Civil War Blog

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Hoffman Family Civil War Veterans – Part 1 of 2

Posted By on November 22, 2010

On a fall day nearly thirty years ago a small group of descendants of John Peter Hoffman, Lykens Valley pioneer, packed into a van and drove from the New Jersey Shore for what was to be a final visit with aging cousins and aunts at the Lutheran Home in Millersburg, Pennsylvania.  It was a family reunion not held in good circumstances, but it had to be done.  There were two small children in the group, and going anywhere where there weren’t people to give them attention and lots of room for them roam around and play was not a good idea, but seeing relatives that we knew and loved at the most robust times of their lives and connecting the children with that heritage seemed important and justified.

Someone in our group suggested a visit to the Hoffman Monument in Lykens Township.  So, armed with one of those cartridge cameras with half-size negatives, we drove the distance to Loyalton and headed north on the Crossroads.  After a few wild curvy-turns, a farm appeared ahead on the left.  To the right, in the middle of a cornfield that had been cleared of its crop, loomed an imposing slab of granite.  We easily found a path to the monument.  It was quickly decided that the children should remain in the van and the three brothers would trudge out to the monument, snap a few pictures, and then head back to the van.  The resulting photos didn’t turn out so well, but for several decades, they were the only views the family had of the monument to its ancestor John Peter Hoffman.  Personal memories of that first visit were dominated by pride.  Our family was part of history and there was a monument to prove it!

A surviving picture of that day is shown above.  That’s brother Jim standing by the monument.  Jim’s about six foot tall and the monument slightly is taller.  This impressive visit remained a fond memory.  Years later when the “Gasbarro Family Tree” first appeared on Ancestry.com, that same picture of Jim at the monument was chosen to represent John Peter Hoffman.  After all, there are no pictures of John Peter Hoffman, and any of us would be hard pressed to say what he looked like.  The monument picture would have to do!  Apparently about 40 other contributors on Ancestry.com have agreed because they’ve attached the same picture to their tree page on John Peter Hoffman.

This past winter, with more time and patience, another visit was paid to the monument.  After driving by several times, barely able to see it through the corn and surely unable to see the “path” to it, a window of opportunity arose.  It had just snowed the day before.  The monument stood against a gray sky.  The light was good but the scene was bleak.  A path was nowhere to be found.  An obstacle course was ahead – dried cornstalks, mud, and channels of melting snow.  Determination won out and some good pictures resulted.  This time a digital camera was used so the pictures could be checked before “processing.”  But, personal memories of that second visit were dominated by concern.

In the intervening years, the monument had deteriorated and now stood in need of cleaning and care.  No signs pointing to a path.  No path.  Who was responsible for this?  Why is it so difficult to get to see it?  Isn’t the monument over a graveyard where perpetual access is supposed to be relatively easy?  What has happened to the association that erected the monument?  Were they supposed to care for it?

First, a few words about John Peter Hoffman.  The inscription on the monument reads:

John Peter Hoffman, Pioneer. Arrived from Holland in 1739. Settled here 1750. Born 1709. Died 1798. His remains and those of 26 contemporaries lie buried here. Erected by Hoffman Association 1924.

When Hoffman arrived in the Lykens Valley, it was the frontier.  Tales abound of good and bad relations with the Indians and of struggles to erect and maintain settlements.  But from that central part of the Lykens Valley, John Peter Hoffman raised a large family and today his descendants number in the tens of thousands – some have remained in the valley, but most established roots elsewhere.  For a long time, the Hoffman Association was one of the most active family associations in the Lykens Valley – holding annual reunions, publishing materials, saving historical mementos, and erecting the monument to the pioneer ancestor, John Peter Hoffman.

So, what does all this have to do with the Civil War?  Since it is through lines of descent from John Peter Hoffman that my brothers and I are related to just about everyone who has roots in the Lykens Valley, the assumption has to be made that most of the Civil War veterans in the list of 2000 were also connected in some way.  If the Enders family laid claim to 162 veterans, surely the Hoffman clan could claim two or three times that number.

Efforts to find out about the Hoffman Association were in vain.  No one at the Gratz Historical Society knew if it still existed.  There weren’t any publications there, no photos of reunions, no names of contacts.  A small file contained a few news clippings, but none recent.  Worse still, a Google search was no help.  No web sites.  No e-mail contacts.  No on-line genealogies.

This post is not meant to chastise anyone.  Hopefully, someone will come forward as the successor genealogist of the Hoffman family and tell that happened to the rich history that was collected over the years and perhaps this information can now be electronically shared or placed in a repository such as the Gratz Historical Society.  Maybe also there will be some concern and care expressed for the Hoffman Monument and it will be made more accessible in all seasons.

Part two will be a brief conjecture as to the number of Civil War descendants of John Peter Hoffman and some of the possible surnames that are included.

Pictured below are a few of the photos taken on that bleak January last.  Short Mountain is in the background.  The farm is also shown.


14 Responses to “Hoffman Family Civil War Veterans – Part 1 of 2”

  1. Cathryn says:

    I am a descendant and can give you a civil war soldier:David Harmon son of joseph Harmon and Catherine Sheetz. Would love to exchange more info.


  2. Bryanna says:

    Cathryn, I too decent form Joseph and Catherine. David’s sisters Catherine and Mary (Anna Maria) married WARDELL brothers, John and Peleg. I decent from Mary and Peleg WARDWELL.

  3. Michelle Shreffler says:

    My great great grandfather John Shreffler z(B1831-D3-31-1864)a Corporal in the 50th Regiment – company A married Susan Hoffman & had 4 children – 3 survived;
    George W 4-24-1857 – 4-23-1873
    Ella 9-9-1858 – 9-8-1874
    Ida 5-1-1860 – 4-30-1876

    My father Glenn W Shreffler was out to see the monument & photographed it. He told me that Susan’s grandparent’s were killed by Indians.

  4. Glenn Shreffler says:

    John Shreffler ( Schreffler ) His War records show that he went to war in Sept. 1861 and Died along the road side near Summerset, KY. His grave is located in the Natl. Cemetery in Nancy, Ky. Died 31 Mar. 1864. John Shreffler was Susan Hoffmans Husband. Held the rank of 2nd Corporal in the Pa. Militia when the Pa. 5oth Infantry was entered into the Civil War in Sept. 1861. His w.ar records had both spellings of his last name but the records were Identical


    I am a desendant of Daisy Hoffman who married George Paulas would love to share history info

  6. Kathryn Sinclair Lanier says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m creating family genealogy on myheritage.com and having a blast doing it! John Peter Hoffman is my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather via his son John Nicholas Hoffman and his grandson Jacob Hoffman.

    I have traced the Hoffman line back to the late 1300’s in Prague. I haven’t doubled-checked the info yet but will once I’m finished playing and begin the real work.

    • Debra K Hughes says:

      My name is Debra K (Deiter)Hughes. Parents Gordon Eugene Deiter Sr and Betty Mar (Solence)Deiter Grandparents Reuben Deiter and Daisy V (Hoffman) Deiter Paulus. Great Grandparents Peter Albright Hoffman and Susannah Hoffman my Grand mother Daisy Hoffman was born nov 21 1882 in Dauphin County I believe we my be connected to John Peter Hoffman Family

      • alice hain says:

        Debra – I am a decendant of Daisy Hoffman’s sister Sallie. Would like to connect.

        • Debra says:

          Hi Alice Daisy and Sallie were sisters ? How is Thomas W Hoffman who recd a Medal of Honor from the civil war related to Dausy and Sallie Daisy and Sallie s parents were Peter Albright Hoffman 8/3/1833-10/13/1891. And Susannah Hoffman Peter Albright Hoffman s father was John Benjamin Hoffman 1793-1875. Thomas. W Hoffman (Medal of Honore recipient ) 1839-1909 his parents were Amos Hoffman and Amanda Harper Hoffman please reply back with any info or if I m mistaken thanks

          • Alice says:

            Hi Debra – Sallie is listed as Sarah M. in the 1880 census as the daughter of Peter A. Hoffman & Susan Hoffman. This was 2 years before Daisy was born. Interestingly, Peter and Susan(Susanna) were first cousins, their fathers were brothers. Susanna was Peter’s second wife. In those days, marrying your first cousin wasn’t illegal. The reason Sallie isn’t well known in the family is that she died sometime between 1898 and 1900 around the age of 24. She married George Krebs & had a daughter named Cora in 1898, who was my grandmother. I do remember my mother talking about the Dieter family – particularly a Bill Dieter. However, my mother died in 1999, so no more information there.

            I looked up Thomas Hoffman on Ancestry briefly – apparently he was born in Dauphin County PA – probably distantly related – there are lots of Hoffman’s in that area.

          • Debra Hughes says:

            Hello again Alice. Bill Deiter was my father s brother. He also had brothers. Charles Lawrence (Yank) Woodrow Donald Author my father was Gordon and sister Alice and Elsie Margaret Deiter is still living in carsonville she was married to Woodrow how interesting to learn of the past and relatives and that cousins married I suppose was not unheard of wish I would have sought this information when I was younger and spoke about it with my parent and grandparents Please continue to keep me updated in any info I believe we have a long line of descendent s and are related indeed how fascinating have a friend who does civil war renactnebts and has helped do researchin Thomas Hoffman Medal of Honor wanted to attend the reunion last week but was out of town did u attend ? Let’s continue versing how fascinating. Thanks

  7. Glenn Hoffman says:

    Recently received a postcard invitation to the 101st annual reunion of the John Peter Hoffman Association of Lykens Valley, Pennsylvania. Saturday, August 1, 2015, St. Peter’s Church Pavilion, Loyalton. 12:00 Noon covered dish buffet lunch kicks off the day-long affair.

  8. Carolyn Hoffman says:

    Is the Hoffman family monument along Short Mountain Rd? Is it where the family burial plot is? The photo of the monument doesn’t look the same as ones I’ve seen of the family burial plot as it appears to be much more cleared land than forest.

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