Bastardy…

I swear I don’t go looking for this stuff.

I just wanted to know if the Isserstedt’s had a court case in Sheboygan County, because I remember a letter from George Hamm to his in-laws where he had asked if there was anything he could do regarding somesuch, and his father-in-law, Friederich, said to paraphrase ‘No. It’s all cool. They had everything in hand’.

Thankfully, Sheboygan County recently gave the Wisconsin Historical Society their court case microfilms. Yay! (Otherwise I would have to travel to Sheboygan to do research, and I didn’t wanna.) With a little digging, I was able to find that there was indeed a court case with Fred Isserstedt and, bonus, there was also a case that sort of mentions a George Hamm/en.

So, in a nutshell, it appears that both George Hamm and his brother-in-law Friederick Isserstedt, jr., (aka Fritz), were in court for bastardy. Meaning both men were accused of being the father of a young woman’s child. To be clear though, these are two different women and two different cases.

The case against George was in November and December of 1874. A woman by the name of Auguste Harp accused George of being the father of her child, which she had conceived in June of that year. The case against Fritz was in 1881, and appears to have continued to 1883. The accuser in Fritz’s case was Amelia Hecker.

About the time that George’s case was going on he was preparing to get married my great great grandmother Amelia Isserstedt, (which they did on 22 December 1874). Fritz had just married Phoebe Coon when his case was brought to court, (22 May 1881).

I can only imagine the stress and confusion of my great great Grandmother, and her sister-in-law at the time these cases came to court. Fritz Issersted in the pic below:

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Harp Family Picture copyhamm_george

The above two pictures are George Hamm and Auguste Harp (I found her picture on an Ancestry.com family tree site. )

The Harps moved to Iowa shortly after the case was brought to trial and concluded. And it is there that Auguste probably had her child. It is possible that Frederika Wilhelmine Harp Ludloff raised her for a short time, after which she was raised by Auguste’s parents, as a Minnie Ludloff is listed as a ward of the family, age 5, in the 1880 Iowa census, the age Auguste’s child would be in this census.

It is unclear in the case file if George was determined to be the father. Of course only DNA could prove it one way or another now. It is quite possible, and wouldn’t be at all surprising if George was. Although it would make for a refreshing change in the Hamm family sagas to know that he wasn’t, and couldn’t possibly be the father because a Hamm would never…nah.

In Fritz’s case we know the child was born 19 May 1881, but I have been unable to find anything more, not even if it survived. Amelia Hecker married Henry Sampse in 1883. And, again, we do not know if indeed Fritz was believed to be the father. It appears that the final conclusion of the jury was ‘Not Guilty’.

 

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