Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sophia Hofer (Heiser) 1849 - 1890

Sophia's parents were Ulrich Johann and Anna Barara Hofer.   Sophia's husband was Rev. William Heiser.  He was killed 26 November 1884 when his team of horses bolted. She had 7 children to raise without him. She did the best she could with her mental issues but eventually was sent to Topeka State Hospital where she died of TB ten years before her brother Christian died in the same place and for the same reason.

Sophia had a daughter named Lydia Heiser

Sophia was born 9 August 1849 in Indiana (not sure if the state is correct) and died at Topeka State Hospital 27 June 1890.  She married to William Heiser on 20 December 1866 in Richardson County, Nebraska.  William was a minister of the United Brethren Church and a farmer.  He died on 26 November 1884 in Swede Creek Township, Riley County, Kansas when his team of horses bolted and his carriage overturned.

Sophia was only 35 when her husband died and she was left with 7 children all under 16 years of age to raise alone.  The next few years proved hard for her and her children as a drought hit the area.  Without rain, the crops failed and the cattle starved. She had moved closer to her parents after William's death buying the northeastern quarter of section 24 in the Bethany township in Osborne County.

In the book, Sod and Stubble, by John Isle, he quotes his mother talking about the terrible drought conditions: "Poor little boys hiding from the wind in a corn shock one day when we drove by, covering their feet with husks.  They won't have any shoes this winter the way things look now."  Those two little boys were Fred, Edward and Albert Heiser.

Sophia's health declined and she was committed to the State Hospital in Topeka.  She was admitted for her paranoid delusions and mental health problems but she died there of tuberculosis.  She is buried on the grounds with no marker other than a number.

Interesting side note - Sophia and William's granddaughter, Mae Hilker, was also committed to a mental institution.  She was my mother's aunt.  This was the 1930s and, unfortunately, she was given a lobotomy.  Her husband divorced her and married the housekeeper/nanny.  However, Mae outlived them all and died at 92.

Documents related to Sophia Hofer:

State Hospital in Topeka

State Hospital in Topeka

State Hospital in Topeka

William Heiser Buggy Accident The_
Manhattan Republic_Thu Nov 27, 1884_

List of those buried in the
State Hospital in Topeka

State Hospital grounds in Topeka where Sophia is buried.

Phillip Hilker. His mother was Lydia Heiser, daughter of Sophia and William. This picture is of him in his WWI Army uniform and I think you can see a family resemblance to the Hofer line - especially the mouth: