Hamm shenanigans…

I don’t know what was in the water where the Hamm family grew up, but it appears to have nurtured a bad gene, (and made for a lot of WTF moments).

Case in point. Do you remember Fred Hamm’s son Arthur Albert Hamm (also my grandmother’s half-brother)? He was the diva who faked his disappearance/death in Door County in 1949 then showed up dead in Montana in 1985.

Well it appears that Arthur was a busy man in the mean time, who had developed the bad habit of taking things that weren’t his.

The above pictures show: on the left Arthur with his wife Bernice, probably when they were married, about 1943; and on the right is Arthur’s 1953 mug shot, in Montana. It appears that between his disappearance and his death, Arthur spent a lot of time committing crimes to make a living instead of legitimately working for one.

On September 27, 1953 an article appeared in the Sunday morning issue of the Montana “Billings Gazette.” Arthur A. Hamm, aged 31, had been arrested on Friday, in connection with break-ins in the area. Arthur who when arrested had the money bag in his possession, admitted to breaking into a safe at the S&W Implement Company in Columbus.

In the October 3 issue of the same paper it was reported that Arthur had three felony warrants issued for him in regards to this arrest. One for the S&W burglary, one for the Nystul Lumber Company burglary, and also for the theft of a truck from S&W. Apparently through this arrest it was learned that there was also a warrant out by the U.S. Army, and another in different county in Montana, (for the theft of a saddle from a prevous employer). He was unable to raise the $1500 bond so was still in jail pending his hearing.

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At his hearing on the 20th of October he plead guilty, so there was no trial. The court sentenced Arthur to 10 years of hard labor at the Montana State Prison. (10 years for each burglary count, and 5 years for the theft of a vehicle. He was to serve each sentence concurrently.)

Interesting facts come to light in his prison record. The most interesting being his previous dealings with the law: In 1940 he spent 10 days in jail in Fargo, North Dakota for vagrancy; problems in 1942 with the War department, and in 1952 with the Army (in Spokane Washington), no reasons were named; lastly the Columbus, Montana burglary arrest.

From this one record we can also see that Arthur moved around quite a bit, probably committing other crimes that he got away with. He had been in Kansas previous to Montana, along with Fargo, North Dakota, and Spokane, Washington. After he was released from the Montana State Prison, 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, Oklahoma. He then went to Livingston, Montana in 1981 and died there a few years later, single.

His prison record, found at Ancestry.com, does not state when he was released. So I don’t know if he served his full term.  There is an interesting history regarding the prison, and if he served his full 10 years, then he was there during three riots in the late 1950s. You can read about them at Wikipedia. The prison is now known as the Old Prison Museum in Deer Lodge, Montana.

 

Richard Eugene Hamm R.I.P. 1991

Richard was one of three sons of Emil Hamm, (the youngest child of George Hamm and his wife Emilie Isserstedt). Born in 1917, Richard was also the youngest of Emil and Rebecca Hamm’s children. I have been researching the family in hopes of finding more living cousins just for the fun of it, and of course DNA! I really want a Hamm DNA sample tested.

I found his obituary in Boise, Idaho where he died in 1991. I am chagrined that I have all these close cousins dying and I never got a chance to meet or converse with them. Richard’s obituary has some interesting things to say so of couse I have inserted it below.

My hope is to contact some of his children, or grandchildren, and exchange information and  acquire spit!

The things I do for my family.

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From the John Family collection.

Love at first sight?

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Clarence John and Myrtle Hamm, newlyweds.

My father remembers being told, when he was younger, that his parents had met when Clarence was injured in a train accident and Myrtle was taking care of him at a hospital in Marshfield where she was working as a nurse.

He didn’t have any more details than that. So for the past 15+ years I have waited patiently to find the newspaper article that would mention this accident and give me more details. Thankfully, the Oconto County Historical Society is currently making great efforts to digitize the Oconto County newspapers, and I have found some great articles in the past. A recent check of their progress gave me the answer I have been seeking:

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The Gillett Times, v27n50, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, August 4, 1927, page 1.

The article certainly confirms that Clarence was in a train accident, and he was sent to the Marshfield hospital, where Mrytle would have been working at the time, (she had graduated from nursing school in May of that same year.)

It is believed that Clarence received a pretty hefty settlement from the railroad and this is probably the money he used to start his own business. A bowling alley.

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The Gillett Times, v28n15, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 29, 1928, page 1.

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Here is a matchbook saved by the family from the bowling alley.

It is said that because Clarence’s venture started not long before the crash of 1929 and folks no longer had extra money to spend on luxury outings, such as bowling, the business didn’t last very long. But, I have no proof of that yet. I guess I will have to dig a little deeper.

In 1931, a little over 3 years after they met, Clarence and Myrtle ran away to Illinois and were married at the court house. Was it love at first sight? Only they know, and they aren’t talking.

George Hamm’s mysterious father…

hamm_georgeGeorge Hamm, Sr. was baptized 2 days after he was born, as the illegitimate son of Elisabetha Knobloch. His father wasn’t named. I have always assumed that Jacob Hamm was his step-father and the relationship was a close one, only because George took the Hamm surname by the time he was confirmed at the age of 13.

Now, however, I have re-thought this assumption. It is entirely possible that Jacob was his actual father, and Elisabetha and Jacob didn’t marry until after he was born. The reasons for this possible delay in marriage can be seen below:

Sometimes, they didn’t have the money to pay the marriage fee. Other times, the church was far away or the pastor wasn’t easily accessible. Some German states, in an effort to control the booming population, placed legal restrictions on marriage, making it more difficult. And sometimes, the couple simply didn’t feel that much concern about whether marriage or children came first. Peasant society had its own marriage customs apart from the customs of the state church. In earlier times, the community had viewed living together, making a commitment to one another, and especially having children as basically equivalent to getting married. Despite valiant efforts by churches, stamping out traditions and convincing people to first perform the ceremony in a church proved difficult.1

I have heard this information several times over the past few months from different sources. If the birth was illegitimate the mother’s name is the only one that would be listed. Which is why even if everyone knew who the father was, the church didn’t bother to put that information down because they weren’t married.

It has been estimated that illegitimate births may have comprised around 15% of overall births, depending on living arrangements, on laws relating to marriage, on poverty rates, on customs concerning women’s work, and other social factors. Many of these illegitimate births were legitimized by the subsequent marriage of their parents. Christening records may have the abbreviation pmsl, standing for per matrimonium subsequens legitmata (or legitmatus, depending on the gender of the child). This notation indicates that the premarital child of a couple was legitimized by the subsequent marriage of its parents. Generally, the mother’s name was crossed out and the father’s name substituted, a procedure frequent in the 19th century. The Church considered illegitimacy to be immoral, and recorded all deviant behavior. Often ridicule, shame and mockery were aimed at the mother. At times, clergymen recorded illegitimate births/christening upside down in the church books.2

I never saw the initials ‘pmsl’ on any of  George’s records, but, I don’t have his christening record, only his baptismal record. So unless I can do a yDNA test of the known male HAMM descendants of Jacob and his possible son George, I won’t know for sure who his father is. But, right now, I am not ruling out Jacob.

So the two reasons I am leaning to the relationship  as that of father/son, because Jacob and George wrote to each other, and Jacob appeared to covet the letters that he was sent, as indicated by his son Fritz’s letter to George; and because of recent information I have come across regarding marriage in Germany at the time he was born. Fingers crossed.

Source:
1. http://www.understandingyourancestors.com/ar/parishBirth.aspx
2. http://genealoger.com/german/ger_church_records.htm

Sgt. Hamm and “The Go Devil’s”…


For Memorial Day, in memory of the three relatives I know who died in war: John Brooks (War of 1812), Wallace Rosa (Civil War POW) and Raymond Hamm (WWII).

I will have to confess that it really annoyed me that I couldn’t find anything regarding Raymond Hamm’s military record during WWII. But when I kept hitting brick walls, I had to shelve that particular research for later. Which means that I moved on to my next question, “Where was Raymond buried?” I didn’t think it likely that his body had been shipped home, so, wouldn’t that mean he was still in North Africa? If so, where were the men who died in the Tunisia campaign buried?

The answer is the American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa.

The answer, of course, didn’t just magically appear when I started my search, although finding the cemetery itself was a pretty easy keyword search. However, when I first checked the cemetery’s online database I was unable to find Raymond. I did see that they provided a link to findagrave‘s database for the cemetery, so I checked their listing too. Still no Hamm. Hmmm, lets try just his first name ‘Raymond’. Whew! Sure enough, there he was, listed under Raymond F. Humm (no that’s not a typo, that is the name he is listed under.)

I went back to the cemetery’s official website and found him using ‘Humm’, along with the bonus, previously elusive, reference of his service number and unit. So cool! Now I had two questions answered. Also included in his entry are any medals he received, in his case he had received a purple heart, something that I didn’t know before either, although that should have been a given.

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The cemetery is set on 27 acres in Tunisia. There are just over 2800 burials of the military dead from the United States. There is also a chapel and a memorial court where one can find mosaic maps showing images of the military activities that occurred during the US military’s movements across the continent.


THE GO DEVIL’S
Raymond was assigned with the 9th Infantry Regiment, 60th Infantry Division aka ‘The Go Devil’s’. (There was no entry for what company he was in but I am not complaining, as this is way more information than I had before.)

So armed with this information I now have a clearer picture of Raymond’s movements and activities from when he left Fort Bragg, North Carolina in November of 1942 until his death in April of 1943 around El Guettar Pass in Tunisia.

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Here is a great map showing the movements of the 60th across Africa during Operation Torch. I have marked where Raymond landed in November and were he died the next April.

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Image from NARA website of American soldiers debarking on the shores of North Africa.2

When Operation Torch went into action Raymond and his fellow soldiers in the 60th landed on the beaches of Port Lyautey, Morocco. Their job was to seize the ‘Citadel’ known as the ‘Kasba’, and they did.

In March of 1943 Major General Patton assumed command of II Corps. He was making plans to secure Maknassy Pass and get to the Tunisian plains through the El Guettar pass. The hope was that Rommel would retreat or be cut off.

The 60th which was now motorized and attached to the 1st Armored Division, advanced through the 21st German panzer division and took the hill called Djebel Goussa. Several days later they captured the town. But they still hadn’t gotten through the pass.

At El Guettar, the 9th Infantry Division was now under the command of Major General Eddy, who had been involved in a car accident and was now leading the troops on crutches. To complicate matters, the enemy possessed air superiority and were very well entrenched in the surrounding hills and gorges that provided a natural defense.

The 9th and 1st Divisions’ objective was to seize opposite sides of the El Guettar Pass, thus enabling the 1st Armored Division to roll through without being fired on. At 6 A.M. on March 28th 1943, the 47th Infantry Regiment was in position to take Hill 369. Although the objective area was reached quickly, darkness and poor maps had led them astray to El Hamra Ridge.

There was no need to worry the commanders thought: 2nd Battalion of the same Regiment had been sent on a flanking movement and would get the job done. However, 2nd Battalion was caught in a murderous crossfire and 1st Battalion of the 39th Infanry Regiment became lost in the maze of hills.

So Hill 369 was still in German hands and the attack bogged down. American troops had previously been occupying Hill 772, but moved off when the offensive began, so the German’s decided to take it back. General Eddy soon realized that Hill 369 could only be taken by getting Hill 772 back.

For five days the battle raged in an attempt to break through the El Guettar Pass. Each attack was a coordinated push of an Armored Task Force and the 3rd Battalion of the 39th Infantry Regiment. When it seemed that the Germans were going to mount a major mechanized counterattack on April 4th, the 15th Engineers were sent to occupy defensive positions as Infantry.

However, two days later [April 6] it became apparent that the enemy was going to withdraw to head north for a last stand in Tunisia. The 9th Infantry Division attacked to seize Hills 772 and 369. “Benson’s Force” moved through the Pass and met the Eighth Army coming up from the South. Finally, the El Guettar Pass was taken!

After this battle, the men of the Ninth Division were given a two day rest period. A nice surprise came from General Patton who wanted to show his appreciation:  Steak dinner for the Ninth men!1

It was in the final day of this battle, April 6th, that Raymond was injured, badly enough that he died the next day. Unfortunately, I don’t think he was able to partake of his steak dinner. But he could be proud that he was part of a major victory for the Allies in the North Africa campaign.

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From 9thinfantrydivision.net website. American soldiers on the move in North Africa.1


If interested here are two documents that I found online related to the 60th: one is a gathering of maps and the other is a, now unclassified, regimental history of the 60th covering 1940-1942 (I will need to find the rest of this history that covers 1943 to see if there is reference to Raymond, it might include his company assignment too).

Source:
1. Battle of Tunisia – https://9thinfantrydivision.net/battle-history/tunisia-battle/
2. American troops leap forward to storm a North African beach during final amphibious maneuvers.” James D. Rose, Jr., ca. 1944. 26-G-2326. National Archives Identifier: 513171

Operation Torch…

hammraymondSgt. Raymond Fred Hamm was the eldest child of Emma Paugel and Fred Hamm. He was born on June 9, 1919 in Minnesota. According to his obituary he was baptized in Phelps, Vilas County, Wisconsin and confirmed in Wittenberg, Shawano County, Wisconsin on September 30, 1934. His early years were spent growing up and attending school in the Wittenberg area. He moved to Vergas, which is in Otter Tail County, Minnesota where in 1940 he is living in the same county with his father and brother Arthur all working as farm laborers. Sometime around late 1940 all the boys had moved to the area of Green Bay / Door County. Soon afterwards both Raymond and Arthur joined the Army, although Raymond waited until September of 1942.

After Raymond’s enlistment he was immediately sent to North Carolina for seven weeks of boot camp training, of which two weeks were dedicated to intense rifle practice.

After he arrived at the barracks he would have been fed then hustled off to ‘sick bay’ where all the men were inspected and injected, then ejected out the door to pick-up their paperwork, dog tags, IDs etc. They also had the pleasure of a free haircut, clothes, rifles and other necessary gear.

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Raw recruits arriving in North Carolina on the trains.1

When Raymond’s boot camp training was over he was sent to Virginia. This happened, probably, sometime in late October. The transfer to Virginia was most likely because he and his fellow soldiers were getting ready to head to North Africa in November of 1942. Operation Torch was preparing for action.

Operation Torch was the British planned invasion of French North Africa, with the help of their new American Allies. The end goal was to clear out the Axis powers from the area so that the Allied powers would have better control over the Mediterranean Sea to prepare for a 1943 invasion of Southern Europe.2

The trip by sea took a little over 2 weeks. As I can find no information on Raymond’s assignment in the Army he could have been on any one of the three task forces seen on the map below, as American forces were on all three, according to the Wikipedia summary.

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Whatever battles Raymond was involved in during Operation Torch, he survived to move with the Army to Tunisia, the next big event.3 According to the map below on the 6th of April in the southern part of Tunisia there was a battle that could possibly be the one Raymond was involved in where he was injured. (Unfortunately, at this time, I can find no record of Raymond’s service. None.)

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If you have ever seen the movie Patton, the Tunisia Campaign is one of the major battles that they include in the story.

Raymond was seriously wounded April 6, and the next day, Wednesday, April 7, 1943 he died at the age of 24. He never married or had any children who can tell his story, as short as it is.

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Because of the vast amounts of information on stories like this one, regarding Raymond’s North African service, I find it very difficult to condense them into a readable post, so be sure to check out the sources I have noted if you are curious about both the Tunisia Campaign and Operation Torch.

UPDATE: I have added a picture to Raymond’s brother Arthur’s post. I forgot I had it, so be sure to check it out.

 

Sources:
1. http://ww2gyrene.org/boot_camp.htm
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Torch
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisia_Campaign

Like father, like son…

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.

 

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Sometime between 1941 and 1944 he had married, and had two children with Bernice Schultz.

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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…

 

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A few days later the paper reports…

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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.

1940 revisited…

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.

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1940 United State Federal Census, Candor, Ottertail County, Minnesota. Almost to Fargo.

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.

  1. Fred Hamm’s obituary from Door County indicates that when he died he had been living in the area for 11 years.

U-rah-rah!…

Here is a totally cool find for my grandmother Myrtle Hamm in the 1923 ‘Pow Wow,’ the Medford High School yearbook (Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin). She would have been about 16-17 years old that school year, and a junior. According to the entries found, in this particular yearbook, she was in the Athletic Association and the Commercial Club.

She looks so adorable. In this first image she is second from the bottom far left, her name is written by her image ‘Myrtle’. These yearbooks are wonderful for folks who don’t have pictures of their ancestors otherwise. The image quality is not the greatest, but I bet I could get a better image from an original book in Medford. All these images were found at ancestry.com, where they are amassing quite a collection of yearbooks in their database.

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Now I think I know where I get my narrow shoulders from!

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I think I see her in this image. Can you find her?

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