Tag Archives: Fairbury Illinois

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!”

 

Advertisements

Funeral Card Friday – Burial Arrangements for Paul Hoffmann

Image

So I’ve defined “funeral card” pretty loosely today – this is the receipt for the funeral arrangements for my great-grandfather, Paul Hoffmann, eighty years ago this week (and reblogged on Sunday). Peter Schaeffer, a fellow church member riding in the first car when Paul Hoffmann drove into the path of an oncoming train in Bucyrus, Ohio, seems to have made the necessary arrangements to have the bodies returned to Fairbury for burial.

Interestingly, Wise Funeral Home is still in operation in Bucyrus and has been since 1845. According to the online Inflation Calculator, the $125 paid to Wise in 1933 is equivalent to $2187.50 today. It is difficult to make comparisons with Wise’s current price list, since I’m not sure what would constitute “crepe cloth casket full trimmed; outside box and personal service.”

I’ve uploaded images of newspaper accounts of the train accident from the Bucyrus News-Journal on my vital statistics page. These accounts can never capture the sorrow that befell the family, however, when 55-year-old Paul was killed so unexpectedly.

Sunday’s Obituary – Marie Hoffmann Bauer

Image

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.

Sympathy Saturday – Annette Meyer Hoffmann

Image

Image

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.

Family Recipe Friday – Aunt Leona’s Rhubarb Dessert

Image

Tucked inside Grandma Hoffmann’s recipe binder, amidst all the booklets from Kraft, Good Housekeeping, and Better Homes and Gardens, are a few hand-written recipes. One is for a recipe famous within the family: Aunt Leona’s Rhubarb Dessert. This particular recipe card was written out by Grandma Hoffmann and credited to her sister-in-law. I can imagine Grandma requesting the recipe and writing it out on one of many trips back to Fairbury, Illinois, from Idaho.

Not being a fan of rhubarb, I’ve never had this particular dessert, but I do know from two trips to Fairbury as a child that Aunt Leona was a marvelous cook.  I remember the smell of yeasty, warm buttered rolls in particular, as well as a particular smell Aunt Leona’s house itself had. I’m not the only one to remember that smell, either – the house at 505 S. 4th Street was the scene of many childhood memories for my mother as well, as my great-grandmother and Aunt Leona, who never married, had lived there beginning around 1943. On occasion my own front door here in Virginia has given off that same distinctive odor – is it something about all the woodwork Aunt Leona had in her house? I have also learned that the family who lived in my house from about 1930-1960 had a large rhubarb patch in their backyard garden. Perhaps I ought to plant some…

Image

Wednesday’s Child – Swing Children

Image

Today’s “Wednesday’s Children” were the offspring of my great-great-granduncle, Joseph Gilbert Swing and his third wife, my great-grandaunt, Lydia (Hoffmann) Swing. Born August 10, 1861 in Akron, Ohio, he was the youngest child of Karl and Saloma (Bollinger) Schwing. His older brother Albert Carl was my great-great-grandfather. About 1877 he moved with his parents to Livingston County, Illinois. As we have seen, he married Annie Schippee about 1885-1886 and had two children, Walter and Anna. Annie died June 19, 1888, and Joseph married Eugenie Hoffmann (sister of my great-great-grandmother Catherine) on February 23, 1890. Joseph and Eugenie had four children: Joseph John, Mary S., William J. and Jacob G. Eugenie died June 12, 1900 at age 35. Joseph then married Eugenie’s half-sister, Lydia (sister of my great-grandfather Paul) on September 1, 1901.

Joseph and Lydia had a total of eleven children: Eugenie C., Elizabeth S., Harvey A., Christine A., Phillip L., Gilbert L., Caroline L., Edna May, Marjory, Jessie Edward, and Ruth Evelyn. Around 1913-14 the family moved from Fairbury, Illinois, to Stillwell, Indiana. It is at Oak Grove Cemetery in La Crosse, Indiana, that three of the eleven children lie buried.

Joseph and Lydia lost two of their children within little more than two months; Edna May died first, on May 17, 1916, one day after her second birthday, and Phillip on July 24, 1916 at age 8. Five years later, on March 13, 1921, the youngest child, Ruth Evelyn, also died. Joseph himself died July 29, 1949 at age 87; Lydia lived another eight years, dying September 21, 1957.

Census Sunday – 1900: Where Was I?

ImageGenealogy puts one in direct connection with times and places long gone. It can be interesting to look back and imagine oneself in a generation other than the current one.  Where would I have been in, say, 1900?

Image

None of my grandparents were alive yet in 1900; Grandpa Montgomery would be born the following year. His parents, Charles William and Laura Maud (Walker) Montgomery, were living in Holdrege, Nebraska (Grandpa’s birthplace) that year, with their other six children: Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, Alta, Walter, and John (Ward). Charles was working as a butcher and was 39 years old; Laura, 37.  The children were 16, 13, 11, 10, 2, and 7 months old. Charles and Laura had been married for 17 years.

Image

Carl Wilson, father of Grandma Montgomery, turned 15 in 1900. In that year’s census he appears in Lincoln, Nebraska, a boarder and farm laborer in the home of Jonas and Maggie Misler (maybe…the handwriting is difficult to decipher).

Image

It would be seven years before Carl would marry Sophie Roberg. Three years his senior, Sophie was also “working out” in 1900. She can be found in Shell Creek, Nebraska, a housekeeper in the household of Mons Knudson, a 43-year-old widower with six children between the ages of fourteen and two. His mother, 76 years old, lived in the household as well.

Image

Paul Hoffmann, Grandpa Hoffmann’s father, was 22 years old in 1900, the eldest child still living at home on the farm in Fountain Creek, Illinois; he would marry two years later. Paul and his parents, Jacob (age 63) and Christine (age 50), are listed as having emigrated to America in 1883. Christine had given birth to 7 children, of whom 6 were still living. In addition to Paul, those still at home were Andrew, 16; Maggie, 11; Sammie, 8; and Louisa, 6. Paul and Andrew have “farm laborer” listed as their occupation; the other children were attending school.

Image

Paul’s future wife, Emma Slagel, was 20 years old and living at home with her parents in Indian Grove Township, Livingston County, Illinois. Samuel Slagel, then 50, and Mary, 45, had been married for 24 years. Mary had given birth to 4 children, three still living (and all at home): Emma, along with brothers Daniel (22) and Joseph (18). Also living with them was Mary’s niece, Lena Demler, twelve years old.

Image

In 1900, Grandma Hoffmann’s father was still using the old German spelling of his name. He appears as “Albert C Schwing,” in Ash Grove, Iroquois County, Illinois. Another farming family, his parents were Albert, Sr., age 40, and “Kathrine,” age 38. They had been married for 16 years, and Catherine had given birth to 10 children, all still living, and all still at home: Martha, 15; Charles, 14; Lena, 12; Albert C., 11; Soloma, 9; Joseph, 7; Katey, 6; Anna, 3; Harry, 2; and Paul, 3 months. A further three children would eventually be born to the family.

Image

The final and youngest of these ancestors, Lena Hunkler, was seven years old and living in Washington, Illinois. Her parents, George J. (age 37) and Mary (age 40), had been married for 13 years, and George is listed as a farmer. All five children are at home: Bertha is 13 and listed as Berty (?). Matilda is 11; John G. is 8; “Lenie,” 7; and Hulda, 4. All but Hulda had attended school in the previous year.