Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 804
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
GEORGE M. HOFFMAN
The career of the subject of this sketch is a somewhat remarkable one, illustrating as it does the possibilities for advancement which lie before men of enterprise and perseverance who will attempt earnestly to win success by honorable means.
George M Hoffman, of Little River, Rice county, Kansas, came into the territory known as central Kansas when his companions were Indians and buffaloes, and, living within the borders of Rice county before the county was organized, has seen the country advance from a primitive condition to one of industry and prosperity. Beginning his career in Kansas as an “ox-whacker,” in the old-fashioned freighting business, he has become a banker and capitalist and a man of wide and forceful influence.
George M Hoffman was born in Franklin county, Indiana, February 7, 1843, a son of Henry and Anna M (Hornberger) Hoffman, who were born and married in Germany, where their first two children were born. Mr and Mrs Hoffman emigrated to America in 1840 and located in Franklin county, Indiana, where Mr Hoffman cleared a tract of heavily timbered land, improved a farm and died in 1864. Mr and Mrs Hoffman were both descended from old and honorable German families and Mr Hoffman’s father fought under Bonaparte at Moscow. Henry and Anna Hoffman, who were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church, had three children, - Barbara, Anna and George M. Anna married E Pape, a farmer who lived near Topeka, Kansas; and Barbara, who has never married, is still a member of her household.
George M Hoffman began the battle of life as a farm hand at the age of ten years and by the time he was sixteen had saved money enough to take him to Kansas, where he worked as a farm hand until 1863. Having passed the apprentice period of his life he decided to give up farming and in that year became an “ox-whacker” in connection with freighting enterprises, in which capacity he made trips across the plains to Salt Lake and other points, all government and private supplies being transported overland at that time with ox teams. Mr Hoffman did not find his occupation pleasant or without danger, but it was profitable and he continued in it, taking his chances of losing his scalp in some Indian attack, and at length was able to put together a good freighting outfit of his own. When he could secure contracts he transported supplies for the United States government, and when he could not he bought goods, took them west and sold them to as good advantage as possible. Once, while filling a government contract to deliver supplies at a certain fort in the Indian territory near the Texas border, his cattle died of Texas fever and his business enterprise came to an untimely end.
With a view to making money with which to buy another team he became a cowboy, and about 1870 began to handle cattle on his own account. He herded cattle within the present limits of Rice, Barton and Ellsworth counties before those political divisions were organized or settled. Sometimes he was annoyed, but was never seriously molested by Indians. Once when he was herding cattle at Great Bend on the Arkansas river, in Barton county, in the dead of winter, a severe storm drove his cattle and a herd of buffaloes to a common shelter, and in attempting to separate them he killed more than one hundred buffaloes and gave an Indian one-half of the hides for skinning them. The hides yielded him some profit which enabled him to give his enterprise a new impetus and from that day to this he has in a general way been successful. After the country became settled and range land was not available otherwise, he began to buy land for grazing purposes and spent much money in that way. After operating a long time in Ellsworth county, he bought land in Rice county in 1881 and built a large residence at Little River, where he has since lived, making the town his headquarters for the shipment of grain and stock. He never profited by the homestead law, as a quarter section of land was too small for his use, but has bought land by the section and has sold it whenever it became unnecessary to his business. At this time he is the owner of more than seven hundred acres. He has seen every farm improved and every village grow up for miles roundabout, and no man in central Kansas is richer in reminiscences of the pioneer days. In early times he became well acquainted with almost all of the noted mountain men, such as Bob and Kit Carson, James Bridger, etc., being the oldest white trapper in this part of the west.
In 1885 Mr Hoffman organized a bank, which in 1898 was reorganized as the Citizens’ National State Bank, of Little River, with a paid up capital of ten thousand dollars, in which he is the controlling stockholder. The officers of this bank are George M Hoffman, president; Lester Weight, cashier; D G Green, assistant cashier. It carries a large amount of deposits and does an extensive business in discounts. It is quartered in a substantial cut-stone building arranged especially for its accommodation, and in business circles is regarded as one of the strong financial institutions of central Kansas.
In politics Mr Hoffman is independent, though he was originally a Democrat, and in 1900 voted for McKinley. He was married, in Ellsworth county, Kansas, to Miss Anna Martin, who was born in Illinois, June 6, 1856. Mrs Hoffman is a daughter of George Martin, a native of England, who settled early in Illinois, and in 1862 was a pioneer in the Platte valley in Nebraska, where he farmed and herded cattle and had many exciting experiences with Indians. He remained there, however, master of the situation and lived out his days on his homestead. He had children as follows: Hepsibah Nathan, who lives in Nebraska; Robert, who is dead; Hannah, who is Mrs Hoffman; and William, who lives in Nebraska. By a previous marriage to a Mr Weaver the mother of these children had a son named George Weaver, who became an elder in the Baptist ministry and was sent as a missionary to South Africa, where he was a witness of many interesting events in connection with the war between the English and the Boers and who since his return to America has lived in Iowa. He is now making arrangements to return the third time, “taking his life in his hands” for their good. He owns eight hundred acres of fine land in Platte Valley, Nebraska, which he rents, showing that he does this work not for money but because he thinks it is his duty.