Tag Archives: Swing

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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Friday Funny – Grandma’s Pants

Velma Swing in Roy's Pants

This photo is one of many shared with me by Grandma Hoffmann. Luckily I had Grandma’s word for it that this was actually a picture of her, wearing her older brother, Roy’s, pants. I don’t know if there was a particular occasion for this cross-dressing, or if Grandma regularly wore Uncle Roy’s hand-me-downs, but it’s pretty entertaining. I also like the pump there in the corner.

This picture always reminds me of a funny story Grandma once told during a family interview.  Eventually I’ll finish transcribing the interview, but this particular anecdote involves Grandma, storytelling, and a slop bucket. When about three years old, Grandma was talking to her family and walking backward while doing so. She stumbled up against a big bucket in the kitchen where they put scraps and dish water for the hogs, and poor Grandma sat right down in the bucket.  “And everybody laughed at me.  It wasn’t a bit funny.” Though relaying the story all those years later, Grandma was able to laugh.

It reminds me of another NOT FUNNY experience someone else had that involved falling into water accidentally. And also being dressed in someone else’s clothes….

Megan and Matt at Oregon Coast

 

Wedding Wednesday – Samuel and Lena Nussbaum

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Today’s post comes courtesy of Cousin Millie, who sent me this photo. I can’t be sure this is a wedding photo, but I am grateful not only for the picture itself but also for the inscription written on the back: Samuel and Lena Nussbaum. If not for that, this photo might have ended up in “Friday’s Faces from the Past” instead.

Lena (or Magdalene) Swing was born July 26, 1887 in Fairbury, Illinois. Her younger brother was my great-grandfather, Albert Carl Swing. They were two of 13 children born to Albert Carl and Catherine Marie (Hoffmann) Swing.  The family appears in the 1900 census in Ash Grove, Illinois, then in 1910 in Pulaski County, Indiana. On May 2, 1911, Lena married Samuel Nussbaum in Winamac, Indiana. Samuel had been born, also in Fairbury, Illinois, on October 22, 1882. Samuel and Lena were the parents of five children, all born in Fairbury: Morris, born June 28, 1913; Richard S., born August 23, 1916; Wilma, born May 24, 1919; Marjorie, born April 20, 1923; and Nelson, born May 20, 1924. My mom reminds me that I once met Marjorie when we, along with my Grandma (Marjorie’s first cousin), visited Illinois in 1984. Samuel and Lena’s family was enumerated in Forrest, Illinois in the 1930 census. Samuel died thirty years later, on August 15, 1961, but Lena lived until August 1983 when she died at age 96.

Wordless Wednesday – Aunt Annie

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Velma and Roy Swing with their Aunt Annie (Swing) Getz – and a canine friend.

Amanuensis Monday – Tales from Two Grandmothers

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Technically the title should read “…One Grandmother and One Great-Grandmother,” but that doesn’t have the same literary ring to it.

I’ve discovered, in going through all the family memorabilia I’ve inherited, that my great-grandmother Sophie (Roberg) Wilson, wrote the occasional poem.  Every once in a while I’ll stumble across a little verse labeled “Mother Wilson,” or “By Sophie Wilson.” The following is one I found today while rummaging through some cards and letters, most dated 1950:

Friendship Garden

Friendship is like a garden of flowers fine rosy
It can not reach perfection except through loving care
Then new and lovely blossoms with each new day appear
For friendship is like a garden grows in beauty year by year

by Sophie Wilson

The second “tale” for today, and one about a special kind of friendship, is my grandma Velma (Swing) Hoffmann‘s story about their family’s pet squirrel. I remember when Grandma first shared her story with me, though I can no longer remember the occasion for which she wrote it:

The most interesting pet we ever had as children, and there were many, was a squirrel. We lived in central Illinois and had gone into the timber near the Vermillion River to look for spring flowers. Three young boys had gotten some baby squirrels, no doubt having killed the mother and robbed her nest. They showed them to us and my little sister just had to have one of them so my Mother agreed to take one. It was so tiny that it just fit into the palm of one’s hand and we had it for three weeks before it opened its eyes. My Father didn’t think we could raise it as sometimes a wild animal will not take food but my Mother prepared a formula and fed the baby every three hours, day and night.

As the weeks passed the little squirrel became the pet of the household. We bought a toy doll bottle and it learned to drink its milk, holding the bottle in its front paws like a baby. When we ate, it went around the table over our shoulders for a handout from each one of us. Or, if it was outside when we were eating, it would climb up on the screen door, hang upside down and “bark” at us until we let it inside. My Father used to give the squirrel ginger snaps and, when it had eaten all it wanted, it would bury the rest under a pillow. My Father would get the cookie, give it back to the squirrel and it would bury it again, patting down the pillow with its front feet.

When we gave it a grape or plum to eat, it would turn it quickly in its paws and the peelings would fly, first from one side and then the other. We really enjoyed all the things we learned from this little pet.

In the fall of the year, it disappeared and some friends in the country called and said the squirrel was at their place in a walnut grove. My Mother went out and brought it home but within a week it was back in the walnut grove so we decided it was looking for companionship and let it stay there. However, we never forgot our little friend and the enjoyment it gave us.

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Tombstone Tuesday – A Plethora of Greats

A few years back on one of our many genealogical field trips, Mom and I realized that she (and I) have seen all eight of her great-grandparents’ tombstones.  This is one definite advantage to having most of your relatives stay put in the same general vicinity after emigrating to America; all eight of these ancestors are laid to rest within a 150-mile radius, from Francesville, Indiana, to Washington, Illinois. Here they are in ahnentafel order:

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Jacob Hoffmann
b. September 18, 1836 in Mackwiller, France
d. January 20, 1914 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois

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Christina (Schmidt) Hoffmann
b. March 30, 1850 in Butten, France
d. September 16, 1908 in Cissna Park, Illinois
bur. Cissna Park Cemetery, Cissna Park, Illinois

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Samuel Slagel
b. November 30, 1849 in Wisconsin (?)
d. November 29, 1937 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois

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Mary/Maria (Demler) Slagel/Schlegel
b. January 17, 1855 in Baden, Germany
d. February 3, 1928 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois

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Albert Carl Swing
b. October 24, 1859 in Akron, Ohio
d. October 14, 1922 in Francesville, Indiana
Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing
b. February 2, 1862 in Remicourt, France
d. March 15, 1931 in Francesville, Indiana
Both bur. Roseland Cemetery, Francesville, Indiana

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George John Hunkler
b. September 20, 1862 in St. Gallen, Switzerland
d. December 2, 1934 in Elmwood, Illinois
Maria Elizabeth (Rusch) Hunkler
b. December 25, 1859 in St. Gallen, Switzerland
d. September 27, 1948 in El Paso, Illinois
Both bur. Glendale Cemetery, Washington, Illinois

This means, of course, that I have visited the graves of 8 of my own great-great-grandparents.  My 8 paternal great-great-grandparents (and even my own 8 great-grandparents) are a little more widespread, but I’m making headway there as well.  Now  if only I could figure out where Lucinda Blanche (Davis) Wilson is buried…I might just have to plan another field trip.

Wednesday’s Child – Virginia Schumacher

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Another child of whose existence I was unaware before a cemetery visit is Virginia Schumacher, a first cousin twice removed.  The ninth child of John H. and Kathryn N. (Swing) Schumacher, she was born (April 27) and died in 1934. Kathryn’s older brother, Albert Carl Swing, was my great-grandfather.

I never met Aunt Katie myself, but my mother and grandmother, her great-niece and niece, stopped to see her in an assisted living home in Eureka, Illinois, in 1985. After dinner that evening Aunt Katie recited from memory a 10-minute poem she had learned in the fourth grade. She was 91 years old at the time and would live another decade. She was then laid to rest in the Apostolic Christian Cemetery in Roanoke, Illinois, near where her daughter had been buried six decades earlier.