William Josef Hoffmann, if he was still alive today, would be celebrating a very special birthday. Since he was born on May 29, 1897, he would be 125 years old today. William was the son of Julius and Wilhelmine (Mirly) Hoffmann. He was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. We can view an image of his baptism record from that congregation’s books.
When William was about 3 years old, in May of 1900, his mother had another child, a boy named Julius. Sadly, she died as a result of childbirth. That left Julius as a widower with several young children, one of them a newborn. The census taken in the Shawnee Township in 1900 was submitted in June of that year. At that time, the infant, Julius, would still have been alive, but he is not included in Julius’s household below. Perhaps someone else was making an effort to keep this child alive. The baby would die in July of that year. Wilhelmine’s sister, Johanna, was living in Julius’s household, probably helping him with his children while he was grieving for his wife.
In 1904, Julius married again. He married a different sister of his first wife. Her name was Mathilde Mirly. A previous post was published about Julius and his two Mirly wives titled, Marrying Multiple Mirly’s. More children were born to this couple, so William had several younger half-siblings. We see William at the age of 12 in the 1910 census. I guess one could call Mathilde either William’s stepmother or his aunt.
William had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918. This form says he was working on his father’s farm.
William was still single at the age of 22 when the 1920 census was taken.
Now, we will take a look at the woman who would become William’s bride. Her name was Elenora Alina Perr, who was born on April 12, 1902. Elenora was the daughter of Joseph and Maria (Kraml) Perr. She was the last and 13th child born to her parents. I am using the spelling for her first name that appears on her gravestone. She was also listed in some census records as Nora or Ella. Like William, she was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. We can also take a look at her baptism record.
A photo was taken of the Joseph Perr family that includes 10 children. I think Elenora was likely born after this photo was taken, mainly because only one out of her 12 siblings died as an infant before Elenora was born.
Elenora is found in her first census in 1910 when she was 8 years old. Her father was a farmer.
Next, we find Elenora in the 1920 census. Her father had died in 1914, so her older brother, Edward, was the head of the household. Her mother was also living in this family. Ella was called a servant.
William Hoffman married Elenora Perr on August 28, 1921, and as you would expect, they were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. We can view the church record for this pair’s wedding.
There is also a marriage license that we can take a look at.
The German Family Tree lists 4 children born to this pair. Three of them were born before the 1930 census was taken. In addition to the Hoffmann’s, there was a man named Benjamin Meyr, helping on the farm.
Next, we find the Hoffmann’s in the 1940 census. Their last child had been born in 1931.
In 1942, William had his World War II draft card completed. It states that he was employed by the KMP Company.
At some point in their lives, William and Elenore had this photo taken. I know I probably shouldn’t state my opinions about photographs, but I just cannot resist saying that these two do not appear to be enjoying the process of getting their picture taken.
The Hoffmann household had gotten somewhat smaller before the 1950 census was taken. Only their youngest child, Milton, still lived with his parents.
Elenora Hoffmann died in 1972 at the age of 70. Our museum’s friend and talented researcher, Diane Anderson, has a very reliable family tree on Ancestry.com, and she says that William got married again in 1975 to a woman whose maiden name was Zylphia Ida Porter.
William Hoffmann died in 1988 at the age of 91. William and Elenora Hoffmann are buried together in the Russell Heights Cemetery in Jackson, Missouri.
I’d like to wish William Hoffmann a very happy 125th birthday today, but based on his earlier photo, I’m not so sure he’d be excited about celebrating it.