Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Life and Times of William A. Hoffman

This post is primarily for the enjoyment of the descendants of William A. Hoffman. The folks I have been in contact with are all in Washington and Oregon, although I know that there are others throughout the U.S.A.

For the descendants of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman, this 'William' is our Uncle William. He is the brother of Sylvester's father, John Hoffman. William A. and John were the only two sons of William Hoffman and Margaret Goforth.

William is listed in the 1850 census as 16 yrs, and the 1860 census as 26 yrs, so I have his birth year as 1834. He is the only child still at home in 1860. His sister Nancy 'Caroline' was 2 years younger, but she had married Charles F. Gano in 1855.

Illinois marriage records indicate that he married Anna Marie Adams on March 28, 1861. She was probably the daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Adams, and according to the 1850 and 1860 census, William and Anna grew up near each other in southern Greene County. After the wedding, this young family seems to have continued to live near his parents on their land.

To this marriage were born at least 8 children. One died as an infant, and is buried near it's grandparents in Greene County. One daughter, Lucy, died at the age of 9 and is buried in the Farmers Branch/Keenan Cemetery in Texax, near the large stone of Mary Ann Fyke Hoffman, who was the wife of her cousin, Andrew Worth Hoffman.

In 1870, William was deeded his parents land in a 'deed of gift'. This is detailed in another post, so I will not give details here. After his mother's death in 1881, he sold the land and moved his family moved to Texas, near where his sister, Sarah Perry lived. This is when they lost the daughter Lucy.

Harriet Witt says in her letter (see previous post) that the family did not enjoy Texas, and moved to Missouri in 1883. A few months before this move, two of William and Anna's daughters were married in Dallas County - both on the same day, February 12, 1883.

Rosalee Hoffman married J.M.Calloway
Hattie Hoffman married William Henry Hudnut

The marriages were performed by Eli Witt, the brother of Preston Witt, who was the brother-in-law of William A. Hoffman.

We have no record of William A. or Anna after they moved to Missouri. The 1890 census does not exist, and we have not found them in the 1900 census. We also have no further record of the children Rosalee, Margaret, or Emma.

The three children we do have records of are William E., Hattie (Hudnut), and Charles. All three of these moved to Washington state around the year 1901.

I've already mentioned Hattie's marriage, but her brothers also have an interesting story. The two boys, William and Charles, married two sisters after moving to Missouri. In 1895, Charles married Alice Bennett, and about 4 years later, William married Maude Naomi Bennett. William and Maude had a daughter that was born in November 1900. Her name was Lillian, and if you were looking for the member of our family who lived to the oldest age, she is the one! She lived to be almost 109 years old! In her obituary, in the Seattle Times in October 2009, it says that "she came to Woodinville [Washington] on the train with her parents before she was 1 year of age".

I will have to continue with the descendants of William A. Hoffman and Anna Marie Adams in another post. There is one other point to make concerning their life. In the letter which was detailed in the last post, Harriett Witt says about William "I did not know brother, it had been so long since I saw him". It is believed that Harriett and her husband Preston moved to Texas in the early 1840s. If she did not make it back to Illinois, she never would have seen her youngest brother after he was 10 years old. He then showed up at her house in Kansas, in 1883. This was when he was almost 50 years old. If these assumptions are true, then it is no wonder that she did not recognize him as her brother!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Harriet Witt writes 'home' in 1884.

This letter was kept in the 'Gano' family for nearly 100 years, copied for Peggy Jean Oliver, and sent to me recently by her daughter. I appreciate so much those who have preceeded me in keeping these records! The letter was originally sent to Caroline (Hoffman) Gano, the sister of Harriet, both of them being the sisters of our g-g-grandfather John Hoffman, the father of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman.

This letter will be of special interest to the descendants of William A. Hoffman, who was Harriet's youngest brother. She gives several hints concerning William and his family in this letter. My next post will give several details concering his life and his descendants.

Here is the letter:

Chetopa, Kansas
March 31, 1884

My dear sister and brother

It has been a good while since I heard from you but I hope this will find you all well and in good health. I am just recovering from a spell of fever. I am with my daughter in Kansas have been here one year next month. I did not stop and see sister Sallie as I came up for I was not well and I came straight through from my son who lives in southern Texas. I had a letter from him last week and he and family are well he is married and has four children. Brother William and family stopped and staid a few days here with us as he moved from Texas back to Missouri. They did not like Texas they had a good deal of sickness and one little girl died while they was there he had two daughters and two sons with him and two girls married living in Missouri. I did not know brother it had been so long since I saw him. I want you to write me and tell me their post office if you know where it is and where is sister Eliza Wright. I want to know her post office to. brother William came from near sister Sallie Perry's they were all well as he passed up last summer. Tell Harriet Skeen I remember her and would like to see you all. Where does Joe Maxwell live, I heard he lived in Kansas somewhere. Write and tell me his post office it might not be far from here. How are you all I hope to hear from you soon would like to see you all. My daughter and son in law are tolerable well, their little baby a boy nine months old has had lung fever but is better now they have buried several children but have only this one living. I think Kansas is beautiful country and I believe most anything will grow here. Fruits in abundance if the people will try to raise it and fine corn as grows anywhere. We had green apples to eat until two weeks ago. Apples, peaches, cherries, plums, siberian crabs all do well here. This past winter has been very cold here old settlers say the coldest ever known since they have been here. I will close as I have written all the news and hoping to hear from you accept our love and best wishes for all and write soon.
Your affectionate sister
Harriet A. Witt

As expained in an earlier post, Harriet Witt was Mrs. Preston Witt, the formerly Harriet Hoffman, the sister of John Hoffman, the father of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman. She was a widow by 1884, and as indicated in her letter, she had lived with her son in southern Texas, and then moved to be with her daughter in Kansas. We know from other sources she had also lived with her sister Sarah (Sallie) Perry for a while.

Briefly, I want to elaborate on three other folks mentioned in the letter:
- 'sister Sallie' is Sarah (Hoffman) Perry who married Alexander Perry.
- 'Harriet Skeen' is a daughter of the authors sister, Mary (Hoffman) Skeen.
- 'Joe Maxwell' is a son of the authors sister, Mariah Jane (Hoffman) Maxwell-Davis. Joe is known in other historical documents as Flavious Josephus Maxwell or some other variation of these names.