Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Huffman-Hoffman Kinexxion :: Heirs of Michael

The first document listing the heirs of Michael Hoffman was dated May 15, 1778 and was the Petition for Partition of the Real Estate.

Estate of Michael Hoffman
Berks County, Pennsylvania Probate Files
Family History Microfilm 1653590 Accessed February 11, 2012
To the Honorable the Justice of the Peace of the County of Berks at an Orphan's holden at Reading the 15th day of May in the Year of our Lord 1778.
The petition of Martin Hoffman, eldest Son and Heir at Law of Michael Hoffman late of Alsace Township in said County Yeoman deceased.
Humbly Sheweth That your said Petitioners Father Michael Hoffman died the 6th Day of January Anno Dom. 1777. leaving a Widow, named Mary and twelve children, to wit. Your Petitioner aged thirty six Years, Dorothea Now the Wife of Henry Shedler of the Age of thirty Years, Burghard Hoffman of the Age of thirty three Years, Dietrich of the Age of Twenty seven Years, Christian of the age of twenty three Years, Elisabeth of the Age of Nineteen Years, Henry of the Age of Eighteen Years, Catherine of the Age of fifteen Years, Barbara of the Age of twelve Years, Michael of the Age of twelve ten years, John the age of six Years & Mary of the Age of four Years all thereabouts.
That the said petitioners Father died Intestate Seized in his Demise as of Fee of and in A certain messuage on Tenement and Tract or Parcel of two hundred Acres of Land Situate in Alsace Township aforesaid.
Your Petitioner therefore humbly prays your Honours would be pleased to award an Inquest to divide the Said Estate among the said Children, if the Same can so be, without prejudice to or Spoiling the same, and if not to Value and Appraize the said Real Estate of the said Decedent, Agreeable to the Directions of the Law in Such Case made and provided.
And your Petitioner as in duty bound will pray, Martin Hoffman
The next document, also dated May 15, 1778 was the Inquisition ordering the Sheriff to have an appraisal made of the land which Michael Hoffman owned. I'm not going to transcribe the entire thing here because it basically reiterates what was in the Petition for Partition listing the heirs. However, even though it still says there were twelve children, the name Philip is inserted after Martin's age and just before the name of Dorothea.

Top portion of a document in the probate file ordering the Sherriff to have an appraisal made of the land which Michael Hoffman owned.

On June 9, 1778 the real estate was appraised by “twelve free honest and lawful men” who found that the land could not be parted and divided among the children “without prejudice to or spoiling the whole thereof” and it was appraised at seven hundred pounds.

Petition of Maria Hoffman stating that there were 13 children of Michael Hoffman and requesting that guardians be named for the four minor children under the age of 14.
To the Honble the Justices of the orphans Court of Berks county held at Reading the 14th day of August 1778.
The petition of Maria Hoffman Administratrix of Michael Hoffman Late of the said County Yeoman Deceased

Honorably Showeth That the said Michael Hoffman Lately died Intestate leaving 13 Children and a Considerable Real & Personal Estate to and among whom the same does Descend.
That our Petitioner has administered to the said Estate as the Widow & Relict of sd Decd.
She therefore humbly prays your honour Would be pleased to appoint Some proper persons As Guardians to take care of the persons & Estates of the the Minor Children of the said Deceased, to wit, Barbara, Michael, John & Maria All under the age of fourteen years.
And your Petitioner Will over & pray.
Maria Hoffman {her mark}
The Orphan's Court Journal (v2 p248) shows that Jacob Lanciscus and Paul Feger were appointed Guardians of the four minor children under the age of fourteen. Also, guardians were appointed for the four minor children above the age of fourteen: Henry chose George Babb, Elisabeth chose Frederick Shleare, and Catherine chose Jacob Lanciscus.

On that same day (August 14, 1778) a document setting forth the amounts to be distributed to the heirs was filed (see below). However, the distribution wasn't actually made on that day. It seems that “Martin Hoffman Should hold & Enjoy the Real Estate of his said father Valued as aforsd to him & his Heirs forever According to Law” but that Martin was to pay equal shares to the younger children.

There is a document in the probate file showing that Dietrich filed a claim and was paid his share (₤33-6-8) of the real estate on August 16, 1779. Martin then sold the land for ₤1500 Pounds on October 1, 1779 to Daniel Schrader (Deed Book 7 p199). The land had been appraised at ₤700 and Dietrich received his distribution based upon the appraised value. I wonder what Martin paid the other children?

As an aside, the deed tells us that Michael Hoffman purchased the tract of land, which was then in the County of Philadelphia, and which contained 166 acres, on February 22, 1768 from Bernhard Keller.

Distribution of Real Estate of Michael Hoffman
Berks County, Pennsylvania Probate Files
Family History Microfilm 1653590 Accessed February 11, 2012

Combining information from baptism records and documents in the probate file, we can say with some degree of certainty that the heirs of Michael Hoffman were (ages, thereabout, given as of May 15, 1778):
  • Martin, age 36, born about 1742
  • Philip, age not given (probably 34-35 years old, born about 1743-1744?)
  • Burghard, age 33, born about 1745
  • Dorothea, age 30, wife of Henry Shedler, born about 1748
  • Dietrich, age 27, born about 1751
  • Christian, age 23, born about 1755
  • Elizabeth, age 19, born about 1759
  • Henry, age 18, born about 1760
  • Catharina, age 15, born about 1763
  • Barbara, age 12, born about 1766 (Anna Barbara, born October 22, 1765)
  • Michael, age 10, born about 1768
  • John, age 6, born about 1772 (Johannes, born May 03, 1770 – perhaps he died young and John born 1772 is really the second John?)
  • Mary, age 4, born about 1774
Now, I don't know about you, but that's quite a span of years with the oldest child being 36 and the youngest being only 4 years old. Call me skeptical, but I'm thinking that Maria Engel may have been Michael's second wife. If she is the mother of all 13 children, she would likely be into her 50s when she had the last child. Possible, I suppose. But I don't have a date of birth or place of birth for Maria or Michael.

I also find it curious that Dorothea is listed “out of sequence” given that her age is 30 and Burghard, who follows her in the lists of children is 33 years old.

I've barely started research on this family; obviously, additional research is needed. And, I'll repeat what I've said before – If anyone researching this family finds these posts, please contact me at kinexxions “at” gmail “dot” com.

Update April 10, 2012: Please see Questioning the Status Quo :: Oh, Maria! for my theory regarding the maiden name of Maria Hoffman.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "The Huffman-Hoffman Kinexxion :: Heirs of Michael," Kinexxions, posted March 15, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])

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