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!
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.
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.