Category Archives: Hoffmann

Invite to Dinner: the Brother Older than Lee

Joseph Hoffmann Riding Rails

Grandpa (left) during his travels prior to 1933

This week’s #52Ancestors prompt is “Invite to Dinner,” with suggestions of choosing an ancestor with whom you’d most like to dine, sharing a family recipe, or tales of a memorable family dinner. For me, one of the most memorable family gatherings I’ve heard about (and knowing the Hoffmann family, I can only assume there must have been delicious food), was the occasion on which my maternal grandmother met my maternal grandfather. The intriguing part of this tale is not so much the meeting of strangers who would later marry, as the fact that they were in fact not technically strangers, but cousins. Let me elaborate…

Joseph Benjamin Hoffmann was the eldest son and third child (of 10) of Paul and Emma (Slagel) Hoffmann and was born 22 August 1907 in Fairbury, Illinois. Paul’s parents were Jacob Hoffmann and his second wife, Christina Schmidt. Grandpa and his father didn’t always see eye to eye on things, so Grandpa left home fairly young and spent time living in Chicago, among other places.

Meanwhile, Velma Marie Swing had been born 19 February 1917 in Francesville, Indiana. Her father, Albert Carl Swing, was the son of Catherine Marie Hoffmann, daughter of Jacob Hoffmann and his first wife, Annette Meyer. In 1921 Grandma’s family moved to Wing, Illinois, about 11 miles from Fairbury, then to Forrest, only 6 miles from Fairbury. It’s not surprising that the Hoffmann and Swing families were somewhat familiar with each other; Grandma’s grandmother and Grandpa’s father were half-brother and -sister. Apparently Grandma wasn’t thoroughly familiar, however, or she wasn’t all that interested in tracing the tangled web of relatives, as we shall see.

In 1933 Paul Hoffmann, patriarch of the Hoffmann clan, was killed when a train struck the car he was driving. You can read more about that tragedy in this earlier post. His death left his widow responsible for a farm, animals, machinery, and with several of the younger children still to care for: Sam was 16; Paul 13; Ralph 10; and Clyde 7. It appears that Paul, Sr., may not have been the best money manager, and there was fear that Emma might lose the farm and her income. As a result, Grandpa left his work in Chicago to return home and help his mother save the farm.

Sometime after this was the eventful gathering of the Hoffmanns and Swings. Grandma, then around 16 or 17 but already a high school graduate, saw, across the room, a dark-haired man not quite 10 years older than she. She was struck by his good looks but was sure it was no Hoffmann relative – after all, wasn’t Lee, born in 1912, the eldest son? She whispered to her mother to ask who he was…and learned that he was, in fact, a cousin she hadn’t known she had – a Hoffmann brother older than Lee.

Velma Swing Graduation Photo

Grandma, ca. 1933

And the rest is history, more or less. Apparently as the attraction between Joe and Velma grew, and it seemed likely they might marry some day, the two mothers, Emma and Lena, discussed the family connection. Were they too closely related to be encouraged to marry? But they eventually decided that a half first cousin once removed relationship was not one that elicited too much concern. And, as Grandma would delight in adding at the end of the story, “All our children turned out to be very smart!”

 

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Start: High School Sweethearts

Ted and Linda Montgomery 1st Anniversary

Mom and Dad: 1st Anniversary

So it’s January 2. As usual, I’ve made about 45962 resolutions, one of which is to resurrect this genealogy blog. I’m trying something new this year; I recently came across Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Each week has its own prompt, intended to encourage selecting one ancestor or relative to share in some way.

This week’s post? “Start.” There are many ways to interpret that one (the system describes the prompts as “intentionally vague”), but for me, and for all of us, we get our start from our parents. So where did my parents’ shared story start?

For Theodore Richard (Ted) Montgomery and Linda Jo Hoffmann, that start was in the first grade. They were in the same class at Van Buren Elementary in Caldwell, Idaho, though both had been born elsewhere (Mom in Portland, Oregon; Dad in Scottsbluff, Nebraska). Both have very different memories of that first grade class, as well, and not much memory of each other at that time. Mom seems to have a fairly positive memory of the class; for Dad, everything was marred by the fact that during a fire drill on the very first day, he asked the teacher (who shall remain anonymous) if there was a real fire, and she slapped him. I don’t like that teacher much, but she is long since dead. I checked.

Mom and Dad continued through school together, but it wasn’t until they were in high school that they had much contact. If I have my story straight, they got to know each other as more than just vague acquaintances toward the end of their junior year. The following summer, while Mom visited relatives in Illinois, Dad wrote her letters. A lot of them. At some point in here, they had their first date, playing miniature golf. Mom won. It wasn’t until Homecoming of their senior year, however, that they became more serious – Mom was elected Caldwell High School’s Homecoming Queen for 1959, and Dad was her escort and crowned her during the game. At least I think it was during the game; a secondary goal for 2018 is to gather more oral history details from family….

Soon after Homecoming, Mom and Dad began going steady. They dated all through their senior year and graduated in May 1960. Both attended the College of Idaho for one semester that fall (both had scholarships to cover that much college), but they knew already that they wanted to get married and start their lives together and not just “soak up knowledge,” as Mom accused my brother and me of doing when we went on for impractical degrees in English/Classics (Matt), and Medieval Studies (me).

They were engaged in December 1960 (again, I’m waiting for Mom to correct me if I’ve got that wrong). Dad then went to work at The Crookham Company, and Mom took classes at a business school. They were married at Grace Lutheran Church in Caldwell on August 26, 1961, which was also Dad’s father’s 60th birthday. Dad was 19, and Mom was still 18; she would turn 19 in about 6 more weeks. They would wait more than a decade to start a family; my brother was born in December 1971, and I in April 1974. But I still consider that first grade classroom where their shared history first began.

One final postscript: Mom and Dad’s glamorous honeymoon was spent at the 7K Motel in Garden City, a suburb of Boise. Like their marriage, the 7K is still in existence, 56 years later.

 

 

Wednesday’s Child – the Other Paul Hoffmann

chalons

 

If I had been a boy, it’s likely I would have been named Paul, Mom tells me. I would have been one in a long line of Pauls (and Paulas) on the maternal side of my family. A quick search of my genealogy database tells me tells me the name appears 609 times (though some of these are on the paternal side as well).

However, there are only two individuals in my database named Paul Hoffmann (with the “nn” spelling).  One, of course, was my great-grandfather, who emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1883 at five years of age. The other was his first cousin, Paul Auguste Hoffmann, who would have been thirteen years his senior. This Paul was born 19 December 1864 in Marne, France, the eldest child of Jean Nicolas and Marie Louise Gérard Hoffmann.  Jean Nicolas was the next-eldest brother of Jacob Hoffmann, our Paul’s father. Some three years older than Jacob, he had first married Dorothée Sutter in 1855.  Our Paul had a tragic end but did live to adulthood; Jean Nicolas’s Paul did not. He died 9 March 1867 at two years of age.

Jean Nicolas and Marie Louise had three more children. Albert Athanase Hoffmann was born only a month after Paul’s death on 13 April 1867. A third son, Auguste Laurent, was born 7 August 1868 but died less than six weeks later. Finally, Auguste Ludgard Hoffmann was born 30 November 1871. It is to his grandson, Daniel, that I am indebted for all of this history.

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Friday Funny – Sisters in Law

Alice and Dottie

I love this picture. It was taken in June 2009 on one of our annual visits to see family in Fairbury, Illinois. We didn’t know it then, but it would also be our last visit with Aunt Alice. Along with trying to convince Dottie to drink cinnamon schnapps (I think), Aunt Alice also regaled us with stories of when they were young wives vacationing together. In particular I remember one story of a rainy day when both families were on vacation in Michigan. All the kids were outside playing in the rain, and Alice and Dottie decided they would bake a German chocolate cake. They could hardly wait for the cake to finish baking before they tasted it. And tasted a little bit more. And then more. And suddenly to their horror, the entire cake was gone except for a tiny sliver! Hastily they devoured the final sliver, then washed and put away the pan. Between them, the two sisters-in-law had eaten the entire thing. Hopefully the smell of the rain hid the smell of the missing German chocolate cake…

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Amanuensis Monday – Early Diary Years

Velma This is me on horseback fording the river.

Grandma on horseback on a hunting trip

Grandma Hoffmann began keeping a diary in earnest in about 1975, and I have a separate blog dedicated to those posts.  Grandma was always a record-keeper, however, and I’ve uncovered some documents which essentially constitute a much earlier diary record.

A series of sheets of paper, about 3″x 5″, fastened together with now-rusty paper clips, each sheet covers one month and has some sections pre-typed.  It seems Grandma originally intended the sheets to track her work schedule, with “Work” typed next to each weekday, and “Work A.M.” typed next to each Saturday. Grandma then added further details about her daily activities.

At this time, Grandma was 24 years old and (I think – someone may be able to confirm for me) working for Selective Service. This, as well as the date of this month’s diary sheet, makes it particularly fitting for this Memorial Day. She and Grandpa had moved from Illinois to Idaho within the previous 18 months. Both loved the West, but when Grandpa seemed more interested in the hunting and fishing that had drawn him there, Grandma was the one who first went out and got a job. An earlier record sheet indicates Grandma began work on January 29 1941, and Grandpa on February 17.

DECEMBER 1941

Mon. 1 W/□ – W/o□ Work [check mark]
Tues. 2 – Work [check mark]
Wed. 3 x – Work [check mark]
Thurs. 4 – Work [check mark]
Fri. 5 – Work [check mark]
Sat. 6 [check mark] – Work A.M. [check mark] Get permanent
Sun. 7 – U.S. attacked by Japan
Mon. 8 – Work [check mark] U.S. declared War on Japan
Tues. 9 – Work [check mark]
Wed. 10 – Work [check mark]
Thurs. 11 – Work Quit working – last day.
Fri. 12 – Work Washed & cleaned basement
Sat. 13 – Work A.M. Quit working Cleaned house
Sun. x 14 – Went to Helen’s
Mon. 15 x – Work Ironed & went downtown
Tues. x 16 ? – Work Finished ironing & mended. Went to Caldwell at nite.
Wed. 17 x – Work Mended, etc.
Thurs. 18 x – Work – Got telegram – left for home [Illinois] 12:00 noon.
Fri. 19– Work – Night of Xmas party.
Sat. x 20 – Work A.M. Go Home (?) Arrived home 1:20 P.M.
Sun. x 21 – Hoffmann’s for supper – stayed at folks all nite
Mon. 22 – Mom’s birthday – Bill [Grandma’s sister Marilyn] & Fran married. Went home w/Sam & Norm 
Tues. 23 – Stayed at Marie & Herman’s all nite
Wed. 24 – Folks all nite.
Thurs. 25 – Christmas – stayed at Joe’s Mother’s all nite.
Fri. 26 – Went to Bill & Millie’s – stayed at Lee & Eileen’s.
Sat. 27 x – Came home – Stayed folks’ all nite.
Sun. 28 – Roy & Phyllis went home – Martha’s for supper.
Mon. 29 – went to Peoria – saw Ann & Mary.
Tues. 30 –
Wed. 31 – Sam & Norma’s New Year’s eve.

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Wedding Wednesday – Estimable and Industrious

Only Know Pic of Paul Hoffman

Because of religious restrictions, there are no photographs commemorating the wedding of my great-grandparents, Paul and Emma (Slagel) Hoffman.  The picture above is the only known photograph that exists of Paul.  A handful of photos of Emma from later years do exist, but Paul died in 1933, which was a tragic blow for the family.

There is, however, an account of their wedding in a local newspaper (possibly the Fairbury Blade), which marks the occasion.

MARRIAGES

HOFFMAN-SLAGLE

Mr. Paul Hoffman and Miss Emma Slagle were united in marriage at the Amish church southeast of Fairbury, Sunday, December 7 [1902]. The ceremony was performed at 3 o’clock by Rev. Chris Garber in the presence of a large concourse of people. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Slagle, of south of Fairbury, and is a most estimable young lady. The groom is a resident of Cisna [sic] Park and a brother of Mrs. J. G. Swing, of this city. He is an industrious and energetic young man. They will reside on a farm south of Fairbury and their friends join us in wishing them success and happiness during life. A number of Fairbury people were present at the wedding.

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Family Recipe Friday – Grandma’s Cranberry Jelly

Cranberry Jelly

 

Another recipe from Grandma Hoffmann‘s recipe binder – this one written on the back of a ticket to the Van Buren School Carnival.  Back when it cost 30 cents, apparently. This is the cranberry jelly that makes its appearance on the Thanksgiving table every year.  The story I have heard is that both this version and canned cranberry had to be served when Mom, Jay, Paula, and Carla were little.  Uncle Jay, in particular insisted on “the kind with the ring.”  Now if only we had had this recipe close at hand for Thanksgiving 2012 – somehow that year we remembered things incorrectly and boiled at length.  FYI – this results in a thick sticky glop.  Grandma’s instructions, when followed, result in a much more successful end product.