Ludwig Hoffmann Family in Gillett AR ca 1893

(from the Hoffmann Family History Story)

Our dad (Ludwig Hoffmann) had some experience making wagons while in Russia, so the first job he got when he arrived at St. Joseph, MI was in a wagon factory. At heart, however, he was a farmer. So when the other relatives at Gillett, Arkansas wrote to him telling how wonderful the climate was down there, he became very interested. He was told that two crops could be raised from the same plot of ground in one year. So he thought how wonderful it must be to be able to always have new potatoes.

It was in the late winter or early spring of 1893 when father quit his job at the wagon factory and moved his family down to Gillett, Arkansas. Dad bought forty acres of land from one of the relatives. They lived in with Fred and Julia Lehman (dad's sister) until a house could be built on the land just purchased. Before one year had passed father and mother found out what Arkansas of that period was like. The summers were too dry for corn to grow. At best the corn only developed into small nubbins. All other crops were in like proportion. Potatoes had to be planted extra early to have anything at all. Mother said there was one year when they thought they were going to have a bumper crop. The weather had been ideal and the potatoes had grown to enormous size. Then a heavy downpour of rain came and right after that real hot weather. In a few days all the potatoes were rotted to nothing. On top of all this mother and father were sick an awful lot - with malaria for one thing. At one period mother was so ill she was not expected to live. She finally did get well, but her memory of a lot of things she used to know about cooking and medical plants left her and she never fully recovered from it. It was just one sickness after another. Dad at one time when he was working in the woods making railroad ties got sunstroke.

Besides all these hardships a full-scale depression was on during these years. If the farmers had anything to sell, it was worth little or nothing. If jobs of any kind were found - wages were fifty cents per day. What helped out dad was that he was handy with woodwork and black smithing. He made hooks to handle baled hay out of broken hay rake teeth, and sold them. He repaired broken cultivator teeth or blades - and occasionally fixed guns. He made wooden wagons, which he sold for ten dollars each. So in this way he managed to provide for his family.

The Ludwig Hoffmann family returned to St. Joseph MI in the spring of 1898.


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October 2, 2005