Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Postcard

We wish you all the best in 2010!

This is another of the postcards send by Elizabeth (Hochrein) Hückmann to her cousin. They were given to me in a group of old family postcards and when I sorted them out I found that they gave me the timeline of when the family left Tennessee. As they were written in old German script, they are a challenge to read.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Derinda Methodist Cemetery

Dick and I first visited Jo Daviess County, Illinois, in June of 1999. It was still early in our discoveries about the family, but we did know some of the cemeteries where family members were buried. We followed a map south from Derinda Center around and up the hill and almost missed the little cemetery on a windy hilltop in Section 16. It was once associated with a church, but the building is long gone. It is the origin of the name of Derinda Methodist Cemetery given in a book of transcriptions that is available online. The USGS name given now is the Morrison Cemetery and it has been known as the Wurster Cemetery. Apparently it is on the Wurster farm and maintained, very well, by that family.

We easily located the gravestone of Henry Hoffman (1828-1897) with its GAR marker. Next to it is one for his son Fred and then one shared by his sons Henry and William. In the row facing them is the older gravestone of Henry's mother. It is inscribed in German and reads

DEN 17 SEP. 1797
GEST. [Gestorben] DEN
9 JULI 1870

It states that her maiden name was Homberger and she was born in Oetweil (Oetwil am See) in Canton Zurich, Switzerland on 17 September 1797. (The date is in the month following the one in her Swiss baptismal record.) She died on 9 July 1870. I was so startled to see her birthplace on the stone! We had found the information in a biographical sketch of her youngest son, but if the transcription of this cemetery had included that part of the inscription we would have known so much sooner.

Her second son Henry and three of his sons are buried opposite her in this quiet pastoral setting.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rosina Hoffman married John Eiler

We hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas! If you've had a chance to read the newsletter, you'll have seen that we finally learned what became of Margaret (Hoffman) Blumhardt and her daughter Rosina Hoffman.

In March I found a marriage listed in the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763–1900, provided by the Illinois State Archives ( It took place in Stephenson County, just east of Jo Daviess, and the place where Margaret lived in 1880. The bride was Rosina Hoffman, the groom John Eiler, the date 14 December 1872. Eventually I determined this to be the right couple as detailed in the newsletter.

I wrote to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northern Illinois University, the one covering Stephenson County, for a copy of the marriage record. They sent copies of the license with the minister's return and the separate affidavit. Click on the images to see them larger.

This is the license. In the affidavit below, you will see John's surname spelled "Iler" and Rosina's first name rendered some other way, written by a clerk no doubt, but it does contain John's signature.

I'll have more about this couple in future posts.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Postcard

A 1915 greeting card, printed in Saxony, with a message to Mrs. Katie Hoffmann from her Hochrein cousin and her husband, Adam and Eliza Hückmann, in Cleveland, Ohio.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas

St. Helena Vegetarian Café newspaper articles

Originally posted 8 July 2009

I've also done more searching on the St. Helena Vegetarian Café that Henry H. Hoffman (Cliff's grandfather) was involved with. Oddly the items I found were about his apparent partner A. W. Robins and they don't mention Henry. Hmmm. Anyway, here is the front page story about Mr. Robins and his wife after the fire. There were accounts of their arrangement at the beginning of 1909, but this article has the news that there WAS an insurance payment after the fire. These were sure interesting folks 100 years ago! (Clicking on the image will bring it up full size.)

If you want to read more about the arrangement of this couple, here is what the paper reported at the beginning of 1909.

Friday, December 18, 2009

St. Helena Vegetarian Cafe burned in 1909

Originally posted 15 Jun 2009

Caspar Hoffman's older son, Henry H. Hoffman, was a waiter and restaurant owner in San Francisco. After the earthquake and fire we know he and A. W. Robins, as Robins and Hoffman, owned and operated the St. Helena Vegetarian Cafe at 418 Market Street in San Francisco from listings in the 1908 and 1909 city directories.

His descendant, Clifford Anderson, and I have recently thought about trying to learn more about this - to us - novel concept of a vegetarian cafe 100 years ago.

Today I learned about a new Internet resource for early California newspapers. It is the California Digital Newspaper Collection which offers free online access to the Golden State's historical newspapers at

I searched on the cafe's name and found one article in The San Francisco Call, Thursday, November 18, 1909, on page 4, column 3. Now we know why Henry Hoffman did not continue to run this interesting establishment.

A Hagie Marriage Certificate

Originally posted on 7 Jun 2009

Marriage records seem to abound these days. The Family Search beta site ( where so many digital images and indexes are becoming available now has records from Cook County, Illinois, home of the city of Chicago. I try to search in new databases when I learn of them and Chicago marriage licenses had some for various relatives.

One was for a grandson of Regula (Hoffmann) Hagie. She was the second of the Hoffmann sisters and the last of the family to immigrate to the US. She and her husband John settled in the town of Elizabeth near the Derinda farms of other family members in Jo Daviess County. Frederick, the middle of their 3 sons, had two daughters and a son. The younger daughter, Maude, ran a store in Elizabeth into her old age, dying in 1974. The son became a doctor who had a practice in Richmond, Indiana.

Some years ago we visited the library in Richmond on the way home from the west and found many items about the Hagie family in the local newspapers. The doctor's name was Franklin Eugene Hagie. He married a Canadian immigrant whose father was the minister who married them. Her name was Nell Wells Rae.

Franklin served as a doctor in World War I after an internship in Chicago. He settled in Richmond in 1919. He died in 1951 and he and his wife were buried in Earlham Cemetery. His obituary ran this photo which we printed from microfilm and scanned:

His grandmother's name of Regula certainly looked unfamiliar when we first encountered it, but I found many girls with that name in Swiss church baptismal records. I learned that Regula was one of two patron saints of canton Zürich which would explain its being common there but not elsewhere. I found an article at Wikipedia on the Zürich patron saints Felix and Regula at

Oberglatt: Hoffmann home community

Originally posted 31 May 2009

Oberglatt is a community that today is just north of the runways of the Zurich International Airport. Above is its coat of arms. It is the place (gemeinde) where the Hoffmann family had its citizenship. I wrote in the newsletter some years ago about Swiss citizenship and will revisit the idea soon. I want to write a summary of the Hoffmann surname ancestors. What we've learned about them goes back to the early 1600s with the earliest man born before 1600 though the church registers did not begin until just after that. I don't have email addresses for all the family, so will need to continue the printed newsletters too.

Most of the communities of Zurich have websites and Oberglatt is no exception. I was disappointed when I looked at photos there to find that the local church was replaced with a modern building in 1964. I did wish it was still there, but there is an old Methodist chapel that looks very attractive, and you might enjoy its picture.

You can visit their website at but it is all in German.

Another Wedding Photo

Originally posted 24 May 2009

Jacob Hoffman, the oldest of the Hoffman immigrant family, had one daughter, Mary or Maria, who married and had two sons before dying at an early age. The younger son was Henry Benz. He became an engineer for the railroad and established a branch of the family in La Crosse, Wisconsin. On April 15, 1896, he married Mary Alice Fopper in Carroll County, Illinois. Kerry Tischer, one of his descendants has shared this wonderful photo of the couple. Mary Alice's fabulous dress was later worn by their granddaughter Geraldine as you can see below.

Hoffman Marriage Certificates

Originally posted 17 May 2009

Albert Hoffman's marriage certificate came yesterday from the New York City Municipal Archives! It is rich in information about his bride. It tells where each of them lived in 1897, their ages, birthplaces, parents' names and the name and residence of the priest who married them. One of the witnesses was Ellen A. Nevins who may have been Albert's new mother-in-law. I notice that the bride and witness both signed their names Nevins with an 's' at the end. Also the bride is listed as Catherine, but signed her name Kate. Take a look at both the certificate and the signatures.

Louise Hoffman, Albert's little sister and another of Caspar Hoffman's orphaned children, married a man who homesteaded in Snohomish County, Washington, a little north of Seattle. I still don't know how they connected, but the Washington Secretary of State Digital Archives is now adding marriage records from King County and I found her marriage certificate there. She and John B. Kelley (sometimes spelled Kelly) were married five years before Albert and this record has less information, but it does say Louise was from San Francisco, California. Her older siblings, Susie (Hoffman) Thompson and Henry H. Hoffman both lived in San Francisco by 1892, so she must have been with them.

Henry Hoffman, the original immigrant in the family, in 1858 married the first time in LaSalle County, Illinois, to Mary Donner, a German immigrant. I had an index listing of the marriage, but recently sent to the County Clerk for a copy of the actual record. At this early date there is little data, but it does have his signature. Having begun life as Heinrich Hoffmann, his version of his name in America was still evolving at this time. Sadly, Henry's first wife died in 1872. They had no children.

John and Kunigunda (Schneider) Hoffman

Originally posted 10 May 2009

The photo of Albert Hoffman and his wife reminded me of this photo of John Hoffman, the youngest of the immigrant siblings, and his wife. It is in a very interesting frame that has an incised design which has been colored. I photographed it at Mary Kelley's in Savanna, Illinois, where John lived. I believe Ruth Whalen had one just like it, frame and all. John has his trademark full beard and it might have been in the 1890s. He is certainly a little older than in the photo I used in the header of this website. That picture was taken in Zurich about 1881 when he went back to Europe to visit.

More About Albert Hoffman

Originally posted 3 May 2009

I recently commented on the photo of Albert taken in Council Bluffs, Iowa, but there is also a photo of him with his wife Catherine Nevin (or Nevins).
Albert Hoffman with his wife Catherine Nevin

I learned her name from the death certificate and Social Security card application of their daughter Irene (Hoffman) Tompkins. Irene was born in New York on 8 September 1898 and I thought Albert and Catherine were married there about 1897. Friday I was looking for information on a part of my family when I found an index to New York City marriages through 1936. I was delighted to find the marriage of Albert and Catherine on 1 November 1897. I was able to order a copy of the certificate online and hope to learn more about Catherine when it comes (about 4 to 6 weeks). She died about 1903 and it appears that Albert moved with his little daughter to San Francisco where his older brother Henry H. Hoffman and sister Suzie lived.

Albert Hoffman, younger son of Caspar

Originally posted on 26 Apr 2009

Here is a picture of Caspar Hoffman's son Albert. He grew up in Illinois and with his brother and sisters was orphaned in 1877 at the age of nine. He eventually went to New York where he married, had a daughter, but lost his wife quite young. He then joined his brother Henry H. Hoffman and sister Suzie in San Francisco. There he worked as a waiter.

The strange thing about this particular photo is that it is the work of a photo studio in Council Bluffs, Iowa. That is on the Missouri River across from Nebraska. He looks rather young in it. The location never made any sense to me, but I may have found a missing part of the family living in nearby Red Oak, Iowa!