The Two Last Living CIVIL WAR VETERANS in Allegany County: Dr. John A. Jones and Christopher Hoffman
LAST OF THE BOYS IN BLUE was written by John P. Herrick, one of the great newspaper men and historians that have served Allegany County in the last century. Mr. Herrick simply tells the facts of the last Civil War Veteran in the memorial Obituary in a way that would make any reader want to have known the man. The last veteran Dr. John A. Jones lived to be 101 and the next to last veteran Christopher Hoffman lived to be 96.
LAST OF THE BOYS IN BLUE, Written by John P. Herrick
Death came to Dr. John A. Jones of Short Tract, On May 10, 1941, as it comes to all men. Only 30 out of a million live to be 100 years old. Dr. Jones was born April 22, 1840, and last month observed his 101st birthday, the oldest man then alive in Allegany County, and the last surviving Allegany County veteran of the Civil War.
Dr. Jones enlisted in Company E, 85th New York Infantry, served from September 7, 1861 to June 16, 1865, and was mustered out as a sergeant. Eleven months of the time he spent in Andersonville Prison. Once in Washington he met and chatted with President Lincoln, and cast his first vote for him. He came of fighting family; ancestors fought with General Washington and in the War of 1812. One of his three sons fought in the Philippines in the war with Spain.
His love of farm animals, especially horses, led him to become a veterinarian, and his practice extended over many townships. He was a sturdy, likeable man, broad of shoulder, possessed a keen sense of humor and could spin a yarn. For 30 years he served his community as Justice of the Peace, a Supervisor, as Commander of the Grand Army Post, as postmaster and in various other capacities. When a couple came to be married and were short of money, he performed the ceremony and sent them on their way with his blessing.
It was a busy, useful life that he lived. He knew joy and sorrow. His devoted wife, Francis Minard Jones, died 38 years ago, and he never re-married. “Never a woman like her,” he said on his century birthday. He saw the first railroad train bearing President Fillmore across Allegany County, and the first canal boat to reach Oramel from Rochester on the Genesee Valley Canal. He trapped a mink and sold the pelt to pay a year’s subscription to Horace Greely’s Weekly Tribune. When he was a young school-boy he made his own quill pens. ‘As justice of the peace, he set down his records with goose quills.
There was another unusual distinction that Dr. Jones enjoyed; he was the oldest Mason in Allegany County, one of the oldest in the State, and served five terms as master of his lodge. He was the first member initiated by Maple Grove Lodge No. 761, at Short Tract, in 1875, a Mason 66 years, and possessed a 50-year service medal and a 60-year palm presented to him by the Grand Lodge.
Dr. Jones enjoyed good health until the last year, when he found it necessary to motor to Buffalo several times to consult a specialist. During the last month of his life his mind wandered at times. He was young again. He talked of olden times and old friends long dead. He asked the nurse to pin his Masonic service medal on his night shirt; it was a prized emblem of an ancient order that he loved.
The funeral service on the afternoon of May 13, 1941 was a triple service. The first service was held in the white farmhouse in the Town of Allen, his home for 69 years, conducted by Rev. Poland, pastor of the Methodist-Episcopal church at Short “Tract, who paid deserved tribute. At the grave there was a Masonic service conducted by Maple Grove Lodge, and military service conducted by the American Legion, who were joined by Veterans of Foreign Wars and members of the Woman’s Relief Corps. At the end of the ritual service, the American Legion squad fired a volley over the grave. The bugler sounded taps. As the last faint not of the bugle died away in the far hills, the casket was lowered into a grave beside that of his wife in the old Fink Hollow Cemetery. The last lone survivor of the legion of Allegany County boys in blue, who marched away to war in 1861, was re-united with his comrades who tent on fame’s eternal camping grounds.
(Article given by Allegany County Historian Craig Braack and submitted by William A. Greene unknown news paper, probably either Olean Times Herald or Bolivar Breeze.)
OBITUARY OF DR. JOHN A. JONES, of Short Tract:
Legion Aids in Rites for Dr. Jones, Dead at 101
Four members of the Morrison Hayes Post, American Legion, participated in the funeral services conducted Tuesday afternoon for Dr. John A. Jones at his home in Fink Hollow, Town of Allen, who died last Saturday in his 102nd year. Dr. Jones observed his 101st birthday April 21.
The Legionnaires going from here, Joseph Herman, Harry Steenworth, Martin Schrader and Lawrence J. Pflager. Mr. Pflager acted as chaplain of the Legion service conducted by members of several posts in the county in farewell tribute to the last Civil War veteran in Allegany County. The Masons of the county shared in the funeral services. Members of the Fillmore lodge had charge.
The funeral was held at the home where he had passed his entire life, except for the period of his war service, and where he had passed the last years with his son, Harrah and wife. Burial was in the family cemetery across the road from the farm home, beside the body of his wife who died many years ago. He was a member of Company E of the old 85th New York Volunteers and had a wide experience although his activities at the front were curtailed by the nine months he spent in Andersonville Prison. Dr. Jones was one of the last residents of this section who actually shook hands with Abraham Lincoln while he was President of the United States. When he was released from Andersonville Prison, Dr Jones weighed about 80 pounds, but during recent years had weighed around 220 and his unusual vitality made it possible for him to continue his activities well beyond the 100 year mark. Returning to Allegany county at the close of the war, he followed his profession as veterinary surgeon for many years, as well as serving as justice of the peace for 30 years and as supervisor for the Town of Allen to 1892. He was the last Civil War veteran in Allegany county and had been a familiar figure at soldiers reunions during the last half century and more. He also was a 32nd degree Mason, having joined Melrose Lodge, F and A.M. at Short Tract many years ago.
He is survived by three sons, Clifford, with whom he resided, John, of Vashion, Ore., and Harrah Jones of Angelica; five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
(Researched & Submitted by Mary Rhodes; Allegany County Democrat May 15, 1941)
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The webmaster is honoring two, and not just the last living Civil War Veteran here. Why? Because the next to last living Civil War Veteran of Allegany County, NY was my great-great-grandfather, Christopher Hoffman. Although I never knew him (he died the year before I was born) he has always been revered in my family as a genteel warrior. He went to war when he was 17 (fibbed about his age) and returned like many at war's end to work in the mills and raise a family. His Obituary tells the story of the next to last to fall.
The 1939 Picture below shows Christopher Hoffman, 96, wearing his civil war soldier's cap; seated alongside is his son, William Hoffman of Mount Morris holding Joyce Burger of Dansville, gggranddaughter of the civil war veteran; standing are Jay Hoffman of Dansville, grandson of the elder Hoffman, and Mrs. Louise Burger, also of Dansville his ggranddaughter. Those in the group make up five generations of the Hoffman family. (Picture from clipping of Mt. Morris,NY Paper)
Boy in Blue Passes to His Reward at an Advanced Age; Father of William Hoffman of Mount Morris, (Great-great-grandfather of Webmaster, Ron Taylor)
Christopher Hoffman, the next to last Civil War veteran in Angelica and Allegany County*, passed away quietly in his sleep a week ago Monday night at his home in Joncy. He was born in Baden, Germany, 96 years ago.
He came to the United States as a small boy, the family first settling in Buffalo. He went to Angelica to work in the Joncy Paper Mills, where he was employed for 22 years. After the mills burned, he moved to Pennsylvania and returned to that village about 55 years ago. For 38 years he had lived in the house in which he died.
Mr. Hoffman was married to Elizabeth Isaman of Grove, April 6, 1868. He enlisted in the army when 17 years of age, as a member of Company G, First New York Dragoons, and received an honorable discharge in June, 1865. He was a charter member of Wilbur Haver Post, GAR, and was the last remaining member of that organization.
Deceased is survived by three sons, William of Mount Morris, Charles and Edward of Angelica; two daughters, Mrs. Neva Wilkins of Belmont, and Mrs. Hattie Hartman of Friendship; 12 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren, and one half-brother, John Hoffman of Transit Bridge.
Funeral services, following a prayer at his late home, were held Friday afternoon in the Angelica Methodist Church, with Rev. L. C. Teague officiating. Burial was in Angelica cemetery, with Robert C. Hill Post, of the American Legion in charge.
(Submitted by Ron Taylor) Obituary #1, -Mount Morris, NY Paper; July 21, 1939)