Lodi is very proud of its history, with much of its past documented in a number of books and news articles.
Now another book shines light on that history, complete with photos of the Lodi of old. It's called "Our Time to Shine" by Victor native Toni Christman. Portions of the book can be found in other publications, but much of Christman's book comes from her own family history.
"Our Time to Shine" includes her mother's oral history, her family's own history on their 33-acre ranch at Victor and Tretheway roads, plus some photos and receipts from the family. Christman also borrowed historical photos for her book. It includes 200 photographs and more than 800 Lodi-related names, she says.
Born in Lodi in 1944, Christman grew up in Victor, and attended St. Peter Lutheran School when it was located on Locust Street, where the Lodi Public Library sits today. After graduating from Lodi High in 1962, Christman moved to Sacramento to take a job as a stenographer with the U.S. Department of Labor. She retired 30 years later as a field compliance officer.
In 1996, Christman's late father, Walter Herbert Christman, gave her a large envelope containing 100 years worth of documents focusing on day-to-day records of farm life.
For example, bills from the 1940s show that:
- Christman's grandfather paid $27 for three tires.
- It cost $1.32 to buy 36 eggs.
- Her mother spent 10 post-childbirth days in the hospital and paid $93 for treatment.
Christman also researched books and documents in the Lodi Public Library. She found photos of Civil War soldiers in Lodi, steam boats passing through, and Central Avenue, which was then known as an "Avenue of Churches" built by German immigrants.
Christman's grandparents settled in the Victor area from North Dakota in 1922. Her step-great-grandfather was John Bittner, a Lodi pioneer. In 1910, church services were held in Bittner's homes before he and several relatives built a small neighborhood church in Victor. They later built an evangelical church at Elm Street and Central Avenue.
Christman said she became especially interested in her Lodi roots during a party celebrating her mother's 90th birthday in 2008.
"Six relatives at the time were over 85, so I started interviewing," she said.
Christman's mother, Tena Elizabeth Schneider Christman, lived in the Lodi area from 1920 until she died in 2011 at the age of 93. Tena lived in Galt for a couple of years and went to school during that time with former heavyweight boxing champion Max Baer.
In addition to interviewing relatives, Christman conducted research at the library, explored News-Sentinel archives and visited stores that have historical photos on their wall.
Christman had back surgery in December 2009 and spent the following year combing through archives while recuperating from the procedure.
During her research, Christman discovered that Daniel Carmichael, for whom the Sacramento County community of Carmichael is named, lived in Stockton and farmed in the Lodi area. The book contains a photograph of Daniel Carmichael, who moved to Sacramento and founded the town that bears his name in 1909.
The author's legal name is Betty Bowles, but she prefers her maiden name of Christman and the first name of Toni, a nickname her grandparents gave her as a child. She has a son who is an assistant restaurant manager in Hollywood.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.