The Wilds of Minnesota

Fred Hamm, maybe in a desperate attempt to get away from his ex (my great grandmother Carrie Amundson), ended up settling in Koochiching County, Minnesota for a while.

According to his second marriage certificate he married Emma Steinbach March 22, 1912 at Fort Francis, Ontario, which is just over the border north of International Falls.

International Falls press and border budget. Pub. Date January 22, 1914:
Fred Hamm moved his family and stock to his claim on the upper Black River last week. [Emma, Margaret, himself]

1920 Federal census, Rapid River Township, Koochiching County, Minnesota.

And the 1920 census above shows Fred and a different family there, because by 1918 he had divorced Emma Steinbach and was now living with his brother’s wife Emma Paugel and his brother’s children, along with his and Emma’s son Raymond.

As far as I can tell Fred’s only purchase of property, ever, was a homestead purchase from the United States Government in 1918. So I do not know if he actually owned a different property that the family was moving to in 1914, or if it was the same property, and he just hadn’t purchased yet.

Plat of his property; provided by register of deeds office.
Fred’s full 160 acres, ignore the blue pin.

Even today you can see that there are no real roads out in this area. Here’s another view a bit further away in airspace:

The pink box in the image above is a close approximation of his property. The closest road appears to be Hwy 101/Black River Road and Fiero Truck Trail. Just the name of the latter road brings forth visions of rough travel. When you get up close using satellite images, it almost looks like this was pretty much swamp land, but according to various online histories about the area there was plenty of good farming.

There was a US agricultural census made in 1920, and Fred was on it, but unfortunately it was destroyed by the US Government, who saw no reason to keep it. Only a few states survived the destruction, Minnesota was not one of them. So that means we have no idea what Fred and Emma were growing and farming on their property during the 8-10 years that they lived there.

In 1924 he quit claimed the property to Asa Kelsey. (According to current maps on the county’s register of deeds site, it is all now owned by the State of Minnesota.) It might be at this time that the family moved to Shawano, Wisconsin, where he finally saw fit to marry Emma Paugel in 1931.

This is the only evidence I have found of Fred settling down anywhere for any length of time. After this bout of farming fever, he never owned property again, although he did work as a farm hand of some sort until he died.

Here’s a fun tidbit: As of the 2000 census, there were 23 people, 11 households, and 6 families residing in Rapid River township.[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_River_Township,_Lake_of_the_Woods_County,_Minnesota]

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