Men of Mark in Maryland
- Bernard C. Steiner, PhD, 1907
- Richard Curzon HOFFMAN - Prominent, among the names of those who helped to regain for Baltimore her commercial prominence after the Civil War, is that of Richard Curzon HOFFMAN whose career is typically that of a business leader fighting the city's battles against Northern capitalists and promoters. Mr. Hoffman had sympathized with the South in her contention upon the question of State Rights, and cast his lot with the Confederate States, serving as a soldier during the entire war. When the Southern Cause became a lost cause, with characteristic courage, he returned home and immediately entered the thick of the commercial battle which was then waging against his native city. Mr. Hoffman never for a moment relented in his campaign of the advancement of Baltimore's commercial interests and, from the time of his return after the surrender at Appomattox to the present day, he has been on the alert to defeat any scheme that would take from the city aught of her importance as a business center.
Richard Curzon HOFFMAN was born in Baltimore, in the old mansion which stood at No. 1 West Franklin street, on July 13, 1839. His fther, Samuel HOFFMAN, was one of the most prominent merchants of his day, distinguished alike for his integrity and good business judgment and for his generosity. During the business crisis of 1837, he performed yeoman's service in helping his fellow merchants and, for his kindness at this time, he was aftewards presented with a silver epergne as a testimonial of their gratitude and regard.
The founder of the HOFFMAN family in America was Jan Peter HOFFMAN, who emigrated from Germany in 1745, and settled at Rose Gardens, near Frederick City, Maryland; his son, Peter HOFFMAN, came to Baltimore, where his descendants have lived ever since. Elizabeth Rebecca Becker (Curzon) HOFFMAN, the mother of Richard Curzon HOFFMAN, was the daughter of Richard CURZON, Jr., of the distinguished family of CURZON of Kedleston, England, among whose colonial ancestors were Major General John HAMMOND, Colonel Nicholas GREENBERRY, and John MOALE.
Mr. Hoffman's early youth was spent in Baltimore, where he attended the Chestnut Hill and McNally schools, two of the best known educational institutions of the day. In 1856 he decided to follow a mercantile career and, leaving school, entered the office of Gilmor HOFFMAN, a stock broker, where he filled the humble position of office boy. Mr. Hoffman continued in this business until the outbreak of hostilities in 1861. He had always been a sympathizer with the South and, in April 1861, he went to Richmond where he was mustered into the Confederate service on May 24 as lieutenant of Company B, 21st Virginia Volunteer Infantry, "Stonewall" Jackson's Second Brigade. Afterwards, he was promoted to a captaincy and he was with General Robert E. Lee when the latter surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Mr. Hoffman returned to Baltimore in 1866 and reentered business life. He founded the firm of Hoffman, Thompson and Company, iron merchants, with D. Bowley THOMPSON as his partner. Upon the death of Mr. Thompson, he continued the business, of which he is still the head, as R. C. Hoffman and Company. This firm is the representative of the Pennsylvania Steel Company, the Maryland Steel Company, the Central Iron and Steel Company, the Pulaski Iron Company, the Reed Island Iron Company, and the Union Mining Company.
In 1883 Mr. Hoffman began his career as a railroad official, becoming vice-president of the constituent companies of the Seaboard Air Line Railway and the Baltimore Steam Packet Company; and on the death of Mr. Robinson, in February 1893, he was made president. In 1894, the Southern Railroad, J.P. Morgan and Ryan interests desired to acquire a holding in the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad - which was the parent company - and made a bitter attack upon the combination in order to gain control. This move was followed by one of the hardest fought railroad wars of the century, which was continued until 1896. Mr. Hoffman met the attack at every turn and each time came out victorious. A truce of two years was finally declared, Mr. Hoffman being permitted to name his own terms; but, before the truce had expired, the railroad property had so greatly appreciated in value that a sale was made of all the stock of the parent company at a large profit to the holders. In recognition of the valued services of Mr. Hoffman in his efforts to conserve the interests of the stockholders, they presented him with an elaborate dinner service of silver.
Thereafter, Mr. Hoffman retired from railroad management and resumed his labors in the business to which he had previously given his time and energies. In addition to his supervision of the affairs of the iron merchant business, Mr. Hoffman is connected with many other enterprises. He was a director of the National Farmers and Planters Bank; the Baltimore Trust and Guarantee Company; the Mercantile Trust and Deposit Company; the Old Dominion Steamship Company of New York; the Roanoke, Norfolk and Baltimore Steamboat Company; the Reed Island Iron Company; the Foster's Falls Iron Company; the Maryland Steel Company; the Security Fire Insurance Company; the Savings Bank of Baltimore; and a number of other financial and industrial companies, but retains a directorship in only the Savings Bank of Baltimore and in the Maryland Steel Company, in which company he is largely interested.
Mr. Hoffman is a member of the Society of Colonial Wars; the United Confederate Veterans; the Society of the Army of Northern Virginia in Virginia; and the Society of the Maryland Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland. He is president of the Maryland Club, and a member of the Bachelor's Cotillon, the Country Club, the Junior Cotillon, the Maryland Jockey Club, and other clubs.
He married, October 28, 1880, Miss Eliza Lawrence DALLAM, the daughter of Edward Boothby DALLAM and Henrietta (MACTIER) DALLAM. They have six children: Richard Curzon HOFFMAN, Jr.; Henrietta Mactier HOFFMAN; Elizabeth Curzon HOFFMAN; Mary Dorothea HOFFMAN; Wilmer HOFFMAN; and Eliza Lawrence HOFFMAN.
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