Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peter Lorenz : Germantown's Weaver Extraordinaire

 Even after more than a century and a half, the handiwork of Peter Lorenz remains. From 1836 to 1847, the Germantown man created exquisite coverlets on his Jacquard loom. His work appears at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and the Indiana Museum of Art in Indianapolis.

 This 1838 coverlet is in the Pinehaven collection. It dates back to some of Lorenz' earliest work.

 Little has been published about Lorenz, only that he was born in France in "about 1801", emigrated to the United States as a young man, and worked in Greene County, Ohio, Wayne County, Indiana and Montgomery County, Ohio.

A wider view of how Lorenz placed his name and date in the corner block of most of his coverlets.

 Here's more of his story. It appears that Lorenz arrived first in Greene County (early 1830's perhaps), traveled to Indiana where the weaving of a existing coverlet was shared with another weaver, Henry Adolf. By 1834, Lorenz is known to have moved to Montgomery Co. Ohio. He settled in Germantown and spent the rest of his life there.

This "half  Jacquard coverlet" is 84" x 36". A full coverlet is two pieces of this size joined in the middle.
It is likely that Lorenz loom was just over three feet wide.

 Lorenz claim to fame, the works of art he created on his loom, were made in two pieces and sewn together at a center seam. A "half coverlet" - the usual item that came off his loom - was probably 84" by 36". When two were joined, the whole coverlet was 84" by 72".

 These coverlets, I understand, were often split into their original two sections and shared with different family members.

Lorenz usually dated his coverlets in a corner block and further weaved the date of creation just below his name. Not every coverlet is signed and dated, however.

 The invention of the Jacquard loom and Lorenz' birth both came in the same year (1801) and same place (France). Perhaps it was destined that the two should be associated.

 Lorenz lived in a house at the southeast corner of E. Market Street and S. Cherry Street (the modern address is 103 E. Market Street). A plaque affixed to the front of the house dates it to "circa 1834". Census records show he and his family in Germantown on the 1840 census though the name is shown as "Lawrence".

An historical plaque on Peter Lorenz home. He lived here from the early 1830's till his death in 1876.
His wife, Sophia, lived until 1905.

The Lorenz House is located at 103 E. Market St, Germantown Ohio. This view faces southeast.

A rear view of the Lorenz House facing northeast.

 At that recording, one "free white men" younger than age 5 was noted; three age 20-29 and one age 30-39. The "free white woman" were two under age 5 and one age 30-39. Those "employed in manufacture or trade" were shown as four. Also the "free white persons" under age 20 was listed as three and five between 20-49).

 By 1850, the census recorded names. Peter (age 49), Sophia (39, his wife) and their children-to-date: Josephine (14), Ann M (12), Phillip M (9), Charles W (8), George E (5), and Henry C (3). Also noted were Peter's parents: Phillip (74) and Margaret (73).

On the 1860 federal census, the family added John (5). Margaret had passed away five years earlier (Phillip, now 84, is still listed). Some records show the family name as "Sorrenz".

 By 1870, the census listed just four people living there: Peter, Sophia, John A and, probably a boarder, Rosa East (16). This census lists Peter Lorenz as a 69 year old retired weaver. His real estate was valued at $2500 and his personal property was valued at $1200.

Genealogical Data:

Many of the Lorenz family are buried at the Germantown Union Cemetery.
It is located on W. Market Street, west of the downtown business district.

 A trip to the Germantown Union Cemetery, offers firm dating for the Lorenz family. For some, actual dates appear on the stones; for others, the number of years, months and days of their lives was used to arrive at dates. They are (in order of birth):

Phillip b. 08-01-1775 d. 07-12-1860  (84-11-10)
Margaret b. 01-30-1776 d. 01-12-1855  (78-11-12)
Peter b. 03-29-1801 d. 06-02-1876  (75-2-3)
Sophia b. xx-xx-1810 d. 10-09-1905
Josephine ca 1836
Ann M ca 1838
Phillip M ca 1841
Charles W 01-26-1842 d. 01-11-1898
George E ca 1845
Henry C ca 1847
John A. xx-xx-1855 d. xx-xx-1931

 A wide view of the Lorenz plot.

Peter, his wife, Sophia, and one son, Charles, are noted on the main monument.

Charles shares the main monument with his parents.

John is the last born child of Peter and Sophia Lorenz. He is also the longest surviving member of the family.

Peter Lorenz' parents, Margaret (l) and Phillip share old-style markers that are fast fading. 
Margaret, who died in 1855 at age 78, was survived by her husband for another five and a half years.
They were born during the years of the American Revolution.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Spring Thunderstorm

 Last Friday (05/04/12) we had an impressive series of thunderstorms pass through the area beginning just after 5 pm and continuing in five distinct waves through the early night. All told, we had nearly an inch of rain.
 I stood beside the barn where I had a good view to the southwest and heard a storm coming a while before I saw any lightning. As it got closer, this is how it looked.

 The virga (airborne rain) to the right of this storm was quite pronounced. Look at the curtain of gray falling in a vertical shaft. The angry storm itself, traveling almost due east, passed mostly south of me but pelted Germantown with hail and torrential rain.

 These two frames are taken from a video I was shooting. This is the same storm as above and at about the same time (5:11 pm). They are placed in the correct order. The strike on the left came first. I'd say the strike on the left is a return stroke. The two frames are 1/30 second apart.
 How far off was the strike? I measured the time between the strike and the thunder as 19 seconds and I got 3.8 miles (19/5). The shot was taken to my SW and that would place the strike in German Twp.

 Almost as soon as these frames were captured, I packed up as I began to hear raindrops hitting the open fields around me. As I turned and looked north, here is the beautiful cumulus that greeted me.

 Blue sky not far away! And so go spring thunderstorms, dropping copious amounts of rain on one area and a mile away the ground remains dry. The sun forever shines on the top of the most violent storm.

The "Super" Moon

 To the naked eye, it wasn't so "super". A mere 14% larger than normal, you'd never notice any difference if you weren't told. Though the moon was indeed closer to the Earth, by about 15,300 miles, it's really a fairly insignificant difference. The moon is, after all, nearly a quarter million miles away.

 Still, with all the hype, I had to look. And I had to take a few photographs.

 This is what I saw Saturday (05/05/12) at 8:55 pm. To the southeast, the moon had just cleared the distance trees (about a mile off) and by using my telephoto, I could pull the moon into an even more impressive size. The low position of the moon, like the recently set sun behind me, took on a ruddy hue from the thickness of the near-horizon atmosphere.

 In actuality, the scene looked more like this. There's the Shell farm on Venus Road and their barn, to the south and west of the house, offers a nice rural setting.
 In any case, it was a pleasant excuse for spending some time in the front yard, stationed under the pines along Clayton Road, watching the tranquil moon begin to light the night sky. But bigger? Not much. Brighter? Hardly. Still, when I fell to sleep on the living room floor (Mom is ill and I'm caregiver) I watched the shaft of moonlight strike across the carpet and thought of the multitude this night gazing at the super moon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Rifle's Story

 Back when Dad was a kid (he was born in 1924), his father operated a furniture store in downtown Miamisburg. In the basement of the old building were two items leaning against the wall. He and a friend were told to each pick one. Dad chose the rifle (I forget what the other item was).

 All these years (close to 80), the rifle went with Dad wherever he moved. We're on our fourth house. So, too, the rifle. And in all those years, Dad never was to learn a thing about the rifle. We surmise it's Civil War era; certainly it's been modified; probably it has little actual value beyond a conversation piece. About all we know for sure about it is that it is a Springfield.

 I measured the length of the gun - tip of the muzzle to bottom of the butt - and I show 56.5". The barrel itself is a smooth-bore. It's inside diameter appears to be 9/16" and the outside diameter 11/16".

 Above is the sole identification that I can find on the rifle.

 Above is a wider view of the same area showing the firing mechanism. The large bolt, top right, seems very suspect to me. Surely the rifle was not manufactured in this way?

 Here's a top view of that same part.

 This is a top view of the gun-sight. I also question whether this was an original part ... but perhaps. The metal seems identical to other parts.

 And here's a close up of the trigger.
 The rifle is made of a dark wood (though it could simply be stained a dark color). I'd guess walnut. The metal parts of the gun appear to be painted black.

 Anyone have any idea what this rifle is? An approximation of its age? I'd welcome any suggestions.

Note: I got a response within an hour and this appears to be a Springfield "Trapdoor" Rifle. Now that I know where to look for the date, I find it pretty well covered in paint but I can read the "18". The rifle length is the give-away. Only in 1865 were these rifles 56" long. To read more, click here or here.