Wednesday, June 6, 2012 maybe I am getting the hang of this. Now I love to tell stories so perhaps this will be the forum for that.  Amy, in a response to my first post, suggested that Grandma Hoffman (Lillian Picnkney Hoffman) did not seem like she would be so stern about drinking.  True, I never heard her raise her voice or utter or harsh word.  She lived with her daughter, my Aunt Edna (Hoffman Winne) who was married to George but they never had any children.  I believe she had to have a hysterectomy before she even got married.  Anyway, my sister and I got to spend a week or two in Tribes Hill (about 5 miles away) with my aunt, uncle and grandmother when we were children.  That was our summer vacation.  It was a vacation....from each other as we went there separately!

Grandma H would ask me each day what kind of jam/jelly I would like that day with peanut butter and then proceed to their super clean finished basement to pick out the choice I made! We made friends in Tribes Hill who were of course, different friends from Amsterdam! AND....Aunt Edna and Uncle George would take us once a year to Sherman's at Caroga Lake.  Sherman's had RIDES! A merry go round and I loved that!

We would also go to Annie Brown's in Fort Hunter for the best ice cream cones ever.

Some times I would sit on Grandma's high bed and help her sort cut pieces if material she would use to make hand!
Aunt Edna used to warm the plate Uncle George ate his supper from.  She would put it in the oven to heat the plate so it would keep his food warm.

I loved it up there.  They had an upstairs and a huge maple tree in the front yard (yes, it is still there) and I thought this a heavenly place to visit.  It was so different from living upstairs in a two family house where we were not allowed to play in the yard.  (the owners used it for vegetable gardening)

There used to be a sign which hung over the front door to the enclosed front porch.  The sign said MIZPAH which means God be with us when we are together and apart.  My sister and I now have a charm for our bracelets that is the Mizpah charm.
Howard Whitney Hoffman married Eleanor Osborne Riggs on Nov 30, 1933 at St. Ann's Church in Amsterdam, NY.  This happened to be Thanksgiving Day in 1933.  My mother's gown was in our attic for many years but I don't know what became of it. I remember it being of a light brown in color, perhaps the color of mocha.  Until recently, I had never come across a marriage certificate.  However,  I have just had Oakes Framing frame some copies of marriage certificates along with pictures of the couple. (In some cases, these pictures are NOT taken on the wedding fact, those of my maternal grandparents are of them when they were MUCH older.) However, this effort has resulted in my obtaining a copy of Howard and Eleanor's marriage certificate from church.  What a thrill.  It is the first time I have ever seen my father's signature! And, not only that, but it contains the signatures of both his parents, Eleanor's parents and the 4 people who witnessed the marriage! I know this to be true because I can recognize the signature of three of the people involved...that of my mother, maternal grandmother and my Uncle Austin who was my mother's brother.I love the fact that future generations will not only have records of marriages but will be able to associate pictures with the records!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Howard Whitney Hoffman, by Anne Vedder Hoffman De Groff

This will be my first attempt to "blog" but since I have been invited to do so by my favorite daughter in law, Amy Anne Begg DeGroff, I shall attempt it.

Let's start with my father, Howard Whitney Hoffman. He was named for his paternal aunt, Nancy Hoffman who married a Whitney. She then became Nancy Hoffman Whitney ( a fact not lost these days as my sister is named Nancy Whitney Hoffman Bebb.) Howard died when I was just 6. I remember little about him.

My sister Nancy, who is nearly 3 years older than me, remembers more.  He was an alcoholic who died of perforated ulcers at a time when penicillin was not yet available to the public.  It was being saved for the servicemen during WWII.

My mother did have a cousin who was a Dr. and he pulled some strings and got some 200,000 cc's of penicillin but apparently, not in time to save Howard. I have my own musings about why Howard became an alcoholic.
After all, his mother, Lillian, was a member of the WCTU.....the Women's Christian Temperance Union who vowed never to have a drop of alcohol touch their lips.  I do not know for sure but think this movement started about the time of Prohibition,

But I digress.....the family lived at 359 West Main Street in Amsterdam, NY....across the street from historic Guy Park Manor. Railroad tracks run along side of West Main St and in front of Guy Park Manor.  There was a ball field on the grounds of the Manor.  Howard and his friends were playing ball there and younger brother Sheldon Hoffman was also there. Now, perhaps Sheldon got hungry or needed to go to the bathroom.  But as a younger sibling myself, perhaps Howard could have said : "Sheldon, who said you could play? These are my friends, not yours!"

In any event, Sheldon was running home when he was struck and killed by a rail road train and I wonder if this so bothered my father when he was older that he drank to ease the pain. I do not know.  My mother never spoke of it after his death.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Howard Whitney Hoffman (1901-1944) Documentation

Howard Whitney Hoffman (1901-1944)

  • born: August 18, 1901

WW I Draft Registration

Lived in Amsterdam, New York
  • 1910 US Federal Census - 8 years old
  • 1910 US Federal Census - snippet -- help with road name? 
    • Amsterdam, New York (having trouble with road - Yroumons street?)

  • with Father (Mark), Mother (Lillian), Sister (Edna-17), Brother (Sheldon-6)

  • 1920 US Federal Census - 19 years old
    • 359 West Main Street, Amsterdam New York 
    • with Father (Mark) Mother (Lillian) Sister (Edna-27)  

  • 1930 US Federal Census- 28 years old
    • 18 Stinson Avenue
    • with Mother (Lillian)
Married Eleanor  Riggs November 30, 1933

Death: August 1944 
Social Security Death Index

Friday, June 1, 2012

John Vedder Riggs, , by guest blogger Anne Vedder Hoffman De Groff

This story won first prize in the Stories from the Mohawk Valley History Essay Contest 2012

Hello there! C'mon in. It is cold outside and I was looking for company. You see, I think my demise is coming soon and I have such a story to tell about my life. Come on now, step right inside and I will fix you something hot to drink and we will sit by the fire. I just want to have someone know my story. Perhaps someday, 100 years from now, someone might have an interest in this old man's life.

My name is John Vedder Riggs and I come from a long line of Riggs' who came to this country in 1633 from England. But, I digress... this is MY story... not that of my ancestors.

I was born in Schenectady in the spring of 1839. My father was a printer and publisher who, along with my grandfather, published the Schenectady Cabinet and that was not my calling whatsoever. After attending Princetown Academy and taking a course at Albany Medical College, I graduated from the Buffalo College of Physicians and Surgeons. But what I really wanted to do was sing and perform! So, after becoming a doctor, I managed to connect with the San Francisco Minstrel Troupe as an interlocutor and bass soloist and traveled with them. While the Troupe was performing in the South, however, I left the Troupe to study yellow fever which was widespread at the time. I then returned to Amsterdam and began practicing medicine at 29 Market Street. Annie C Wilds and I were married at St. George's Church in Schenectady on October 31, 1861. 28 years later I would sell my practice and try to make it in NYC as a performer. It did not work out, however, and Annie and I came back to Amsterdam. I opened a drug store on Market Street and did well with patented medicines. With my son and eventually with my granddaughter, I took part in many musical events here and conducted the Liberty Bond Vocal Club. So, you can see my friend, that although I traveled far I always came back home and with no regrets.

Now it is has been told and I am sure you are ready to depart. But, remember my story and don't be afraid to pass it on. I have had an influence on life in Amsterdam and have lived the good life.

An article about this award winning story