Seven years ago Mom and I took one of our many genealogical side trips while visiting our Fairbury (Illinois) relatives. This side trip took us to Roanoke, Illinois, some forty miles west. I knew a large number of relatives were purportedly buried in Roanoke, and we found the Roanoke Cemetery fairly easily. Wandering through the rows of graves we saw a lot of familiar surnames: Weyeneth, Fehr, Schumacher, Hodel, Zimmerman. But we couldn’t seem to find any of the really close connections we were looking for.
As luck would have it, it was mowing day, and an older gentleman was at work between the rows of graves. Neither Mom nor I are good at this sort of thing, but we ventured over. Perhaps he had seen “the look” before because he readily asked if he could help. I told him we were looking for some relatives’ graves but hadn’t been able to find them, and he asked who we were looking for. A little hesitantly, I said, “Well, Joseph Hoffman…” Immediately he said, “Oh, Uncle Joe!” He went on to explain that there was a separate Apostolic Christian Cemetery near the church, farther out in the country, and told us how to get there. I never did figure out if he was really a cousin of sorts (this Joseph Hoffman was my great-great-grand-uncle, not to be confused with my grandfather Joseph Hoffmann), or if everyone in Roanoke knew our Joseph Hoffman as “Uncle Joe.”
Mom and I set off again, another 3 1/2 miles southwest. And here were all the names we had been looking for, Uncle Joe among them. Joseph Hoffman was born May 2, 1872 in Renaucourt, France, the youngest full brother of my great-great grandmother Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing, and a half-brother of my great-grandfather Paul Hoffmann. He emigrated to America with his family in 1883. On February 27, 1898 he married Lydia Hodel, six years his senior. Lydia died January 23, 1940 and is also buried in the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Cemetery. A year later Joseph married Lydia’s younger sister Emma; he was 68 and she was 60. Emma died September 17, 1957 and is buried in the same cemetery as well. Joseph himself lived to the age of 95, dying October 22, 1967 in Morton, Illinois, and being laid to rest near his two wives.
Roanoke (PNS) –Joseph Hoffman, 95, died at noon Sunday at the Rest-Mor Nursing Home, Morton, where he had lived for six years.
His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Remmert Funeral Home and at 10:30 a.m. at the Roanoke Apostolic Christian Church.
Burial will be in the church cemetery.
Visitation will be 2 to 5 p.m.; 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Mr. Hoffman was born May 2, 1872, in Alsace-Lorraine France, a son of Jacob and Annatte [sic] Meyers Hoffman. He married Lydia Hodel Feb. 27, 1898. She died Jan. 23, 1940. He then married Emma Hodel Feb. 23, 1941. She died Sept. 20, 1957.
Surviving are a brother, Sam, Cissna Park; and many nieces and nephews. Four brothers and nine sisters preceded him in death.
Mr. Hoffman was a member of the Apostolic Christian Church, where he served as a trustee and Sunday school teacher. He was a retired farmer and had lived in Roanoke for 71 years.