whose names were not as locally well-known as people like the Ramsdells or the Filers are today.

According to the museum’s archives, the above photo of Christine Lorenz was taken in late June of 1929.

As the museum is filled with photo after photo of people who we really don’t know much about, but are a part of the county’s history, I thought it might be interesting to pick a random album or folder, flip through it and with my index finger land on the first photograph of a woman that it willed and attempt to write an article about that woman employing the museum’s various research resources.

So with that in mind, I am continuing that same process again this year. For this second article in the third volume of the series, I picked a folder from the museum’s collection titled, “Vault Files: L” and sorted through the photographs at random falling on the photo of Christine Lorenz.

It can be rather difficult to attempt to say much about a person you don’t know, will never know and whose existence leaves not much behind save for a photograph and a few mentions in the local newspapers. Even though reading the preceding sentence is somewhat depressing, that is unfortunately the way in which history often works.

Regardless, there are times when you look at an old photograph and the vibe that said person in that photograph gives off may make you think, “They look like a nice person.” Such is the case with Christine Lorenz who looks like she might have been a nice person.

Born in Denmark on Oct. 31, 1859, Christine (whose maiden name could not be found in the museum’s archives) immigrated to the United States and arrived in Manistee at the age of 16. Whether it was because her family knew the Lorenz family or she was just madly in love, she married John Lorenz, a local saloon keeper nine years her senior, roughly one year later on Jan. 4, 1876.

For many years, John Lorenz owned and operated a saloon located at 279 First St. The second level of this saloon, called Lorenz Hall, was often used as a meeting hall for local societies and lodges during the 1890s and into the 1910s. As such, he became one of the many, “Wine, Liquor and Cigar” saloon owners around town and was regarded as a prominent businessman.

What kind of toll (if any) the wine, liquor and cigars, had on the marriage of John and Christine is another thing we’ll never know. However, what is known is that the couple eventually settled in a home located at 125 Cypress St. and in 1889 a daughter, Nina, was born to them.

According to records, Christine was a homemaker and was not employed but one could imagine might have played somewhat of a role in the upkeep of the saloon business and/or Lorenz Hall.

John and Christine were members of the Danish Lutheran Church and were presumably well-regarded within the community As the decades ticked away, their daughter Nina would grow to become a local grade school teacher. In January, 1926, the couple had eventually found themselves celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. An article published in the Manistee News Advocate on Jan. 16, 1926 provides details:

“Mr. and Mrs. John Lorenz, 125 Cypress St., celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary Thursday, holding an “open house” for their host of friends throughout the afternoon and evening.

“It was a happy observance for Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz, ages 76 and 67, who have lived their entire wedded life in Manistee. And a fitting tribute to their long habitation and numerous acquaintances made during that time was bestowed upon them on this joyous anniversary date.

“The Lorenz residence was beautifully embellished with an abundance of flowers, the color feature of gold and white appropriate to the event being carried out in the decorations. About 45 guests who called during the day were served delicious refreshments at small tables ornamented with yellow roses in tiny bud vases.

“At intervals during the evening, Mrs. E.M. Favrholdt and Miss Thora Hansen favored with solo numbers while Rev. Favrholdt in behalf of the company of friends extended congratulations and all good wishes on the occasion of the celebration. Gifts of gold and flowers in profusion bespoke the high respect to which Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz are held.”

John Lorenz passed away in October, 1929. A short time later, Christine was struck with an illness that persisted for seven years. On October 8, 1936 she passed away peacefully at the Cypress Street home at 7:30 a.m. Her obituary listed her as a member of the Danish Lutheran Ladies Aid Society and the Danish Sisterhood.

Christine’s funeral service was held on Sunday, October 11 from the home with burial taking place in Oak Grove Cemetery where she was laid to rest next to her husband.

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Posted by Mark Fedder

Mark Fedder is the executive director of the Manistee County Historical Musuem. He can be reached at (231) 723-5531 ormanisteemuseum@yahoo.com.

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