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 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:
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’.
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.
I have made sporatic attempts over the last few years to find out what happened to Fred and Emma Steinbach Fischer Hamm’s daughter Margaret Dorothy, with no luck. (Margaret was my grandmother Myrtle Hamm’s half sister.) And the fact that she is a she has made it harder. Recently I made another stab at solving the mystery by using the Minnesota Newspaper digital hub, where more and more Minnesota newspapers are being digitized. It was there that I learned something new about Fred and Emma, and, using that information, was able to, probably, solve the mystery of Margaret.
Apparently, when Fred married Emma in 1912, she brought two boys from her previous marriage into this new family: Herman and Martin Fischer. This discovery was made when I found the attached article from a Minnesota newspaper.
The article tells the story of how Herman Fischer, age 11, was accidentally and fatally shot by his younger brother Martin, age 9.
While Fred had been a ner’do well in life, he also had his share of tragedy. He lost two siblings when he was young, a brother and a sister. His first child with Carrie Amundson, Amelia, died just over the age of 1. His youngest son, Clarence, was only 8 when he was killed in a car accident caused by his wife’s brother (this would be his third wife Emma Paugel Hamm Hamm*), and his eldest son Raymond died in Africa during WWII.
Herman wasn’t Fred’s son, but the loss of a child in the family, and in such a manner, would have been shocking, and devastating, none-the-less.
Sadly, the fate of Margaret Dorothy Hamm appears to be no better, as she seems to have died at the age of 18, in 1933.
Using clues from Ancestry.com regarding Emma, and now knowing about her two sons from her marriage to Fischer, I have been able to determine that Emma, after her divorce from Fred in 1918, was married to Charles Green for a while and then later Sam Dougherty. (She died in 1947 as Emma Dougherty.) In the 1920 census I found Emma living with Charles Green, along with her son Martin, and daughter Margaret. Both mistakenly listed with the surname Green. Margaret, however, appears to have kept the Green surname. Martin after that census stayed a Fischer. So it was with these new clues that I was able to find Margaret in FindaGrave, where she is buried with her mother and step-father.
Until I get her death registration, cause of death at this time is unknown.
Below is the only identified picture of Margaret in the family collection.
*NOTE: Emma Paugel married George Hamm, Fred’s brother, and had several children with him. Then she ran away with Fred, and her children, and divorced George. She married Fred about 1930. So she is Emma Paugel Hamm Hamm. Not a typo.
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.
This is Art and Bernice possibly on their wedding day about 1943
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.
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 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!
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:
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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