I am finding that newspaper research is becoming my favorite part of genealogy because I have been able to find so many family stories that have become lost, deliberately or just due to the passing of time.
So here I introduce Arthur Albert Hamm. Born in 1922, he was the middle child of my great grandfather Fred Hamm and Emma Paugel. All three of their children were illegitimate, or to be less crass ‘born out of wedlock.’ Fred and Emma did eventually married in 1931, but I am not sure what the hold up was as both were divorced from their previous spouses by 1921.
As per his modus operandi, it is doubtful that Fred was living with the family in 1935. That is the year their youngest son Clarence was killed in an automobile accident. According to the 1940 census, Fred was noted as living in Minnesota in 1935, so my gut is saying that he had probably left shortly after their marriage. Again. All previous research indicates that Grandpa Fred was a love-em and leave-em type of guy, so I don’t know why he would treat this wife any differently.
Fred’s sons, Arthur and Raymond, both joined the Army in 1942. Arthur joined up in January of that year. When Raymond (Alfred) was killed in Africa in 1943 Art was sent home on furlough to be with his Mother and half-sister for the funeral.
Sometime between 1941 and 1944 he had married, and had two children with Bernice Schultz.
Arthur survived the war and came home to Door County and life went on, as it is wont to do, for a few years, then one day in April of 1949…
A few days later the paper reports…
Ah, but here’s the kicker. Arthur Albert Hamm died February 15, 1989 in Livingston, Park County, Montana. Prostate cancer and emphysema were the cause of death.
Arthur A Hamm, 62, of Livingston died Friday Feb 15, 1989 in the afternoon at the Livingston Convalescent Center following an extended illness.
Graveside services will be held Wed. at 2pm at Mountain View Cemetery. Lowry Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Mr. Hamm was born May 5, 1922 in Fairland, MN. He worked in Park County for a number of years as a logger and ranch hand. From 1974-1980, he worked on a seismograph crew in Tulsa, OK. He came back to Livingston in 1981 and had made his home here since. There are no known survivors.”
His wife (ex-wife?) Bernice had told the children he was dead. She later married a man who eventually adopted Art’s children.
I guess in Grandpa Fred’s favor is the fact that a no time did he pretend to die or go missing. As far as we know he pretty much just packed up and left, with no subterfuge. His son Arthur was apparently a bit more of a diva.