Reuben R Hoffman


REUBEN R. HOFFMAN, merchant and justice of the peace at Belknap, Wayne township, Armstrong county, Pa., was born in Mahoning township, this county, Sept. 28, 1848, son of John and Susan (Smith) Hoffman, and grandson of George Hoffman.

George Hoffman came from Germantown (now part of Philadelphia), where his parents had settled. They were immigrants from the Rhine provinces near Strasburg which had been devastated by the wars waged by Louis XIV of France. George Hoffman settled in what was then called "the Manor," in Westmoreland county, buying about one thousand acres of land, becoming one of the pioneers and heavy landowners in that section. During the years that followed the family passed through all the vicissitudes incident to life in an unsettled region. For some nights after their arrival they continued to sleep in the wagons which had transported them from their other home, until a little log cabin was erected. George Hoffman was twice married, both wives being members of the Good family. To his first marriage were born four children: Henry, Jacob, George and Sarah. His second wife bore him nine children: Reuben, John, Polly and Hannah (twins), Fannie, Mrs. Parker, Leah, and two daughters who married brothers by the name of Saddler.

John Hoffman, son of George, and father of Reuben R. Hoffman, was born in Westmoreland county. By trade he was a stone-mason, and he held one of the contracts for the construction of the Pennsylvania canal in his section, in the carrying out of which his time and attention were occupied for some time. He had a remarkable experience which he never forgot, making a trip to New Orleans by boat and walking back the entire distance. Those sturdy pioneers were made of sterner material than their descendants, for he accomplished what would be almost impossible to his grandsons, without any serious inconvenience. The great development of steam power had not progressed far in those days, and water craft were propelled by the current of the stream, guided by oars, the boats being sold at the termination of the trip downstream. Those that manned the oars on these trips were destined to retrace their way home by walking, following the banks of streams and narrow paths through the wilderness. Their lives were endangered by Indians and wild beasts. Four men composed the party with which John Hoffman returned to Pennsylvania, his brother Reuben, Thomas Jones and another man whose name is forgotten accompanying him. During the night a fire was kept up, and at least one man stood guard. One night when they were in Arkansas Jones fell asleep while on guard, and Reuben Hoffman awoke to find the fire low and the camp closely surrounded by wolves, their eyes glaring like balls of fire, seemingly prepared for a rush on the helpless men. He awakened the rest, and all, securing firebrands, charged at the wolves, driving them into the dense forest. Jones was relieved from further guard duty. In 1840 Mr. Hoffman purchased a farm in Mahoning township, this county, dying upon it in 1908, when he had attained the extreme old age of ninety-three years. His remains are interred at Eddyville cemetery. His wife died in 1873, aged fifty-three years. They had the following children: Jessie, deceased; Reuben R.; George; Henry J.; Jackson J.; Daniel M.; M. Turney; D. Miles; Catherine, deceased; Lucy, deceased; Mary E., deceased; and Sarah E., deceased. Mr. Hoffman was possessed of strong characteristics, and stood very high in the community that was his home for so many useful years.

Reuben R. Hoffman, son of John Hoffman, went to school in his district, and attended Glade Run Academy for five terms. Following this time he taught school ten terms, in Jefferson and Armstrong counties. Entering upon a mercantile life, he clerked until he gained a thorough practical knowledge of the business, when he established himself at Edenburg, Clarion Co., Pa., as a merchant. After a year he moved to Eddyville, where he conducted a similar business for three years. In 1873 he located at Belknap, in Wayne township, since which time he has been the leading factor of his community. He put up all his buildings, has a very good stand, and his store is fully stocked with a full and varied line of merchandise, which he offers at prices as low as is consistent with their uniformly good quality. He also owned a farm of 130 acres in the vicinity of Belknap, which he sold to W. J. Alcorn. Having owned this property for twenty years he developed it considerably, and disposed of it at a good price. Mr. Hoffman deals in general merchandise and supplies a wide territory contiguous to Belknap, as well as the people in this town. Politically he is a Democrat, and has been the nominee of his party for several county offices, but as this is a strong Republican district he was not elected. He has served as a trustee of the Kittanning Academy, while for a number of years he was school director of the independent district of Wayne township. For twenty years he was postmaster at Belknap, continuing until the office was discontinued in 1909, mail being sent out of Echo. The shipping point is Dayton. Mr. Hoffman is a member of the Concord Presbyterian Church, which he served as elder for many years. He has been supervisor and clerk of Wayne township, and is a man of influence.

In 1876 Mr. Hoffman was married to Martha Thom, daughter of Craig Thom. They have no children. Mr. Hoffman is now serving his second term as justice of the peace.

Source: Pages 722-724 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed October 1998 by Joyce Sherry for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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