Stone Cutter For The Ages
Fred A. Lawson
Daniel E. Hoffman was born in Lebanon County,
PA in 1838. He was raised in an ultra- conservative Lutheran
environment and his father died when he was 10 years old.
In 1854 at the age of 16 years, he was
encouraged by his relatives to enter the ministry. After
considering and dismissing that vocation, he fled Pennsylvania,
heading east, and settled in Buffalo, New York, taking up the
marble cutting trade.
Fate Lends A
In 1856 Mr. Hoffman, enroute to Ft. Wayne by
stagecoach, was forced into a layover in Winchester by a freak
The young man must have been impressed by the small Indiana town
because in 1857 he returns
A Deal Is
Daniel returned to Winchester and quickly gained employment with
John Ludy. Mr. Ludy’s expertise was cutting marble, stone and
sculptural work. He was also in the business of installing
For nearly a year the young stonecutter, worked for Mr. Ludy for
room and board only. In 1858 a deal was made and Daniel took
over the business.
Daniel Hoffman had not been in
business very long when a friend, also in the stone cutting
business, arrived in town. The associate was from a firm in
Buffalo, New York – his first home after Pennsylvania. The man
advised Daniel to stay in Winchester.
Several weeks after the visit a freight car arrived filled with
granite - a gift from the associate at the Buffalo firm. The
freight bill was $35.00. He borrowed the money to pay the
freight bill from Moorman Way, who at the time owned most of
In 1858 the Hoffman firm was hired by the
McIntire Family to cut and place a 12 foot monument in the
Maxville Cemetery, located 6 mile west of Winchester. Due to
muddy roads, it took almost two days to get the monument and
equipment to the cemetery.
Hoffman Takes A Bride
1862 he married Angeline Carter, daughter of county pioneers Mr.
and Mrs. Edmund Carter. They constructed a home at 538 S.
Meridian St. To this union, five children were born, but only
two survived infancy.
The Our Jonnie Tombstone is arguably the most
noted fixture in The Old Winchester Cemetery at the end of
Daniel Hoffman’s work was more than business when he cut and set
the tombstone. He was The Uncle Of Jonnie Carter who died in
1862 at the age of 5 Years, 7 months and 18 days. Jonnie was
the son of Levi Carter, owner of the Winchester Wagon Works.
The tombstone was the basis of the movie Now And Then released
The Civil War, the Hoffman firm cut and set monuments at Shiloh,
Gettysburg, Stone Mountain and Chickamauga. The Chickamauga
monument stands forty feet high and honors The 84th Indiana
Volunteers (Co. A was Randolph County). The Monument was
commissioned By The Federal Gov. at a cost of $3600.00.
The Hoffman firm cut and set the Ashel Stone
monument in Fountain Park Cemetery. The monument is 30 feet high
and was constructed in 1880 at a cost of $2600.00.
The Wysong monument which is 35 feet high was constructed in1882 at a cost of $3000.00.
a career that spanned more than sixty years, Daniel Hoffman cut
over 8,000 monuments and tombstones. This does not include all
the footpath markers, fence posts, steps and slate roofs his
firm cut and set.
Daniel E. Hoffman died in 1923 at the age of 84 years. His son
Riley H. Hoffman took over the business.
Daniel E. Hoffman’s work can be found in almost every cemetery
in Randolph County. He signed his work “D. E. Hoffman” usually
in the lower right hand corner.
Once you find a few of his tombstones you will develop an eye
for his work. The Our Jonnie
marker, made of marble, with a
child lying on top, as if asleep, was remarkable in that it
withstood the neglect and abuse of time as well as the elements
it was still readable. Daniel E. Hoffman possessed true
artistry and a respect for the value of his work to the memory
of those who have passed on.
Many thanks to Monisa Wisener, Curator of the
Randolph County History Museum who continues to inspire me.
The facts of the story were found in the Tucker Book - 1882
History Of Randolph County, the 1914 History Of Randolph County
and a 1927 article in the Muncie Star.