Category Archives: Obituaries

Sentimental Sunday -Grandma Hoffmann

Grandma Velma Marie (Swing) Hoffmann died nine years ago today at the age of ninety. Even after nearly a decade, she continues to play a role in the lives of those of us who knew her, sometimes quite literally, as on one Thanksgiving when, reaching to pull rolls out of the oven in preparation for sitting down at the dining room table spread with her dishes, I could inexplicably detect her scent.

One of Grandma’s books I inherited was her copy of the 1928 pioneer novel A Lantern in Her Hand. I can’t count the number of times I read this book while growing up (and afterward) but I remember most clearly seeing Grandma’s old copy sitting on the end table in the living room. This book and the story of Abbie Deal became entwined through the years with my thoughts about Grandma, but it was actually Abbie’s husband Will Deal who, before his untimely death, had told his wife that if he were to be taken from her, he would “go on with her, remembering…”


Beloved mother and grandmother, Velma M. Hoffmann was born Feb. 19, 1917, at Francesville, Ind. She died July 3, 2007, at Boise.

Velma was the daughter of Albert Carl and Lena (Hunkler) Swing, the second of three children. At the age of 2, she and her family moved to Elmwood, Ill., to live on her grandparents’ farm, then later moved to a farm south of the town of Wing, Ill., and then to a house in Wing. In the mid-1930s, Velma and her family moved to Forrest, Ill., where Velma attended high school. She graduated from Forrest Township High School as valedictorian of her senior class in 1933, at the age of 16. It was about this time that Velma met her future husband, Joseph Hoffmann of Fairbury, Ill., at a family gathering.

In February, 1934, Velma began working at the Corn Hog Assn. in Peoria, Ill., and in 1935, took her first trip to Idaho, along with her brother, future husband and several friends, all in a Model A Ford.

She married Joseph Hoffmann on March 12, 1938, at Peoria. She continued working for the Corn Hog Assn., then later worked at the Rock Island Arsenal where she was employed until 1940 when she and Joe moved to Idaho. They first lived in an 18-foot trailer parked below Canyon Hill, then moved to Boise where she worked for the Selective Service. In May 1942, they moved to Portland, Ore., where Joe worked in the shipyards as a welder. Their first daughter, Linda, was born in Portland. They returned to Idaho in 1943, first to a farm in Kuna and then to a farm outside Caldwell. At this time, their son Jay was born. In 1947, they moved into a house on Canyon Hill in Caldwell and while living here, Velma’s third and fourth children, daughters, Paula and Carla were born.

Velma assisted her husband in his business, Hoffman Sheet Metal, until Joe’s death in 1983. She was active in PTA in the Caldwell School District while her children were attending school there. Velma’s primary occupation was mother and homemaker, which were to her the most important and valuable jobs any person could have. The most important thing in her life was her family and her happiest times were when all her family joined together for holidays and special occasions. She was always a lover of children and of animals and in particular cherished the companionship of her last loving pet, a Siamese cat named Sam.

She was a member of the Grace Lutheran Church in Caldwell and greatly valued her membership in the church choir there.

She is survived by three daughters and their husbands, Linda and Ted Montgomery of Caldwell, Paula and Jim Johnson of Boise and Carla and Bill Oestreich of Eagle; a daughter-in-law, Nancy Hoffmann of Caldwell; four grandchildren, Matt Montgomery and wife Cheryl of Palmyra, VA, Mike Hoffmann and wife Erika of Redondo Beach, CA, Megan Montgomery of Waynesboro, VA and Cindy (Hoffmann) Crabtree and husband Aaron of Eagle and three great-grandchildren, Will, Leo and Owen Crabtree of Eagle.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Joe, her son, Jay, a brother and a sister.
The family would like to express their appreciation to the staff at Alterra and Ashley Manor for their kindness and their care. They would like to thank the members of St. Luke’s Hospice for all their support. In addition, they appreciate beyond measure, the continuing visits and ministries of Pastor Philip Bohlken of Grace Lutheran Church. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, July 9, at Grace Lutheran Church, 2700 S. Kimball, Caldwell. Friends may call Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at Flahiff Funeral Chapel, Caldwell.

Perhaps the most fitting words to describe Velma and her life are those of the Roman philosopher, Marcus Aurelius: “To live happily is an inward power of the soul.”

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Sympathy Saturday – Mrs. Samuel Slagel

My great-great-grandmother, Mary (Demler) Slagel, has appeared in a number of posts here, but I had not yet posted her obituary:

MRS. SAMUEL SLAGEL.

Mrs. Samuel Slagel passed away at her home in this city [Fairbury, Illinois] last Friday morning [3 February, 1928] at 11:30 o’clock at the age of 73 years and 16 days.

Mary Demler was born in Baden, Germany, January 17, 1855. When nine years of age she came to this country, locating at Washington [Illinois]. In 1868 the family moved from Washington to Fairbury, and here on November 24, 1875, she was united in marriage to Samuel Slagel, who together with two children, Daniel and Mrs. Paul Hoffman, of near Fairbury, survive. There also survives one brother, August Demler, who lives in the state of Kansas.

The deceased was an excellent wife and mother and will be missed not only in the home but by many friends.

The funeral services were held at the Christian Apostolic church in this city Monday and interment was in Graceland Cemetery.

Mary SlagelOther information about Mary’s death can be found on her death certificate. Signed by Dr. Henry C. Sauer, the certificate notes her cause of death as carcinoma of the stomach, from which she had suffered for two months. Myocarditis was a contributing factor as well.

Mary’s “home in this city,” according to her death certificate, was at 107 East Walnut Street. This 2075-square-foot home was built in 1895 and still stands.

Sunday’s Obituary – Grandpa Swing

Albert Carl Swing Obituary

Albert Swing’s obituary from the 3 February 1969 Harlingen, TexasValley Morning Star

Great-grandpa Albert Swing was born 11 April 1889 in Cissna Park, Illinois, the fourth of thirteen children born to Albert Carl and Catherine Marie (Hoffmann) Swing. He was musical, buying a violin with the first money he earned working in the fields; in later years he called square dances.  On 18 June 1913, in Peoria, Illinois, he married Lena Agnes Hunkler. As noted in his obituary, Albert and Lena had three children. The family spent a number of years in Francesville, Indiana, moving between there and various locations in Illinois. In 1951 the couple moved to Harlingen, Texas, for Lena’s health. She died there in 1964. All his life Albert longed for the flat farmland of his youth; he would say that he wished he could have been buried in the cemetery in Francesville among the Indiana wheat fields. However, Albert’s final resting place is with Lena at Restlawn Cemetery in La Feria, Texas.

Sunday’s Obituary – A Grandma by Any Other Name

Lena and Albert Swing

Lena and Albert Swing

Last night Mom and I were discussing family names, and how when she was a child she was grateful that she hadn’t been named after either of her grandmothers because she found their names very old-fashioned.

Lena Agnes Hunkler was born 22 December 1892 in Washington, Illinois (hit by the recent devastating tornado). At 20 years of age she married Albert Carl Swing, and they had three children. After living mainly in Illinois and Indiana, they eventually moved to Texas for Lena’s health. Lena died in Harlingen, Texas, on 13 June 1964 and was buried in Restlawn Cemetery in LaFeria. Apparently this newspaper needed to hire a new editor.

Mrs. Lena Swing

Forrest (PNS)–Mrs. Lena Swing, 71, died at 5 a.m. Saturday in Harlingen, Tex.

The Cox Funeral Home is in charge of services, which will be at 2 p.m. Monday in Harlingen. She was the former Lena Hunkler, and was born Dec. 22, 1892, in Washington, Ill. She married Albert Swing June 18, 1913, in Washington. Surviving are her husband; one son, Roy, Harlingen; two daughters, Mrs. Marilyn DuRuary [sic], Harlingen, and Mrs. Thelma Hoffman [sic], Boise, Idaho [sic]; two sisters, Hilda of Missouri [sic], and Bertha of Texas, and a brother, John Hunkler, who lives near Peoria. She and her husband operated the Swing Transfer Co. in Forrest. They left here 18 years ago to move to Texas.

Emma Alice Slagel was born 5 March 1880 in Fairbury, Illinois. She married Paul Hoffmann on 7 December 1902 in Fairbury, and she gave birth to 10 children. Paul died in a tragic railroad accident four days after their youngest child, Clyde’s, seventh birthday. Emma remained in Fairbury, dying on Christmas Day 1961. She is buried in Fairbury’s Graceland Cemetery.

Services for Emma Hoffman Thursday

Mrs. Emma Hoffman, 81, died at her home, 505 S Fourth, at 11:45 a.m. Monday. She had been ill three years.

Her funeral will be at the Cook Funeral Home at 2 p.m. Thursday, Rev. Peter Schaffer officiating. Burial will be in Graceland Cemetery.

Visitation begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

She was born in Fairbury, March 5, 1880, the daughter of Sam and Mary Demler Slagel. She was married to Paul Hoffman in 1902. He passed away in 1933. She lived on a farm south of Fairbury until moving to town in 1943.

Surviving are three daughters, Mrs. Marie Kilgus, Fairbury; Mrs. Alice Himelick, Kokomo, Ind.; Miss Leona Hoffman, at home; five sons, Joe, Caldwell, Idaho; Sam, Paul, Clyde and Ralph, all of Fairbury; one brother, Dan Slagel, Fairbury; 36 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, a son and a daughter.

She was a member of the Apostolic Church Fairbury.

The family suggests that any tangible expressions of sympathy be in the form of donations to the Cancer Society.

I actually like both “Lena” and “Emma,” but then I tend to like the old-fashioned names best.  Well, usually.  My own grandmothers take the cake in the old-fashioned name department, even if Blanche and Velma were the sweetest grandmas ever.

Blanche Wilson 1926 Confirmation

Grandma Montgomery

Velma Swing Graduation Photo

Grandma Hoffmann

Sunday’s Obituary – Marie Hoffmann Bauer

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Marie Hoffmann was the ninth child of Jacob Hoffmann and his first wife, Annette Meyer. She was born in Renaucourt, France on February 11, 1870. At age 13 she made the trip from France to America, and on her 22nd birthday she married George Bauer in Pontiac, Illinois. She and George had a family of nine children: Alline E., Ernest E., Elmer Ernest (who lived only 7 months), Charles George, Edna, Esther Matilda, Leona, Harry William, and Arthur E. The first three children were born in Gridley in McLean County; the remaining children were born in Cissna Park. In 1922 George and Marie moved to 324 W Garfield in Cissna Park; George died on August 25, 1924 at age 61. Marie and her two youngest sons continued to live in the house on Garfield, and it was there that she died (also at age 61) on May 24, 1933. She was buried four days later in the Cissna Park Apostolic Christian Cemetery.

MRS. MARY BAUER

DIED SUDDENLY

AT HOME HERE LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

HAD BEEN IN GOOD HEALTH ALL DAY

“DEATH NATURAL CAUSES UNKNOWN” STATES CORONER

Mrs. Mary Bauer, 63, fell to the floor in the basement of her home Wednesday afternoon probably stricken with a heart attack, died within a few minutes. She was discovered by her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Mattie (Harry) Bauer, who immediately summoned her own mother, Anna Beer, and sister, Miss Lucille (next door neighbors) and Dr. W. R. Roberts. Although Mrs. Bauer drew a few breaths after being found, life had flickered away before the doctor arrived.

At Coroner W. C. Hotaling’s inquiry that evening testimony was heard that the deceased had been in usual good health that day. She had spent the day canning pineapples. At about 5:05 P.M. she went to the basement to refuel the boiler that was furnishing the hot water for the canning, her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Mattie Bauer, following her to the basement. Mrs. Bauer was in the third room (furthest from the stairs) the daughter-in-law in the second, when she heard the older woman breathing heavily in the other room. Going there she saw her lying on the floor. Mattie immediately called her mother, Mrs. Anna Beer, who lives next door, saw that the doctor was called, and returned to the stricken woman, saw her breathe her last. Dr. Roberts, who arrived within a few minutes, testified to the coroner that night as follows:

“On May 24, 1933, at about 5:15 P.M. I was called to the resident of Mrs. Geo. Bauer, on arrival found her dead, features livid, no heart beat or respiration. I have known the deceased and her family intimately for thirty years. Mrs. Bauer was in good health so far as known. In my opinion, from appearances, death was due to natural causes, either cardiac infarct or cerebal hemmorhage [sic]….”

Mary Bauer, daughter of Jacob and Lizzie Witterich [sic] Hoffman, was born in Alsace Lorraine, February 11, 1870 and died in Cissna Park, Illinois, May 24, 1933, at the age of 63 years, 3 months and 13 days.

The family of Jacob Hoffman lived in the old country until 1883 prior to which time the mother died, and when Mary was 14 years old, emigrated to America where they settled in Fairbury, Illinois. Here, Mary continued her schooling, grew to womanhood, met and married, at Pontiac, on her birthday in 1892, George Bauer. They set up housekeeping in the Fairbury neighboorhood on a farm, and lived there until 1896. In that year Mr. Bauer purchased the farm west of here, known now as the Bauer homestead, and moved onto it. Here the couple raised their family of nine children, lived for over a quarter of a century. In 1922 they moved to town, retired.

In 1924, on the 25th of August, Mr. Bauer died.

The deceased was a long time member of the Apostolic Christian church.
Surviving are eight children, four boys, four girls, who are: Mrs. John Otto (Alline) of southeast of here; Mrs. Sam Yergler (Edna); Mrs. Fred Knapp, Jr. (Leona); Mrs. Wm. Yergler, Jr., (Esther), and Ernest, Charles, Harry and Arthur, all of this locality. Surviving also are twenty-nine grand children and the following brothers and sisters: John Hoffman of France; Joe of Roanoke; Mrs. Phillip Yost (Lena) of Fairbury; Mrs. Sam Stoller, (Carrie) of Peoria; and by the following half-brothers and sisters: Paul Hoffman of Fairbury; Andy and Sam of this vicinity; Mrs. Joe Swing (Lydia) of San Pierre, Indiana; Mrs. Jeff Springer (Maggie) of Danvers, Illinois; Mrs. Orville Farney (Lucia) of south of here. Four other brothers and sisters and one son, Elmer, preceded her in death.

Funeral services will be held on Sunday afternoon leaving the house at 1:00 and later at the Country Apostolic Christian church, where the services proper will be held. Interment will be in the church cemetery.

Tombstone Tuesday – the Hoffmann Pioneers

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Usually I find myself referring to Jacob Hoffmann, my 2G and 3G-grandfather, as our emigrant ancestor. While he was the patriarch of the family, he wasn’t the first of our Hoffmann branch to arrive in America. This distinction actually goes to two of Jacob’s daughters, Anna and Catherine. 

Of Jacob’s 17 children by his two wives, the last four were born in America; 11 emigrated to America; and only two, Lisa and John, remained in France. Lisa was the eldest and already married when her family decided to leave France; John was the third child and eldest son. Anna was the second of Jacob’s children and was born September 24, 1859 in Renaucourt, France. On June 10, 1878 she was married to Ferdinand Schott (a big thanks to Cousin Daniel in France for providing copies of these records).

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Four years later Anna and Ferdinand, along with Anna’s sister (my great-great-grandmother) Catherine arrived at Castle Garden in New York on April 13, 1882 on the ship St. Germain. In spite of the confusion of surnames, the family is identifiable:

Mrs. Angela Hoffmann 22 F[emale] France New York
Angelo d[itt]o 1/2 M[ale] do do
Mrs. Catherine do 23 F do do
Emile do 1/2 M do do
Ferdinand Schott 33 Carpenter do do
Louis do 2 yr. do do

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More information about Catherine’s history in America can be found in earlier posts here. Anna and Ferdinand (“Fred”) lived in Gridley, Illinois, for some time, then later moved to Kansas before returning to Illinois in 1888. Anna and Ferdinand had nine children in all, including Lewis and the twins Angela and Emil, who all sailed with them on the St. Germain. Children born in America were: Bertha, Anna, Caroline, Catherine, Leah, and Martha. Anna, Sr., died September 9, 1919 and was buried three days later in Cissna Park, Illinois. Fifteen years later Ferdinand died and was buried in Cissna Park as well.

Mrs. Anna Schott passed peacefully to her rest Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at her home in the northwest part of town. She had been in poor health for several years but was confined to her bed for a period of three months.

Anna Hoffmann was born in Remicourt, France, Sept. 24, 1859 and was married to Ferdinand Schott in 1877. They lived at Vitrey, France until 1881 when they sailed for America, coming direct to Illinois.

Later they moved to Kansas. In 1888 they again moved to Illinois, making the trip in a covered wagon. It took them seven weeks to arrive at their destination at Hopedale, Ill. From there they again moved to Armington, Minier, and then to Cissna Park, where they have since made their home.

To this union nine children were born: the twins, Emil and Angela, preceeding her in death. The surviving children are Lewis F. of Shelbyville, Ind., Mrs. Chas. Kercher of Wolcott, Ind., Mrs. Benj. E. Krantz of Peoria, Caroline Kathryn, Leah and Martha who are at home. She is also survived by her husband the following brothers and sisters John Hoffmann of France, Mrs. Phillip Yost, Mrs. S. R. Stoller, Paul Hoffmann and Mrs. Orville Farney of Fairbury, Mrs. Jeff Springer of Danvers, Mrs. Albert Schwing of Francisville [sic], Ind., Mrs. Joe Schwing of LaCrosse, Ind., Joseph Hoffmann of Roanoke, Mrs. George Bauer and Sam Hoffmann of Cissna Park and Andy Hoffmann of Hoopeston.

The funeral services were held at the Christian Apostolic church southeast of town, Friday, Sept. 12, and was largely attended by her many relatives and friends.

Tombstone Tuesday – Eugenie Hoffmann Swing

Eugenie Hoffmann Swing’s history is an excellent example of how my maternal genealogy in particular is a very tangled web. Eugenie B. Hoffmann was born May 1, 1865 in France, the daughter of Jacob and Annette (Meyer) Hoffmann.  This makes her my great-great-grand-aunt, as her sister Catherine Marie was my Grandma Hoffmann’s paternal grandmother.

However, she is also my half-great-grand-aunt, as her half-brother, Paul (son of Jacob Hoffmann and his second wife, Christine Schmidt) and his wife Emma were my Grandpa Hoffmann’s parents (Grandpa and Grandma were half first cousins once removed).

On February 23, 1890, Eugenie married Joseph Gilbert Schwing/Swing (1861-1949) in Livingston County, Illinois.  She was J. G.’s second wife; his first wife, Annie Schippee, had died in 1888 after giving birth to a son (Walter) and a daughter (Anna).  Joseph’s older brother Albert Carl Swing was already married to Eugenie’s aforementioned sister Catherine, making her husband also her brother-in-law (sort of).

Eugenie, also known as Jennie, gave birth to four children: Joseph John (b. September 12, 1892); Mary S. (b. January 17, 1894); William J. (b. August 2, 1897); and Jacob G. (b. April 5, 1899). The census taker enumerated Eugenie and her family on June 5; one week later, Eugenie was dead at the age of 35:

Friday, June 15, 1900

Deaths Doings

Mrs. Joseph G. Swing

The death of Mrs. Joseph G. Swing occurred at her home in this city Tuesday afternoon at 12:30. She was sick but a few days and everything that medical skill could do to aleviate [sic] her suffering was done. It is sad to note the death even of those who have lived their three score years and ten, but doubly so to note the passing away of one in the full bloom of womanhood, surrounded by a family of affectionate children and a loving husband.
Jennie Hoffman was born in France May 19, 1865. She came to America with her parents in 1883, coming direct to Fairbury, where she has since resided. On February 14, 1890, she was united in marriage to Joseph G. Swing. To this union four children were born: Joseph, Mary, William and Jacob.

The deceased was a loving and affectionate wife and mother, a kind neighbor and a true friend. The blow falls heavily upon the bereaved husband and motherless children and they have the sympathy of the entire community. Besides her husband and children, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, of Cissna Park, and five brothers and nine sisters, most of whom with numerous friends, were present at the funeral services. She was a member of the German Apostolic church and the services were held there this afternoon at 2:30. The remains were laid to rest in the Fairbury cemetery.

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A little over a year later, Eugenie’s widower was married a third time – to her half-sister, Lydia, born February 25, 1877.  Joseph and Lydia had 11 children; they named their eldest Eugenie C. Swing.