Joseph A. Hoffman biography

JOSEPH A. HOFFMAN. The pioneer families of Texas have a representative in Joseph A. Hoffman, who is now residing near Saint Jo. He was born in Fannin county, this state, on the 17th of October, 1859, and was reared to the honest toil of the farmer, while in the common schools he acquired his education. His parents were Samuel and Elizabeth (Ford) Hoffman, natives of Tennessee and Kentucky respectively, although their marriage was celebrated in Fannin county, this state. The paternal grandfather, Joseph Hoffman, was a native of Tennessee and was of German descent. He was married in the state of his nativity and then turned his attention to farming, which he followed successfully for some time. At a very early day in the history of Texas, however, he crossed the Mississippi and made his way to this state, settling in Fannin county, where he purchased large tracts of land and there as he carried on his agricultural interests he became recognized as one of the most prominent farmers and stockmen of the county. Upon the home place which he there developed he reared his family and saw them start out in life for themselves. He carried on his business affairs with success for many years and was well known and highly respected in the community where he lived. Later in life he sold the old homestead and took up his abode in Denton county, Texas, where his remaining days were passed. In politics he was a stanch Democrat and although he never aspired to office he was interested in the welfare and progress of the state and rejoiced in its advancement. His children were as follows: Samuel; John, who served in the Confederate army; Robert, a prominent farmer; Matilda, Minerva, Josephine, Mrs. Benz and Mrs. Howard.

Samuel W. Hoffman, the eldest son of Joseph Hoffman, was born in Tennessee and in his boyhood days accompanied his parents on their removal to Texas. He was reared to manhood in Fannin county and remained under the parental roof until he had attained his majority, when he married and started out in life for himself. The occupation to which he was reared he made his life work, remaining upon the farm until most of his children were born. He then sold out and removed to Arkansas, where he spent about five years, after which he returned to Texas, taking up his abode in Montague county in 1875. In that year he pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land near Elm Creek and began the improvement of a farm, to which he added as his financial resources increased until he owned a good farm and home equipped with modern improvements and accessories. Thereon he remained until his death, which occurred in 1885. He was numbered among the pioneer settlers of his neighborhood, having located in his district at a time when there was little farming done in western Texas. No further dangers was to be feared from the red men, who, like the wild animals, had been driven from the country, but the usual hardships and trials of pioneer life were to be borne because of the remoteness from markets and the lack of shipping facilities. In order to sell their produce and secure supplies they had to go to Sherman and milling was done at an old mill operated by ox power at Marysville, Cooke county. Mr. Hoffman, however, bravely met the conditions of pioneer life and assisted in planting the seeds of intellectual and moral development as well as of material progress in the county. He was a strong Democrat but without political aspiration. He held membership in the Masonic fraternity and his life was in harmony with the teachings of the craft, which stands for upright manhood, brotherly kindness and fidelity to high principles. His wife yet survives and resides upon the old homestead. Mrs. Hoffman is a native of Kentucky and a daughter of Embers Ford, also of that state. Her father was a prominent farmer and slave owner, who at an early day came to Texas, casting in his lot with the pioneer settlers of Fannin county, where he invested in large tracts of land that up to that time was entirely wild and unimproved. He began the development of an extensive farm, however, and became a successful and prominent agriculturist and stock raiser, prospering as the years went by until he was recognized as one of the substantial citizens of his community. In politics he, too, was a Democrat but preferred to leave office seeking and office holding to others, for he found that his agricultural interests fully claimed his time and energies. He was straightforward in all his dealings and his lief was in consistent harmony with his professions as a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. He spent his declining years upon the old homestead in Fannin county and there eventually passed away. The members of his family were: Frank, who settled in Iowa, where he engaged in farming, his labors being attended with prosperity; James, an attorney at law who served as a major in the Confederate army; William, a farmer; Jennie, Mrs. Lizzie Hoffman, Martha and Joicey.

To Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Hoffman were born eleven children: William, now living in Oklahoma; Joseph A., of this review; Sally, who died unmarried; Robert, residing upon the old homestead farm; Alonzo, of Oklahoma; Mary J., who died unmarried; James, who died in childhood; Samuel, of Oklahoma; Eva, the wife of T. Batton; David, on the old homestead; and Oscar, who is living in Chickasaw Nation.

Joseph A. Hoffman, whose name introduces this article, was born in Fannin county, Texas, and accompanied his parents on their various removals, coming with them to Montague county in 1875, when about sixteen years of age. Here he grew to manhood and assisted in improving the homestead and in carrying on general agricultural pursuits. He remained under the parental roof up to the time of his marriage, which occurred on the 7th of May, 1882. He then rented a farm on Elm creek, where he remained for two years, after which he spent four years in Saint Jo and then again returned to the farm, residing there for the succeeding two years. He next bought eighty acres of land where he now lives and to this he added eighty acres. He also purchased three hundred and fifty- four acres on the prairie, where he runs his stock, and he is now a prominent stock farmer. He has in the homestead farm eighty acres under a good state of cultivation devoted to the various crops best adapted to soil and climate and the fields yet liberally of the things needed for the family’s support. He has cleared and added to the tract of his cultivated lands, has greatly improved his farm along modern lines and has erected a commodious frame residence situated on an elevation that commands an excellent view of the farm and the valley of Mountain Creek. The residence is surrounded by a growth of natural forest trees and Mr. Hoffman has set out an orchard on his place. Altogether his farm is neat and attractive in appearance and both branches of his business are proving profitable.

Seeking a companion and helpmate for life’s journey, Mr. Hoffman chose Miss Ellen Bailey, who was born in Mississippi in 1864. She is an intelligent and cultured lady, who has been a devoted wife and helpmate to her husband, and like him she comes of an honored pioneer family of Montague county, her parents being Martin and Mary (Patton) Bailey, the former a native of Mississippi and the latter of Tennessee. Her grandfather, William Bailey, was a native of Georgia and was of Irish lineage. He followed farming and was also a stock trader and became one of the early settlers of Mississippi, when that was a frontier district. There he made his permanent home and his efforts contributed to the substantial improvement and development of his part of the state, for he supported many progressive public measures, while at the same time he carefully conducted his business interests. His death occurred upon the old homestead in Mississippi. Of his sixteen children the names of the following are recalled: James, William, George, Martin, Griffin, Mrs. Mary Perry and Mrs. Margery Wren.

Martin Bailey, father of Mrs. Joseph A. Hoffman, remained under the parental roof until he reached adult age, at which time he married and began farming on his own account in Mississippi, where he continued successfully in business until 1861. He then enlisted in the Confederate service in the Twenty-eighth Mississippi Cavalry, in which he continued until wounded in 1864, when on account of his injury he received an honorable discharge and returned home. His regiment was first attached to the Army of Mississippi and Tennessee and he did much skirmishing and was in many hotly contested battles. He was all through the siege of Vicksburg and in the campaigns and engagements in which his command participated until 1864, when in a hot skirmish fight he sustained a bullet wound through his knee when making a charge on the enemy’s possession. His regiment had been dismounted and was on foot at the time. His wound rendered him unfit for further active field service and he received an honorable discharge, returning to his home. His injury, however, was never completely healed, causing him trouble throughout his entire life. His company was detailed for the Home Guards on account of the trouble occasioned by bushwhackers who infested the country, robbed and stole from the people and often killed the citizens. Mr. Bailey’s company had some hot engagements with those lawless bands in driving them from the country. He was a brave soldier, always on duty in the front ranks and he saw much hard service and underwent the deprivations and exposures incident to warfare. Following his discharge he remained at his Mississippi home until afttr [sic] the close of hostilities, when he removed there for one year. He next took up his abode in the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory, where he also spent one year, after which he went to Grayson county, Texas, where he remained for three years. In 1872 he removed to Montague county, settling on Elm Creek three miles east of Saint Jo, where he pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land until he owned twelve hundred acres extending east of Elm Creek to the prairie of the blackwaxy lands. He had first erected a temporary cabin and later hauled logs to a saw mill and had the lumber sawed with which he built a better house. He also made rails to fence the farm and in the course of time got his land well under cultivation and his place was self-sustaining. When he came to Teas, however, stock raising was the principal industry of the people and the cattle ranged over the prairies, little farming being done, but at a later day it was proved that the cultivation of crops was not an experiment, but could be made a profitable industry and Mr. Bailey opened a good farm, carrying on the work of the fields in connection with the raising of stock. There were hardships and trails to be borne because of the remoteness of the district from the older towns into which the comforts and conveniences of the eastern civilization had been introduced. He voted with the Democracy and while in Mississippi served for several terms as constable, while for two terms he filled the office of justice of the peace. After settling in Texas he used his influence for the support of good men for local office, but never desired official preferment for himself, giving his undivided attention to his business affairs. He was a worthy member of the Methodist Episcopal church South and was also loyal to the teachings of the Masonic fraternity, with which he held membership. He was a man of medium size and athletic build, strong and wiry and of great endurance and fearlessness, thus possessing the qualities essential to the pioneer. He possessed a social disposition and enjoyed the friendship of many, while the poor and needy found in him a good neighbor. He was highly respected for his integrity and honor and was strong in his condemnation of vice and wrong. He remained upon the old homestead, which he improved and developed, until called to his final rest February 26, 1900, when he had reached a ripe old age. His first wife died in Mississippi when the children were all small. She bore the maiden name of Mary Patton and was a daughter of Washburn Patton, a pioneer settler of Mississippi and a prominent farmer, who died in that state in 1876.

To Mr. Bailey by his first wife there were born four children: Flora A., who died in childhood; Thomas D., who follows farming in Montague county; Martin N. O., a stock farmer; and Sarah E., the wife of Mr. Hoffman. The mother of these children died when they were all small and in Grayson county the father married again, his second union being with Mrs. Mary A. Parsons, a widow and a daughter of Nathan Atha, a farmer of Iowa, whence he came to Texas. His death occurred in Montague county. His children were: Thomas, Floyd, Andrew and Mrs. Mary Bailey.

To Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman have been born ten children: Arlie, now the wife of Ed Southerlin, a farmer of the state of Washington; Nellie, the wife of Eugene Griffis; Minnie, at home; Mary, Bulah, Lucy, Joseph B., Rossa, Arthur Lee and Henry H.

Mrs. Hoffman is a worthy member of the Methodist church. Mr. Hoffman votes with the Democracy, but is without aspiration for office. Theirs is an attractive and a pleasant home situated in the midst of a fine farm which has been developed through the efforts and energy of Mr. Hoffman, who is justly accounted one of the representative agriculturists of his community.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 598-601.