Minnie Amelia Tontz

Minnie Amelia Tontz


A missionary teacher and nurse for 30 years in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Minnie A. (Tontz) Lawrence was born February 1890 in Grantfork, Illinois.  She was the youngest of 16 children whose father died when she was two years old.  She attended Oberlin Academy (high school) and college, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1913.

On hearing of the urgent need for missionary teachers in Southern Rhodesia, she was commissioned by the American Board Mission and sailed for Africa in 1913 to join the Mount Selinda Mission.  As of 1917, Tontz was Principal of the Mount Silinda School, and in charge of the Boarding School. Tontz returned to the United States in 1919 to undergo nurses training.  She returned to Southern Rhodesia and as of 1924 was “nurse –in-charge” at Chikore Mission.

In 1936, she transferred to the Mount Selinda Hospital.  Following the death of his first wife, she married fellow missionary Dr. W.T. Lawrence in 1942. The Lawrence’s continued to serve at Mount Selinda until they retired in 1947.  She would later donate a number of artifacts from the local Ndau peoples to the Smithsonian Museum. Mrs. Lawrence died in Portland, Oregon 1973.


  • Mark Loomis
  • John Knight