Henry Wenzel born Jan. 11, 1864


By Rosemary Anderson - Plain City Times



Photographer Henry Wenzel (1864-1925) at about the time he came to Plain City.


Contributed photo

Nellie Wilson Wenzel (1864-1926), Henry’s wife.


Contributed photo

Corwin Clemens in a Wenzel photo featuring the ubiquitous wicker chair.


Contributed photo

Laura Wright with the urn, pedestal and floral background.


Contributed photo

Twin sisters Geraldine and Geneva Slyh on the wicker chair.


Contributed photo

Kate Jewett with the urn and pedestal with jug in front of floral backdrop.


Contributed photo

Unknown baby with tufted blanket.


Contributed photo

In writing about a noted photographer, one should keep the words to a minimum and let the photographs speak for themselves.

Henry Wenzel Jr. was born in Columbus on Jan. 11, 1864. His parents were Henry Sr. and Elizabeth Eichner Wenzel, German immigrants who lived in the area now known as German Village. Henry Sr. was a master cabinetmaker. Young Henry had a sister, Eleanore (1858-1921), who later married Gabriel Blumer, a partner in the Blumer-Sartin Meat Packing Company of Columbus.

In 1887, Henry Jr. married Nellie C. Wilson. Their daughter and only child Florence Elizabeth was born on Jan. 8, 1888.

Henry became a partner with a Mr. Goble in a photography studio on South High Street. After Mr. Goble left, a Mr. Baker took his place. Because rural areas near Columbus lacked a professional photographer, Wenzel and Baker took turns going to London and Plain City two days a week. In 1895, Wenzel decided to open a studio in Plain City, and moved here with his family. His studio was on West Main Street above the Kahler & Justice Clothing Store, now the site of Grub House Pizza.

The family became active in many groups and programs in Plain City. They were members of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Wenzel was a member of the Masons and I.O.O.F. and Mrs. Wenzel belonged to their women’s auxiliaries, the Eastern Star and Rebekahs. Mr. Wenzel played both the violin and the cornet in several local musical groups.

In 1905 the Wenzels built a new home on West Main Street. Daughter Florence was not enthused about the move until she learned that the house would boast electricity, indoor plumbing and central heating.

Henry Wenzel was at work in his studio on Sunday, June 16, 1912, when a “cyclone” blew through downtown. Despite a utility pole crashing through a front window, he was soon at work photographing the damage around town.

In 1917 there was a national coal shortage, and the Wenzels were unable to purchase coal to heat their home. Florence had married Edward Garman Knoske in 1914, and they lived in Springfield. Henry and Nellie moved to Springfield, and eventually sold their Plain City home.

Henry Wenzel died on Dec. 6, 1925, and Nellie followed him on Feb. 20, 1926. They are buried with other members of the Wenzel family in Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus.

At the Historical Society we have learned to identify Wenzel photographs even when they are not labelled as such by the props that recur in them — the wicker chair, the tufted blanket, the “Indian” blanket, the round garden urn, the pedestal, the floral backdrop. Wenzel photographs give us a wonderful look into turn-of-the-century small town America.

http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_PlainCityHistoricalSocietylogobw.jpeg

Photographer Henry Wenzel (1864-1925) at about the time he came to Plain City.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_Wenzel-Henrypicbw.jpegPhotographer Henry Wenzel (1864-1925) at about the time he came to Plain City. Contributed photo

Nellie Wilson Wenzel (1864-1926), Henry’s wife.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_Wenzel-Nelliepicbw.jpegNellie Wilson Wenzel (1864-1926), Henry’s wife. Contributed photo

Corwin Clemens in a Wenzel photo featuring the ubiquitous wicker chair.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_CorwinClemenswickerchairpiccol.jpegCorwin Clemens in a Wenzel photo featuring the ubiquitous wicker chair. Contributed photo

Laura Wright with the urn, pedestal and floral background.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_LauraWrightpicbw.jpegLaura Wright with the urn, pedestal and floral background. Contributed photo

Twin sisters Geraldine and Geneva Slyh on the wicker chair.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_GeraldineandGenevaSlyhpicbw.jpegTwin sisters Geraldine and Geneva Slyh on the wicker chair. Contributed photo

Kate Jewett with the urn and pedestal with jug in front of floral backdrop.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_KateJewettpicbw.jpegKate Jewett with the urn and pedestal with jug in front of floral backdrop. Contributed photo

Unknown baby with tufted blanket.
http://www.plaincity-advocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2018/01/web1_Babyonblanketpicbw.jpegUnknown baby with tufted blanket. Contributed photo

By Rosemary Anderson

Plain City Times

Rosemary Anderson is the vice president of the Plain City Historical Society.

Rosemary Anderson is the vice president of the Plain City Historical Society.

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