Charles W. Hoffman

CHARLES W. HOFFMAN, a prominent business man and representative citizen of Latrobe, where he has maintained his home for many years, also a veteran of the civil war in which he served with signal fidelity and valor, was born at Roxborough, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 1, 1838, a son of Nathan H. and Catharine (Skean) Hoffman, both of whom were members of sterling pioneer families of the Keystone commonwealth.

Nathan H. Hoffman (father) was born at Roxborough, Pennsylvania, March 8, 1805, was a wagon maker by trade and followed the same for many years. His wife, Catharine (Skean) Hoffman, born 1807, in Ligonier valley, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, bore him seven children, their births occurring at Roxborough, Pennsylvania. Theodore S., born June 11, 1829; Norris H., born December 14, 1830, died at Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where he was buried February 15, 1895; John M., born June 26, 1833, died May 10, 1853, at Chestnut Hill, and was buried in Roxborough, Pennsylvania; Harriet Matilda, born April 8, 1836; Charles W., born December 1, 1838; Elizabeth Amanda, born December 4, 1842; Joseph H., born April 23, 1845. Nathan H. Hoffman lived to attain the patriarchal age of eighty-two years, his death occurring November 21, 1887, in the state of Kansas, where the closing years of his life were passed. He was buried at Roxborough, Pennsylvania, beside his cherished and devoted wife, whose death occurred August I, 1878, in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. She was also buried in Roxborough, Pennsylvania.

Charles W. Hoffman passed his boyhood days in his native city, and his educational training was somewhat desultory in nature, being confined to an irregular attendance in the common schools which he left when twelve years of age to initiate his services in connection with the practical duties of life. He entered upon an apprenticeship at the trade of jeweler and watchmaker with his uncle, John Smart, at Philadelphia, with whom he served five years, becoming a skilled workman. For several years thereafter, until the breaking out of the civil war, he worked at his trade as a journeyman, in 1866 engaged in the same line of business on his own account in Greensburg, but shortly afterward removed to Latrobe and there engaged in the same business, building up an excellent trade, which he has continued to conduct up to the present time (1906). In all his business relations he has acquitted himself in such a way as to gain the confidence and esteem of all with whom he has associated, and his business capability is recognized throughout the community. He has always borne a full share in the promotion of community interests, and every enterprise which has had for its object the material and moral welfare of Latrobe has found in him a willing and efficient advocate.

When the dark cloud of civil war threw its pall over the United States, Mr. Hoffman promptly responded to the call for volunteers and went forth to do valiant service in defense of the union. He enlisted April 22, 1861, at Doylestown, Bucks county, in Company I, Twenty-fifth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, as a private, and served in said regiment ninety days. He was discharged at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, July 26, 1861, at the expiration of his term of enlistment. On September 12, 1861, at Doylestown, Bucks county, he enlisted in Company E, One Hundred and Fourth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, as a sergeant for three years, and was discharged at Philadelphia, September 30, 1864. He participated in a number of battles in Virginia and South Carolina; was wounded in the leg at the battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, May 5, 1862, second day's battle, General George B. McClelland's Peninsula campaign, Fair Oaks or Seven Pines, May 31 and June 1, 1862. In the first day's battle his company were all taken prisoners, excepting six of his comrades, he being out on a scout at the time. His comrades were put in Libby prison, Richmond, Virginia, and Weldon, North Carolina, prisons, but finally were all exchanged. The colonel of the regiment, W. W. H. Davis, in the second day's fight had his horse shot from under him, and was also shot in the arm. Mr. Hoffman participated in the battles at Bottoms Bridge, Chickahominy River, Gains Mill, White Oak Swamp, June 31, 1862; Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862; Morris Island, South Carolina, July 10, 1863; Fort Wagner, July 11, 1863. At the siege of Charleston, South Carolina, Johns Island, July 6 and 7, on the first day's battle, his colonel had his hand shot, losing four of the fingers of the right hand. Mr. Hoffman was placed in a tree by General Hatch to call out cover when the enemy were about to fire off their cannon; a shell exploded in front of the men, cutting the limbs of the tree and tearing the clothing from Mr. Hoffman. He performed spy duty under General Patterson and General George B. McClellan, in Virginia; also under Admiral Dahlgreen, on the South Carolina coast, and has in his possession a breast pin with a piece of brick taken from Fort Sumter, while he and six boat crews, six in a boat, soldiers and navy marines, were making an attempt one night to capture Fort Sumter, but they were surprised by the enemy, fired upon, and retreated, one commander being shot in the arm. The following is a copy of the original pass that Sergeant Hoffman had in his shoe when taken prisoner by two of the enemy's cavalrymen near Charlestown, Virginia, but by strategy made his escape, otherwise he would have been shot with the document found on his person:

Provost Marshal's Office, Charlestown. Va., July 19, 1861.
The bearer, Thomas Johnson, a good and loyal citizen of the United States, has liberty to pass freely anywhere within the lines of the American army, and all officers and soldiers are requested to respect his safeguard and render him any assistance necessary, by authority of
Captain 25th Penna. Regiment.
Provost Marshal.

Thomas Johnson is an assumed name. Charles W. Hoffman is the correct name and was the scout or spy. For his loyal and intrepid service in this capacity and for the injuries received in the army, he is accorded a pension of twenty-four dollars a month by the government. He is identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, and in politics is a staunch Republican.

Mr. Hoffman married Matilda Ann Borland, born in Franklin township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, October 23, 1845, and she still remains by his side, having been a devoted wife and mother. Their children are: 1. Vertis B., born October 18, 1874, at Latrobe, Pennsylvania, died May 21, 1903. 2. Byra James, born December 5, 1875, was killed on the Pennsylvania railroad in a wreck at Latrobe, Pennsylvania, April 18, 1893. Theodore S., born February 1, 1877, at Latrobe, is telegraph operator in the office of the Loyalhanna Coke and Coal Company, near Latrobe. 4. Jennie Willson, born December 7, 1879, at Latrobe, married Frank Gebhart, a civil engineer by profession, he having charge of four different mines, one of which is located near Latrobe. Mr. and Mrs. Gebhart reside in Masontown, Fayette county, Pennsylvania. 5. Paul E., born May 31, 1881, at Latrobe, is assistant superintendent at the McFeely Brick Company, near Latrobe, Pennsylvania,

Source: History of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Volume II, by John N. Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906, Page 299-300.
Transcribed by Carol C. Eddleman for the Westmoreland County History Project.
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (

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