JOHN J. HOFFMAN. The enterprise which wins over all difficulties and obstacles has been well illustrated in the career of John J. Hoffman, owner of the White Star Ranch between Utica and Arnold in Ness County. Mr. Hoffman has become one of the best known horse, mule and general stock men in this section of the state.
He came to Ness County in 1891. He had recently reached his majority and the incidents of his earlier years can be briefly told. He was born in Buffalo, New York, April 14, 1870. When he was fourteen years of age his parents moved to McPherson County, Kansas. His education came chiefly from the country schools, and since his parents were poor people and there were many other mouths to feed, John Hoffman felt the responsibilities of the situation at an early age, and at sixteen began battling for himself. His experiences and his achievements since then have given him a place among the most worthy and successful men of the state.
On coming to Ness County in 1891 he bought the relinquishment of Christ Hirschler in the northwest quarter of section 28, township 16, range 25. This designation still fits Mr. Hoffman's home place, the White Star ranch. However, since then he has acquired the northeast quarter of the same section, giving him an entire half section of land.
When he secured the land twenty-five years ago only fifteen acres had been broken, and there were no buildings whatever. His first house was a dugout of one room, covered with sods, and with only the bare dirt as a floor. With all its inconveniences he made that his home for five years. He then constructed a more pretentious sod house, and into that he introduced his bride when he married, and they lived there very happily for fourteen years, feeling no particular disadvantage in such a residence, since most of the homes of the community were of the same character.
When Mr. Hoffman arrived in Ness County he had only 80 cents in money. He lost no time in securing work in the section gang of the Missouri Pacific Railway, at wages of $1.25 per day, and out of these earnings he soon had enough to pay the fee for filing on his claim. He continued employment as a railroad laborer for about a year and thus gained the capital needed to work his farm. His wages gave him enough to purchase a team of oxen. With that team he broke the sod and planted corn, but it was a poor year and he had only fodder for his pains, though that was sufficient to feed his oxen and pony, all the stock he then had. The first money crop he ever planted was a sowing of wheat on the fresh broken sod, and he has been planting wheat and corn ever since and has never failed to get a wheat crop in twenty-five years except two seasons, and nearly every season has given him a tolerable crop of corn. While his operations were on a modest scale he was prospering in a progressive fashion for several years, but then came the affliction of sickness in household, and after passing through that his livestock was reduced to four horses and two cows. With that as a nucleus he began all over again, and has been steadily going forward ever since. In the past six years Mr. Hoffman has erected a splendid barn 40 by 60 feet, with room for 100 tons of feed, also granaries for his wheat and shed barns for his cattle. His house has also been built within the same time, and this and the other improvements mark his as one of the best farms along the road between Utica and Arnold. He now has about half of his farm under cultivation.
About fifteen years ago he engaged in the breeding industry. His strain of horses is the Percheron, and for years he owned a Spanish and a Mammoth Jack. Through this enterprise he has contributed to the building up and maintaining of high standards among the horses and mules raised in the county. He is also a breeder of Shetland ponies, and has found that a good source of revenue. His Percheron stallion is the largest horse in the county, weighing 2,140 pounds.
As an old resident of the community Mr. Hoffman is keenly interested in its welfare, particularly in the matter of schools. He contributed his interest and support to the organization of school district No. 61. He is a democrat, has always been a voter and has never failed to cast his ballot at any election.
Mr. Hoffman is a son of John Hoffman, Sr., who followed farming in McPherson County, Kansas, for many years but was living retired at Mound Ridge at the time of his death, February 17, 1917. John Hoffman was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, in 1832, came to the United States as a boy, but on leaving Germany went to England and remained there five years before crossing the Atlantic. In Western New York he worked as a farm hand near Buffalo, and he married there Chritina From. She was also born in Germany and died in 1911. Their children were: Mary, widow of George Giess, of Buffalo, New York; Carrie, wife of John Giess, of Arnold, Kansas; Chris, who died at Mound Ridge, leaving three children; Annie, wife of Lawrence Frevele, of Mound Ridge, Kansas; Libbie, wife of Henry C. Vogt, of Mound Ridge; John J.; Nettie, wife of Peter D. Frantz, of Mound Ridge; Louise, who married George Hoerman, of Andover, Kansas; and George A., of Wellington, Kansas.
In Ness County on May 1, 1900, John J. Hoffman married Miss Matilda Hirschler. On June 9, 1918, after eighteen years of married life twin daughters were born to Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, but only one is living, Mayron Elizabeth Hoffman. Mrs. Hoffman's father, Jacob Hirschler, was born in Germany and married Elizabeth Hahn. Their children were: Lizzie, wife of B. Vogen; Jacob, of Strong City, Kansas; Abe, of Utica; Mrs. Hoffman, who was born February 14, 1880; Mrs. Bertha Garwood, of Utica; Mary, wife of Roy Beamus of Oxford, Kansas; Albert, of Russell, Kansas; John C., who studied for the ministry in the University of Chicago, but is now in France working in the Red Cross.
On September 20, 1917, John J. Hoffman had a sale, selling all his live stock. He rented his farm and is now living a retired life in Mound Ridge, where he owns a nice town property. He also bought another quarter of land, well improved, and has it rented, making him three quarters of land in Ness County.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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