Civil War Blog

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Erastus B. Hoffman – Harrisburg Alderman with Roots in Berrysburg

Posted By on December 21, 2014

The obituary of Erastus B. Hoffman, found in the Harrisburg Patriot of 8 December 1921, has verified another name for the ever-growing list of Civil War veterans with connections to the Lykens Valley area of Pennsylvania.



Alderman of Fifth Ward Died Monday in University of Pennsylvania Hospital Following Operation

Funeral service for Erastus B. Hoffman, alderman of the Fifth Ward, and a retired railroad shopman, who died Monday in the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, following an operation, will be held this afternoon at 2 o’clock from his late residence, 1223 Green Street, with the Rev. Frank E. Jensen, pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, officiating.  Burial will be in the Oberlin Cemetery.

Mr. Hoffman was born at Berrysburg, 1847, and after residing there for a number of years moved to Harrisburg.  He was an employee of the Harrisburg shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad, as a machinist, for forty-seven years, and has been on the retired list for the past seven years.  He also was a member of the Veterans’ Association of the Philadelphia Division of the railroad.

At the call for volunteers during the Civil War, he enlisted in Company M, 201st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers [201st Pennsylvania Infantry], and at the time of his death was a member of Post No. 58, G.A.R.  He was a prominent member of the Knights of Malta for many years, and also serving as alderman of the Fifth Ward.  Mr. Hoffman was one of Harrisburg’s first policemen, and a member of the Mt. Vernon Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church.  In addition to his widow Susan, he is survived by three children:  Mrs. John Zimmerman, of New Cumberland; Frank H. Hoffman and Clarence S. Hoffman, of this city; four brothers, Nelson Hoffman, of Philadelphia; Frank C. Hoffman and Charles Hoffman, of this city; and John H. Hoffman, Grantville.

Research into the accuracy of the obituary has resulted in determining that the regiment named was in error.  Instead of the 201st Pennsylvania Infantry, Erastus Hoffman actually served in the 194th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company E.  Proof is found on the Pension Index Card from Fold3:


The death date on the Pension Index Card confirms that this is the same Erastus Hoffman of the obituary, although the card gives the place of death as Harrisburg.  Often the place of death is reported as the last place a pension payment was received rather than the actual place of death.  Erastus Hoffman died at a hospital in Philadelphia as stated on his death certificate as well as in the obituary.

To determine the accuracy of his birthplace (Berrysburg) as given in the obituary, family trees on Ancestry.com are helpful.  These trees have Erastus as a direct descendant of Johann Nicholas Hoffman (1749-1814), the son of Johann Peter Hoffman (1709-1797), a pioneer settler of the Lykens Valley. The parents of Erastus were David Ferree Hoffman (1809-1867) and Lydia Matilda [Gray] Hoffman (1823-1886).  David Ferree Hoffman is buried at the Old Methodist Cemetery in Berrysburg.  In 1850, a 2-year old Erastus was living with his parents in Mifflin Township, Dauphin County.  Berrysburg is located in Mifflin Township.  In 1860, a 12-year old Erastus was living with his parents in the Borough of Millersburg.  In 1850, the father, David, was a carpenter, and by 1860, he was a master chair maker.  By 1870, Erastus had moved to Harrisburg with his widowed mother and siblings and was working as engineer-builder.

A final piece of information that ties all these facts together is the grave marker in Oberlin Cemetery:

The stone notes the dates of birth and death of Erastus and his wife Susan [Attick] Hoffman as well as his Civil War regiment of service – the 194th Pennsylvania Infantry.

Although a great deal of information has been obtained and confirmed from the obituary and supporting documents, there is still much to be learned about this Civil War veteran.  Readers are invited to contribute additional information by posting comments to this blog article or by sending the information by e-mail.  Surely at least one picture of Erastus has survived the years considering his residence in the capital city and his involvement in politics there.



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