Friday, February 1, 2013

Henry Hoffman: Family Stories, Part 1


The Hoffman Family News was usually four pages printed each month from December 1998 through December 2002. Since then I’ve put out two or four pages each year. I have the blog version of the newsletter at http://hoffman-news.blogspot.com/ for updates to research finds and items of interest. News of living family members remains in the print version that only goes to family members.

The newsletter and blog have served as a record of research on this family of Swiss immigrants to Illinois. In 2009 I decided I wanted to begin piecing the story together so we could all see the ancestral family members in a unified way. I wrote a little on the Hoffman line but soon bogged down. Over three years later this is my new start on providing ancestral Hoffman stories. During this February I’ve joined a challenge (http://familyhistorywritingchallenge.blogspot.com/) to write every day. I set a word count goal of 500. That seems rather ambitious, but we’ll see how it goes. Some of the time I will be writing on other projects. I am currently finishing an article on my Williamson family that I plan to submit for publication.

Today the first Hoffman immigrant takes center stage. Heinrich Hoffmann was a citizen of the community of Oberglatt in Canton Zurich even though he never lived there. Oberglatt is still a small town a little north of the runways of Zurich International Airport. Dick has translated some historical information on their website (http://www.oetwil.ch/de/) including some interesting tidbits about the bridge over the River Glatt.

In Illinois Heinrich gradually changed to the English version of Henry and dropped the second “n” at the end of his surname. Two sources told of the location of the family before they Switzerland. Henry’s youngest brother, John Hoffman, has a biographical sketch in a Carroll County history. In it he named the place from which he came. He came to the U.S. in 1864 with other family members included his widowed mother. She is buried in a rural cemetery where Henry and some of his sons were later buried. Her tombstone, engraved in German, also tells the place she was born: Oetweil, Ct. Zurich, Schweiz. The current spelling of the name of the community is Oetwil am See. That was all that was needed to begin finding the family in Swiss records.

The Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) has microfilmed records all over the world. They have an extensive collection of Swiss church books. They loan copies of the films to the many Family History Centers around the world. We spent many hours pouring over church records hand-written in old German script, some of them over 400 years old. Most are the registers in which pastors recorded baptisms, marriages, burials, and sometimes confirmations. The Reformed Church in Canton Zurich was the protestant denomination founded on the teachings of Ulrich Zwingli and governed by the Zurich Synod. The synod required additional records that are of enormous genealogical value. One type, haushaltungsrodel (household list), had a listing for every family in a parish and included ages or birth dates for a man, his wife and his children. Earlier population records (1633-1767) have briefer entries, but with family units together. Today digital versions of the microfilms are created and put online with free access.

Finding Henry (actually Heinrich Hoffmann) in records of Oetwil am See was easy. They also pointed to his place of citizenship where many more records were of great help. The location of his family between the marriage of his parents and the births of some of the younger siblings in Maur, a little north of Oetwil, is still a mystery. Tomorrow will bring more details about Henry Hoffman.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Follow Friday: The Register of Swiss Surnames


I recently learned from a post by Wolf Seelentag that the Register of Swiss Surnames is available online. This is an extremely important resource for Swiss genealogical research and the very first place to check when starting out on a name.  A search engine, guidelines and a table of abbreviations are presented in English (here) and in German, French, Italian and Romansh, Switzerland’s four official languages.

In the early days of our Swiss research I got look-ups or used the three-volume set at the library of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Titled Swiss Surnames: a Complete Register, it was edited by Emil Meier and published by Picton Press in 1995. Its original German name is Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz. This is a list of all surnames with Swiss citizenship in 1962 for each community in which citizenship was held. When you don’t know the community from which your Swiss family originated, finding records is nearly futile.

We first learned that our Hoffman immigrants came from Oetwil am See in Canton Zurich. Church records there included members of the family because they did live there. However, they were always noted as “von Oberglatt” (of Oberglatt) the community in which they were citizens – even though our branch hadn’t lived there since about 1750. If you look for Hoffmann or Hofmann in Canton Zurich, you will find that HOFFMANN (2 Fs) is listed for Oberglatt from before 1800. Our immigrants included the widowed mother of seven. Her maiden name was Homberger. The listing for Egg, a community just north of Oetwil am See was one of the places that name appeared before 1800. Her father was a citizen of Egg (remember that’s German and sounds a little like “eck” not that thing you scrambled for breakfast). Her mother’s family were the ones who were citizens of Oetwil am See. Their surname was Muschg. A potential problem with the list shows here. Older church records show the family as citizens in that location, but the register does not have them as citizens before 1800. The reason is that eventually all the descendants I could trace were daughters and the family surnames changed to that of the husbands. In other words, the name “daughtered out.”

It is a big advantage to have this list so handy now. If you have, or may have, Swiss family to research, be sure to check their surnames in the register.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Aunt Elsie in North Carolina

Dick spent so much time working on the index to the 1940 U.S. census that he is quite comfortable working with it. He remembers his Aunt Elsie and her husband Art Makk visiting when they moved from North Carolina to Arizona. It seemed likely they lived in North Carolina at the time of the 1940 census. He found them in Guilford County in the piedmont city of Greensboro.
Art & Elsie after their move to Arizona
Arthur J. Makk gave his occupation as sign painter which is what he did, but in reality he was an artist designing signs. Both Art and Elsie are listed with a birthplace of Ohio. Elsie Elizabeth Hoffman was apparently born in Brooklyn, Ohio, even though her parents lived in Tennessee. Her mother must have stayed with her cousin Elizabeth Hückmann for the birth of her first child 4 April 1901. There is no Cuyahoga County record of the birth, but family records seem to be reliable.

Art is the first family member we have found who was also recorded in the supplemental questions at the bottom of the page. Since Elsie's line is marked with the circled x, she gave the information to the enumerator. She did not give accurate birthplaces for Art and his parents. His 1930 census entry when he was living with his mother showed both of them born in "Hungary." If you click on the image below you'll be able to read all the information on the Makk household.
This is what the entire page looks like:
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1940 U. S. Census, Guilford County, North Carolina, population schedule, Morehead Township, Greensboro, enumeration district (ED) 41-48, sheet 14B, dwelling 243, Arthur J. Makk household; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 5 September 2012), NARA digital publication T627, roll 2920.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

1940: Colorado Roses

John Hoffman's oldest daughter, Maggie (Margaret K.) moved with her children Clarence and Alma Rose and her second husband Frank Rush from Illinois to Colorado. They lived in farm country of eastern Colorado, first in Lamar, Prowers County by 1913, then in McClave Township, Bent County by 1920. Maggie died there in 1924. Colorado was one of the first states in the 1940 U.S. census to be searchable on the FamilySearch.org website. Maggie's family was there.

Her son, Clarence John Rose, served in World War I and after became an electrical engineer. About 1929 he married Mary M. Spangler. In 1930 they lived in Iowa where their sons James Allen and Lawrence J. Rose were born. In 1935-36 Clarence worked for Otis Elevator in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The 1940 census finds them in Denver where they remained. Clarence was a salesman for an elevator company. James A. and Lawrence J. were nine and seven respectively. Their address was 2844 Dahlia St., a three-bedroom house in the Park Hill District built in 1925.

In 1930 Frank Rush lived with his stepdaughter Alma and her husband Hugh Jenkins and children Margaret Rose Jenkins and Hugh L. Jenkins, Jr. in rural Prowers County. Hugh, Alma and Hugh, Jr. were still on the farm in 1940. They had survived the dust bowl and depression years there. Their daughter Margaret lived in nearby Lamar with her husband Cleo Thompson and his parents. Cleo was a grocery store clerk. I still regret finding Margaret (known as Marge) almost too late. She and Ruth Whalen had a nice phone conversation catching up on the many years since they had corresponded as children. Marge died soon after, her daughter notifying both Ruth and me. Ruth had happy memories of her and we wished we could have had more time getting to know her.
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1940 U. S. Census, Denver County, Colorado, population schedule, Tract 41, Denver, Election District Z, enumeration district (ED) 16-298A, page 310 (stamped), sheet 62A, dwelling 48, Clarence J. Rose household; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 April 2012).

1940 U. S. Census, Prowers County, Colorado, population schedule, Election District 6, enumeration district (ED) 50-9, page 146 (stamped), sheet 8A, dwelling 138, Hugh L. Jenkins household; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 April 2012).

1940 U. S. Census, Prowers County, Colorado, population schedule, Ward 1, Lamar, Election Precinct 1, enumeration district (ED) 50-1, page 52 (stamped), sheet 11A, dwelling 252, Elmer Thompson household; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 April 2012).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

1940: Hoffman’s Derinda Farm in the U.S. Census


The 1940 U.S. census was released to the public on April 2nd. There still isn’t a complete index to it, but rural areas like Derinda Township in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, have a small number of pages that are easy to read through. The Hoffman farm family was counted on 12 April 1940. The household begins on the third sheet and continues onto the fourth.[i] The pages list many familiar names: Wurster, Endriss, Teichler, Dittmar, Krug, and Klopf.

Youngest in the family, John Hoffman (age 60) was the primary force in the family and was listed as head of household and person supplying the information. Next is oldest brother Henry (66) who only is listed as a laborer while William (64) is a brother and Minnie (62) is a sister and housekeeper. All were born in Illinois and lived in the same house five years earlier in 1935. The farm is reported with a value of only $1000 (perhaps that is just the house?) All reported fifth as the highest grade completed in school. None of them were on one of the two lines in each page for which supplemental questions were asked. Click on the image to see a larger version of some of the information.
Combined parts of the two census pages, left side

Missing from the family are brothers Charles and Fred. Fred died in 1934 and Charles had for many years lived in Rockford, Illinois. He will be easier to find in the 1940 census once the index for Illinois is completed.


[i] 1940 U. S. Census, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, population schedule, Derinda Township, enumeration district (ED) 43-5, sheets 2A-B, dwelling 28, John Hoffman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2012).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

The rather belated holiday issue of the (print) Hoffman Family newsletter has been published. We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year. I've drawn a greeting for you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Together in San Francisco: Children of Caspar Hoffman

Caspar Hoffman’s four children appear to have been in California together in 1892. That was not clear before but newly available California voter registrations, 1866–1898, at Ancestry.com add a piece to the puzzle. Thanks to Randy Seaver for his Genea-Musings blog entry on these records!

Caspar had four children, all with his first wife Louisa Schmid. The children were:
  1. Susanna (Suzie, Suzetta), born 5 September 1863 in Canton Thurgau, Switzerland
  2. Heinrich (Henry H.), born 25 December 1865 in Canton Thurgau, Switzerland
  3. Albert, born 26 October 1868 in Carroll County, Illinois
  4. Louise, born 12 March 1870 in Carroll County, Illinois.

After Caspar’s death in 1877 with an insolvent estate, the children lived with various relatives or connections. Henry worked at the Hanover, Illinois, hotel of his uncle John Hoffman in 1880. He and Albert may have become experienced waiters working for their uncle as that was their later occupation.

In 1881 Suzie married Ohio native Jerry D. Thompson (or Jeremiah) in Carroll County, Illinois. Their daughter Maybelle Alice was born there in 1882. The first California record lists Jerry in the 1889 San Francisco city directory as a plasterer living at 1523 Mission. Henry H. Hoffman was still in Carroll County, Illinois, where he was naturalized on 14 March 1890.

Jerry moved to 534 Ivy Avenue by 1892 when his San Francisco city directory entry lists him as a painter. He is the only resident of that address listed in the directory. In 1895 both he and Henry Hoffman are listed there. A Henry Hoffman is listed in 1892 at 404 Broadway as a waiter, and is probably Henry H. Hoffman.

Louise Hoffman married John B. D. Kelly in Seattle, Washington, 2 November 1892. Her residence on the license is San Francisco. The mystery remains of how she met this Canadian immigrant who homesteaded land north of Seattle, but the marriage license shows she came from San Francisco.

The missing sibling at that time was Albert Hoffman. He married an Irish girl, Katie Nevins, in New York City 1 November 1897. He was a waiter in Manhattan but went to San Francisco with his young daughter after the death of his wife around 1903.

Albert was in San Francisco in 1892! 

Both he and Jerry D. Thompson registered to vote 19 October 1892. They both resided at 534 Ivy Avenue despite Albert's absence from the city directory. Jerry’s occupation was painter and Albert’s was waiter. Albert was twenty-three, born in Illinois. His height was 5’ 5 ¼”. He had a fair complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. Jerry was forty, six foot tall, a painter and had a fair complexion, green eyes and dark hair. Assuming Suzie and Maybelle lived with Jerry, all four of Caspar Hoffman’s children lived in San Francisco at some point in 1892. (Click on the image to see it at a readable size. Albert's line is highlighted in yellow.)

 Henry H. Hoffman registered to vote in 1896 and 1898 but apparently not in 1892. His occupation was waiter; he was 5’ 7” tall and had a dark complexion, dark or black eyes and hair. He was born in Switzerland and naturalized in the county court in Carroll County, Illinois, on 18 March 1890. (That is four days different from the document I’ve seen, but possibly it took effect then.) In 1896 he lived at 78 Ninth, 2nd floor, moving to 247 Oak, first floor, by 1898.

Though all of the family lived in San Francisco at one time, questions remain. Not only is Louise’s connection to John Kelly a mystery, but also why Albert moved completely across the country and married in New York.