Sunday, October 22, 2017

Who was my Great Grandfather-Henry Hamman?

One of my maternal great-grandfathers was Henry Hamman.  I wondered what I could find out about a man I never knew?

Henry was born to Jacob (see post My First Naturalization Papers-Jacob Hamman) and Catherine ‘Katie’ Hein Hamman (see post Amanuensis Monday-A Will but….Whose signature is That?) on the 4th of March 1874 in Dubuque County, Iowa.  Jacob and Kate came to America from Luxembourg and settled by 1870 in Dubuque, Iowa.  Dubuque is located in Iowa on the western side of the Mississippi River.  Many immigrants, including many of German descent, settled in the area.  I wonder if Jacob and Kate were following other Immigrants they knew who maybe came to this area? 

Henry, a first generation American, was the third of 10 children: Lena (1870), Nicholas (1872), Henry (1874), Peter (1876), Michael (1878), John (1883), Joseph (1884), Margaretha/Maggie (1888), Theodore (1878) and Francessca/Frances (1892).  When Henry was born his father had not yet filed his ‘First Papers’ to become a Naturalized citizen of America. 

According to the 1880 US Federal Census Henry had moved with his parents and siblings and they were now living in Fredonia Township, Plymouth County, Iowa when the census was reported on the 22/23rd of June in 1880.  Henry was 7 years old and attending school.  The first Homestead recorded in Fredonia in 1868 so when the Hamman’s arrived Fredonia was still a very new settlement.  According to the census there were 197 families in Fredonia Township with an area of about 36 square miles.  The winter of 1880-1881 proved to be one of the worst on record noted for severe, long continued snow storms.  I can’t even begin to imagine the feeling of isolation and the hardships they endured to survive in such an area.

According to the 1895 Iowa State Census Henry was 22 years old and living in Fredonia, Plymouth County, Iowa.  Henry’s birthplace was listed as Dubuque, Iowa.  I wonder what the options for careers were for a 22 year old man in Fredonia?  Had he met Suza yet?
Henry married Suza Bentz (see post Susan Bentz Hamman) on 11 October 1897 in Plymouth County, Iowa but no Town or City within Plymouth County was listed .  When they married Henry was 25 years old and Suza was 20 years old and also a resident of Remsen, Iowa.  Henry and Suza had 6 children: Mary Jeannette (1898), Arthur (1899), Margaret (1901), James (my grandfather-see post Celebrating the Life of James Jacob Hammond) (1903), Michael (1904) and Joseph (1907).  The railroad built at Remsen in 1871 and the town of ‘Remsen’ came into being in 1881.  I wonder if the Bentz and Hamman families followed the railroad to Remsen?

Henry’s father Jacob died on 18 November 1900 in Fredonia, Iowa.

I have been unable to locate Henry, his wife Suza, daughter Mary Jeannette or son Arthur in the 1900 US Federal Census.  How did they manage to miss the census takers?  Both of their families were in Remsen.

According to the 1905 Iowa State Census Henry and Susie and 5 of their children are reported as living in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa.  In a 1905 Iowa Population Schedule Henry is listed as 31 years old, Occupation -Blacksmith, born in Sand Springs, Iowa.

Henry’s wife Suza died on 21 May 1908 of cervical cancer leaving Henry with 6 children under the age of 9.  I was able to find an obituary for Suza.  It mentions the children but not Henry.  I wonder why?  I know that Henry never remarried, which was definitely the custom at the time so was he devastated by Suza’s passing?  Was she the ‘love of his life’?  Was it too much for him to bear the passing of his wife and raising 6 young children?

Henry’s mother Kate died on 21 June 1908 in Remsen, Iowa, less than a month after Henry’s wife died.  How did the deaths of 2 important women in Henry's life shape how he would move forward with his life?  This had to have been a very difficult time for him.

According to the 1910 US Federal Census Henry was 30 years old, a widower, living as a boarder in the home of John and Mary Heyman (with their family and 4 other Boarders) and working as a House Carpenter, a wage earner, employed on April 15th, had been out of work 12 weeks in the year 1909 and could read and write English.  John Heyman was a Mason and like Henry’s parents was from Luxembourg.  I wonder if John and Henry worked on some of the same jobs?  I can imagine that for Henry there must have been some comfort in having many of the same cultural similarities.  None of the children were with Henry.  I found several of the children, including my grandfather, living in a Catholic Orphanage in Dubuque, Iowa.  I wonder if it was just too much for Henry to work and take care of the children?  Why didn’t family members take the children in to their families?  Henry had siblings living in the area.

According to the 1915 Iowa State Census Henry was living in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa and a 36 years old widower, his parent’s birth places are listed as Luxembourg, his occupation was Ditching, and his church affiliation was Catholic.  in 1914 he was employed for 12 months.  His earnings for 1914 from his occupation were listed as $600.00.  This would be about $15,000 per year today.

There were 2 draft registrations in 1917-1918.  The first one was for men ages 21-31, the second for men who had turned 21 since the previous registration and the third for men ages 18-45.  Henry registered during the third registration in 1918.  According to the World War I Draft Registration Card dated 12 September 1918 Henry is 44 years old and his permanent home address in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa.  His date of birth is listed as 4 March, 1874.  He is White and Native Born.  His present occupation is Laborer and his employer’s name is John Mai in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa.  His nearest relative is Arthur Hamman (son) of Remsen, Plymouth, Iowa.  (My grandfather Jacob was living in Upstate New York at this time.)  Henry’s height is Medium and his build is Medium.  His eyes are blue and his hair is brown.  He has not lost an arm, leg, hand, eye or is he obviously physically disqualified.  Thanks to the draft registration I can now begin to picture what my Great-Grandfather looked like with his medium build and height and his brown hair and blue eyes since I have not been able to locate any pictures of him.  I think of my grandfather and wonder how much he may have looked like his father.  I am even fortunate enough to see what his handwriting looked like.  I like the fluid way he made his ‘H’ on Henry.   His signature on his Registration Card is:


I am unable to locate Henry in the 1920 US Federal Census.    I know that in 1920 my grandfather James ‘Jake’ Hammond is living at Boy’s Town in Omaha, Nebraska with his youngest brother Joseph.  Children Mary Jeanette, Maggie, Arthur and John were married.  Michael was the only one that may still have been at home.

According to the 1925 Iowa State Census Henry was 52 years old and his son Michael age 19 was living with him, he rented a room, I believe for $20 per month.  Henry attended a Rural High School, Highest Reader Completed 7, no listing for Highest Grade Completed, was able to read & write in English.  Henry’s father is listed as Jacob and place of birth Luxembourg. No name of Mother is listed but place of birth Luxembourg and their place of marriage listed as Iowa. Henry was listed as engaged in  the Trade and Transportation Industry and he was affiliated with the Catholic Church.  St. Mary Catholic Church (dedicated in 1904) in Remsen, Iowa seems to have been the church the family attended.  Iowa asked some very comprehensive questions which helps me learn more about Henry.

According to the 1930 US Federal Census Henry was 52 years old, a widower, he rented a house in Remsen, Plymouth County, Iowa valued at $6, he could read and write and speak English, he was listed as a Laborer doing Odd Jobs and a wage earner.  He was not a Veteran.

Henry died at the age of 66 on 23 June 1939 in LeMars, Plymouth County, Iowa at the Zimmerman Home of Lobar Pneumonia with a contributing factor of cardiac-vascular failure. His occupation was a Laborer at the County Farm.  He last worked in June of 1939.

Thank goodness for the State and Federal Census since this is the only information I can find on Henry.  By listing out all the information in each of the records and research the time period and the locations I found I was able to put together a better picture of Henry.  Now I just wish someday I will find some pictures of Henry and some additional information to add to ‘his’ story.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,