Monday, January 25, 2021

This is why you don't tease dogs

I've been doing professional research for a few years now, and it has been an amazing and fulfilling career so far. I love being able to help people find answers to their family history questions and mysteries, and in turn I've been able to make some great discoveries in my own family. One downside, however, is I sometimes end up treating those rare moments when I get to do my own family research a bit like a they're a research project - pick something to search for, frantically search for everything I can find as fast as I can find it, quickly document it, and move on. I don't often give my findings time to sink in and affect me. 

 I've been taking advice from a genealogist I follow named Heather Murphy, and slowing down a bit on my research. Starting with the intention of going slow is a few feeling, and I really like it. So today I set out to find some stories about my second-great-grandmother Maria Zitzmann aka Mary Hoffman. I'm super lucky to have a boatload of pictures of her and her family, but I still don't have too many stories about her and her life. I was hoping to find something about her marriage in 1919 to Christ Hoffman, but my searches at first turned up empty. Then a new idea hit me - find her address, and search for that. I went looking in city directories before her marriage, and found her in 1917, living at 1315 Cobban Street in Butte. Interestingly, the directory lists her as the widow of a man named Smith. That's really curious, as her daughters would later both state in their Social Security applications that their father was a man named Chris Schmidt, though DNA evidence points to them being half-sisters.

Now that I had her address, I searched through newspapers to see if anything came up, and I found a few really cool things! 

First I found a photo of my grandma Blossom's cousin Ellen Weyhe (listed as Ellen Whyte) taken when she was about a year old. It's a studio photo, with the name Dore Studio in the bottom right corner, with Ellen all dressed up in a cute little dress complete with baby shoes. 

Then I found two articles about something I'd never heard of, and my dad hadn't either when I asked him. Apparently soon after their marriage, Mary and Christ Hoffman owned a rather large dog and kept it in their yard. The first article said the dog had severely bitten the right hand of "the little Lohman boy," the son of Ed Lohman. A search of the 1920 census showed me this was Raymond Carrigg, the 13-year-old stepson of Edward Lohman, who also lived in Butte. The article went on to say the Assistant City Attorney filed a complaint against Mary and Christ's dog, saying he had appeared "to prove himself vicious" and notified them to not send the dog out of the city, as that might give "him an opportunity to bite some one else." The tenor of the article made it sound like the Hoffmans' dog was running loose in the city and just attacked the kid. The next few paragraphs talked about the dangers of the local dog population, and even suggested a law be made restricting the number of dogs citizens could own, based on their type of residence and the purpose of the dogs' being there. 

The next day, another article continued the story, but with significant changes to the story, starting with the headline - "Dog Is Acquitted Of Being Vicious Brute." Several of the Hoffmans' neighbors testified in court that the dog was kept in an enclosed yard. What's more, the pickets of their fence were too close together for the dog to be able to stick its head out between them, so that the only way for anyone's hand to be exposed to the dog would be to put their hand over the fence. Not only that, a number of boys (apparently including Raymond Carrigg) had actually attacked the dog by throwing sticks and stones at it. Mary Hoffman had been out at the time of the attack, and returned home to find her yard "littered with sticks, stones and other rubbish and that the coal scuttle was smashed, evidently by the boys who were pelting the dog." Needless to say, the case was then dismissed. 

I could almost see in my mind a group of youths having fun at the dog's expense, and then Raymond, goading him on by sticking his hand above the fence and thinking himself out of reach, gets bitten by the dog they'd been antagonizing. I kind of feel bad, but I feel he brought it on himself. It sounds like the dog was not injured in the attack, but I hope the Hoffmans at least got their coal scuttle replaced. I feel bad for the Hoffmans in finding their dog had been so cruelly treated, and grateful to the neighbors for sticking up for an innocent animal. 

PS - I looked up Raymond Carrigg's draft registration from 1942, which would mention any defining physical characteristics like scars, missing fingers, etc. Nothing was mentioned, so apparently he healed just fine from the dog bite.