Sunday, May 18, 2014

#52Ancestors (20) Lorenz Simon Hummel, Bridging the Old World and the New

This week's biography is of a maternal great-great-grandfather, Lorenz Simon HUMMEL. He was the fifth child born and first son to reach adulthood of Johann Lorenz HUMMEL and Christina Carolina EBINGER. They were, you may recall, recent German immigrants to Michigan.

Lorenz Simon, known as Lawrence in America, was born 21 February 1876 in Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan. He was baptized in the Lutheran tradition at St. John's Church in Adrian. I am fortunate to have his original baptismal certificate...in German.



His father practiced the craft of furniture making, but Lawrence went off on his own, as many 'new' Americans were wont to do. He teamed up with another local gentleman, William McDONALD, and in the late 1890's together they owned and operated the Star Laundry, the 'oldest and best in the city.'


Lawrence married Anna Harriet McDONALD on 6 January 1896 in Adrian. Yes, she was the daughter of his partner in the laundry. This is a situation of 'the chicken or the egg:' I don't know if they met first then Lawrence joined the laundry business, or as a benefit of the laundry business, he met his future wife.

Together they had two children, William Lawrence in 1896 and Alma Carolina in 1903. But things did not remain rosy for long. In 1909, Annie formally filed for a divorce. She charged Lawrence with 'extreme cruelty.' But interestingly, the terms of the divorce did not go in her favor. At all. They had recently purchased a new home in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan and the divorce decree stated Annie was to quit claim any right to that home forever as well as to the furnishings and personal property acquired during their marriage. Additionally, and amazingly, Lawrence also received full custody of the children and Annie was granted visitation of not more than once every two weeks. As an alimony, she received a lump sum of $50.


They signed the settlement on 17 June 1909, in Hillsdale County, which is not where they lived. And then, by December 1909, Annie had already remarried...in Hillsdale County. It would appear that Annie left the marriage for what she hoped were greener pastures. She was certainly persona non grata among the Hummel's forever after.

Lawrence later remarried a local German widow, Helena KOPKAU EVERT, who also happened to be the aunt of his son Willam's new wife. They were married in Lansing on 21 June 1917, and they remained there the rest of their lives.


Lawrence was born fully immersed in the German culture, but after owning a business, suffering through a divorce and eventually finding contentment, he lived a truly American life.

Lawrence died on 9 November 1934 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing.

Lawrence's page in my database

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen

4 comments:

  1. His baptism certificate certainly is a lovely family history treasure. And what a story about his divorce! I wonder if the divorce put a strain on the relationship with his business partner (Annie's father).

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    1. Good question! I don't have the timing for all of it. I know that Lawrence moved to Lansing, Michigan, and that William McDonald died shortly after.

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  2. Sally - Your great great grandfather lived a very interesting life and you have wonderful momentos from his life! You may remember my great grandparents lived in Adrian. They moved there early in the 1900s. Makes me wonder if our ancestor's paths ever crossed! It's kind of neat to think so! :) Enjoyed your post!

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    1. Thanks Cindy! We'll have to research this possible Adrian connection. Wouldn't that be something!

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