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May 03

William G. Hoffer, Editor

After spending the past several months extracting and posting information from a single 1904 edition of the Willshire Herald, I wanted to learn more about the newspaper’s editor and publisher, William G. Hoffer. 

William G. Hoffer

I noticed that editor William Hoffer did not live in Willshire in 1900. The Hoffer surname did not appear to be what I consider a local name such as Schumm, Schinnerer, Dietrich, Spitler, Dellinger, or one of the many other names that have been in the area for decades. Although Willshire was eventually Hoffer’s home town, he was not a native of this area.

Who was this man who was a former editor and publisher of the Willshire Herald, who assisted in founding the Van Wert Times and Wapakoneta Daily News, and who served 22 years as Willshire’s postmaster?

William Groh Hoffer was born 26 October 1865 in Centre County, Pennsylvania, the son of George and Susan (Durst) Hoffer. [1]

In 1880 William’s father George was an inn-keeper in College Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania. The George Hoffer household in 1880: George, 56; Susan M, 56; Elizabeth, 24; Frances A, 21; Rozzella, 19; Isaac, 16; William G, 14; Sarah, 11; and Emma, 9. Everyone in their household was born in Pennsylvania and it appears the Hoffers had early roots in America, as the parents’ parents were reportedly also born in Pennsylvania. [2]

By 1893 William G. Hoffer had moved to Kansas and was the editor of the Shield. His father George Hoffer died in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on 1 December 1893, at the age of 70, and William returned to Pennsylvania for the funeral. [3]

A year later William G. Hoffer married Ora M. Morehead in Kansas, on 19 December 1894: Will. G. Hoffer and Ora A. Moorehead [sic], both of Larned, were united in marriage last Thursday night at the home of the bride. [4]

Ora Morehead was born in West Virginia on 24 June 1871, the daughter of Robert E. and Sarah M. (Allen) Morehead. William G. and Ora had two children, Gretchen Hoffer (1899-1964) and a son George, who died in childhood before 1900. [5]

By 1895, not long after their marriage, William and Ora resided in Pawnee County, Kansas. In this enumeration William was 28, born in Pennsylvania, and Ora was 23, born in West Virginia. [6]

By 1896 William G. Hoffer was the editor of The Lincoln Sentinel, Lincoln, Kansas. [7]

In 1900 William and Ora lived in Lincoln, Kansas, where their daughter Susan “Gretchen” was born in November of 1899. William’s occupation was reported as a printer. Their household in 1900: William G Hoffer, 35, head, born in Pennsylvania; Ora M, 28, wife, West Virginia; and Susan G, daughter, 6 months, Kansas. [8]

By 1904 William, Ora, and Gretchen had moved back east to Ohio, where he was the editor and publisher of the Willshire Herald, as indicated by the newspaper I have here at home.

The Willshire Herald, 1904.

Hoffer apparently left the Willshire Herald a couple years later. A 1909 article in The Lima News describes Hoffer as the former owner of the Willshire Herald, who recently purchased an interest in the Wapakoneta Daily News. [9]

In 1910 the Hoffer family of three lived at 511 W. Mechanic Street in Wapakoneta and William was a newspaper editor. Their household in 1910: William G, 43; Ora M, 38; and Gretchen, 10. [10]

Hoffer was the editor of Wapakoneta Democrat in 1912. [11] He moved on from that newspaper in a couple years.

In 1916 Hoffer purchased the Auburn Bee, in Auburn, Indiana, from John C. Lochner. Hoffer was described as a newspaper man of much experience and the former editor of the Wapakoneta Daily News  and Auglaize County Democrat for seven years. It went on to say that his wife and daughter would move to Auburn by 1 July 1916. [12]

In December 1916 William G. Hoffer was sued by former Auburn Bee editor Lochner, sued for the collection of a promissory note with a balance of $900 and interest of $100. The note was originally for $1000, payable 1 November 1916. [13]

Soon after, Hoffer moved to Piqua, Ohio, and in 1917 became editor and general manager of the Piqua Press. This article states that Hoffer was well known throughout Ohio and had been connected with the Wapakoneta News for eight years. [14]

Hoffer made another move in December 1917, a move to northeast Ohio, where he was worked in the editorial portion of the financial department of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. [15]

The family’s final move would be within the next couple years. By 1920 William G. Hoffer and family had moved to Willshire, where they resided the rest of their lives. In 1920 they lived on Walcott Street and William, age 55, was a newspaper editor and daughter Gretchen, 20, was a mail clerk at the post office. Wife Ora was not employed. [16]

By 1930 the Hoffers resided on Hogan Street, where William’s occupation was postmaster. Wife Ora was a music teacher and Gretchen was the assistant postmaster. [17]

William G. Hoffer was Willshire’s postmaster for at least 22 years, beginning about 1918. He was reappointed postmaster there several times: 6 February 1926, 22 March 1934, 9 April 1938. He retired 31 January 1940. His daughter Gretchen took over as postmistress after his retirement in 1940 and held the position until August of that year, when John E. Reichard became postmaster. [18]

In the 1940 census enumeration no occupations are given for William and Ora, but Gretchen, 40, single, was the acting postmistress. No street residence is given but they resided in the same house as they did in 1935. [19]

Willshire’s one-time newspaper publisher and former postmaster William G. Hoffer died in Willshire from gallbladder complications on 15 January 1949. He was survived by his wife Ora M. and their daughter Gretchen. He was buried on the 19th and H.B. Cowan was in charge of the arrangements. [1]

William’s wife Ora was active in the community, as a piano teacher of two generations, pianist for many years at the Willshire Methodist Church, where she was also a member. She was a charter member of the Pythian Sisters and a member of Bethlehem chapter No. 25, Order of Eastern Star, Willshire. Ora died 6 January 1959. [3]

William G, wife Ora, and daughter Gretchen (1899-1964) are buried in Willshire Cemetery and share the same tombstone.

Below is one of William G. Hoffer’s obituaries:

Ohio Weekly Editor Dies At Age Of 84
Willshire, O.—(AP)—Funeral services will be held Wednesday for William Hoffer, 84, editor of the Willshire Herald, a weekly newspaper in this Van Wert-co community.

 Hoffer, who previously worked for newspapers in Cleveland and Bellefontaine, Oh., and Elkhart, Ind., died Saturday.

 Hoffer at one time amazed colleagues with his ability to cover a beat and write three columns of news without taking a note. [20]

Next week, William G. Hoffer’s obituary, as published the 1949 Willshire Herald.

 

[1] Death Record, Willshire, Willshire Township, Van Wert, Ohio, William Groh Hoffer, 15 Jan 1949; “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch.org (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9ZY-TJ6P?i=741&cc=2128172 : viewed 30 Apr 2019). 

[2] 1880 U.S. Census, College, Centre, Pennsylvania, ED 228, p.275A [stamped], dwelling 179, family 199, George Hoffar; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1880usfedcen/ : viewed 29 Apr 2019).

[3] The Larned Eagle-Optic, Larned, Kansas, 1 Dec 1893, p.3, Death of Mr. George Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[4] The Tiller and Toiler, Larned, Kansas, 28 Dec 1894, p.4, Personal Matters; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[5] Find a Grave.com, Ora M. Morehead Hoffer (1871-1959), memorial no. 77417095, Willshire Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio; Ora Hoffer obituary, from The Lima News, 8 Jan 1959, posted with memorial.

[6] 1895 Kansas Territory Census, Larned, Pawnee, p.43 [penned], dwelling 320, family 326, William G Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com.

[7] The Lincoln Sentinel, Lincoln, Kansas, 23 April 1896, p.2; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[8] 1900 U.S. Census, Elkhorn, Lincoln, Kansas, ED 62, p.1 [penned], dwelling & family 14, William G Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1900usfedcen/ : viewed 30 Apr 2019).

[9] The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, 17 Feb 1909, p.4; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[10] 1910 U.S. Census, Wapakoneta Ward 3, Auglaize, Ohio, ED 53, p.7A, dwelling 138, family 141, William G Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1910uscenindex/ : viewed 30 Apr 2019).

[11] The Mansfield News-Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, 27 Jul 1912, p.3, Democrats Seem Dead; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.  

[12] The Garrett Clipper, Garrett, Indiana, 15 Jun 1916, p.4; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[13] Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 27 Dec 1916, p.3, Former Editor Is Sued; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[14] The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, 16 Jan 1917, p.2, William G. Hoffer I Head of Piqua Press; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[15] The Mansfield News-Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, 10 Dec 1917, p.12, Locates in Cleveland; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

[16] 1920 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 146, p.9A [penned], dwelling 60, family 61, William G Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1920usfedcen/ : viewed 30 Apr 2019).

[17] 1930 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 22, p.3A [penned], p.251 [stamped], dwelling & family 55, William G Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1930usfedcen/ : viewed 30 Apr 2019).

[18] Postmasters, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, 1930-1971, Vol. 5, William G Hoffer, 22 Mar 1934; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com, U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971, Records of the Post Office Dept, Record Group 28.

[19] 1940 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 81-26, p.6A [penned], dwelling, William G Hoffer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1940usfedcen/ : viewed 30 Apr 2019).

[20] Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, Lancaster, Ohio, 17 Jan 1949, p.1, Ohio Weekly Editor Dies at Age Of 84; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com, viewed 2 May 2019.

12 comments

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  1. Craig Cabot Storer

    Thanks for the interesting post. I am Craig Storer, the son of the late Rev. Gene Storer. He was the former pastor of the U.B. Church on State Street in Wilshire around 1968.

    1. Karen

      Thank you for writing and sharing your connection to Willshire. It is always interesting to hear from people with an interest in the area.

  2. Sondra Samples

    I remember the Hoffers from when they lived across the street from the Methodist church and the park, where Nancy Marbaugh now lives. After her death, Mrs. Hoffer’s grand piano was donated to the Methodist church, where it was used for several years. She had a reputation of being very strict with her piano students. I do not remember much about Mr. Hoffer, as he died when I was young. I have read lots of Willshire Herald editions when he was editor, however. The newspaper was full of local news and editorial comments back then.

    1. Karen

      Thank you for the great information. Sharon Krall also said that she remembers Mrs. Hoffer and that she taught piano. I noticed that Mr. Hoffer did like to editorialize. Plus, all that local news was the best and so interesting to read today. Thanks for writing!

  3. Rosemary Charleston

    Karen, I remember Mrs. Hoffer well. I took
    piano lessons and yes she was strick. A
    proper lady and I liked her. These articles are
    very interesting and bring back good memories
    Rosemary Ross Charleston

    1. Karen

      Thank you for writing! It is great to hear from people who actually knew and remember the Hoffers. This information keeps the memories of these folks alive.

  4. marthalawler

    I also took piano lessons from Mrs. Hoffer for many years. I remember the big stove in their living room especially when in the winter you walked down from the school. I also remeber the recitals she held at the Methodist church.
    Your blogs are always so interesting. Keep up the good work.

    1. Karen

      It is so interesting to hear from people who took piano lessons from Mrs. Hoffer. She probably had a lot of piano students and I am sure you remember your recitals. I think more people learned to play piano years ago than they do now. I am very glad my mom made sure that I continued with piano lessons and eventually moved on to the organ. My first piano teacher was Dick Dellinger and my first organ teacher was Mary Schumm, both from Willshire. Thanks for writing!

  5. Phyllis Goodwin Brockmyer

    Mrs. Hoffer was known to slap your hands if you weren’t holding them in the correct upright position. I remember had beautiful white hair piled on top her head, pinned into position.

    1. Karen

      My, it does sound like she was very strict with her piano students. She was apparently a very elegant-looking lady. Thanks for the information!

  6. Mary Goodwin Haddad

    Yes I remember Mrs. Hoffer and Gretchen because they lived around the corner from us Gretchen ‘s hair was as black as Mrs. Hoffer’s was white. I also took piano lessons from Mary Schumm and Dick Dellinger was a classmate of mine in the Willshire class of 1959. His piano playing was wonderful especially the music of Chopin. He was very gifted but I didn’t know he taught. Thanks so much for these articles especially about Willshire my childhood home.

    1. Karen

      Thank you! Interesting to hear the descriptions of the Hoffers. Dick Dellinger was my first piano teacher and he came to our home to give me lessons, but I never heard him play much. I wish I would have. Thanks for writing!

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