Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two Men Named David LeRoy Hoffman

This is a picture of David LeRoy Hoffman, the oldest brother of our 'Grandpa Joe'. Roy - as he was known - was born in 1904 and was a sailor in the Navy from about 1928 until he died of Leukemia in 1932. He was on the U.S.S. Colorado and traveled around the Pacific, to Hawaii, through the Panama Canal, and was on this ship when the movie "Shipmates" was filmed in 1931.

Today's story is about a discovery I made today concerning the origins of Roy's name.

There is much evidence that Roy's father, Sylvester Clinton Hoffman (usually referred to by us as S.C.) was born and raised near Springfield, Illinois, actually in the nearby farm land of Greene County. What I didn't know until today is that Roy was probably named after his Uncle David LeRoy.

In Greene County there was an 1860's school ledger** with these students:

1863 - John Hoffman age 7 ; David Hoffman age 9 ; Andrew Hoffman age 12
1865 - Sylvester Hoffman 6 ; Harriet Skeen 16 ; Jennie Witt 17 ;Henry Perry 17
1868 - Clinton Hoffman 10 ; Leroy Hoffman 14 ; Flora Hoffman 14.

The three boys listed for 1863 are also seen in the 1860 census as the older brothers of our S.C. The 1865 Sylvester must be the Clinton in 1868, our S.C. What I had not noticed is that David in 1863 must be Leroy in 1868. All researchers had thought he was "David J" because that is what the writing in the 1870 census had looked like. But with the 'Leroy' information, it is actually easy to tell that the "J" is really an "L".

This brother disappears after the 1870 census, and is believed to have died while S.C. was a teenager. So we must conclude that S.C named his oldest son, the man in the picture, after his lost brother, David Leroy Hoffman.


** Transcribed by Mabel Gano, a cousin, in the 1970s. Not known if this ledger still exists.

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