In writing this short story of the Hamman Family, I have thought I should honor someone with its history, and so now I dedicate it to the memory of my great-great-grandfather and my great-great-grandmother, the parents of my great-grandfather, who was the father of the present race. I hope you will not censure me too strong when reading this story, as I often had to draw on my imagination, and probably have overdrawn a little, but remember it is over forty years since I heard my father tell the stories recorded in this book, and as most, or probably all, were told in German, I have had to change the phrasing and omit some and supply other words to make the story ring with true merit.
By the Author, C. P. Hamman
One of the 17 Children
Believed to be the Jacob Hamman that settled in Kosciusko Co, IN
Some time in the latter part of the Seventeenth century, or the beginning of the Eighteenth century, in Baden-Baden, Germany, a baby boy was born to the Hamman family. As we have no record of his birth and name, I am going to name him John, and am going to call him John the First, who was our great-great-grandfather, and for some of us our ever so great-grandfather. He probably was like all other boys-liked his sport and probably was educated in the then compulsory schools of Germany, which required six days of the week in attendance at what we call our public or parochial school, and on Sunday at the Lutheran Sunday school. I have every reason to believe that he attended the Lutheran parochial school, as he and his family were devout Lutherans.
At the age of eighteen years he was mustered into the standing army of Germany, which was then the law the same as it is now, and no poor German boy was exempt from this ordeal. After serving this time of three years in the German army he returned home, and was married soon after, to whom I do not know. To he and his good wife, our great-great-grandmother, three children were born, two daughters and a son. At about this time Frederick the Great conceived the idea of having a bodyguard of the largest men, and the largest bodyguard in the world. All the men of this bodyguard must be six feet or over in height. He issued his order to his commanding officers, who hunted all over Europe to get his number. This bodyguard was to be one thousand men. Of this number, our great-great-grandfather was one. He measured six feet, four inches in his stocking feet.
I am going to try to describe him in my own image; you do the same. I will begin with the feet. Possibly a number 12 boot would fit him best. Large Nose; dark eyes; broad forehead; heavy cheek bones, quite prominent; black hair; long legs and arms; large hands; in fact, a giant. After serving some time as bodyguard to his excellency, the king, the king should be permitted to bring their families to live with them, and he ordered small cottages to be built for all that brought their families. After some years of service he gained audience with the king. His mission was to emigrate to America, where he might make a home for his family and get away from the slavery he was then in. King Frederick, after listening to him make his plea, granted his request, but asked him how he expected to pay the passage for he and his family to America. To this he replied that his children were willing to be sold into bondage when they arrived in America. To this King Frederick replied, "Go, and God be with you. You were a true soldier and man in my kingdom; be the same in your adopted country, and your posterity shall number thousands, and from them some day a great ruler will arise, who will rule the whole country of your adoption," and as a farewell the king embraced him and bade him God-speed.
Soon after our great-great-grandfather and his family embarked for America. It might be well to mention here the names of the three children, Sarah, Mary and John, in the order in which they were born, the son, John, being youngest. This trip across the big sea as it was then known was no pleasure trip. As it required six months to make the trip, this alone would be enough to discourage you, my brothers and sisters, but another worse than that had to befall them. Their daughter, Mary, was stricken with a fever and died, and must be buried at sea. Can you imagine, my dear friends, what brave hearts it would take to see their daughter not only taken from them in death, but to have her wrapped in stout sail cloth with a heavy ballast fastened to it so that it would sink rapidly, then to stand by and hear the chaplain offer prayer; to see her slip from the boat's deck into the water and disappear forever, with the sharks following the ship all the time the ceremony was being conducted, and days before; when the body slid into the waker making plunges after it? Were they not brave hearts who continued on to this land of promise so that you and I can enjoy the luxuries of their trials and defeats? Won't you say, "God bless them" many, many times as you think this over? Their ship finally arrived in America, at the town then known as Baltimore, the same Baltimore now, but very much larger. Here soon after their arrival the children were placed on the block, just like other slaves, but not like the black slave. as the white slave was only sold for enough money to pay for the passage to America, and the term of years were auctioned down instead of up.
Sarah was sold for a period of four years and John was sold for a period of seven years. Both were sold to the same man, who had a distillery. John worked in this distillery and learned the trade of a distiller. His only place to sleep during the seven years he worked for this man was in a large barrel, or hogshead, as it was then called. Sarah remained in the home doing such domestic work as a bound girl was required to do for one year, then her master received more money for the three remaining years of her bondage than he had paid the ship captain. She was taken by her new master into Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia, and her parents and brother never heard from her after that. Think of the parting with her parents and brother, and think of the heartaches ever after! I have heard my father tell that his grandfather, who was the brother of this daughter, Sarah, in his old age, whenever he would speak of her, would always weep and only wish he could see his sister Sarah once more before he died.
After John had served his seven years in bondage and was released his master made him a present of a horse and saddle. This not being the custom then, and his master being censured by his neighbors for doing this, his reply was that the boy had more than earned it. He however, remained with this master for several years more, but at once sold the horse and saddle and placed the money in safe keeping until the time would come for him to use it. After working for this master about three years he married a very beautiful Maryland lady, our great-grandmother. Soon after they were married great grandfather used the horse and saddle money to buy a team of oxen, and with what money he had saved working for his old master he set up as a very promising young farmer.
Just a little story I have heard my father tell that his grandfather used to tell on himself: He had saved all the money for that great event which comes in all our lives, that happy wedding day, and then he was marr1ed in his shirt and bare feet. It is a fact that many a young man was married in his bare feet. Then he would laugh to see the surprise on his young grandchildren's faces when one of them would say, "Now, really, grandfather, did you do that?" "Of course I did. but I had on my pants and boots, too." Then he would laugh at his joke. After he had married and settled in a home of his own he took his aged parents to live with him. They soon moved from Baltimore to one of the northern counties of Maryland, and if I remember rightly, the county was Harford, as the county seat of that county is Bel-Air, and I have heard my father speak so often of that town being their trading point and Baltimore their grain market.
They, however, did not live at that place many years until they again moved-into Lancaster county, Pennsylvania-and from there they crossed over the Susquehanna river into Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, but not until both his parents had passed into the great beyond and were buried in a cemetery in the town of Lancaster. After remaining in Cumberland county until they had a family of fourteen children, they again moved to the then far West, to the land of "Promise and Opportunity," Stark county, Ohio. Here three more children were born to them, bringing the total number up to the seventeen mark. Here both passed their days among their children, and lie buried in Paris township, Stark county, Ohio. Here their children were married, with the exception of two. Sarah was married to a man by the name of Good, and after coming to Ohio she lost her husband and was married six more times burying all of them, but who they were I have forgotten, as I always heard her spoken of as Aunt Sally Good. The other daughter was Rebecca, who married a man by the name of Bushong. All the others were married in Ohio as near as I can
It might be well to name the children as I remember their names, eight boys and nine girls. I will not endeavor to give their names in regular order, but here they are: John, Jacob, David, Daniel, Adam, George, Christian and Henry. Of this number, Henry was the youngest, and emigrated to Kansas in the early days when it was a territory, and has never been heard from since. George emigrated to New York state, some where near the Erie canal, east of Buffalo, and was lost to the rest of the family. I think Jacob and Daniel were the only two boys that came to Indiana, and three of the girls, Aunt Sally, Rebecca and Elizabeth. Oh, I had almost forgotten; you don't know who the girls are. Well, I will try to name them, but not in regular order: Sarah, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Susan, Mary, Caroline, Magdaline, Anna and Ellen. I am not so sure of this last name, as I have heard my father speak of Aunt Ell and Aunt Jane, but it might be her name was Ellen Jane. Now, who they married and what became of their families has always been a mystery to me. I wish I knew; don't you? I believe I have given you a very good account of this family, consldering that my father died when I was but nineteen years of age, and all this history I accumulated in my childhood and boyhood days, and perhaps have forgotten much of it, and for the time being we will go back and give some reasons for our foreparents moving so often. To do this may be a long story. Will you bear with me, as it will take me some time with the story before I arrive at the point, but I might just as well bore you as someone else.
Soon after John the Second, as I shall call him from now on, was married and moved to Bel-Air, in Harford county, Maryland, he made a trip to Baltimore with his ox team and a load of grain. It was a long trip of about thirty-five miles, and took him nearly a week. While in Baltimore he remained over night in a tavern, as all hotels were then called, and as all the farmers of those days drank their rye or barley coffee, he of course called for coffee. They served him with the best Java, and to his surprise it was good, better than anything he had ever drank, and I imagine he was just like we are, a little inquisitive, so the next morning he asked the landlord where he bought that coffee that made such good juice. The reply was, "I keep it to sell." Before he left he bought a pound to take home to surprise his good wife and parents. When he arrived home he said, "Mother, I drank the best juice I ever drank at the tavern in Baltimore, and I brought a pound of the berries home. They call it coffee, but it has our coffee beaten a mile." But here was the great mistake he made: he did not ask how it was to be prepared, and in those days there was no such thing as browned and ground coffee on the market. The next day Mother cooked the coffee for an hour, then poured the juice into their cups. Can you imagine their surprise as they tasted it? His father said, "John, you have fooled us. What are you trying to do, poison us?" But John said, "I am going back with another load next week, and will find out." The next time he came home he brought a coffee mill, and a recipe how to prepare it. After that I imagine coffee was the chief drink in the family, and I think it is today.
Soon after John the Second was assigned to fight in the Revolutionary war. He was assigned to General Wayne's command. Wayne was only a colonel at this time. The only battle I can now recall was the battle of Brandywine, near Philadelphia, so in this battle he really was fighting under Washington. He furnished his own gun, which must have been a young cannon, as it shot a two-ounce ball-only eight balls to the pound. He was soon selected as a sharp shooter, and for long range was hard to beat, and had an especial pick on the Hessians, as he felt that they were traitors to their country men in hiring to the British to come over and fight many of their own countrymen, and our historians so treat that subject today. After the war was over he returned to his home with a better knowledge of this country, and soon after selected Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and moved there, but war had made a rover and a hunter of him, and hunting was better in Cumberland county hence the move there, as there were plenty of deer, bear, wild turkey, and a great abundance of other game.
Chapter Six: Bear Story
As every soldier in the American army carried his own gun, which were all known as "flintlocks," no matter how large they were (Look up the history of guns and find out how they were constructed ), after the war closed they used their guns in pursuit of game. As he was a sharp shooter in the army, he naturally sought big game and became a great hunter, and, I have reason to believe that is why he moved his family to Cumberland county, as it was in the foot hills of the mountains and of easy access to the mountains, which were full of wild game, bear, deer, wolves and other wild game that caused great havoc to the farmers. Some years after settling in this county he became famous as a great hunter, and in the valley to the west of the one he was living in a very large bear was making raids upon the farmers' stock in day time. So large was this bear that a yearling steer would be killed by him and carried away into his mountain fastness. The farmers in the valley organized, and often gave chase with dogs, always to their sorrow, as he invariably killed one or two dogs, and for his pay received many rifle shots, but none proved effectual. Finally these valley farmers held a meeting and decided to go across the mountain and hunt up the man with the big gun, as it was said he had a gun that would shoot through a tree. At this meeting they decided to pay him whatever he asked. but he must kill the bear. Soon after four of these farmers came to his home on a Sunday afternoon and told their mission and hired him. They insisted that he return with them, but he refused, as he was a devout Lutheran and would not think of doing such a thing on the Sabbath as carrying his gun. They agreed to carry it for him, but he would not be moved from his decision, but agreed to come on the morrow.
Monday morning at four o'clock he started across the mountain instead of around it, as he knew from their explanations that they lived nearly due west from his home. He had a lunch put up for his noon and one for his afternoon meal which he figured would last him until he reached some settler's home in the evening. Always on the alert, always prepared, always looking cautiously for every sign of big game, never sitting down to rest but that he would look well to his powder pan and prime it so that he would be prepared for any surprise, he cautiously selected his way across the mountain. By noon he had reached the mountain's top. He rested and ate his noonday lunch, and laid his plan to reach the valley below at about four P. M. Carefully he descended the western slope of the mountain, ever mindful especially for the tracks of the big bear. As he descended nearly to the lower edge of the mountain, he discovered monstrous bear tracks, the largest he had ever seen. He looked around. He was in a clear space on the mountain side, with boulders projecting at numerous places. As it was about time for him to eat his afternoon lunch, he selected a large boulder and sat down to eat. Soon he heard a noise from the thicket below, as some large animal was breaking through the brush. He at once took up his gun to be in readiness. As he often said afterwards, he was just sure it was the bear. He came in sight, and to his amazement and astonishment, he often claimed in telling the story, it was as large as an ox. The animal kept sniffling and coming nearer until it was within a hundred feet of him, when it raised onto its hind parts and sat sniffling to get a true course. When he took aim and shot it in the breast, he said it fell over backward and began to roll down into the valley, breaking brush and young trees and making a path down the mountain side until it struck the floor of the valley. He, however, was not like most of the hunters. He first finished his meal, loaded his gun, then went down and took a look at the bear. He said he knew he had captured the very animal he came after. He made his way to the nearest cabin to get help to move the bear out of the brush, and whom should he find at this cabin but the leader of the four men who came after him the day before, but with sorrow in his home, as the bear had made a raid that very day and killed his best heifer. He listened to the man's and his good wife's story for a while, and also to the man's complaint and chastisement for his not coming along the day before, as he would not have another such chance to get him. Finally this man asked him if he had killed anything when he came across the mountain, as he had heard the report of a gun, and it was louder than any gun in his neighborhood, and wondered if it might not have been him shooting. To this Great-Grandfather replied that he had shot a small bear as he was coming down the mountain, and if he would get his ox team hitched onto a boat they would go and get him. The man at once sent his children to two of his nearest neighbors to tell them to come and go along. As soon as they arrived, and after the customary greetings of those days, the "little brown jug," they proceeded with the ox team to get the little bear. Great-Grandfather piloted them to the place.. Imagine their surprise! They shouted, they sang, they wept, they hugged him, and proclaimed him their savior. Before they loaded the bear the children were sent over the entire neighborhood to spread the good news that the great hunter had arrived and had killed the big bear on his way across the mountain, and that they should meet at the home of this man that had furnished the ox team that night to see the bear and have a frolic. Now, a frolic is nothing more than a Pennsylvanian's name for a dance. I imagine that they had more than a frolic. I think there was more than one "little brown jug" at this frolic, as Great-Grandfather said they made him stay three days, and all this time they made merry, but to their surprise, he refused their reward, as he said he had received the reward in killing the big bear. They, however made him take the skin home with him, and I have heard my father say that he saw it many times when he was a small boy, and in speaking of it he often wondered who finally got it after his grandfather had died. I have heard Uncle Tom, Uncle Adam and Uncle John of Kosciusko county often speaking of it and wondering where it was, and always claiming that one of the girls took it, but which one they never could agree upon.
Having been a soldier in the Revolutionary war, Great Grandfather was often called upon to accompany soldiers in skirmishes against the Indians in Western Pennsylvania, and on one of these skirmishes they crossed the Allegheny river and drove the Indians farther west than ever before. Being a thorough student of nature, he naturally admired the country in Stark and adjoining counties in Ohio, and often remarked that some day he would like to settle in that locality. The county they were then living in Pennsylvania bordered on the mountains, as I have told you before, and abounded in game, but it also had plenty of snakes, probably more at times (the little brown jug) than at others. An early blacksmith had built his cabin and blacksmith shop near the foot of the mountain, but not for long, as the snakes were so plentiful they soon drove him out, as it seems they were more numerous at this particular place than any other along the mountain side. The settlement soon had another blacksmith move in and take his place, but he also was driven out by the snakes. By this time winter was setting in, and they persuaded a third to move in. All went well through the winter, but when spring came he, too, was driven out by the snakes. A much braver man than the other three came some distance, as he had heard of the place and wanted to give it a trial, as he claimed that he feared neither man nor the devil. But four days was all he could endure, when he left, claiming that it certainly was the work of his satanic majesty. Two days after he left the settlement organized a hunting squad. If I remember the story correctly, there were twenty-seven of them, which Great Grandfather led in a war upon the snakes. Three of his sons and one son-in-law were along; the three sons were John, Daniel and David, and the son-in-law was the man named Bushong. They went early in the morning, and were having great sport, as they had killed hundreds by shooting and some with clubs, and about 11 A. M. Great-Grandfather heard a whistling sound back of him, and looking in the direction of the noise, he claimed ever after that he saw a monstrous snake crawling out of a crevice on the mountain side, and she was every color imaginable, and back of her head she had a complete crown. Her whistling grew more shrill, and as it did so it appeared to all the men, as all had quit shooting and gazed in wonder at this great snake. At the same time all kinds of snakes began to answer this call, and hurried to the place where this large snake was, until there were wagon loads of snakes near her, in a cringing, crawling mess. One of the men raised his gun to shoot the large snake, but Great-Grandfather would not let him, as he claimed it was the work of the devil, and they surely would have very bad luck, but his advice was that they at once go home and leave the snakes alone.
Soon after this trip he and many of his neighbors decided to leave for the then far West, as he told them such wonderful stories of the lands in Eastern Ohio, so in a few months there was an exodus of nearly the entire valley for the West, driven out by the snakes of Pennsylvania, all going to Stark county (not the snakes, of course, but the settlers), with their earthly possessions. Of course, in their possessions was the "little brown jug," and at that time every household owned a loom, and any girl in those days was not considered a fit subject to get married unless she could break, scutch, clean and spin and weave flax into the finest kind of cloth; the finer the grade of cloth, the better she appeared in the eyes of the young men of the community, and the better chance she would have of selecting a husband. Here in Stark county, Ohio, we will leave them for the present and take up another phase of our story.
One of the 17 Children
Believed to be Daniel Hamman that settled in Dekalb/Stueben County, IN
CHAPTER EIGHT: GHOSTS, WITCHCRAFT, ETC
I will try to tell you in this chapter about the Pennsylvania superstition in those days, which still prevails among a number of the people of that state, as they believed in those days in witchcraft, and that if you had trouble with one of your neighbors he sought revenge by means of witchcraft, or in other words, he would bewitch you, and if by any means through your own carelessness you had any ill luck, that neighbor had bewitched you. Of course you never practiced it on him, but he did on you, and he believed the same of you.
Now it so happened that Great-Grandfather and a neighbor had some trouble, and a few days after, or rather in the evening, Great-Grandfather was repairing a loom, and a few of the neighbors had gathered in to spend the evening. It was a bright moonlight evening, and all at once someone on the outside struck the window three times with a switch. Great Grandfather arose and faced the window and called out, "Oh, you can't scare us that way. You will have to do that twenty five times.' Almost instantly the switching began, and kept it up to the twenty-fifth time. They were all surprised, and someone rushed outdoors to catch the culprit, but imagine their surprise-no one was there. You may take this for all it is worth, but I imagine too much "little brown jug." At another time a neighbor on a moonlight night saw something glisten on the mountain side. This was repeated every night the moon shone. He told some of his neighbors about it, and one finally suggested that it might be a pile of silver, which suggestion was accepted, but three of them finally decided that some moonlight night they would proceed up the mountain side and investigate, so they set a time to go. The third man lived the farthest away, and at twilight he started with a grain sack to bring his share home with him. As he passed the home of number two, he called to him to come along, but number two had been busy preparing his corn ground so that he could plant on the morrow, and was very tired, so he would not go. Number three journeyed to the home of number one who had discovered this strange light on the mountain side and called to him, but he had been planting corn all day and was very tired, but would go the next night. By this time number three was pretty angry, and just then he looked in the direction of the supposed pile of silver, and behold, it was shining almost as bright as day, so he decided he would go alone. Using this shining light as a guide, he very easily approached the spot until he was within less than one hundred feet of the place, when a cloud crossed the face of the moon and all became dark for a few minutes. Upon the reappearance of the moon nothing was in sight, but he thought he had the place marked definitely in his mind and could walk right to the spot, so he walked in the direction of the supposed trophy, and when he was almost at the point he ran against a large boulder. He knew then that it was just back of the boulder and upon walking around on the other side he would surely find it. Around he went, but no silver. Being very tired and a little angry, he sat down on a boulder to rest. While doing so, he saw before him what to him appeared a million shining eyes. He approached them and they began to move, and to his surprise it was a huge pile of toads, and their shining eyes was what they saw from the cabin of number one in the valley. He looked at them a while, and then the thought occurred to him that he would play a joke on numbers one and two. He put down his sack and with the aid of his feet he managed to fill the sack with live toads. Tying his sack and resting a little more, he started down the mountain for cabin number one, his plan being to put half of them if possible into the home of number one, and then on to number two. When he arrived at the home of number one he was very tired, and approaching the cabin he noticed that the kitchen window was open, so here was his chance. He slipped up very cautiously, untied his sack and placed it on the window sill to empty, but through some misfortune the sack slipped and he emptied all of it, some going on the floor and some in the water pail, which stood below the window on the inside. This was very unfortunate, but he must leave them, as it would not do to call his neighbor and tell him. "Well," he said, "it serves him right; he was the one who caused all this and talked me into it, so he can have them all."
The next morning when his neighbor arose and went into his kitchen, lo and behold! his water pail was full of silver, and the floor was covered with silver. There are probably a dozen more that I can recall, but I will not tell them in this book but I wish to show you at this point of their faith. Faith, I truly believe it was, and that it cured many of their ills. They had so much faith that they truly believed in the old poem--
"For every ill under the sun
There is a remedy or there is none.
If there is one, try and find it;
If there is none, never mind it."
Now by some words--generally the same ones, but differently arranged-they could cure most any disease known to the human family. "Through faith, though no larger than a mustard seed, you can move mountains," and believe me, they had it. and to hear them tell of it in after years, they performed some wonderful miracles. I will now close this chapter, and before I end may have more to say about faith.
Chapter Nine: Why They Decided To Come To Indiana
During the war of 1812, my great-grandfather was again in demand with his big gun, and now being settled in Eastern Ohio, he soon enlisted in the command of Colonel (afterward Major ) Crogan, and distinguished himself at the battle of Fort Meigs, where history tells us that 150 men in the fort held a large force of British and Indians from taking the fort, without the loss of a man. Here Great-Grandfather distinguished himself by wounding seven officers, as he always claimed that to his knowledge he had never killed a man, but by wounding them it weakened the enemy, as it took some of their able men to take care of the wounded, and just by the slightest chance he always maintained this credit, as his company soon after this battle were ordered to another place to meet General Wayne. While on their march to meet General Wayne, and just one day before they entered his camp, he with his army surrounded a large camp of Indians early in the morning, surprising them while they were at breakfast. Wayne's orders were not to spare an Indian, and the orders were fulfilled, as every one of them were shot down. Had it happened two days later Great-Grandfather would have had to shoot in the air or commit the crime which he always claimed he had never been guilty of, and in telling of it said he would have shot high.
He often told the story of this butchering by General Wayne's army, telling it as an Irishman had related it to him soon after they arrived in Wayne's camp, using the Irishman's dialect in part of it. Mike said that General Wayne was a "turribul, turribul wecked mon." He would say, "Farr away, farr away, boys- farr away, farr away, G** D** their souls, farr away." After this war ended he again returned to his home in Stark county, but not long to remain, as General Wayne was soon ordered to Eastern Indiana to subdue the Indians again, and on this eventful campaign Great-Grand father was accompanied by three of his sons. One thing only do I remember, and that is that my grandfather, David Hamman, was one of these sons, but who the other two were I have forgotten. My reason for remembering this is that on this trip these sons noted the wonderful opportunity in the vicinity of what is now Fort Wayne, and after my grandfather had been mustered out of the service, returning home, he would tell about this wonderful country around Fort Wayne, and as soon as he could he was going to move out there and settle. This dream of his was never realized, as the day before he was to have started he died at the dinner table, but he and his two brothers had talked so much about this new country that I am sure every one of their children finally settled here, and other members of the family. Had it not been for this, we would probably be climbing the hills of Stark county today.
Here in the heavy timber of Eastern Indiana, in the early 40's, our parents and grandparents arrived to make a new home so that their posterity might enjoy life here again among the wild animals and some Indians, and worst of all, malaria, which took away many of the early settlers. Our foreparents risked all, left homes back East, and often when I heard them talk about them I knew that it was with regret, but they would always end by saying that they were glad they came, as it was the opportunity of a lifetime for their children-always thinking of their children. Now, can't we, as their descendants, spare just one day each year as a holiday in reverence to them? It was for us they came. Are we doing our little mite in remembrance of them ? Let us bind ourselves so firmly that our organization will live for hundreds of years to come.
Chapter Ten: Hardships And Sickness
When our grandparents arrived in Indiana there were no schools no towns, no churches, no mills, no doctors, no lawyers, no fruit except wild fruit, no roads, no houses; in fact, no anything, except forest, wild game and Indians, but with brave hearts they set to work, first building shelters for their families and their stock. All were neighbors, no matter if they lived ten miles apart. They did not have any papers to read but they managed in some way that every family secured the old family almanac, "The Lancaster Almanac," which was read from cover to cover, and re-read until it became a part of them and every act performed by them was done at a time when the sign was just right. Wheat was sown in the head, corn was planted in the feet, potatoes were planted in the dark of the moon, fences were built when the sign was up, shingles were laid when the sign was down, clover seed for pasture was sown in the flowers, and so on. You older ones can remember ever so many of their old signs, and I will not take the time to mention them here. But whether the signs had anything to do with it, we do know that they prospered and have left us an heritage, and we all bow in reverence to their names and memories. They drove the ox team, we drive the automobile; they used the sickle, we use the binder; they swung the flail, we use the separator; they farmed the high ground and around the swamps, we farm all of it; they were content, we are not.
Soon after arriving in Indiana every one of them planted apple seeds that they had brought with them from Stark county, Ohio. When these trees were two years old some of them journeyed to Fort Wayne and from there on the canal to Toledo, Ohio; from thence on a freight boat to Cleveland, Ohio. There they could get passage to Canton by rail. When they arrived in their old home they secured plenty of twigs from their old favorite apple trees, which they securely packed, and returned by the same route to their new home in Indiana, Here they grafted these small trees and labeled them with their proper names. After one years growth they were transplanted into orchards. My father was one of the men who made this trip back to Ohio, and to my knowledge nine of our neighbors had the same fruit in their orchards that he had, as he had made the trip for all, and had secured twigs enough to graft ten nurseries, as they called them. Some of these trees are living and are bearing fruit, and believe me, the fruit has a better flavor today than any of the kinds we buy, and I believe most of you will agree with me on this score.
When they arrived in Indiana nothing was known of the dangers of sickness that prevailed in this section. Soon some of them were stricken with ague-chills, as they always called them. Some had the one-day chills and some had the three-day chills, but our old mothers and grandmothers soon discovered a remedy in the way of different teas. These teas were of all kinds-catnip, boneset, pennyroyal, smart weed, sugar bark - so bitter that it would scare the ague out of existence in a few days, and for colds we had to take anything in the line of oils and greases they prescribed, oils such as goose grease, rabbit oil, coon oil, skunk grease, and for most any kind of sore throat a gargle of vinegar, salt and pepper, with our necks greased with skunk oil, and a heavy flannel cloth tied around the neck. lt sure would scare the worst kind of a sore throat into getting right over night. Happy we were, and Mother was the doctor and nurse, and our faith in her was supreme. Such faith today would cure most of our ills. Why don't we have it? I will leave that for you to answer, as I believe it is time for me to close this story and I will do so by adding one more chapter, about reunions.
Chapter Eleven: Reunions
Some time during the spring of 1909, Allen Hamman, Hammy Hamman, my mother, John Clark, Levi Clark, Simeon, Herman, David and John Hamman, and possibly some others, met and organized to hold just one reunion of the Hamman family in DeKalb and Steuben counties, and if it proved a success they would effect a permanent organization. They decided to hold this reunion in the woods on the farm of Allen Hamman, near Franklin Center, DeKalb county, as it was this farm that Allen's father had entered from the government when he came from Stark county, Ohio. I have always thought this was very thoughtful of the organizers, as it at once brought to mind the remembrance of those early settlers, and on the day of the reunion it was mentioned by one of the speakers. At this reunion there were nearly three hundred present, and in fact, we had to be introduced to each other. As brothers' children did not know their uncles and aunts and cousins, we were, in fact, strangers. This reunion was held on the third Saturday in August, and at this time we effected a permanent organization and decided to always hold our reunions on the third Saturday in August, We selected the farm of Simon Hamman in Smithfield township, DeKalb county, for our second annual reunion. This also was on the farm entered from the government by his father, and a strange co-incidence was that it was in the same numbered section in that township as our first in Franklin township, both in section 16. During the summer of 1910 Sim came to me to find out where the addresses were of the other relatives. We decided to advertise in the Fort Wayne papers, and also in the Stark county, Ohio, papers. Our advertisement in the Fort Wayne papers brought results, and at the reunion at Simon's home, three of the Kosciusko county people came, viz.: Jacob Hamman and his sister, Mrs. Kolberg, and her daughter, Mrs. Hess. Great was the rejoicing when we found we had other relatives whom we had never met. This was followed the next year with about twenty relatives from Kosciusko, and others from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, until now we are pretty well acquainted with the different branches of the family, but it seems that every year new ones attend our reunions. At the third reunion we met at the home of Hammy Hamman. This was probably the largest reunion ever held. The fourth reunion was held at the home of Daniel Hamman, north of Waterloo; the fifth reunion at the home of Jerry Hamman, near Syracuse the sixth at the home of Herman M. Hamman, north of Waterloo; the seventh at the home of Daniel Hamman, west of Hamilton, not the same Daniel Hamman that had the fourth reunion, but a Daniel from another branch of the family. Just about three weeks before the time set for the reunion Daniel dropped dead, but the family went on with the arrangement and the reunion was held at his home, but under a cloud of sorrow. The eighth was held at the home of Harvey E. Musser; the ninth at the home of David A. Hamman; the tenth at the home of Jonas Cripe, southwest of Cromwell; the eleventh at Enfield's pavilion at Hamilton lake, Levi Clark in charge; the twelfth at the home of C. P. Hamman in Waterloo. Harry Hamman, Edwin Musser and C. P. Hamman had charge of this. The thirteenth was held at the home of John D. Hamman, north of Waterloo; the fourteenth at the home of Thomas Hamman, south of Ashley, the fifteenth at the home of Jonas Cripe, southwest of Cromwell; the sixteenth at the home of Ralph Hamman, north of Waterloo the seventeenth at the home of Henry Kolberg, south of Syracuse; the eighteenth at the home of Ben F. Duncan, in Waterloo. The nineteenth will be held in Syracuse, at the home of Jerry Hamman. The twentieth will be held in Eaton Rapids, Mich. on the Methodist camping grounds. At the eighteenth reunion the Michigan relatives came to life and discovered that we in Indiana were having a good time, so down they came about twenty strong, and captured the reunion for 1928.
Chapter Twelve: Conclusion
Are you tired? Well I am, so we will end our short story. Thus we this great famiiy are now scattered from the wheat fields of the Dakotas to the Everglades of Florida; from the pine woods of Maine to the flower beds of California; from the Atlantic on the east to the Pacific on the west; from the Gulf of Mexico on the south to the great lakes on the north. In fact, from the Isthmus of Panama to the arctic region of Alaska. Hoping all are happy and prosperous, all springing from one son, hence all having inherited at least one of his traits. From this son alone sprang this sturdy, noble, generous, intelligent, handsome family, doing honor to him who braved the storms of the Atlantic that his posterity night have the advantage in a new country that he could never hope to attain in the fatherland .
I have tried from memory, after having heard these stories and many others told to me over forty years ago, to record them so that it will make intelligent reading for the future generations, and must say here that at times I had to draw on my imagination, and so will you, and at times I had to take little thought of truth, and stretch almost to the breaking point at other places the truth as told me, or the story would have been too long and you would have lost interest in reading it. And now as I am about to close I will ask you-you younger class-to always maintain the family reunion as we of the older ones are passing it to your care.
Remember since the first reunion to the present time, as near as I can find from the reports, more than fifty have left us and sleep their last sleep. This number possibly is one hundred or more, as I am not able to tell, but I also find new names added to the record, so that I am sure we are on the increase. On you, my dear young friends, rests the responsibility of keeping up this organization in the future.
Transcribed by Gene Andert/Fort Wayne, IN/25 February 1997