Young Clarence Hamm

Headstone image found at FindaGrave memorial

You probably don’t remember anything about Clarence Hamm. That’s most likely because he was only 8 years old when he died from injuries received in a car accident in 1935.

It was a nice 80º day in Wisconsin. Clarence, his brother Arthur, his mother, Emma, and Uncle Paugel were heading home from a day of berry picking north of Antigo, when disaster struck.

The Wittenberg Enterprise, August 8, 1935 
Clarence Hamm Funeral Is Being Held This Afternoon
Funeral services for Clarence Hamm, the eight-year-old boy who died Sunday as the result of an automobile accident, is being held this afternoon at the Dobber Funeral Home and at First Lutheran church in this village. The Rev. N. B. Ursin officiated in the absence of the Rev. T. Aug. Lillehei, pastor of the congregation, who is on a vacation. Interment was in Forest Home Cemetery. The pall-bearers were Marty Swensen, Vernon and Kenneth Matson, Robert Heistad, Kenneth and Magnus Gunderson.

August 21, 1935
Clarence Hamm Dies Following Auto Crash 
Eight-Year-Old Wittenberg Boy Is Fatally Injured Early Sunday Evening 
An eight-year-old boy was killed and seven people were injured, two critically, Sunday night when two cars collided head-on on highway 45 just north of Koepenick. 
The boy, Clarence Hamm, of this village, died on his way to Memorial hospital at Antigo from a severe skull fracture. 
The injured are: Mrs. George Hamm, Wittenberg, mother of the dead boy, condition critical, suffering from a fractured skull and badly lacerated right arm; doctors doubt she will live. 
Mrs. Harold Zeiler, Chicago, broken arm and leg and body injuries. 
Albert Paugel, Wittenberg, driver of the Chevrolet coach carrying the Wittenberg party, lacerations over entire body. 
Arthur Hamm, 12, Wittenberg, son of Mrs. George Hamm, lacerations to the head. 
Harold Zeiler; Chicago, head injuries. 
Kenneth Anderson, Ironwood, Michigan, lacerations to his head.
Bert Wesley, Antigo, dislocated shoulder. 
It could not be learned definitely, just how the accident occurred, says the Antigo Journal. The Wittenberg party was bound south after a day picking blueberries. Zeiler, his wife, Anderson, and Wesley were going north in an Oldsmobile sedan. Zeiler was driving.
Paugel turned out to pass a Chevrolet truck being driven by Vernon Stoltenberg, Amherst Junction. Evidently seeing the other car Paugel tried to turn in again but side-swiped the truck. The Chevrolet then swerved directly into the path of the oncoming Oldsmobile the cars colliding head-on.
Almost all the people in the Chevrolet were thrown clear of the car. Mr. and Mrs. Zeiler were thrown through the windshield of the Oldsmobile. 
Passing motorists picked up the injured and rushed them into Antigo. Both cars, especially the Chevrolet, were demolished. Bill Hamm, 23, of Wittenberg, a brother of the dead boy, and Emil Klabunde, about 40, also of Wittenberg were sitting in the rear seat of the Chevrolet with Arthur Hamm. They were not injured, although they were thrown clear of the car. 
Zeigler, who lives in Chicago, is a traveling representative of the McClellan stores. He is stationed at Wausau at present. Anderson, also an employee of the McClellan stores, is working in the Antigo store as a relief man. 
The impact of the two cars colliding could be heard for more than a mile. Parts of the demolished cars were scattered around the wreckage for more than 25 ft. 
A warrant charging reckless, driving was issued Monday against Albert Paugel, driver of the Chevrolet coach carrying the Wittenberg party. The warrant will be served on Paugel as soon as he is discharged from the hospital, says the Antigo Journal.1

The case against his Uncle did indeed go to court and was reported in the Oshkosh paper:

WAUSAU MAN HELD NOT AT FAULT FOR FATAL AUTO CRASH
Judgment Reversed in Supreme Court Also Releases Indemnity Company From Liability

Madison (AP) — The state supreme court ruled today that Harold Zeiler, Wausau business man, was in no way responsible for a traffic accident near Antigo in 1935 in which a child was killed and several persons injured.
The high court reversed lower court judgments returned against Zeiler and  the Bankers Indemnity Company, with which he was insured, and ordered that the complaint against them be dismissed.
Nine year old Clarence Hamm was killed and several persons injured in an automobile collision on Highway, 45, 15 miles north of Antigo, Aug. 4, 1935.
I[n] one car were Harold Zeiler, Wausau business man, his wife, Vera and Bert Wesley, Zeiler was driving. In the other car were Albert Paugel, Wittenberg farmer, Emma Hamm, his housekeeper, and her son, Clarence.

HAD DEFECTIVE BRAKES
Trial of three damage suits in Circuit court disclosed that Paugel, whose car had defective breaks, turned to the left side of the road when a truck stopped in front of him and collided with the Zeiler car, approaching from the other direction.
Call uncle, and the latters insurer, Bankers Indemnity Company, were named defendants in suits brought by Mrs. Zeiler, Mrs. Hamm and Wesley. Paugel did not offer defense.
The jury, however, found that Zeiler was partly to blame for the accident by not maintaining a proper lookout.
Against Paugel, Zeiler and the insurance company the jury returned the following judgments; For Mrs. Zeiler, $3,688.75; for Mrs. Hamm, individually and for her son’s death, $5,191; for Wesley, $467.28.
Zeiler and the Bankers Indemnity Company appealed to the supreme court.2

As you can read in the article the insurance company was not happy with the outcome, so they took the case to the State Supreme Court. I was able to find a summary of it online, (use the link to see it.) The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the County court and refused any rehearing of the case.

Combining all the details from the newspaper articles, and case summaries, I was able to get a pretty good sense of where this accident happened too.

According to the court case the accident happened about 15 miles north of Antigo, by a golf course on (old) 45 (now known as B). Well, the map shows the golf course. The bit circled is where there appears to be a dip in the road as mentioned in the case, which you can see if you use google maps street view. The Paugel car was going south towards Antigo, probably heading back to Shawano where they lived.

The newspaper reported that his mother Emma was critically injured and not expected to live, but she did survive her injuries. However she died not too many years later, in 1943. Fred does not appear to have been living with Emma at the time of the accident. He was somewhere in Becker County, Minnesota, according to the 1940 census (the 1940 census asked where you were living 5 years earlier). This is confirmed by the 1934 directory for Shawano, Emma is the only Hamm listed.

Clarence was one of my grandmother Myrtle’s half brothers. I do not know if she ever met him, or even if she ever heard about his death, as he was a son from her father’s 3rd marriage. And if we have a picture of Clarence in our family albums, I am unaware of which one it might be. (The problem of unlabeled family photos rears it ugly head.)

SOURCE:
1. Clarence Hamm accident, The Wittenberg Enterprise, Wittenberg, Wisconsin, 8 August 1935, page ? column?, in Antigo Journal, Antigo, Wisconsin. (Transcription of newspaper article found online <www.ancestry.com> HAMM surname message boards.)

2. 1937-11-09, Tuesday, The Oshkosh Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin; p9, col. 8

14 May 1957 Letter William Shepard to Parents

15 May 1957
Dear Dick & Dad:

Lois has probably kept you advised of all the news-
so Ill confine my letter to our plans for this
summer. -Our plans are subject to your
wishes so let us know if anything
conflicts with your schedule.

We will leave here July 5th and drive
directly to Thessalon, taking ten to twelve
days and stopping at Couer d’Lane, Idaho-
Yellowstone Nat Park, Grand Teton Nat Park,
Mt. Rushmore Nat Park and across Wisconsin,
to the straits and to Thessalon. We will
spend the last two weeks in July with
you in Canada & then visit with Lois
folks in Westerville for several weeks, then
go to Montgomery.

I have written Herman & Ruth. I
suggested that they try to be in Canada

[page 2]
with us if they could. it would be
nice to have the family together again.
There will be no shortage of sleeping space.
we are bringing six sleeping bags and
air matress!

We bought a camping outfit-tent-stove & the works. We plan to camp all the
way aross the U.S. We will carry it
in the boat with Bonnie and the motor.

The way you can tell when we get
there is by the green boat coming across the bay with six dirty characters
in it. We may stop to wash up before
we get there! We plan to arrive in Canada
15 to 17 July.

Please let us know if this is OK. We
look forward to seeing all of you.

Bill

Cousin Shares Hamm Treasure

Just a heads up to let folks know that on my recent visit with one of our Hamm cousins, I snagged a couple of pics that we don’t have in our own family collection. They have been scanned and uploaded to my flickr site.

Here’s a good one of George Hamm and folks in an automobile, the sign on the vehicle says Marshfield Auto Club. Amelia might be sitting behind the driver, the image is small and not very detailed, so I am not sure.

Thanks Larry! for trusting me with your precious pics.

Be fruitful and multiply?

It looks like this particular Connelly Catholic couple took their biblical mandate quite seriously.

Unfortunately for everyone modern science was not up to helping these children survive after birth. Chilton Times, Jan 1861.
First 4 then 2. Crazy! Chilton Times, 18 Jan 1862.

Here is a list of all the children of Patrick and Elizabeth:
Francis Connelly b.1850 Rhode Island
Mary Connelly b.1852 Rhode Island
Thomas Connelly b.1855 Rhode Island
Caroline Connelly b.1857 Wisconsin
Dennis Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Theresa Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Catherine Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Winifred Connelly (Quad) b.&d.22 Dec 1860 Chilton, Calumet Co, WI
Elizabeth Johanna Connelly b.17 Jan 1862 Chilton ,Calumet Co,WI
Catherine Connelly b.07 Mar 1865 Chilton ,Calumet Co, WI

Last I heard from other Connelly researchers, it was not known for sure if Patrick was a son of Dennis and Winifred Connelly, but that might have changed. So it is likely that Patrick is an elder brother of my ancestress Winnifred Connelly Cain.

Patrick and his wife Elizabeth Connelly lived in Chilton, Wisconsin after emigrating from Ireland in the late 1840s. Well, Patrick most likely did, I don’t know anything about Elizabeth, (although I think I read somewhere that they married before emigrating, don’t quote me on that, and it is not really relevant to the story).

Here is another piece that come out in the Madison paper a few years later. Looks like there was a competition going on in the state.

Nine years later (1869) this article appeared in the Madison paper.

The only Patrick that comes close to Connelly in the Wisconsin 14th Infantry regiment is this one:

Carny, PatrickG02/05/62Enlisted10/03/62Killed

But I don’t think he is the same man, or they have several errors in the records regarding him. A cursory search at Ancestry.com databases make me think that after the war Patrick and Elizabeth headed back to Rhode Island to work in the mills. Maybe farming wasn’t for him.

Barber John

A barbershop in the 1910s, image found on Pinterest.

Apparently we have a barber in the John family.

I happened to notice that Ancestry had added a database regarding Wisconsin employment records, which is a collection of records of individuals who needed a license to work, and included occupations such as: teachers, boxers, barbers and watchmakers. So I thought I would check to see if Lydia Hamm was in there as a teacher.

Well I didn’t find Lydia, or any other Hamm of interest, but when I tried searching for Johns two names showed up that I recognized: Eric and Elmer W. John. These two men are both sons of William John, jr., the, sort of, middle son of F.W. and Johanna John.

Eric John is 4172, on lower half of page.
Elmer W. Johns is 738, or second on page.

Eric is already a barber in the register and is merely keeping up with his professional paperwork. Elmer on the other hand is actually registering as an apprentice. I guess he had a year or so to go before he could call himself a professional.

I did a quick search for Eric at Ancestry and found him working in a barbershop in Rock County in the 1910 census. Eventually he moved the family to Gillett and continued as a barber probably his whole life. (His son Keith had a daughter whom we met at the Gillett Cemetery Walk a few years ago.)

Elmer eventually moved to Milwaukee and was employed as an electrician by 1940. I guess the barbering profession wasn’t for him.

Just a fun fact to share. Its nice to know what our cousins were doing with their lives.


  • Barber register, 1903-1913; Wisconsin. Barbers Examining Board; Series 880, box 1 flat, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin. [Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018. digital image 638-639 of 770]
  • Apprentice register, 1907-1913; Wisconsin. Barbers Examining Board; Series 882, box 1, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin. [Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018, digital image 520 of 735.]

Calvin & Agnes John

My spouse and I do not have children. It was a choice that we made when we were first married. And we have been quite content with that choice of thirty plus years ago.

I bring this up because I have noticed that one of the ways that choice we made so long ago has influenced my genealogy research, is that I find I like to focus on those ancestral relatives that also didn’t have children, or never married, or even lost the children they did have, before they could have any family of their own. There is no one around who cares to pass on their life story, and many times that is a great loss.

So here I introduce Calvin John and his wife Agnes McDonnell, of Gillett.

Agnes McDonell & Calvin John Wedding Picture 27 April 1904, Oconto Falls, Oconto County, Wisconsin. Courtesy of a cousin.

Calvin is the son of Alfred John and his wife Hattie. I wrote a post, not too long ago, about Calvin and his father having some kind of tiff that ended up in court. But I know nothing of his relationship with his father.

Abt. 1904: Eva, Calvin, Hattie, Alfred, Mildred, and Harriet John family photo.

Calvin was very, very tall. In any picture you see of him he is towering over every other person in it. Can you guess which one is Calvin, in the picture below, without looking at the caption?

Front left-Alfred John; 3rd from right-Calvin John (the tall one!)

Calvin worked in lumber camps his whole life, running, owning, or laboring at them. But Cal wasn’t all work, he could be found in the local paper often as part of the local baseball team, or other types of play.

Calvin was 23 when he married Agnes McDonnell, a local school teacher (who was two years older than him), in 1904. They have a lovely marriage photo (see top). Agnes was the daughter of Daniel and Mary McDonnell, both of whom were from English Canada. Agnes was born in Wisconsin, and had three brothers and one sister that I know about, although admittedly, I haven’t researched her family at all.

They also had a pretty good sized farm. (You can click on the images to see them better.)

We don’t know if, or how much, Agnes, as an Irish Catholic girl, regretted that they had no children, or Calvin either. They would probably have been great parents.

In March of 1958 a tragic accident put an end to both of their lives. I found the following Milwaukee Journal newspaper article, which gives few details about the event that occurred on the 28th. Not much can be gleaned from this except that they were just another statistic for the state to compile.

But thankfully, it wasn’t long after that a local woman wrote a lovely tribute to the pair for the local Gillett newspaper. ‘This article is found in the Gillett Times, Gillett In Milwaukee, by M. Burse:

And now a small tribute to two near and very dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin John “Calvin and Ag”, as they were known to the entire community, and far beyond. 

The writer has known them as long as she can remember and that’s a long, long time. Their parents and my parents having been pioneers of Oconto County. 

No Gillett then, no trains. There was a stage that turned northward at North Branch (the old McDonald Farm). Oconto was the nearest city, to which they thought nothing of making the trip on foot. But they settled there, in small log houses and carved their homes out of the vast wilderness. Grandpa John was a Civil War Veteran, and thus we younger ones grew up together —Agnes and Aunt Mary, one half mile between our homes, and one week’s difference in our ages. We grew up together, went to school together, and began teaching school at the same time. She was a brilliant student, and in fact could do just about everything. She was a wonderful person-and good kind was her equal in everything —ambitious, energetic, honest and true. 

They were an ideal couple. Lacking one month, their married life’ counted up to fifty four years. — fifty four very happy years. It was such a beautiful home to go to, they were so kind and good to each other and those around them. The home atmosphere was so happy and peaceful. The both worked hard and always together. 

They died as they lived — close together, which, tho sudden, and tragical’ (sp), almost had a beautiful side to it —they went together. 

As long as the writer can remember, Calvin owned a good driving horse and buggy. He was a prize winning horseback rider and always on July 4th, when the entire community turned out for the celebration  in “Helmke’s Grove” one of the features of entertainment was the horseback riders race, which Calvin always entered, and always won first place. Agnes was an expert rider also, and one year, later on—long after Calvin and Agnes were married, and the celebration, July 4th. was in the Gillett Park — ‘The Harvest Festival’ it was —for some reason Calvin was not riding, so his racer was without a rider, until Agnes stepped forward and took over. She went down that race track like a streak —winning first place, and keeping Calvin’s record still at the top. 

When we were still in grade school, and played baseball during recess, and at noon, boys and girls together, Agnes was always the first one chosen. They would always choose sides and place the players before we started. She could hit surer, drive father, and go around that diamond like the wind. 

Calvin’s baseball days are well remembered. One year his Gillett team were straight winners throughout the season. Nearing the end of the season, they were challenged for a game with Green Bay, to be played at Green Bay. An excursion train was put on to run from Gillett to Green Bay —and it was filled to capacity. During the game Calvin made a spectacular play, putting out his man—by catching an extra high ball. Comments could be heard from the Green Bay team, about his being too tall. One man said “He could be stuck into the ground up to his knees and he’d still be tall enough to play”. Agnes quickly answered him’ “Yes, put him in up to his armpits and he could still defeat you”. Calvin’s team did win that game too. 

Their charity was unlimited. No needy one was ever turned away from their door—if it was work they sought, Calvin would find something for them to do, it” not with his’ crew then something on the farm — and Agnes, with a good meal for anyone who was hungry. 

I’m sure our Divine Lord had their record books balanced highly in their favor when they were called Home. They were truly good kind people, with friends everywhere, for —

None knew them but to love them,
None named them, but to praise 

Gillett will not be the same without them. Their going leaves an awful vacancy, but the Good Lord was ready for them—and took them together. “Tho their sudden deaths were a great shock to their near and dear ones, and their hosts of friends, it was comforting to know they were together, and we feel that Our Good Lord had an extra special place for them, and that He met them with this kindly greeting’ —“Well done, my good and faithful servants, come to your home of eternal bliss, that I have prepared for you.”

Then funeral arrangements were beautiful. Everything being done as near as possible to what “Ag and Calvin’” would want, by their near and dear loved ones. It just seemed nothing was left undone. Calvin’s services were conducted in their home by Rev. Simon, whose words were most comforting with soft music, and beautiful singing by three ladies, Mrs. Stanley Korotev was the only familiar face in the trio. Then the funeral procession wended its way to St. John’s Catholic church, where Rev. Father Bablitch offered up the mass for Agnes, and spoke in kindly glowing terms of them both. One came away from both services with such a good feeling of Godliness and understanding. 

My farewell to you both dear Agnes and Calvin…Floral offerings were immense, and spiritual bouquets were piled high.

They were in their late 70s when they died. I am glad that at least they had themselves a goodly amount of years together.

Bigamy?

Janett and her daughters, left to right: Carrie Rosa, Janett (Smith) Rosa, Ida Rosa

My 3x great grandmother Janett (aka Jennie) Smith Rosa left Michigan, sometime in the early to mid 1860s, with her two daughters Carrie and Ida, and moved to Wisconsin, without her husband Abram. Abram testified in his pension application that she had left him while he was away during the Civil War. I believe it was possibly while he was incarcerated at the Fort Tortuga in 1865ish.

As to the reason why she left him? We will most likely never know the answer to that question. We can speculate that: Abram was abusive, lazy, or a crappy farmer, (his family did not have the best reputation around town); Jennie could have been scared of him, bored and went to try her luck somewhere else, unhappy with her choice, or shamed at his incarceration. It could be his fault. It could be her fault. It could be the fault of both of them. Either way, neither one of them are talking now. Their daughter Carrie told her own children that her father, Abram, had died in the Civil War, so who knows what Jennie had told Carrie, and her sister Ida. This same story was passed down to later generations as fact–now debunked. (NOTE: We have to remember though that Jennie was only 14 1/2 years old when she married Abram in February of 1854, Abram was 20.)

So Abram finally gets back from the war probably early in 1866. His wife and daughters are gone. Everyone tells him they took off for Wisconsin and won’t be coming back. Apparently, he didn’t care enough to try to get them back either.

In 1868, three years after the war was finally over, Janett married Fred Lavelly, in Oconto County, Wisconsin. About a year later, in 1869, Abram married Harriet Emerson in Berrien County, Michigan.

So, okay, this all sounds pretty straight-forward right? They have both moved on with their lives.

But the sticker is–I can find no divorce record for either of them. Not in Berrien County, Michigan. Not in Oconto County, Wisconsin. So that begs the question, were they both bigamists? It is quite possible they were.

Divorce at this time was a very expensive, and nasty, business. Neither one of them had much money to speak of, so the cost of court and lawyers would have been much on both of their minds. As they both lived in different states, maybe they decided that what no one knows, can’t hurt them. Which is probably why the story that Abram was killed during the war came to be part of the family lore. Abram could honestly say his wife deserted him, so in fact his marriage was over.

If indeed these two never divorced, it is the first known case of bigamy on either side of our family.

Happy Valentines Day!

P.S. Maybe there is a divorce case in Brown County, Wisconsin. I’m on it!

Death and a Strange Dream

My great great grandfather John Cain moved to Wisconsin when he was a young boy. He lived with his mother’s parents Winifred and Denis Conely in Chilton for a few years, but, by the time he was about 17 years old he was on his own, employed with a logging mill in Oconto.

He spent most of his life working as a river driver, also known as a “river pig,” one of the men who worked the cut logs down the river.

Then one day, while going about his job something unexpected happened.

newspaper_cainjohn_bodyfoundinlogs copy

Eerie coincidence? Hmmmm. Happy Halloween!

 


Source:
Oconto County Reporter; Volume: 34 Issue: 29 Date: 1905-05-26 p1c3; http://ocnews.co.oconto.wi.us/

Hayes and Wheeler

Another recent scouring of Oconto newspapers brought this interesting tidbit to my attention just in time for mid-term elections:

newspaper_cainjohn_HayesandWheelerClub

So what was the Hayes and Wheeler Club and why was gramps John Cain a member?

newspaper_cain_hayeswheelerstartsnewspaper_cain_hayesandwheelermembers.png

From what little I have been able to find about this club, it looks like it was patriotic in nature and organized in many states across the country, for the purpose of “securing re-nomination and re- election of President Rutherford B. Hayes.”

John appears to have been republican in beliefs, and was enthusiastic enough for Hayes to be elected that he joined the club to help rouse the populace to vote for his favorite ticket.

Here is a small bit of biography on Hayes from his Wikipedia entry:

Hayes was a lawyer and staunch abolitionist who defended refugee slaves in court proceedings in the antebellum years.

He was nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency in 1876 and elected through the Compromise of 1877 that officially ended the Reconstruction Era by leaving the South to govern itself. In office he withdrew military troops from the South, ending Army support for Republican state governments in the South and the efforts of African-American freedmen to establish their families as free citizens. He promoted civil service reform, and attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction.

John did not enlist in the Civil War. Having been born in 1852, he was too young to have enlisted. (I am very thankful he was too young, because he might have died and I wouldn’t be here now talking about him.) Even though he was not in the war, he was a peripheral part of it, and was affected by the aftermath, as was the whole nation. His support for Hayes gives me a sense of his political leanings and beliefs, something he left no clue about to his descendants, until this article was found.

I’ll end this post with a friendly reminder. VOTE!


Sources:
Oconto County Reporter, 1876-07-22; v5issue38p3col4
Oconto County Reporter, 1876-08-19; v5issue42p3col4
Oconto County Reporter, 1876-09-02; v5issue44

Clarence Goes To Court

On October 30, 1931 Clarence John was driving home from a long day at work at his bowling alley in Oconto. It was 11:30ish at night and pouring rain.

img104
This is the road Clarence was driving on, Hwy 22 going west.

newspaper_johnclarence_motorcycleaccident1931 copy

img103
Here is a photograph of the damage done to Clarence’s 1929 Roosevelt Coupe (the photos were in the court case file).

The driver of the motorcycle was Harvey, a 20-year-old, who was accompanied by a friend. Harvey lost a leg due to the severity of his injury. His father, acting as his guardian, sued Clarence for damages and the case was brought to Brown County Court in March of 1932, however there was a request to change the venue to Oconto County, which was consented to.

There were no witnesses to the accident other than the three people involved. The only testimony in the case is from Clarence. Below is a scan of the first page from the testimony.

court_johncf_127471

According to his testimony, he had half interest in a bowling alley in Oconto, at the armory, which he ran all by himself. He was living in Gillett with his wife, Myrtle, and his parents. They had no children at that time.

Clarence answered the suit against him with a definite ‘not my fault’, stating that the driver of the motorcycle was driving too fast for the conditions and lost control. Harvey’s lawyers and guardian denied the fault was his.

The damage that is visible on Clarence’s car does look like the other driver hit him, not the other way around. But in the end, we only have Clarence’s testimony, none from Harvey.

And, of course, no matter what we conclude seeing the evidence and reading the testimony, the jury’s opinion is the only one that matters. They found Clarence at fault, and ruled in favor of him paying damages of around $5100 for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff. (If payment was for reparation for the loss of Harvey’s leg, it seems a bit cheap to me.)

In 1948, 15 years later, we find the case continued, because Clarence had yet to pay the $5100 he owed to the plaintiff.

The record, which consists of sworn affidavits of attorneys and the defendant, and the statements of counsel made in the record on this application, raises a serious question as to the truth of the allegations of the defendant in his affidavit. The plaintiff’s attorney at the time of the trial…swears that after the rendition of the judgment and for about nine years thereafter he industriously attempted to ascertain the financial condition of the defendant in Oconto and Forest Counties and that his investigation disclosed to his satisfaction that the defendant during that period was judgment-proof.*

From 1942-1948 no action or activity appeared to be going on regarding the collection of the debt. Until Harvey got impatient, and in 1948 started pushing for his money. Here is an excerpt from a letter from one lawyer to another regarding the matter, dated October 21, 1948:

I have checked with Findorff and they tell me that John terminated his employment with them sometime during the spring of this year. However, the motor vehicle dept. informs me that he has an automobile registered in his name – – -1936 Plymouth coach…residence being Crandon, Wisconsin.

Under the circumstances , there is no point in my filing the certified copy of the judgment, inasmuch as there is absolutely no chance of my garnisheeing his salary or having execution issued. In the event he is traced to Madison again, I will be happy to grab him by his pants. There may be a chance for you to have his car picked up if he has returned to Crandon.

This process continued until July of 1953. At this time Clarence was finally found in Wausau, and served, Harvey had made action to start the process of suing him, he was worried because the judgment would lapse in August of that year.

Clarence refused to show up in court, instead sending his attorney to file one paper which stated that since the judgment, he and his family had resided in Wisconsin all that time. They never received papers regarding the execution of the judgment, or even an attempt at communication, and that such in-action in all this time negates the ‘good cause’ requirements of the judgment. Basically, making it null and void.

But the lawyers for the plaintiff had this to say:

court_johncf_12741 (dragged)court_johncf_12741 (dragged) 2court_johncf_12741 (dragged) 3

It looks like Clarence really didn’t want to pay this debt. But he never asked for an appeal to the judgment, which kind of makes his excuse a bit thin.

In the end all this work that Harvey put into getting his money came to nothing. My grandfather, Clarence, died in February of the next year, (1954). On his father’s birthday.

*Wikipedia definition of judgment-proof: In the context of debt collection and civil litigation, the term judgment proof is commonly used to refer to defendants  who are financially insolvent, or whose income and assets cannot be obtained in satisfaction of a judgment.
     Being “judgment proof” is not a defense to a lawsuit. If sued, the defendant cannot claim being “judgment proof” as an affirmative defense. The term “judgment proof” instead refers to the inability of the judgment holder to obtain satisfaction of the judgment.
     If a plaintiff were to secure a legal judgment against an insolvent defendant, the defendant’s lack of funds would make the satisfaction of that judgment difficult, if not impossible, to secure.


Sources:

  1. Auto-Motorcycle Collide Friday Eve. on H’y 22, The Gillett Times, Gillet, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 5, 1931; No. 11, page 1, column 2. 
  2. Harvey Andrianssen vs. Clarence John, Circuit Court case #12741, Oconto Series 36, Green Bay ARC, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, WI. (Photographs from the accident taken from case file.)   If interested in case just ask me for a copy.