Monday, April 4, 2016

Celebrating the Life of James Jacob Hammond

James Jacob Hammond is my maternal grandfather.  Last week while visiting my mother Marcella I decided to do some research and realized that Saturday was his 113th birthday.
Hammond James
He was born 2 April 1903 in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa. 
In looking at my previous research I realized I had 2 Baptismal certificates…hmmm and the names are a little different??
Hammond James Baptism Hammond James baptism 2
A difficulty in tracing my grandfather’s roots was his last name.  Even the records of his grandfather Jacob’s immigration paperwork has the last name as Hamman on one piece and Hammond on another.
1905 Iowa State Census in Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa
Hamman Henry 1905 Iowa Census

I was surprised to learn that in 1908 things seem to have dramatically changed for my grandfather and his family.
                                                                      DEATH OF MRS. HAMMOND
Mrs. Henry Hammond died at the family home here last Thursday evening at 8 o'clock. She had been ill for nearly a year from the dread disease, cancer. She had been at Sioux City and LeMars twice in the hopes of obtaining relief but all treatment was in vain. In her death she leaves motherless six children, all less than nine years of age.

Susan Bentz was born in Worthington, Iowa, August 20, 1878. When 8 years old her parents moved to LeMars and later, about 16 years ago, they moved to Remsen. In 1898 she was married to Henry Hammond and to them six children were born which are now left without a mother-the best friend and most loving adviser anyone ever had. She also leaves to mourn her death a sister and three brothers: Mrs. Clara Rieling, of Emery; Jake Bentz, of Emery, S. D.; Henry Bentz, of Granville and John Bentz, of this town, all of which were present at the funeral which was held from St. Mary's church Saturday forenoon at 10 o'clock. The bereaved and motherless children have the sympathy of the community.
                            [The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, May 28, 1908, submitted by Mary Kay Krogman]


Iowa map 
1910 US Census at St. Francis Orphanage, Julian Township,  Iowa
Jacob, Arthur, Michael, Joseph and Mary Hamman are found living at the Orphanage.
Hammond Jacob 1910 census highlighted
1930 US Census in Brookings, Brookings, South Dakota
My grandfather ‘Jacob’ is found living with his brother Arthur and family.
Hammond Jacob 1930 census highlighted
I asked one of my Uncles several years ago if he knew how/why my grandfather went from Iowa to Upstate NY.  He said my grandfather had run liquor during Prohibition from Canada to New York City.  Another driver he ran with had been caught in upstate NY so my grandfather ditched his truck and stayed where he was …in Upstate NY.  What a great story!
On 15 March 1934 in Spencer, NY my grandfather married my grandmother Edna Chloe Cornell.
James & Edna Wedding book
After a short stay in Fresno, California they returned to Spencer, NY to live.
James Hammond driver's lisence
Edna and James had 6 children that all lived to adulthood.
My grandfather liked Detective Magazines, coffee and his cigarettes.  He liked to raise his own vegetables and could be found growing a variety of vegetables in his garden including chard and cabbage as well as nasturtium.  When having his own garden he enjoyed making his own sauerkraut, bottled beer, and head cheese.  He rolled his own cigarettes.  My grandfather did all his own mechanical work on his cars including taking the motors in and out of cars.  He was known to also make children’s rocking horses.  He worked as a farmer and a carpenter until WWII and then worked at a variety of foundries including General Electric in Elmira, NY.
James Hammond draft card
As a child he grew up speaking German and attended school in German while living in a predominately German speaking community.  His grandparents, Jacob & Catherine Hamman and John & Mary Bentz had immigrated from Luxembourg.  After the start of the War German was not spoken.  As an adult he rarely spoke German and did not pass it on to his children.
James Jacob Hammond died 9 Mar 1980 in Van Etten, Tioga, New York.
If you have additional stories or information I would like to hear them.  I have definitely learned a great deal more about my grandfather this week.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. Good story Debby. I have so many more questions. Is there any possibility that the two baptismal certs could have been for twins? Have you found the birth record for your grandfather? Or his death record? How about a death record for his mother? Maybe it would state she had more children born to her. I know I have that situation with my own great grandmother. I'm still looking for a record for that fifth child who is mentioned in several documents.
    Happy hunting,

    1. Thanks Diane! I wondered also if perhaps there were twins so I wrote to the Church and am waiting for their reply. I have his death record but didn't attach. I am hoping to find one for his mother but haven't been able to yet.
      Just heard back from the Orphanage and they said they are missing a lot of records...