FRED HOFFMEIER is one of the large and successful farmers of Pulaski county, whose long life has been a checkered one, and who owes his present prosperity to his willingness to work, his clear head and the thrift and honesty inherited from a long line of German ancestors. He began with nothing, depending on two willing arms to conquer for him whatever difficulties he might meet. His youthful optimism and self-confidence came out victorious after many battles, and the chronicle of his life should provide an object lesson to Young America today, for if it were followed many of the future failures could well be avoided.
Fred Hoffmeier was born on a farm near Bohmte, near Osnabruck in Hanover, now a part of the German Empire, on the 1st of February, 1846. His father was Clamar Hoffmeier, a farmer, and his mother was Engel Boedecker. Of their four children Fred was the oldest; William was lost in the Franco-Prussian war fighting for his Fatherland before the gates of Paris; Engel and Louisa married and passed their lives near the place of their birth.
Fred Hoffmeier was sent to the public schools of his native town, but showing no particular inclination for the life of a scholar, at the age of fourteen he was taken from school and put to work on the farm. In this work he spent the years until his majority was passed, and then to evade the military service which he soon would be forced to give his country he came to the United States. He sailed from Bremerhaven, and landed in Baltimore. Having no friends and no idea of where to go, he naturally turned towards the western land of promise. He reached Cincinnati, where he spent two years before going to Livingston county, Illinois. Here he first attempted farming, but found it quite different from the same industry in the old country. The cold weather during the long winters on his farm near Dwight made him decide to go further south, so he drifted down to Cairo. The climate here was better suited to his constitution, and here he decided to locate. Without funds and with no way to secure any save by the work of his hands, matters looked pretty black to the young German. Honest labor did not seem to be in demand, but at last he drifted over to Ullin, and there found employment in the big saw mills that were rapidly denuding the surrounding district of its crowning glory, its forests of oaks and poplars, which were the only things that gave the country any value at that time. This was in 1871 and after his marriage in 1874 he decided to try farming again, buying a forty-acre tract of land in the woods, whose sole claim to being called improved land was that it had been cultivated to some extent and that a log cabin homestead had been erected upon it. To this primitive spot he took his bride and they began together to tread the pathway which has at times meandered somewhat crookedly, as Mr. Hoffmeier was forced to turn aside from the straight way that led to his goal in order to meet the constantly changing conditions. His calm faith that ultimately everything would come out for the best was rewarded, for now he has a good measure of financial independence and knows that none of his household will have to suffer for lack of the material things of life. His clear and practical head managed his finances along sane lines, he never had to ask his wife to sign a mortgage, and he was never swept off his feet into any rash investment by the enthusiasm of others. He coolly examined a proposition, and if it met his approval then his money was freely poured out, but not impulsively. He actually grubbed his farm of four hundred and seventy acres out of stumpland, and today is raising fine crops of grain and many head of stock.
It is not his industry alone that has numbered Fred Hoffmeier among the valuable citizens of Pulaski county. He possesses the spirit of progress along the lines of public enterprise to such an extent that any movement inaugurated for the purpose of establishing new or advanced enterprises always finds him among its leaders. He has ever felt that education was the best gift to a community, and his service as a trustee of his home school has indicated the warm sympathy he felt for public education. In politics Mr. Hoffmeier is a Republican, and has served his party as county commissioner for one term. As vicepresident and one of the directors of the First National Bank of Ullin, the peculiar ability of Mr. Hoffmeier as a financier has been brought into full play. The reputation of this bank as being a sound and conservative institution may be traced directly to his influence. In religious matters Mr. Hoffmeier is Lutheran and Mrs. Hoffmeier, a Baptist.
On the 24th of December, 1874, Mr. Hoffmeier was married to Miss Ferban Atkins, a southern girl. She was the daughter of Robert Atkins, who was killed fighting for the Union. He was an Alabaman, and this state was the birthplace of Mrs. Hoffmeier. Mrs. Hoffmeier had two brothers. One of these is J. T. Atkins, a farmer near Ullin; the other. Samuel Atkins, has been dead for several years. Mr. and Mrs. Hoffmeier have three children, "William; Frederick, who has been graduated from the Ullin high school; and Samuel, who is still a student there.
A long life nobly spent, the well earned respect of his fellow men, the inborn characteristics of simplicity, a love of the truth and honor, what a heritage this German farmer can hand down to his children. It is of such stock as this that heroes are made. Could he, a poor young German standing on the banks of the Mississippi, not knowing where he would lay his head that night, have looked forward to his present comfortable home, surrounded by a happy family, he would have thought he was "fey." Yet it has all come true, and is the work of his own brain and hands, helped by the courage of his wife, who has ever stood by with words of encouragement when things went wrong.
Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 3, pages 1316-1318