For years I had been looking for evidence that my great grandparents Fred Hamm and Carrie Amundson had actually married, and my grandmother was in fact not illegitimate, which was thought that that might be why her Hamm grand-parents had raised her.
And then, miraculously, I found their divorce case mentioned in a newspaper, while searching for something else entirely, of course. Yay!! And then, I found their marriage record at the register of deeds office. Yay!! And just this month I found the actual church record for their marriage. Again, a total accident. Yay!
Apparently, some Swedish Lutheran Church records were recently added to the Ancestry.com databases, and while doing Amundson searches in Minnesota, I ran across the church record for Fred and Carrie in this most unlikely record series. I guess that’s why it doesn’t hurt to keep sticking the same names in the search box every few months, because something unexpected can turn up. This find certainly put me in a good mood.
I guess this means that it is official, my grandmother Myrtle was totally legit!
Fred Hamm, my great grandfather, died in Door County in 1951. According to his obituary he is buried in a cemetery at Bailey’s Harbor. (Hubby and I went to find his burial plot a few years back, but no luck finding a headstone in the cemetery for him; had a great brunch in town though.)
For those of you who don’t know, Door County in Wisconsin is one of the ‘go to’ places for tourists, which means if you live in Wisconsin, you avoid it like the plague. Plus, purchasing and owning property up there is extremely expensive. And according to newspaper research, Fred and his son Arthur owned land, possibly together, in the area. I only know this because there were several foreclosure notices in the newspaper regarding Bernice, Arthur and Fred, which culminated in the property being sold at auction.
Arthur’s disappearing act no doubt contributed to the money problems that lead to the eventual sale of the property. It looks like Fred was getting some kind of assistance, according to the article below, but not enough to make a difference.
Of course now I was curious as to where exactly this property was located in Door County. So I did a little digging. (Sometimes it is very hard to find plat maps online.) The property is described as being: SW 1/4 NW 1/4 S15 T27 R26
The fire mentioned in the article above happened in March of 1949, Arthur ‘disappeared’ in April, Bernice divorced him in July, the property started showing up in the paper regarding foreclosure proceedings August 25th, and continued in the paper until the sale in 1952. Fred died in 1951. Poor Bernice was left to deal with the mess.
Well it is not a very exciting post, but I was curious about where Fred was living up in Door County all this time. Now I know. Driving around up there will certainly be a lot easier then heading up to Canada to see the old Shepard cottage, as long as we avoid tourist season. Plus, I know a great place to get brunch.
I have finally found proof that Fred Hamm and Carrie Amundson were married! All I can say is keep on trucking with newspaper research and the story will out. And, as usual, I wasn’t even looking for this, I was actually trying to find out what happened to Fred’s daughter Margaret, whom he had with Emma Steinbach.
I finally cracked the nut on Margaret, but this beats all. There in the July 28, 1910 issue of the International Falls Press newspaper was a notice for a summons to court for the case of Fred W. Hamm vs. Carrie Hamm. Further investigation gave me a divorce date in July of 1910 in Koochiching County, Minnesota.
Now I know why I couldn’t find their divorce record earlier, I only knew of two possible counties to research: St. Louis in Minnesota and Taylor County in Wisconsin. Neither had any record of a divorce for them. It didn’t occur to me to check the county where he lived with Emma in Minnesota.
Fred had left the state by 1909ish and went to Montana for a very short while, probably to just disappear (he is in the 1910 census there which was taken in April). By July of 1910 he was back in Minnesota, in Koochiching County, where he was divorced from Carrie. Notices had been appearing in the paper since March.
The case file is very short. There is a complaint and a judgment, just 6 pages.
But these 6 pages give me the vital information I have been looking for these many years. Julia Caroline Amundson (I finally have her proper name) and Frederick Wilhelm Karl Emil Hamm were married on the 24th of February in 1903 at Moose Lake, Carlton County, Minnesota.
Because the notices for the court case were appearing in the International Falls paper, I had serious doubts that Carrie would be in court, she lived in Duluth, and she wasn’t. I don’t currently know if any of these notices were appearing in the Duluth papers. However, from the complaint submitted by Fred, maybe she wasn’t going to appear regardless.
That on several occasions, since the marriage of plaintiff [Fred] and defendant [Carrie] the defendant in this action left the home of plaintiff, without any cause, and plaintiff sought her and brought her back. That on October 20, 1908, or about that date, the defendant disappeared from the home of plaintiff, leaving him and the little child above named, and has ever since that time, and still, is living apart from plaintiff and their child. That defendant has ever since the date last mentioned wholly deserted and abandoned plaintiff and kept her whereabouts unknown to plaintiff or their child, and has never returned to the home of plaintiff or to the home of plaintiff’s parents where the child of plaintiff and defend is being cared for and provided for. [So, Myrtle is now with her Hamm grandparents in Medford.]
That defendant seems to possess no love for her child, the issue of the marriage of plaintiff and defendant, and has wholly disregarded, without any cause or provocation, her duties to her husband and child, and has wholly abandoned each of them since October 20, 1908, and has and still does concealed herself from them and kept her whereabouts unknown to them.
This was definitely a marriage with problems, and I believe that some of what Fred is accusing Carrie of is true.
When Fred appeared in court in November of 1908, after having been arrested for non-payment of child support, the newspaper article mentioned that Fred was complaining about also paying for support of her son John Gustafson, who had been living with her parents before they died. I find no evidence in later records that Carrie took care of her son John. And, Carrie does not appear to have made much effort to keep in contact with her daughter Myrtle after she was given to her Hamm grandparents to raise in Medford, Wisconsin. Admittedly, this supposition could be false. I just don’t have enough evidence to know how exaggerated the accusations are, and probably never will.
Here is another interesting newspaper article I found recently regarding the non-support case in 1908:
According to this newspaper version of events, it appears that my great great Aunt Lydia, was named as a source of contention in the marriage as early as 1908.
The judgment for divorce was entered in the record on July 19, 1910 (Court date was the 12th). Fred went on to marry two more times. Carrie never married again, and spent the rest of her life in Duluth working as a laundress or house cleaner in local businesses and private homes. They had been married for 7 years.
I am quite happy that I can finally mark this question off my list of things I want to know.
Hurray! Miracle of miracles, I have finally found the elusive Fred Hamm in the 1940 census, something I thought was impossible. And, I wasn’t really even looking for him, I was looking for his son Arthur Albert Hamm.
Interesting bits of information can be gleaned from this census. One of the questions asked was where was the person living in 1935. According to Fred, he was in Becker County, Minnesota around the Detroit Lakes area. Arthur and Raymond are living with their father in this census, and in 1935 they had been in Shawano County, most likely with their mother Emma, (who died in 1943).
We know that sometime later in 1940 or early 1941 Fred moved to Door County, Wisconsin where he was working as a Cherry picker ,and possibly farming, until he died in 1951.1 Raymond and Arthur probably moved with him to Door County. It wasn’t long after that both boys joined up – WWII had gotten into full swing.
Fred Hamm’s obituary from Door County indicates that when he died he had been living in the area for 11 years.