Woman of the Century/Sophia Curtiss Hoffman
HOFFMAN, Mrs. Sophia Curtiss, philanthropist, born in Sheffield, Berkshire county, Mass., in 1825. As a member of many notable organizations, and often acting in an official capacity, she is widely known in our land. Wherever the Woman's Congress, the Association for the Advancement of Women, has met in the North, South, East or West, there the name of its early treasurer and always active member is familiar almost as a household word. She has been a valued member of Sorosis for nearly as long as it has existed, and is usually in office or prominent as the reader of a paper, or a speaker in the discussions which occur on the famous sixial days. Years ago she was better known as Mrs. George Hoffman. Her late husband was a successful business man in New York City. Her name, thus given, appears in the list of incorporators of the Chapin Home, a benevolent institution greatly esteemed in that city. In fact, it is to Mrs. Hoffman the inception of the home came as a sort of inspiration, and she gave at various times thousands of dollars to promote its beneficent aims. Mrs. Hanaford, in her book, "Daughters of America," after referring to Mrs. Hodman as the founder of the Chapin Home, says: "In her early life, an invalid aunt, by her own suffering with a sense of dependence, impressed upon Mrs. Hoffman's mind the importance of a home where aged women, who had been accustomed to the comforts of a competence in earlier days, could feel independent, at the same time that they were made comfortable; and she promised this relative that, if ever the means were in her possession, she would seek to establish such a retreat" The Chapin Home was the outgrowth of that experience. Faith and love are the pillars upon which this arch of benevolence rested. As the years rolled on, the dream of her childhood became SOPHIA CURTISS HOFFMAN. a reality, and with the hearty cooperation of her husband, she consecrated the first contributions to the new enterprise, and then toiled to obtain co-laborers, that the home might be reared and occupied. It was to be wholly unsectarian, and was so incorporated, though it was to bear the name of a widely-known Universalist preacher, who had been for many years Mrs. Hoffman's pastor. The first annual report of this charity mentions that the first meeting of friends interested in the enterprise was held on 1st February, 1869, in the basement of Dr Chapin's church, New York, but prior to that several private meetings had been held in Mrs. Hodman's parlors, and the corner-stone of the handsome brick edifice was laid by Mrs. Hodman's own hands. The Chapin Home is especially her work, since from early youth she had planned such a charity. While in Europe, she visited many such homes in Great Britain and on the Continent, that she might study their methods and develop a plan for a self-sustaining and permanent institution. Mrs. Hoff- man has proved herself also the friend of struggling genius, for it was in her residence on Fifth Avenue that the charming operatic favorite, Emma Abbott, was introduced to the public of New York, and thus advanced on her career. Five-hundred dollars of the money subscribed in order that Miss Abbott mitfht receive instruction in Europe came from Mrs. Hoffman's ready purse, and it was through her instrumentality that the voice of the future prima donna was secured for the choir of Dr. Chapin's church, before she entered fully upon her public career. Still preserved by some of Emma Abbott's friends, as a choice memento, is a neat card, upon which are the words, "Charity Enter- tainment, in aid of the Chapin Home Fund, at the house of Mrs. George Hoffman. No. 599 Fifth Avenue. On Tuesday evening, February 21st. 1871. At eight o'clock. Tickets #5.00; Admitting Two." The check for $500.00 given to the treasurer, the late D. D. T. Marshall, represented the first actual cash procured as funds for the Chapin Home, and this card also represents the date when Emma Abbott was first seen and heard by a New York audience. It was the stepping-stone to her success, and the first round also of the ladder by which the Home attained its permanency and prosperity. Mrs. Hoffman is still doing her part of the world's work, as a philanthropist, with fidelity and a tender spirit which disarms foes and wins lasting friend- ships Mrs. Hoffman resides in New York city.