Rev. Michael Wolfe Hamma (1836-1913)

Rev. Michael Wolfe Hamma is one of Wittenberg's most famous graduates. He dedicated his life to service as a Lutheran pastor and a patron of Wittenberg's theological education. Hamma Divinity School is named in honor of him. The first two buildings that housed the Hamma Divinity School were built with funds donated by Rev. and Mrs. Almira Hamma and his second wife, Mrs. Clara Hamma.

Hamma Divinity School Source: Courtesy of Wittenberg University Archives Photo: W. Hennigan 2013

Hamma Divinity School
Source: Courtesy of Wittenberg University Archives
Photo: W. Hennigan 2013

Reverend, Michael Wolfe Hamma, D.D. was born in Richland County, Ohio, on 25 December 1836 to David Hamma and Susanna Wolf Hamma. David Hamma’s father, Balthazar Hamme, fought in the Revolutionary War from 1777-1778 in the 1st Battalion, 4th Company, York County Militia. David changed the spelling from Hamme to Hamma sometime before he married Susanna on 8 November 1821. The Hammas had eight children, six sons and two daughters. The first seven children were born in York, Pennsylvania, and the family then moved to Richland, Ohio, sometime in 1832-1836, where Michael, their last child was born. The family lived three years in Richland, Ohio, before moving once more to a sixty-acre farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio. This is where David and Susanna lived the rest of their lives and buried; their grave markers are still present at Glen Forest Cemetery in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Rev. Michael Wolfe Hamma Source: Courtesy of Wittenberg University Archives Photo: W. Hennigan 2013

Rev. Michael Wolfe Hamma
Source: Courtesy of Wittenberg University Archives
Photo: W. Hennigan 2013

After growing up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Michael Hamma continued his education at Wittenberg College where he received his A.B. in 1861 and graduated from the Seminary in 1862. He received his license from the Miami Synod in 1862 and ordained by the same in the following year. During the time before his ordination, Reverend Hamma married his first wife Almira V. Crothers on 9 February 1862. The marriage license indicated they were married in the State of Ohio, Clark County Probate Court.

Almira was born 28 May 1840, in Frankfort, Clinton County, Indiana, to John P. and Elizabeth Crothers, a wealthy family. The Crothers family moved sometime in 1850-1860 from Indiana to Springfield, Clark County, Ohio according to the 1860 Federal Census and Almira was the eldest of five daughters.

Almira Hamma Source: Courtesy of Wittenberg University Archives Photo: W. Hennigan, 2013

Almira Hamma
Source: Courtesy of Wittenberg University Archives
Photo: W. Hennigan, 2013

From 1862-1863, Reverend Hamma was pastor in Euphemia, Ohio just north of Lewisburg near Dayton. On 26 November 1862, Ellie E. Hamma was born, the couples’ only child mentioned. Ellie lived only nine months and died on August 8th in 1863 and the reason for the infants’ death not given. The burial was at Roselawn Cemetery, Lewisburg, Preble County, Ohio, USA, at Plot: Section 1, Row 60, and Grave 26. No other records indicate Rev. Hamma fathered other pregnancies or other children.

In 1863, Reverend Hamma became pastor in Bucyrus, Ohio about half way to Lake Erie from northern Columbus and served until 1867. During this time, Reverend Hamma received his A.M. from Wittenberg College in 1864. Another move came in 1867 to Reading, Pennsylvania where he became pastor for two years until 1869 when he and Almira moved back to Springfield, Ohio where he served as pastor of the English Lutheran Church (now the First Lutheran Church) until 1878. It seems Reverend Hamma was quite an international traveler. Almira, was mentioned on her husband’s passports on a few occasions, suggesting she may not have accompanied the Reverend on all of his excursions. A passport of Almira Hamma’s gave an address that she was from the County of Clark, in the State of Ohio, in 1872. The Hammas traveled to Europe spending several months in Norway and Sweden, and letters from Reverend Hamma, part of Wittenberg University's archives, are written about travels to Palestine and other areas of the Middle East as well. Reverend Hamma even wrote a poem about the sphinx in Egypt. In 1871, Reverend Hamma became president of the Wittenberg Synod and in 1876; Reverend Hamma received his Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) from Wittenberg College.

Passport Application for Michael W. Hamma, . Source: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 37. at Ancestory.com

Passport Application for Michael W. Hamma, 1880.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 37. at Ancestory.com

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 235.

Reverend Hamma’s life traced through passport records, city directories, and United States census records indicates that he resided in at least four different cities in the east for several years. Reverend M.W. Hamma resided at 181 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, New York, listed in the local directory, in 1879. The following year, he applied for a passport “to be accompanied by my wife Almira V. age about 39 years” for travel abroad. He moved to Brooklyn in 1878 and was pastor in a local church until his move to Baltimore, Maryland in 1882 where he was pastor until 1886 when he retired. In 1883-1885, Reverend Hamma was a member G.S. Board of Home Mission and Almira was very active in missionary work and traveled abroad with her missions. In 1883, Almira Hamma’s passport gave an address of 239 Lanvale Street, Baltimore, Maryland and a passport from 1884 for Michael Hamma suggests that the couple resided in Baltimore for a while.

Almira acquired a passport on 16 May 1883, which mentioned she was accompanied by her youngest sister Indiana Crothers. A description on the passport of Almira describes her as follows:  she was 43 years old, 5’1” tall with a high forehead, gray eyes and having a large nose with a medium mouth and long chin. Her long face was flanked by brown hair and her complexion was fair. An 1884 passport of Reverend Hamma offered a description that he was 47 years old, 5’9” tall and forehead: medium, eyes: dark, nose: long, mouth: wide, chin: medium, hair: black, complexion: dark and face: long. Information is inconsistent on other passports as the reverend’s complexion changes from dark to blonde on occasion as well as his height ranges from 5’9” tall to 5’9 3/4” tall and his eyes change from dark to gray. The previous portraits can offer reference to the descriptions.

http://www.usgwarchives.net/pa/blair/1picts/1stluth/1luth.jpg

First Lutheran Church, Altoona, PA.
Source: First Evangelical Lutheran Church, G. Curfamn (Altoona, PA: H & W H Slep, 1897)

Between 1886 and 1896, Reverend Hamma lived in San Francisco, California as a retired supply pastor and from 1896-1898, local city directories from Altoona, Pennsylvania, mentions Reverend M.W. Hamma as pastor of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, boarding at 2024 Broad Avenue, Altoona. During his time in Altoona Reverend Hamma became the President of the General Synod in 1897. From 1899-1902 passports and city directories, provide evidence that Reverend Hamma resided at 1336 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington D.C. In 2 May 1902, Reverend Hamma was honored with the Dedication of the new Hamma Divinity Hall on Wittenberg’s campus.

Hamma History Pics 097

Grave marker at Ferncliff Cemetery, Springfield, OH.
Photo: W. Hennigan, 2013

On 9 February 1904, Almira V. Hamma died in Greene County, Ohio, and the Burial was at Ferncliff Cemetery, Springfield, Ohio. A beautiful tribute was written in remembrance of Almira Hamma and reflects on the work she spent her life devoted to. It is not offered why the Hammas were back to Ohio when Almira died. It is written that she suffered from a long illness and one may speculate she considered Ohio her home. Passports and local directories provide evidence that Reverend Hamma’s and Almira Hamma’s, up until her death, residence was in Baltimore, Maryland from 1904-1908. A passport from 15 June 1904 confirms the residency.

In 1906 in Clark County, Ohio, at age 70, Reverend Hamma married his second wife, Clarissa (Clara) K. (V.) Keesey, 47 years old, from Altoona, Pennsylvania. They may have celebrated their wedding by a trip abroad to Germany. Passport applications submitted in Baltimore, Maryland  and passenger lists for steamers in 1907 place the newlyweds in Maryland until 1908.

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm. One ship the Hammas traveled on for their return to the United States. Source: Ancestory.com

Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm. One ship the Hammas traveled on for their return to the United States.
Source: Ancestory.com

 Source: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 37. At Ancestory.com


Source: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 37. At Ancestory.com

It is in that year that Clara signs for the deed on the property at 529 N. Wittenberg.

In 1910-1913, Reverend Hamma resided in Springfield, Ohio and bought the house at 529 N. Wittenberg Avenue with his wife Clara. Reverend Hamma was the minister for Wittenberg College as well as charges at Euphemia, Bucyrus, and Springfield, Ohio, Reading and Altoona, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, Brooklyn, New York, and San Francisco, California. He received his education from Wittenberg College and in 1907; the Wittenberg theological department changed its name to the Hamma Divinity School in recognition of bequests by Reverend Hamma. Later the name would change in 1964 to the Hamma School of Theology. Reverend Hamma was known as one of the greatest orators in the Lutheran Church. Reverend Michael Wolfe Hamma, D.D. died on 3 June 1913, in Springfield, Ohio. He is buried with his first wife Almira by his side and Clara nearby in Ferncliff Cemetery.

Grave marker at Ferncliff Cemetery, Springfield, OH. Photo: W. Hennigan 2013

Grave marker at Ferncliff Cemetery, Springfield, OH.
Photo: W. Hennigan 2013

Written by William Hennigan, Class of 2015

Works Cited/Consulted

Source Citation: Wittenberg University Archives, Thomas Library, Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio

13 May 1907, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 37.

17 June 1880, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 235.

19 April 1884, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 263.

15 June 1904, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 656.

17 May 1900, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 551.

1910, Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Springfield Ward 1, Clark, Ohio; Roll: T624_1159; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0021; FHL microfilm: 1375172.

3 June 1913, Source Citation: Source Information: Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: Ohio. Division of Vital Statistics. Death Certificates and Index, December 20, 1908-December 31, 1953. State Archives Series 3094. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio. Ohio Department of Health. Index to Annual Deaths, 1958-2002. Ohio Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Columbus, OH, USA.

1910, Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.

9 February 1862, Source Information: Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research. Ohio, Marriages, 1803-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001. Original data: Full list of sources in the description.

1896, Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.

28 May 1840, Almira, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 566612 / MLR Number A1 508; NARA Series: M1372; Roll #: 256.

1850, Almira, Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana; Roll: M432_139; Page: 312A; Image: 6.

1860, Almira, Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Springfield, Clark, Ohio; Roll: M653_943; Page: 374; Image: 169; Family History Library Film: 803943.

1880, Clara, Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Altoona, Blair, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1102; Family History Film: 1255102; Page: 23B; Enumeration District: 152; Image: 0379.

8 August 1863, Ellie, Web: Preble County, Ohio, Death Index, 1835-2010

 

 

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