Tombstone Tuesday: Fred and Matilda (Hammond) Thoma

Fred and Matilda (Hammond) Thoma, or Fritz and Tillie as they were known in their community, spent their childhoods and the entirety of their married lives in the same rural county in northeastern Iowa. Fred Thoma was born to Bavarians William Henry and Anna Margaretta (Poesch) Thoma on 4 December 1857 in Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa.1 Matilda Hammond was born to Hiram H. and Eva Margaret (Stoehr) Hammond on 4 May 1859 in Volga, Clayton County, Iowa.2 While Matilda’s father was a native of Ohio and an early settler in Iowa, her mother hailed from the same Bavarian village of Weißenstadt as Matilda’s in-laws.3

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Grave of Mathilda Thoma (1857-1947) and Fred Thoma (1857-1924), Garnavillo Old Town Cemetery, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa; image date unknown, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2015.

It seems likely that the couple crossed paths as children, although they lived in separate communities; the Weißenstadt immigrants were surely a close-knit bunch. Fred and Matilda married on 29 December 1879 at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Clayton Center.4 The next year found them living in Garnavillo, where Fred was a clerk in his late father’s country store.5 That autumn, the couple became parents to the first of their eventual five children: George Hiram, Leonard Christopher Julius, Ludelia Maria, Roselyn Anna, and Norma Evaline.6 All but Norma survived to adulthood; sadly, she died in a diphtheria outbreak when she was ten years old.7

What few details are known of Fred and Matilda’s lives come from recollections of their granddaughters.8 The first thirty years of their marriage were spent in the town of Garnavillo, where Fred later had a restaurant and then worked as a laborer.9 Matilda was said to have been a midwife who delivered many children in Clayton County, although such skills were not recorded in the census. Fred allegedly had a fondness for drink, so when Matilda received an inheritance, she bought a farm away from town – and the saloons.10 The empty nesters enjoyed life in the countryside for the next fifteen years until Fred’s death in Clayton on 10 January 1925.11

As a widow, Matilda spent time in the homes of her daughter and granddaughter. In 1930, she experienced a different climate in Houston, Texas; by 1940, she had returned to the Midwest and resided in Wisconsin.12 It was there in Bridgeport, Crawford County, Wisconsin that she died on 21 August 1947 when she was approaching ninety years of age. She is buried beside her husband at the Garnavillo Old Town Cemetery.13

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

1 “Fred Thoma,” Guttenberg [Iowa] Press, 29 January 1925, p. 8, col. 3; digital image, A Digital Archive of Guttenberg Public Library (http://www.guttenberg.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 25 January 2014).
2 “Last Rites for Matilda Thoma,” Garnavillo [Iowa] Tribune, 28 August 1947; Guttenberg Public Library, Guttenberg, Iowa. Although later accounts dated Matilda’s birth at 1857, the same year as her husband, earlier census records indicate that she may more likely have been born in 1859.
3 “Garnavillo Lady Dead,” Guttenberg [Iowa] Press, 15 November 1907, p. 1, col. 1; digital image, A Digital Archive of Guttenberg Public Library (http://www.guttenberg.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 25 January 2014).
4 “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934,” index, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 28 March 2015), Fred Thoma and Matilda J. Hammond, 29 December 1879; citing Clayton County Courthouse, Elkader, and “Fred Thoma,” Guttenberg Press, 29 January 1925.
5 1880 U.S. census, Clayton County, Iowa, population schedule, Garnavillo, Enumeration District (ED) 133, p. 21 (penned), dwelling 178, family 188, Fritz Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 April 2014), citing National Archives microfilm T9, roll 333.
6 “Last Rites for Matilda Thoma,” The Garnavillo [Iowa] Tribune, 28 August 1947.
7 “Garnavillo Gleanings,” Clayton County [Iowa] Journal, 9 February 1906, p. 8, col. 1; digital image, A Digital Archive of Guttenberg Public Library (http://www.guttenberg.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 25 January 2014).
8 Fern (Thoma) Adam, conversation with Brian Adam, 1 August 1984; notes in author’s files. Fern was the granddaughter of Fred and Matilda (Hammond) Thoma and had recently spoken with her cousin Ina (Fischer) Roloff regarding their grandparents.
9 1885 Iowa State Census, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa, Fritz Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 March 2015), citing State Historical Society of Iowa, and 1900 U.S. census, Clayton County, Iowa, population schedule, Garnavillo, Enumeration District (ED) 50, sheet 8, p. 106A (stamped), dwelling 152, family 154, Fred Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 March 2015), citing National Archives microfilm T623, roll 425.
10 Fern (Thoma) Adam, conversation with Brian Adam, 1 August 1984.
11 “Fred Thoma,” Guttenberg Press, 29 January 1925.
12 1930 U.S. census, Harris County, Texas, population schedule, Houston, enumeration district (ED) 209, sheet 5-B, p. 7201 (penned), dwelling 82, family 107, Mathilda Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 2349, and 1940 U.S. census, Grant County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Wyalusing, enumeration district (ED) 22-56, sheet 1-A, p. 7201 (penned), dwelling 82, family 107, Matilda Thomas; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 4481.
13 Wisconsin State Board of Health, death certificate, Matilda H. Thoma (1947), Vital Records Office, Madison.

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2 thoughts on “Tombstone Tuesday: Fred and Matilda (Hammond) Thoma

  1. Pingback: The Proud Owners of a New Piano | Homestead Genealogical Research

  2. Pingback: An Ancestor with an Alias Revisited | Homestead Genealogical Research

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