Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mary Elizabeth Lentz - #3 in #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Mary Elizabeth Lentz, my paternal grand-mother, was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on the 15th of August in 1887.  She was the daughter of William Lentz and Elizabeth Stoebener Lentz.  Mary was the fifth child born to the couple, her sisters were:  Anna, Louisa and Catherine and brother, William Frederick were born before her.  The true "middle child", Mary had five brothers born after her; George, Robert, Albert, Henry and Walter.  One can only imagine that as the older children matured, married and moved on, Mary was left behind to help raise her younger brothers.

In the 1900 census, Mary, being 12 years old, was listed as a "student".  Her older sister, Catherine (Katie) was just 15 but already working in the local Lace Mill.  Her brother, William Frederick was 19 and employed as a "dry goods shipping clerk".

Mary was an active participant in her church; St. Paul's German Evangelical Lutheran Church.  She sang in the choir of the German speaking church as did many of her brothers and sisters.  Mary was also working by this time and in the 1910 census, is listed as being a "forelady" in the Lace Mill which was most likely the Scranton Lace Factory.  She was 22 years old at the time.  Mary most likely moved up into this position after having "worked the line" for some time.  Her mother, Elizabeth, was widowed in 1909 and as the family was so large, the older children needed to work to help support the younger ones.

In 1917, on the 2nd of January, Mary married Wilhelm Friederich Charles Protz, a business man who had immigrated from Germany to the city of Wilkes Barre in 1903.  Wilhelm (William aka "Bill") worked for Woolworth and later for Kresge which is where Mary's oldest brother was a manager.  Most likely, Mary's brother brought "the new guy" home for a meal and the two met.  The couple, who honeymooned in New York City, soon re-located to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where "Bill" was establishing a business.  

By the year, 1920, Mary and "Bill" were listed in the census as residing on Clairmount Street in Detroit, Michigan.  They had had two children while in Milwaukee; William Frederick, age 1 and ten months and Robert Henry, age 8 months.  Bill listed his occupation as "toy manufacturer" when in fact, he had started the National Tinsel Mfg. Co. in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  Bill is also listed as a "roomer", keeping an apartment on South 11th Street in Manitowoc and is listed there as well in the same census.  Interestingly, he lists his marital status as "single".

Bill filed for divorce in November of 1920.  According to the divorce certificate, the reason given being "abandonment".  Mary, according to an article in the Manitowoc Herald News, contested the divorce but refused to move back to Manitowoc.  One can only speculate that Mary preferred Detroit as her mother and several brothers were living there as well.  Because Bill was known to travel frequently, she would be left alone for periods of time.  I would imagine that she felt somewhat overwhelmed raising two small boys and looked to her mother for the assistance, support and companionship that was not available from her husband. She did, however, finally accepted the terms offered and by January 17, 1921, their divorce was finalized.  Mary retained custody of the two young boys and received a $17,000 settlement.

In the 1930 census, Mary is listed as being "head of the house" at 16747 Shaftsbury Road.  She is the owner of the home which was valued at $15,000.  The family had a radio set.  William, Jr. was 11 at this time and Robert, 10.  Mary had provided housing for her 73 year old mother, Elizabeth and for her youngest brother, Walter, who at 29 was working as a bank clerk.  

Mary, who contracted tuberculosis, died while living in Detroit.  She had been hospitalized at the East Lawn Sanitorium where she died on May 11, 1934.  She was interred within the main mausoleum at Roseland Cemetery.  The boys were "orphaned" at ages 15 and 14.

My niece and I were able to visit Mary's grave in the summer of 2013.  While Mary rests within the mausoleum, her mother, and two brothers rest directly outside in a family plot.  Walter, the youngest brother, had a standing order, until he died,  that geraniums be planted on the graves every spring.

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