John Wirtz was born 23 January 1898 to Peter and Katharina Wirtz in Michaelsdorf, a colony in the North Caucasus that had been settled by Volga Germans. He arrived at Ellis Island (New York City) aboard the S.S. Patria on 27 October 1899 with his parents and two siblings. They went first to the Norfolk, Nebraska, area, but then settled in Michigan on a farm near Deckerville in Sanilac County.
He learned the tool and die trade in Detroit and returned to Port Huron where he married in 1922 to Sophia Schmidt who was from Susannental. They had 3 children: Dorothy Pauline (b. 23 April 1923), John William (b. 11 August 1925), and Walter Charles (b. 26 September 1927). They were members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Port Huron.
After working in a number of tool and die shops, he learned how to make battery molds and in 1932 founded Wirtz Manufacturing in his garage. In 1939, he opened a factory on 24th Street in Port Huron. Today, with the third generation of the Wirtz family at the helm, the company maintains its headquarters in Port Huron, and has manufacturing facilities Atlanta, Georgia, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Brandon, Mississippi, with sales offices across the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Mr. Wirtz died 7 March 1976.
Pickelhaupt, Bill. The Right Place at the Right Time: The Volga-Germans of Michigan's Thumb (Fort Gratiot, MI: Flyblister Press, 2009): 36-37.