Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Life of Susan Bentz Hamman

Nothing was ever known about my maternal great-grandmother Susan Bentz Hamman.  My grandfather, living 1,200 miles away in upstate New York never really spoke about his family or growing up as my mother recalls.  

Susan was born to John and Mary Margaret (Robin) Bentz on 28 August 1878 in Worthington, Dubuque County, Iowa.  Susan’s parents and several of her siblings had been born in Luxembourg before the family immigrated and settled in Iowa in the early 1860s.  Susan is believed to be the 9th and last child born to John and Margaret Bentz.                   
  • Worthington was located in western Dubuque County, Iowa and was a station stop on the railroad. In 1880, according to the census, the population was 169.  The main businesses in the area were agriculture, for the production of food, and the rail lines to get those goods to the markets in the East and sometimes even on to Europe.
   (click on image to enlarge)
photo from the book The History of Dubuque County, Iowa, containing A History of the County, its Cities, Towns, etc. published 1880

In June of 1880, according to the US Federal Census, Suza (age 3), her parents and her brother Jacob (age 10) were still living in Dodge Township, Dubuque County, Iowa.  Worthington was part of Dodge Township.
1885 Iowa State Census - I am unable to locate Suza and her parents.
  • About 1886 Suza and her parents moved from one end of the state of Iowa to the other.  A distance of about 280 miles to settle in Le Mars, Iowa.  About 6 years later, in 1892, the family would move again.  This time they moved a distance of about 11 miles east to Remsen, Iowa.

In the Iowa, State Census of 1895 Susie was 17 years old and living in Remsen with her birthplace being listed as Dubuque County, Iowa.  Susie is living with her mother Mary (Widow) age 59, birthplace Luxembourg, who is Keeping House and her brother Jacob age 25, who was also born in Dubuque, and Plaster as his occupation.


  • I have been unable to locate a death certificate for Susan’s father.  Based on the census record he passed away before the date of the census of 1895 since Mary is listed as widowed.

Susie would meet and marry Henry Hamman on 11 October 1897

  • I wonder if they met at Church or did the families know each other before moving to Remsen?  Henry was born in Dyersville and Susan in Worthington.  Did they attend the same church in Eastern Iowa? Both families seem to have been affiliated with St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Remsen. 
Susie and Henry would live in Remsen and have 6 children who would all live to adulthood:
  • Mary Jeannette
  • Arthur John
  • Margaret
  • James Jacob (my grandfather)
  • Michael
  • Joseph
In the 1900 US Federal Census I am unable to find Henry, Susie and daughter Mary.
In the 1905 Iowa State Census Susan,  Henry and their children Mary, John, Maggie, Jacob, and Michael are living in Remsen, Iowa.
                                           from The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa.  Thursday, 28 March 
1907 page 5
image(not sure who the family was?)
21 May 1908 Susie would die at age 29 leaving behind her husband Henry and 6 children.

I know a little more about Great-Grandma Susie’s life but still have so many unanswered questions.  I wonder what type of mother she was?  Did she like living in Remsen?  Does anyone have a picture of her?

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


  1. Hi Debbie, my name is Bridgett. I believe if I'm looking and getting all my information correct. Susie would have been my third great grandmother. I am the great granddaughter of Dorothy (Hinken) Miller, who's mother is Mary Jeanette(hamman) Hinken,Which is Susie's daughter. If I'm correct.

  2. Debbie, My paternal grandmother is Mary Jeanette Hamman Hinken, which would make Susan Betz Hamman my great grandmother too. My father, Edward William Hinken, is brother to Dorothy Hinken Miller, who Bridgett mentions in her comment above. Since my father died in 1955, I know virtually nothing about the Hammans . It's great to read the results of the reseach you've done and gain some knowledge about that part of my family.