Tag Archives: Alsace-Lorraine

Sympathy Saturday – Annette Meyer Hoffmann

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Annette Meyer, my great-great-great-grandmother, was born December 13, 1827 in Grostenquin, France. According to her death record, it appears that her mother was named Barbe and was unmarried at the time of Annette’s birth. Annette was Jacob Hoffmann’s first wife and the mother of ten children: Lisa, Anna, John, Catherine Marie (my great-great-grandmother), Magdalena, Sophie, Eugenie B., Caroline E., Marie, and Joseph. Jacob and Annette’s children were born between 1853 and 1872. Two years after the birth of her last child, Annette died on June 26, 1874 in Renaucourt, France at age 46.

Additional details regarding Annette’s life can be found in the “green pamphlet,” which for years represented the totality of my knowledge of our Hoffmann ancestry prior to their arrival in America. This pamphlet was written by Annette’s youngest son, Joseph, in 1952. Joseph describes how his father joined the Apostolic Christian Church in 1855 at age 19, then two years later married Annette. It wasn’t until acquiring copies of the original death records that I learned Annette’s name was officially Anna (thanks again go out to Cousin Daniel!). Joseph further explains that the family lived in Romacourt (apparently “Remicourt“) until 1869, while Jacob worked as a farm hand. The family then moved farther south to Renaucourt, where Jacob intended to lease a farm of his own. As Joseph states in his history of the family, “In June of 1874 father had a very hard blow for mother passed away, leaving him with a large family of children.”

After Anna’s death Jacob remarried, but his plans to stay and farm were unsuccessful after the harsh winter of 1879-1880. Between the weather conditions and an epidemic among his stock, Jacob could no longer afford to stay, and the family decided they would move to America. As has been detailed here in other posts, the majority of the family arrived in Philadelphia on May 16, 1883 and left that same night for Fairbury, Illinois, where Jacob would eventually die and be buried, thousands of miles from his first wife’s resting place.

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Tombstone Tuesday – Uncle Joe

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Seven years ago Mom and I took one of our many genealogical side trips while visiting our Fairbury (Illinois) relatives. This side trip took us to Roanoke, Illinois, some forty miles west. I knew a large number of relatives were purportedly buried in Roanoke, and we found the Roanoke Cemetery fairly easily.  Wandering through the rows of graves we saw a lot of familiar surnames: Weyeneth, Fehr, Schumacher, Hodel, Zimmerman. But we couldn’t seem to find any of the really close connections we were looking for.

As luck would have it, it was mowing day, and an older gentleman was at work between the rows of graves. Neither Mom nor I are good at this sort of thing, but we ventured over. Perhaps he had seen “the look” before because he readily asked if he could help. I told him we were looking for some relatives’ graves but hadn’t been able to find them, and he asked who we were looking for.  A little hesitantly, I said, “Well, Joseph Hoffman…” Immediately he said, “Oh, Uncle Joe!” He went on to explain that there was a separate Apostolic Christian Cemetery near the church, farther out in the country, and told us how to get there. I never did figure out if he was really a cousin of sorts (this Joseph Hoffman was my great-great-grand-uncle, not to be confused with my grandfather Joseph Hoffmann), or if everyone in Roanoke knew our Joseph Hoffman as “Uncle Joe.”

Mom and I set off again, another 3 1/2 miles southwest. And here were all the names we had been looking for, Uncle Joe among them. Joseph Hoffman was born May 2, 1872 in Renaucourt, France, the youngest full brother of my great-great grandmother Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing, and a half-brother of my great-grandfather Paul Hoffmann. He emigrated to America with his family in 1883. On February 27, 1898 he married Lydia Hodel, six years his senior. Lydia died January 23, 1940 and is also buried in the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Cemetery. A year later Joseph married Lydia’s younger sister Emma; he was 68 and she was 60. Emma died September 17, 1957 and is buried in the same cemetery as well. Joseph himself lived to the age of 95, dying October 22, 1967 in Morton, Illinois, and being laid to rest near his two wives.

Joseph Hoffman

Roanoke (PNS) –Joseph Hoffman, 95, died at noon Sunday at the Rest-Mor Nursing Home, Morton, where he had lived for six years.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Remmert Funeral Home and at 10:30 a.m. at the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Church.

Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Visitation will be 2 to 5 p.m.; 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Mr. Hoffman was born May 2, 1872, in Alsace-Lorraine France, a son of Jacob and Annatte [sic] Meyers Hoffman. He married Lydia Hodel Feb. 27, 1898. She died Jan. 23, 1940. He then married Emma Hodel Feb. 23, 1941. She died Sept. 20, 1957.
Surviving are a brother, Sam, Cissna Park; and many nieces and nephews. Four brothers and nine sisters preceded him in death.

Mr. Hoffman was a member of the Apostolic Christian Church, where he served as a trustee and Sunday school teacher. He was a retired farmer and had lived in Roanoke for 71 years.

Census Sunday – Jacob Hoffmann in Illinois

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Our Hoffmann emigrant ancestor, Jacob, appears in only two U.S. census records, having come to this country in 1883 and died in 1914. In 1900 Jacob appears in Fountain Creek Township, Iroquois County, Illinois. He had lived in this location for nine years, having purchased 160 acres 1/4 mile east and 1/4 mile north of Fountain Creek proper. This original farmhouse still stands; Jacob’s two youngest children, Samuel J. (born September 9, 1891) and Lucy (born July 1893) were born here.

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June 2, 1900 Fountain Creek Twp., Livingston, Illinois 
23 23 Hoffman Jacob Head W M Sept 1836 63 M 25 France France France 1883 17 Farmer
—Christine Wife W F Mar 1850 50 M 25 7 6 France France France 1883 17
—Paul Son W M May 1878 22 S France France France 1883 17 No Farm Laborer 
—Andrew son W M May 1884 16 S Illinois France France Farm Laborer
—Maggie Daughter W F Sept 1888 11 S Illinois France France at School
—Sammie Son W M Sept 1891 6 S Illinois France France at School
—Louisa Daughter W F July 1893 6 S Illinois France France at School

This census lists Lucy as “Louisa,” though Louise was in fact an older daughter who died in 1884. Louise accounts for the fact that Jacob’s wife Christine is listed as having given birth to seven children, six of whom are still living. His first wife, Annette, had given birth to a further ten.

On September 16, 1908, Christine Schmidt Hoffmann herself died:

Mrs. Jacob Huffman of near East Lynn, died Wednesday night after a lingering illness of several months.  She will be buried this afternoon at the Amish cemetery. 

Jacob then rented the Fountain Creek farm to his son Andy. Two years later, the 1910 census finds the widowed Jacob living with Lucy on 4th Street in Fairbury, Illinois:

April 21 1910 Fairbury City, Indian Grove Twp., Livingston, Illinois
4th St
18 18 Hoffman Jacob Head M W 74 Wd Ger German Ger German Ger German 1880 na English own income
—Lucy Daughter F W 16 S Illinois Ger German Ger German English none

Some four years later, on January 20, 1914, Jacob died and was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Fairbury. It would be interesting to know how many of Fairbury’s current residents can claim a connection with Jacob.

Grandfathers, 1883 – 2013

Genealogy finds much of its meaning in the links and connections between one generation and the next. Sometimes these links take the form of a repeated relationship such as that between a grandfather and grandchild. Other connections are found in dates commemorated from one year to the next.

Thirty years ago today, my maternal grandfather, Joseph Benjamin Hoffmann, died in Caldwell, Idaho. I remember certain things about Grandpa Hoffmann – his intentional mispronunciation of “pizza” (and how he would never eat it, or hot dogs, which at 9 years old I found bizarre). I remember him cooking steaks on the grill on the back patio, and how heat rose off the grill in blurry waves.  My brother remembers Grandpa reaching down to massage his head with his hand while saying to him, “Crow lights on a fence post.”

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One hundred years to the day before Grandpa died, on May 16, 1883,Grandpa’s own grandfather, Jacob Hoffmann, arrived in Philadelphia on the steamship Zeeland, bringing his family to America from Alsace-Lorraine and paving the way for a new life here. Jacob died in January 1914 when Grandpa was only six. One wonders what memories he had of his grandfather.

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Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 for Paul Hoffmann

Grandpa Hoffmann now has a new namesake, my two-year-old nephew Benjamin. Benjamin and my father have their own special relationship.  “Beepaw” is always in great demand when we visit, carting Benjamin around to look at the dining room light fixture and the “Iron Fireman” clock which used to hang at Hoffman Sheet Metal, the shop in Caldwell Grandpa started with his brother Lee. One day when Benjamin is a little older I’m sure his daddy will tell him about the great-grandfather for whom he was named and maybe demonstrate for him how a crow lights on a fence post.

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Tombstone Tuesday – Jacob Hoffmann

ImageGraceland Cemetery in Fairbury, Illinois is the burial place for any number of my maternal relatives. The patriarch of this bunch was Jacob Hoffmann, born September 18, 1836 in Mackwiller, France. Jacob was married twice, the first time to Annette Meyer.  Jacob and Annette had ten children:  Lisa, Anna, John, Catherine, Magdalena, Sophie, Eugenie, Caroline, Marie, and Joseph.  Annette died June 26, 1874 in Renaucourt, France, aged 46.  Seven months later Jacob married Christine (or Christina) Schmidt, born March 26, 1851 in Butten, France.  Jacob and Christine had seven children; the first three, Louise, Lydia, and Paul, were born in France.  In 1881 Jacob’s daughter Anna, now married to Ferdinand Schott, emigrated to Illinois. In 1883 Jacob, Christine, and most of Jacob’s children, moved to Illinois as well.  Only Lisa and John remained behind. Jacob and Christine had four more children in Illinois: Andrew, Maggie, Samuel, and Lucy.

Jacob and Annette’s daughter Catherine married Albert Carl Swing and had a son also named Albert Carl Swing.  Albert Carl, Jr., had a daughter named Velma. Jacob and Christine had a son named Paul, who had a son named Joseph.  Velma and Joseph married March 12, 1938 (75 years ago last March); they were half first cousins once removed, and my grandparents.  This makes me, not my own grandpa, but my own half third cousin once removed. Grandpa Joseph Hoffmann died May 16, 1983, 30 years ago this month, and 100 years to the day after his grandfather arrived in Philadelphia on the sailing ship Zeeland.

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