I am unsure how to definitively “solve” and resolve the pending and on-going controversy of AMOS HOFF (1775-1855) verses JOHN F. HOFF (~1775-1812) - as being the “true” father of POWELL HOFF, and thus, my 3XG Grandfather . My two collateral cousins (descendants of POWELL DUDLEY HOFF): WILLIAM H. HOFF (of Omaha), and BRUCE LAMAR HOFF (now of Texas) are both strongly, passionately and adamant convinced that AMOS was the culprit. The otherwise scholarly work of Arnold Hovey regards it as being JONATHAN/JOHN F. HOFF. I have, and thus far can find, no first-hand contemporary documentation which authoritatively might serve as the “tie breaker”. Without any real documentation, I am in no position at this point to be a “tie breaker”, either, and I have nothing beyond various “opinions” on the subject, although the other cousins feel they have “support” and justification for their position (like, POWELL and wife Martha naming a son “AMOS” in honor of AMOS being the father of POWELL – but then, POWELL & Martha also did name another son “JOHN”, as well, whom A. Hovey attributes to being Powell's father, and like rationale). So, I have just neutrally put “out there” on the web both sides’ versions including the advocacy/adamancy of our two collateral Hoff cousins, who may ultimately be right for all I know. However, I am not sure what documentation that might ultimately come “out of the woodwork” to resolve the dilemma, either.
Ol’ AMOS just “shows up” for the first time dead in Dallas Co. in 1855. I can find no documentation of him buying land with or near POWELL as their treks moved West - from Ohio to Illinois (Rochester nor Peoria), and on to Iowa. Neither can I find POWELL (including the members of his household) in any census, anywhere before Dallas Co., IA. There were no established churches there at that time, so no “church records”. Iowa kept no “official” governmental records (by county) before 1880. I can find no early published “histories” that list the residents of any of the interim “stops” on the trek West, including Rochester and Peoria. I even went personally to Rochester, IL, and visited their local library and History section, but “no joy”. I did find JONATHAN F. HOFF mentioned by name in the “History of Washington Co., OH”, however, but it didn’t give his wife or children’s names, unfortunately. I could find no census data for this AMOS HOFF in any location before, Iowa, either. There WAS an “AMOS HOFF” who shows up living in Ohio at about the right time, but he appears to be a “German” Hoff that came there from Pennsylvania (as his “Place of birth” indicates "Penn." in the census), and he appears to have been a descendent of “Jacob Hoff”. This AMOS HOFF had a wife and other kids (which would make them siblings of POWELL HOFF, if true, and this guy was POWELL’s father). So, I don't think that this "AMOS HOFF" is teh same guy who moved on with POWELL HOFF and dies in Dallas, Co., IA in 1855. I have gone to Marietta, and while there tried to find copies of the original land sale records of the “Northwest Territory Land Company” records, which I thought might better document or shed some light on who bought what, and when (and where), but again there was “no joy”. I couldn’t find where they were reposed, if at all. The same is true for the early tax records for Washington, Co, OH, which I thought might prove helpful.
Through the great help of Shirley Bentley, I did find the Asset “Inventory” and close-out of the Will of JONATHAN F. /JOHN F. HOFF. Shirley is a descendant of the collateral DYE Family line into which the two Hoff daughters of DANIEL HOFF and SOPHIA MOFFETT HOFF married. She is in her early 70s, and now lives in Columbus, OH, but she grew up there in Marietta. 2-3 years ago, she gave me a great 2 day “guided tour” of the area, including all the cemeteries, log cabins, and the old “Hoff Haunts” in and around Marietta, including “Duck Creek”, “Cow Run”, Chesterhill (where our JOHN H. HOFF was born in 1830), etc.. A year later, we also went together to Arlington, VA and did further research there, as well, on DANIEL HOFF and the period he lived there, including the birth there of POWELL HOFF in 1801.
Later, while she was independently doing other genealogical research on her line, she stumbled over and found for me in Marietta, an archived copy of the probated “Asset Inventory” for JOHN F. HOFF (probated in 1812-13). But it does not mention by name his wife (Elizabeth “Betsy” Duncan), nor his father (presumably the “Rev.” DANIEL HOFF), nor any children. It is just strictly a list of his assets (which is very interesting, I thought). However, this Inventory would have been the “close out” of an earlier filed and probated Will, which nobody seems to be able to find. The Will might be very useful, as they typically state the “objects of one’s bounty” and disposition of the assets, which were then subsequently Inventoried for the Probate Court, and title presumably passed along and was given to these recipients (by name). However, ol’ JOHN F. HOFF (~1775-1812) might also have died “intestate” (without a will), as he did die young (about age 36, if born ~1775), and perhaps the assets might just have passed via “intestate succession”. If JOHN F./JONATHAN HOFF died in 1812, young POWELL (if his son) would have then been only a lad of 11. If, as I suspect, AMOS was his ½ uncle, and also lived nearby, having gravitated to the Marietta area from Northern Virginia with the rest of the extended Hoff family, and JOHN F. HOFF was his ½ brother (via their common father, the “Rev.” DANIEL), and the widow and young son of his ½ brother were in economic “dire straights”, perhaps he “took over” a more “fatherly role” for young POWELL and filled the void, raising him as his own son – and ultimately forming a bond with him and ultimately becoming “part” of POWELL’s extended family as AMOS grew older and increasingly infirm. At age 80 when he had freshly arrived in IA, and then promptly died thereafter, he certainly would have been in no physical condition to farm for some time before that, or perhaps to even live “independently“. The one “record” in which the collateral cousins’ rely (and in which they place great stock) shows AMOS HOFF and wife, “PRUDENCE POWELL” as being the parents of POWELL. However, this paper indicates that AMOS’s wife, whom they list as “PRUDENCE POWELL”, “died in a 1847”. Of necessity, that would have put the location of her death in Rochester or Peoria. IL. Yet, there is a headstone there for her in the Hoff-Prairie Cem., indicating her death there (which would, of necessity, have to have been AFTER 1854), when the family got there. So, either they dragged ol’ PRUDENCE around dead with them for nearly a decade (highly unlikely), or they later had her dug up in Illinois, transported to and then re-interred in Dallas Co. (also not too likely, but possible, I suppose) – or the data which the relatives’ relied upon is simply incorrect. These inaccuracies and others are, to me, an indication that the recordation was done well after the fact, and it contains a lot of supposition and errors whcih people with first-hand knowledge wouldn't have made. There are a number of other glaring inaccuracies, as well (like the location and date of the death of POWELL & MARTHA’s eldest daughter, NANCY HOFF BLANCHARD, who I documented as marrying in Peoria and dying near there in Princeville two years later, childless). So, I find all these inaccuracies on the one page list that they rely upon as showing (or proving) that “AMOS HOFF and PRUDENCE POWELL HOFF” were the true parent of POWELL HOFF to be highly suspect and not reliable.
I again “assume” or suspect that perhaps POWELL & Martha may have even “adopted” AMOS and had him as a regular member of their household at some point as they migrated West from OH, and on to IL and IA. POWELL could even have regarded him as his “father”, if AMOS HOFF “assumed that role” for him in 1812, taught him to farm, etc., and the rest of the family merely “assumed” that AMOS was, in fact, the biological father of POWELL. AMOS would certainly have been one of the ‘first’ (if not THE first) occupants of the Hoff-Prairie Cem. at the time of his elderly death in 1855. This date was within a year after the “arrival” of POWELL & sons, and their homesteading there in ~1854-55. The cemetery was carved out of the property which was homesteaded by POWELL HOFF. So, without question, there was an obvious strong inter-personal “link” between the two men, but again, his mere interment on the property of POWELL, in and of itself, isn’t dispositive of the issue of their exact relationship.
So, whether it was as “father”, or a “½ uncle” - remains yet a mystery to me. Either way, it strongly appears that the Rev. DANIEL HOFF was the father of both AMOS HOFF and JOHN F. HOFF, and hence, POWELL HOFF’s paternal grandfather. Either candidate appears to have been half brother to the other, through DANIEL’s paternity. So, this further supports the “Dutch” link, based upon the research work of Arnold Hovey, the others, and the recent DNA tests with a “link” to the Huff line.
But, it is still a “work in progress” for me, and I might yet stumble into the definitive answer. “Strong opinion”, no matter how sincerely meant or adamantly felt, is still no really substitute for good, authoritative original or contemporary documentation. If I do ultimately get my hands on or discover that authoritative information, I will advise one and all.
Cheers, JOHN SCOTT HOFF, Chicago, 27 March 2007
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