Hoffmann, Hoffmann Line, Immigration, Research

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.”

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.

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.


Amanuensis Monday, Blogging Prompts, Montgomery Line, Wilson

Amanuensis Monday – “Grandma Was Quite a Girl”

Blanche Wilson
In helping to clean out Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house in 1998, one of many family history items uncovered was a “family heirloom book” titled Grandma Was Quite a Girl. It consists of questions on a variety of subjects with blanks for the subject to fill in. I suspect someone may have given this to Grandma as a gift. Much of the book is still incomplete, but even the brief notations in Grandma’s handwriting make for a treasured keepsake:

Today is July 5, 1986 and I am 77 years old. I have lived a full, rich life and now I want to tell my family all about it. To begin at the beginning, I was born in Bradish, Nebraska, on December 17 in the year 1908. My parents officially named me Agnetta Blanche.

I Remember My Mother: Mother was then 27 years old and My Father was 23. As a child I remember the house we lived in: In So. Dak. It was a Two room shack with an attic. And I remember a few of the nicknames the family and friends gave me as I grew up: My brother Clarence called me Nancy as he couldn’t say Blanche. And the first chores I had to do: Was milk a cow.  I would have loved to work outside but I had to baby sit and do housework.

My Own First Memories: My Dear Grandmother. My Father & Mother & brothers & sisters. My First Day in School: I sure do. I had to walk 2 miles & there were dogs along the way. The teacher pulled my hairThe Games We Played: Baseball, Hide & go seek, Pump pump pull away. My Favorite Teacher: Mildred Irene Kemp she was the best teacher I ever had. My First “Club”: The “Rose Bud Valley Club” for adults & children too.

Favorites in My Memory:  My Favorite Color: green & blue. My Favorite Time of the Day: Evening. My Favorite Musical Instrument: Piano & guitar.

My Own Opinions: Peace will never come until: People learn to get along.  How to solve the world’s overpopulation problems: Be more kind to everyone & share everything you have.

Babies! Babies! Babies! I keep thinking of the names I would have named the “more babies” if I had had all I ever wanted. Now, for girls, I’d liked to have been “Mother” to such sweet names as: Genevieve, Joleen, Nancy, Jessica, Jenifer, Tosha. And, for boys, I guess I would have changed diapers and put up with their foolishness if I’d given them names like: Robert, Tommy, Lynn.

I Wish, I Wish, I Wish – I Wish I Had: Studied other languages, especially Norwegian, Spanish & French.
 X  Kept my Indian penny collection
 X  Kept my first doll
 X  Kept a real diary, all the years of my life
 X  Kept more pictures of the people and places I knew
 X  Asked my Mother and Father more questions about their lives
And I wish I could talk to one particular person my Mother…just one more time

My Favorite Games & Sports (Marked “1-2-3” as I like ’em)
 1  Horseback Riding
 2  Fishing
 3  Walking. I like to walk now, but my legs aren’t very good.

It was a great century to live in. Depression Years – the Thirties – The crops dried up. The grasshoppers ate all the crops. And my parents lost everything. The Worst Year, I Guess, Was When I: lost my best friend. My Favorite Years Were: 1926