Civil War Blog

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Dr. Helen Delucia Fisk – Wife of Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas W. Hoffman

Posted By on August 22, 2014


Dr. Helen Delucia [Fisk] Hoffman died on 16 May 1941 at Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, at the age of 92.  According to her death notice (above) which appeared in the Naples, New York Record, she was “one of the pioneer woman physicians, and for many years was a member of the staff of the old Jackson Sanitarium [sic] in Dansville.”  There is no mention of survivors in the notice.


Her death certificate indicated that she was the widow of Thomas W. Hoffman and that she was a doctor by occupation.  Her death was due to hemorrhage caused by general arterial sclerosis.  Helen was born in Dansville, New York, 17 September 1848, the daughter of George C. Fisk, a mechanical engineer who operated a planing mill in Dansville, and Elizabeth [Karcher] Fisk.  The 1850 census notes that she was a twin, but nothing more is known at this time about her brother Henry D. Fisk.

Thomas W. Hoffman was Helen’s first husband.  Their marriage took place in Dansville, New York, on 5 April 1892.  It was Hoffman’s second marriage, his first wife having died in 1890. Thomas W. Hoffman had three known children by the first marriage:  Susan Hoffman, born about 1866; Mary “Mamie” Hoffman, born about 1868; and Elizabeth Hoffman, born about 1876.  Thomas W. Hoffman was born in Berrysburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania and for his meritorious actions in front of Petersburg, he received the Medal of Honor.


Click on document to enlarge.

In 1900 Thomas, age 60, and Helen, age 51, were living in a boarding house on Adams Avenue in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, that was operated by two women:  Margaret Kries, age 44, a widow, and her partner, Marion Cantner, age 46, who was single.  An interesting group of people lived in the boarding house, including a shoe salesman from Virginia, a servant from Ireland, a locomotive engineer from England, and a commercial traveling salesman of canned beans from Iowa.  Helen was listed as a physician and Thomas was a clerk, probably for a department store near the boarding house.

No record has yet been seen to indicate that Helen was a practicing physician in Scranton.  Primarily, she appears to be associated with the Jackson Sanatorium in Dansville, New York.  After Thomas W. Hoffman‘s death in 1905,  she moved to New York and lived with her niece.  No record has yet been seen to indicate that Helen had any “standard” education as a physician (such as at a medical college).  There is some indication though that she received her training at the Jackson Sanatorium.


In 1880, Helen was living with her parents in North Dansville, New York, and she gave no occupation to the census taker.  It is therefore possible that she received her training after 1880.


The “official” guide to the Jackson Sanatorium can be found as a free download from the Internet Archive.  It was established in 1858 for “the scientific treatment of invalids and for recuperation and rest in cases of overwork and nervous exhaustion.”

The Jackson Sanatorium is conducted as a distinctively Health Institution and not as a fashionable resort.  Regularity of life and freedom from noise and social excitement prevail thus securing long periods of rest while at the same time rational recreation and amusements are amply provided for.  Although the comfort and welfare of the sick are the first considerations, every opportunity is provided for those who desire to spend a pleasant and profitable vacation season….

The sanatorium was located on a hill about a half mile above the town of Dansville.  Today, the building is abandoned and is partially in rubble.

While Dr. Helen D. Fisk is not listed as one of the main medical staff, there is a line in the official guide that states that “the permanent staff [is] assisted by four assistant physicians.”

Part of Dr. Fisk’s training may have been a trip she took in 1889, as reported in the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle, 10 June 1889:

Dr. Elizabeth Fear and Dr. Helen D. Fisk, of the Dansville Sanitarium [sic] will spend the coming year in Europe together, visiting the principal health institutions and sanitariums [sic] of Germany and the hospitals of Paris, Berlin and Vienna.

The Scranton Republican reported on 23 November 1897, that Dr. Helen Fisk Hoffman was a “medical electrician.”  Turning again to the booklet produced by the Jackson Sanatorium, the following electrical treatments are noted:

During the past few years great advances have been made in the scientific application of electricity to the removal or relief of disease, and as a consequence this remedial agency has come rapidly into favor with the best medical practitioners, particularly in the treatment of diseases of women.  In recognition of this fact, and knowing by observation and experience the curative value of electricity, especially when employed in conjunction with hydro-therapeutic measured for the restoration of invalids, the management of the Jackson Sanatorium has given special attention to this department, making it complete in every detail, and furnishing it with all the latest and most approved apparatus for giving treatment in its varied forms.  Electro-Thermal Baths, with stationary batteries, also portable Galvanic and Faradic batteries, are employed.  A superior Holtz machine is used for the administration of Statical Electricity.

Overall though at the Jackson Sanatorium, electrical treatments appear to be secondary to the primary focus on a “careful regulation of daily life, including diet, exercise, rest and relaxation, with cheerful and helpful social and religious influences…. Massage, an important measure of treatment here, is given by experienced masseurs.  Drugs are not relied upon for curative purposes, but are used conservatively, as it is believed that better and safer means are available.”

When and why Dr. Fisk left employment at the Jackson Sanatorium is not known at this time.

In her widow’s pension application, which was made in March 1913, about eight years after the death of her husband, Dr. Fisk had to prove that she was married to Thomas W. Hoffman and not married to anyone else, before or since.  She also had to prove that he was not married to anyone else.  For this latter proof, she solicited the help of two of Hoffman’s daughters by his first marriage.  They provided a deposition that confirmed the marriage to Helen and verification that after the death of their mother, their father married no one else.  Helen received the pension, which it appears was her only income until her death in 1941.

After her death, the niece who had taken care of Helen in her last years, asked the Pension Bureau for additional funds to pay for the end-of-life care that Helen received in a “Health Home.”  It is not known if the government reimbursed the niece for the money she put out – but the niece was sure to point out in the claim that her aunt’s husband was a Medal of Honor recipient!

More information is sought about Helen Delucia Fisk, her time as a physician, and her time as the husband of Medal of Honor recipient Thomas W. Hoffman.


Census information is from Ancestry.com.



Monuments at Gettysburg – 27th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on August 20, 2014

027thPA-Inquirer-1889-09-11-001aThe 27th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located southeast of Gettysburg on East Cemetery Hill.  The monument was dedicated in 1889 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and was the second monument to the regiment that was placed at Gettysburg.  The above drawing appeared with an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 11 September 1889 on the dedication and re-dedication of Gettysburg battlefield monuments.

For more information about this monument and the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry as well as a picture of the monument see Steve Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a picture, and some of the history of the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.  There is also a photograph of the first monument, placed and dedicated in 1884.


The above-mentioned article from the Philadelphia Inquirer contained the following information about the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry:

A Monument for Gettysburg.

A committee of the Twenty-seventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanded by the late Colonel Bushbeck, and which, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Cantador, participated with distinction in the memorable Battle of Gettysburg, 1, 2, 3 July, will unveil a monument… on the battlefield, on the spot where the regiment distinguished itself.  It consists of a white marble base topped by a shaft.  On the top of the latter there is an eagle resting on a cannon ball, and bearing in its beak a crescent, the badge or emblem of the Eleventh Army Corps….

The 27th, organized by Co. W. F. Sewall as part of the Washington Brigade, was recruited from Northern Liberties and Kensington districts of Philadelphia.  A number of both officers and men had seen service in this country and Europe.  Its part at Gettysburg began with preparations to defend the town by taking charge of the jail, church and school building and preventing entrance from that end of the town.  It went on into the fight against Early, taking a position near a brick kiln.  Part of the regiment under Colonel Vogelbach was ordered to fill a gap in the line to the right of the 154th New York.  Only fifty men reached the position, and these were cut off and captured, Colonel Vogelbach being shot down. 

The remainder of the regiment had fallen back to Cemetery Hill.  Here, as they were advanced upon by the rebels on the 2nd, a mounted man in the national uniform of a staff officer ordered the regiment to fall back.  The order was given and the greater part of the men refused to go.  The pretended officer then leaped the wall and galloped away to rejoin the rebels.  A desperate attack followed, but the rebels were driven back.  Lieutenant Briggs was killed in the act of cheering his men.  On the 3rd the regiment was exposed to the terrible artillery fire for three hours.  During the night this regiment was the first to reappear in the town, to the great joy of the inhabitants.  It had lost 2 officers and 22 men killed, 68 wounded and 45 missing.  The 27th will re-dedicate its monument dedicated last year.




Lorenz Cantador (1810-1883)

Lorenz Cantador was born in  Düsseldorf, Germany, 1 June 1883, to a family that originated in Northern Italy.  Because of his participation in the Revolution of 1848, he was eventually captured and jailed.  After release he fled through France to the United States where he offered his military services to Pennsylvania, receiving command of the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry as its Major on 7 September 1861 with promotion to Lieutenant Colonel on 2 October 1861.  After the Battle of Gettysburg, he continued to lead the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry until his discharge on 16 November 1863.  His Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card from the Pennsylvania Archives is shown below.  This was his only American Civil War service.


A pension application was submitted on 13 January 1883 from New York where he resided after the war, trying to make a living in various professions.  Although he received the pension, it was too late to reverse his fortune;  he died impoverished in New York City on 2 December 1883.  The Pension Index Card from Fold3 is shown below with his death date.  It is not known if he was ever married, but no one applied for widow’s benefits.


At this time it is not known where he was buried.  For addition information about Lieutenant Colonel Lorenz Cantador, see Gesellschaft Zur Ludwigsburg.


Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg. Previously on this blog, the plaque for the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry was featured.  See:  27th Pennsylvania Infantry – Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg.


The news article containing the drawing of the monument and the text transcribed above was obtained through the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Civil War Museum at Nash Farm Battlefield, Hampton, Henry County, Georgia

Posted By on August 18, 2014


Nash Farm Battlefield Museum

The Nash Farm is located in the western part of Henry County, Georgia, 21 miles south of Atlanta, at 4361 Jonesboro Road.  It is about five miles west of Exit 221 of I-75.  During the Civil War, it was a Confederate campsite and was the location of the largest cavalry raid the state’s history – which was conducted by Union General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, after whom the G.A.R. Post in Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania was named.  Participating in the cavalry corps led by Kilpatrick was the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry which included many men from  the Lykens Valley area.  According to local (Henry County) information, the Nash Farm site is one of the “few Civil War battlefields that remain intact, meticulously preserved” – which allows visitors to re-visit the final days of Gen. William T. Sherman‘s Atlanta Campaign – much as it may have appeared at the time to the participants.

The Nash Farm Battlefield Museum is open to the public.  There is no admission charge, but donations are appreciated.  It is operated by volunteers who are members of the Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield, a non-profit membership group.  For membership information and hours of operation contact Friends at www.henrycountybattlefield.com.

A quick pictorial tour of the museum is presented below.  The pictures are a mere sampling of what is available.  Plan at least one hour to visit.


Articles Found on the Battlefield


The General


Nash Family Artifacts


Nash Family Artifacts

A portrait gallery of some of the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy at Nash Farm is located in a long hallway.  A few of the frames are shown below.


Thomas Stock Elliott


William A. Fuller


Harris Jesse Phillips (1837-1911)


Francis Marion Hale


Patrick Henry Hale


Madison Maddox (1835-1917)

Finally, there is a conference room and genealogical library available at the museum for researchers to study about the battle and its participants:


Genealogical Library at the Museum

For other blog posts on Nash Farm Battlefield, click here.


More on Valentine Hipsman

Posted By on August 17, 2014

Jane Butler of Minisink Valley Genealogy, has called my attention to a blog post she published this month on Valentine Hipsman, who I had previously profiled here in June as part of my series on “The Great Shohola Train Wreck.”  [ShoholaTrainWreck].

Jane’s post is entitled; The Hubschmann Monument, Hipsman Burying Ground, Shohola, PAIt pictures the grave markers of members of the Hipsman/Hubschmann family that surround the monument in what is now German Hill Cemetery in Shohola Township, Pike County, Pennsylvania.  There is also a much more extensive biographical profile of Valentine Hipsman than I provided in my June post.

For a link to the series on the train wreck, see:  The Great Shohola Train Wreck – The 150th Anniversary Remembrance.

The 150th Anniversary of Kilpatrick’s Raid at Nash Farm Battlefield

Posted By on August 15, 2014


The 150th Anniversary of Kilpatrick’s Raid at Lovejoy Station and Nash Farm Battlefield, Hampton, Henry County, Georgia, will be recognized from 20 August through 24 August 2014.

From the brochure advertising the event:

The Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield and the Georgia Civil War Commission wish to invite you to the 150th Anniversary of Kilpatrick’s Raid at Lovejoy Station, 22 August – 24 August 2014.  The event is open to the public and is designed to be both educational and entertaining.  There will [be] living history stations, camp sites, drills and demonstrations and a recreation of the dramatic sabre charge that took place at Nash Farm on 20 August 1864.

The highlight of the weekend event is the dedication of a black granite monument to the soldiers who were killed or mortally wounded during the raid.

For more information on this event, visit the website at www.henrycountybattlefield.com

For prior blog posts related to Kilpatrick’s Raid, Nash Farm, and Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, click here.

For prior blog posts on the relationship between Gen. Judson Kilpatrick and the Millersburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, G.A.R. Post, click here.

For prior blog posts on the action at Lovejoy Station, click here.