In my recent research looking for Hamm or Amundson descendants in Minnesota, I unexpectedly came across this interesting take on the Fred and Carrie desertion case.
I have written about this incident before, and even thought I was done writing about it, but then I found this article reporting on the same court case, but in a different paper. Well, I couldn’t just let it sit there. Ignored.
When I read the first sentence in the article I burst out in shocked laughter. Then it was “WTF dude?” I actually had to look up ’round head’, and found that it is derogatory American slang for an immigrant from northern Europe, particularly a Swede. I was appalled by my great grandfather’s rudeness and prejudice. He must have been a real treat to live with, starting with his balking at taking care of his wife’s first child with another man, and then this choice language.
I am glad that Fred divorced her, he sounds like he would have been a misery to live with ’til death’. And, no doubt, all the while would have been chasing after every available skirt he could find.
As far as I am aware, he never did find that “Irish Molly”.
I have actually written quite a bit over the years about Carrie. I am not sure if there will be anything new to learn when I finish this post, but at least it will be all together in one neat little package.
Julia Caroline, went by the name of Kari or Carrie throughout her life. She was the second known child born to Amund Amundson and Jorgina Johnsdtr. She was born on the 29th of August 1879, in Kenyon, Goodhue County, Minnesota (according to her obituary). At this time I have been unable to find a birth record for her in either government or church records.
Kari’s parents were married in Goodhue County1, and for a short time afterwards can be found living there, along with Jorgina’s parents and family. They bought land just to the south in Dodge County in 1875, (while they were still living in Goodhue County), and by 1880 they were living in Vernon, Dodge County, where they stayed until sometime before March of 1880 when they skedaddled quietly and stealthily in the cover of night out of Dodge. It looks like Amund and Jorgina were having problems paying their mortgage and keeping up with the expenses of their farm, so they decided the best course of action was to leave all their debts behind. Although, they didn’t go very far. In the 1885 state census we find them back in Goodhue County. Strangely enough buying more property.
Sometime after 1886 Amund decided that farming was not his cup of tea and moved the family around the state a bit until they ended up in Carlton County. He had a growing family to feed and was finding work as a laborer wherever he could. They stayed for approximately 7 years. By 1903 he and Jorgina had moved to Duluth where Amund found work on the ore docks, a job he would stay at until he retired shortly after 1913.
We really know nothing of Carrie’s early childhood. She was able to grow up around her mother’s Norwegian family until she was about 7-8 years old, then her parents hauled her off to another county far away from Goodhue and all she knew. She had an older sister Christina, and a younger brother John who sadly died between 1885 and 1895. Her mother had another child that never made it to any census records other than a statistic (the 1900 census asks the wife how many children they had had and how many were living, Jorgina’s answer was 4, 2 living).
In 1898 another tragedy struck the family. Christina, the eldest daughter, developed mental health issues and ended up being committed to the Fergus Falls insane asylum.
Christina’s medical records indicate that instances of her mental health problems started when she was about 17 years old, and were supposedly brought on by puberty. It was also noted in her records that her condition was inherited, but did not state from whom, or from which side of the family the illness is supposed to have originated (possibly her mother’s side). The Fergus Falls asylum, where she was taken, had been built in 1890 on the ‘Kirkbride Plan’, being spacious and well planned with lots of light. She was at the Fergus Falls facility until at least April 6 of 1902. She continued as a patient in an asylum for the rest of her life, dying December 11, 1927 at the Anoka State Asylum, of tuberculosis.
from John Family Book, 2008 edition
So now Carrie was the only child left at home.
The next thing we know is on October 25, 1900, Carrie had a child she named John. I can find no evidence that Carrie had married the father of this son. We know his name was John Gustafson, he was Swedish and he was born about 1876, and that’s about it.
Carrie was in the Duluth directory in 1900, she went to her parents in Moose Lake when she was due, as that is where John’s birth certificate says he was born. So, it doesn’t look like she was kicked out of the house, otherwise he parents wouldn’t have let her come home to have her child. Did she move to Duluth because she would have a better chance of getting a job that would support herself and her child in the city rather than a lumber town like Moose Lake? Was she in Duluth because the father of her child was there? We don’t know.
The fact that her name is listed as ‘Amundson’ in the directory, rather than Gustafson, raises the suspicion that she was an unwed mother. But, she also hails from a Nordic background where women keep their names when married. So we can’t with certainty say that she was an unwed mother, although, the 1900 census has her entered as single, not widowed. The census was recorded as being taken in August of that year, and her son was born two months later.
Regardless of her married status, she does not appear to be living with a man of any name in the early years of the 1900s. And she was working as a domestic, cleaning and working in other’s homes for a living. It would have been exhausting and tiresome work, for very little pay.
Sometime in 1902 Carrie met a man newly arrived in Duluth from Wisconsin. His name was Frederick Hamm and he was quite the looker. (Hey, even I can admit great-gramps was hot, I can see why the ladies would drop their knickers left and right.) The two were certainly smitten with each other, enough so that they were married on the 24th of February 1903. Carrie would have been relieved to no longer have to work as a domestic, she had a husband to bring home the paycheck now. Fred, when he met Carrie, was working as a carpenter about town. The 1903 directory had him listed as a laborer, probably getting any labor type work he could and by 1904 he had found work on the ore docks of Duluth.
About this time Carrie’s parents decided to make the move to Duluth also. They are found in the Duluth directory in 1904 living with (or in the same building with) their son-in-law and daughter, so they probably made the move sometime in 1903 (there are no directory entries for her parents earlier than 1904). Carrie’s father had also gotten work at the ore docks, maybe with his son-in-law’s help.
On June 3, 1904 Fred and Carrie welcomed their daughter Emelia into the world. And in 1905 they are found in the state census, in an error ridden entry, so who knows who gave the information to the census taker:
Mr. Hames [Fred Hamm] age 31, 2nd St. born Germany [Wisconsin], parents born Germany, carpenter Mrs. Carrie Hames [Kari Hamm] age 25, born Wisconsin [Minnesota], parents born Norway, wife Emilea Hames [Hamm], age 1, born Minnesota, parents born [can not read entry]
—1905 Minnesota Territorial and State Census, Duluth, St. Louis County:enumeration dist. 22, ward 7, sub-division B, precinct 2nd; sheet 18, page 101, City of Duluth June 7th-8th lines 37-40
Sadly they lost Emilia to gastroenteritis a few months after this census was taken.
Fred didn’t like dock work and went back to carpentry not long after their marriage. He continued in this line of work until 1907 when he became a police officer.
Annual Report of Police Department, Duluth, Minn., Jan. 1st 1907: Fred W. Hamm, appointed patrolman, Oct. 13, 1906; page 122
And then was fired two years later due to misconduct and dereliction of duty.
In 1906 the couple had another daughter, Myrtle Caroline, my grandmother.
But Carrie and Fred’s marriage was not destined to last for much longer. On April 28, 1907 Carrie’s mother died, after having been committed to an asylum for a short time. She most likely had dementia and Amund was unable to handle her erratic and violent behavior. Then a year later these articles started appearing in the local newspaper:
Non-Support Charge Fred Hamm, charged with non-support, was arraigned in municipal court this morning. His hearing was set for Wednesday morning, upon his pleas of not guilty. He lives as 2615 West Second St. and has a 2-year old child.
—Duluth Evening Herald, Monday November 16, 1908 page 8
POLICEMAN PROMISES TO PROVIDE FOR FAMILY Policeman Fred Hamm was let go on suspended sentence by Judge Cutting yesterday on his promise to contribute $25 a month to the support of his wife and child. The officer was arrested by Court Officer Jensen on a warrant sworn out by his wife charging him with failing to contribute to the support of his family. Mrs. Hamm, who carried her baby into court, testified that two months ago when the separation took place her husband said he was tired living with her. The evidence showed that the couple have had many quarrels which began when Mrs. Hamm’s mother died nearly two years ago and the patrolman was called upon to support a former child of Mrs. Hamm’s which had been living with her parents.
–Duluth News-Tribune (1908-11-19): page unknown
CHARGED WITH NON-SUPPORT Fred Hamm, a Policeman, Arraigned in Municipal Court. Fred Hamm, a local policeman, was arraigned in municipal court before Judge Cutting this morning on the charge of non-support. The case was continued for three months, under Hamm’s promise that he would contribute $25 monthly to his wife’s support. The couple have not been living together since last August. Hamm claims the trouble started because his wife objected to having his sister visiting at the house, claiming that the sister wanted to “boss” her. He said he had been perfectly willing to support his wife, and always had contributed liberally to her support, but that he insisted on the right to have relatives visit him, as long as he was paying the bills. He denied that the sister did any bossing. Mr. and Mrs. Hamm have one child, an infant in arms.
–Duluth Evening Herald. Publication Date November 19, 1908: page 2, column 1
Obviously the two were not getting along and Fred was feeling boxed in by his marriage. On July 19, 1910 Fred filed for divorce in Koochiching County, Minnesota after having run away to Montana. Here he is in the 1910 census:
HAMM, Frank, boarder, male, white, age 36, single, born in Wisconsin, parents born in Germany, speak english, laborer in a logging camp, works for wages, hadn’t been out of work on April 15, 1910, or all of 1909, can read and write.
–1910 census Hellsgate Twp, Missoula County, Montana details:Missoula National Forest-North Division, Enumeration Dist. 61, Sheet 5A, 23 April, line 21
Carrie was having a rough go of it. She has two children, a husband who now refused to support them, and then disappeared, (he objected to supporting Carrie’s son from another man), a mother now dead, and a father who would be useless to help. She was now all on her own, and not really capable to doing so.
The details of why are unknown, but their daughter Myrtle was living with her grandparents George and Amelia Hamm by the 1910 census. In fact she ended up growing up on the Hamm farm. And Carrie’s son John isn’t found again until a 1920 newspaper article when he was injured on the job and his mother sued the railroad for compensation.
Other than the newspaper articles related to her marriage to Fred, we know nothing about Carrie’s life after his desertion, other than what is found in directories and census records. She wasn’t at the divorce hearings in Koochiching County. I doubt she even was aware that they were going on, she didn’t live anywhere near there. And even if she did, she most likely couldn’t afford a lawyer or the trip.
So Carrie was now back living on her own and working as a laundress/domestic, a job she had until her death in 1949. As far as we know she had no further contact with her daughter, my grandmother after she was farmed out to her grandparents. If she wrote, we have no correspondence to confirm any such contact.
And she really had no other family to speak of from 1917, when her father died, until her own death in 1949.
From the Wednesday, June 1 1949 Duluth News-Tribune (Funeral Notice): AMUNDSON, Mrs. Carrie C., 212 West Second Street. Funeral Services 2 p.m. at the Johnson Mortuary Chapel, the Rev. Benjamin Urshan officiating. Interment Park Hill.
Same Paper: Mrs. Carrie C. Amunson, 67, of 212 West Second Street, died yesterday in a Duluth hospital. Born in Kenyon, Minn., she resided here 60 years. Surviving are a son, John C. Gustafson, Minneapolis; a daughter, Mrs. Myrtle John, Rothchild, Wis., and three children.
The clues that Carrie left behind regarding her life, lead me to speculate that the mental issues, (like depression), that plagued the family probably also affected her. She didn’t really raise her own children. Her son was farmed out to her parents in his early years, and her only other living child, Myrtle, was farmed out to her ex’s parents in Wisconsin by the time she was 4. Carrie only shows up again in her son’s life when there was a chance to make some money from the railroad.
Not everyone is meant to be a parent, and it is quite possible that Carrie was one of those people. So maybe both of her children were better off not being raised by their mother.
Her life seems a bit sad and lonely to me, I hope she had a good one in spite of herself.
SOURCES: 1. Ammon Amunnson and Kari Jorgina Johnson entry, page 60; “Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X2BR-JQK : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Ammon Amunnson and Kari Jorgina Johnson, 1874. Image saved as marriage_amundson_to_johnson [FHL Film number: 1379159 online Digital Folder Number: 004540657 online Image Number: 01315
2. Fred W. Hamm vs Carrie Hamm divorce case file #492 Koochiching County, Minnesota 1910; Civil and Criminal Case files, 2907-1950, 1961, Minnesota District Court, Minnesota Historical Society. Accession number(s): 999-71; 2006-58; 2007-20; 2008-22; Catalog ID No.: 1735999. Forwarded by Koochiching County Clerk of Courts office.
Carrie8 (Kari7, Kari6, Ingeborg5, Kari4, Agnete3, Auslauf2, Kari1 Persdotter Finneid) Amundson Hamm who married Frederick Hamm sometime around 1903, had had a child with a gentleman by the name of John Gustafson in 1900. It is currently unknown as to whether or not they were actually married. This child was named John C. Gustafson, (the initial ‘C’ is said to stand for Cornelius). We know very little about John’s childhood, other than the fact that in 1908, when Carrie took Fred to court for non-support of his family (which consisted of her and my grandmother Myrtle at the time), it was mentioned by Fred that her 8 year old son John was living with his grandparents Amund and Jorgina Amundson. Nothing is known about John’s father.
It appears that like my grandmother Myrtle, her half-brother John spent very little time living with their mother Carrie, certainly not when the census takers came around.1 The reason for Carrie’s abdication of her motherly duties is never made clear to us, so any reasons we would give would be mere speculation. I believe that she was simply incapable of doing so due to mental health.
Because Carrie’s mother Jorgina had died in 1907 and her father Amund in 1917, John was now no longer living with his grandparents, and likely on his own at the age of about 17 working to feed himself and possibly helping his mother out. We do not know how close their relationship was, or even if they had one. But in 1920 when he was injured on the job Carrie stepped up to the plate to help him get monetary compensation from his employers:
John’s grandfather Amund, and step-father Fred, had both worked at the ore-docks of the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad company in Duluth’s harbor in the early 1900s, information which is found in the city directories. John most likely got the job because his grandfather had been there for many years, so he had an ‘in’. The image below is what the docks looked like at the time of his accident.
According to the personal injury case(#43788) dated September 4th of 1920, Carrie was filing as John’s guardian against the DM&NRR railroad because of permanent injuries he had suffered while working at the ore-dock. Carrie brought the suit as John’s guardian because he was only 19 years old and therefore still considered a minor, as such he was unable to bring a lawsuit on his own. If indeed that was what he wanted.
The complaint stated that John had been working for DM&NRR for some time on the ore-docks, performing duties related to unloading the vessels. A description of how the unloading of the ore was also provided in the record as follows.
The ships containing the ore in which John worked were unloaded with complicated machinery. This type of vessel had a number of large compartments each separated by large beams running across from side to side. Each compartment was equipped with a large hatchway that ran across the deck of the ship and allowed access to the hold. Hoisting rigs were arranged along the dock so that they could be moved to a point above any of the hatchways. These rigs consisted of a horizontal track suspended at a great height above the ship and ran from a point above the hatchway back over and upon the dock. Attached to the rig is a carriage which moves back and forth carrying a heavy steel cable from which a clam shell bucket was hung, this bucket was dropped down into the hold to grabbed the coal and pull it up to the dock where is was then deposited into a big pile.
The people who operated the rigs were called hoisters. The rate of speed with which these rigs ran was ‘terrific’, and the speed also caused the clam shells to swing and sway from one side to another striking against walls of the hold, which made it pretty dangerous for the employees who were working in the hold where the ore was being removed.
On this particular day John’s job was as one of the ‘cleaners up.’ They shoveled the coal left in the hold, that the rigs couldn’t reach, in a pile to the center where it could then be lifted out. This work was tiring and required undivided attention of the ‘cleaners up’ to avoid getting ‘eaten’ by the clam shells. It was while one of these clam shells was being carelessly manipulated by a hoister, according to the complaint, that John was struck by the device and injured. In fact he was injured so badly that his right foot had to eventually be amputated above the ankle.
Of course, the railroad answered that they were not responsible for his loss and a court date was set. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened with the case from there, as there is nothing further in the records regarding its progress. I will assume that the parties settled, but the case could have been dismissed too. John was now a 20 year old young man out of a job and disabled. I can only imagine how long it must’ve taken him to recover from having his foot amputated and then trying to find work after that.
By 1923/4 John was married a woman slightly older than himself, by the name of Lillian Jarvella (or Lania/Lavis/Lavia, records are quite varied regarding her last name). They eventually had 9 children together*, some I am sure who are still around as they were born in the 30s and 40s. According to census records John was working as a farmer in the 1930s and a paper hanger in the 1940s. He died in 1985 in Minneapolis.
* John and Lillian named one of their sons Clarence and one of their daughters Myrtle. After his half-sister and her soon to be husband? Hmmm.
1 Myrtle did live with her mother from birth, 1906, to at least 1908. But by the 1910 census and thereafter, until her marriage, she was permanently residing with her Hamm grandparents in Wisconsin.