William Hoffmire

WILLIAM HOFFMIRE, of Columbus, sales agent for the Laflin-Rand Powder Company, is a popular and well known citizen of Cherokee County, which has been his home since 1888. He was born in New York City April 13, 1828, of English, Scotch and Dutch ancestry. The family is an old one in New York. His great-grandfather took part in the War of the Revolution, and his father served in the War of 1812, entering the army at the age of 16 years. His kindred on the maternal side still reside at Middletown, New Jersey. His great-grandfather, Edward B. McCullum, was a prisoner for nearly a year while the British held New York. His wife, Hannah Jones, who was of Welsh descent, lived to be 111 years old, lacking 15 days. All of her nine children lived to be upwards of 90 years old, except one, who died at the age of 89 years. All four of the great-grandfathers of William Hoffmire served in the Revolutionary War. They were,—Col. William Hoffmire, Col. Moses Dusenbury, Maj. W. B. Eagles, and private Edward B. McCullum.

Mr. Hoffmire was reared in the city of New York and lived there until he was 21 years of age. In 1849 he joined the great exodus to California, where he was engaged in mining and also worked at his trade of coppersmith, a craft he had learned from his uncle. He put up the first whiskey still on the American River, in California, and introduced there many Eastern ideas. Altogether, he spent about 16 years in that State, interrupted by three visits to New York. He made the trip around the "Horn,' and visited the Sandwich Islands, with little thought at that time that they would ever become a part of his native land. For the past 17 years, he has been in the employ of the Laflin-Rand Powder Company, acting as superintendent during the erection of the plant in 1888-89, and now occupying the position of sales agent.

This plant, which is situated four miles north of Columbus, is the only one of its kind in this part of the country. It was commenced in 1888, and completed in the following year. The works cover about 550 acres and cost, approximately, $250,000. They turn out blasting powder, and their capacity is about 1,500 25-pound kegs per day; 75 men are employed. The product finds its main demand in the immediate vicinity. The plant is operated now as the Walter G. Clark Company, its manager being Walter G. Clark, who has his headquarters at Kansas City, Missouri.

The powder produced by this establishment is the best that can be manufactured, and at a recent exhibition of powder the article manufactured here was awarded the first premium,—a valuable testimonial to this Kansas product. The mine operators in this locality prefer this powder to any other, and under the new secret patent process the plant is able to compete with the world in the manufacture of blasting powder. Not only is it cheaper, but it is accredited with better results. Naturally a special effort is made to please the miners, and no more admirably adapted agent to exploit its merits could have been found than Mr. Hoffmire, who is an agreeable gentleman under all circumstances. Much of the great success of these works must be attributed to his efficient management, and his knowledge of how to deal with men and affairs.

In 1855, Mr. Hoffmire married, in New York, Mary A. Long, a native of London, England, who died in 1874, leaving four children, there[sic] of whom were born in California. One daughter, Florence E., formerly a resident of Cherokee County, died in 1902 in New York. The others are,—Mary A., who is the wife of P. L. Langworthy; Jennie Irene, who is the wife of Hubert G. Taylor; and William L., who is an official of the Hamilton Trust Company, of Brooklyn, New York. P. L. Langworthy is president of the Deep Vein Coal Company, with headquarters at Weir City, Kansas. Mr. Hoffmire's other son-in-law, Hubert G. Taylor, is president of the Kings county (New York) Savings Institution, and also, of the Taylor & Fox Realty Company, of New York; he was formerly treasurer of Kings County, and at one time a member of the New York Legislature.

Mr. Hoffmire's second marriage, July 9, 1877, was to Oella P. Langworthy, who was one of the first white children born at Dubuque, Iowa, and a daughter of Dr. Stephen Langworthy, who located at Dubuque in 1834, a few years after his sons settled there. For a time, Dr. Langworthy occupied a position in the government Land Office, during the administration of President Van Buren. Dr. Langworthy was twice married and by his first marriage had four sons,—James L., Lucius, Edward and Solon. James L. and Lucius moved to Dubuque, Iowa, in 1828, when it was but an Indian trading post, and it was Lucius Langworthy who gave the name "Iowa" to the Territory. James L. Langworthy was a captain in the Black Hawk War. The Langworthys owned much real estate in and about Dubuque, and were engaged in extensive mining operations. and later in banking in Dubuque. Dr. Langworthy served in the War of 1812.

Dr. Langworthy's second wife, who was the mother of Mrs. Hoffmire. was the second white woman to cross the Mississippi at Dubuque,—the crossing being effected in a rowboat. Mrs. Hoffmire had three brothers,—Stephen C., William A. and Cyrus. The first two went to Nebraska in 1876. and located, respectively, at Seward and Osceola, where they engaged in banking. Cyrus followed his brothers in 1877, and established a bank at York, Nebraska, and all became successful business men. All died within three days, in March, 1904.

Mr. Hoffmire has been a lifelong Democrat, belonging to a family noted for their Jeffersonian principles. His great-uncle, Daniel D. Tompkins, was a noted politician of New York for many years. Fraternally, Mr. Hoffmire is a Mason. His portrait accompanies this sketch.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 6-27-97


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