Dieffenbacher Family Bible
Presentation Date 1880
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The John and Elizabeth Hoffa Dieffenbacher Family Bible
History and Images

by Bob Sweeney and Lynn Franklin

Bob Sweeney and his wife Lynn Franklin keep an eye on eBay and other sources for historical material related to Sullivan County history. In May 2015, this bible came up for auction on eBay. Bob agreed to bid and purchase the bible for the Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum (SCHS&M), and was successful in doing so. After Lynn photographed and converved the bible and its contents, they personally delivered the bible to the SCHS&M in June 2015, where it is now on display. We don't actually know where the bible was residing for the last 80 or 90 years but we can speculate. The death record for Geroge Franklin Dieffenbach, in 1928, is handwritten into the list of deaths written in the bible (see below). So, it is likely the bible came down through him and his descendants in some fashion, although hardly a certainty.

Let us provide a brief historical background before we present the bible itself. John Dieffenbacher, son of Jacob and Christina (Gardner) Dieffenbacher, was born March 29 1813 in Jersey Town, Columbia County, PA, and lived in Cherry Township in Sullivan County. There, on January 1, 1835, he married Elizabeth Hoffa, daughter of Jacob and Catherine (Schwalm) Hoffa. She was born April 10, 1819 and died November 22, 1886. You can read more about the Hoffa family at Descendants of Jacob Hoffa. Thereafter, John married Caroline (Hoffa), a younger sister of his first wife, whose first husband had also passed away. John died August 22, 1903 in Sayre, Bradford County, PA. John operated a grist mill in Dushore in Sullivan Co. and later farmed near Dushore. He also was a two-term Sullivan County Commissioner, so he was a popular resident and leader in his county . To John and Elizabeth were born nine children: Hannah, who married John H. Lawrence; Jacob, who died at age two; Daniel Emanuel, who resided as an adult in Dushore; John S., who became First Lieutenant in Company K, One Hundred and Forty-first Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the Civil War, and died of disease while on duty in Virginia in 1862 at age 20; Henry S., who was also a soldier, and who died shortly after the close of the Civil War at age 27; Catharine A., who would become the wife of Julius Vogel of Sayre; Clinton A., who became a prominent resident and farmer of Cherry Township; George F, who resided at Millville, Columbia County PA; and Elizabeth, who married George Heverly and resided in Sayre.

What is remarkable about this Bible is the beautiful hand-lettered calligraphy for nearly all the entries. It is a large volume, 12 by 10 and 1/4 inches and over three inches deep. The bible contains more than 2500 images and illustrations. A wedding certificated included in the bible records John and Elizabeth's marriage in 1835, but the Bible itself was an edition published in 1879 by Phillips and Hunt, a New York firm. The Presentation Page shows that John gave the bible to his wife in 1880. This type of bible often became a family heirloom and, as appears to be true in this case, was passed on to children who in turn made their own bible entires.

So, let's take a tour of the bible. We'll just present, in their actual order of appearance, a selection of photos to illustrate the features of this monumental volume and the specific recordings related to this Dieffenbach family. In some cases, we have linked duplicate or closer photos to the photo captions, which can be accessed by clicking on the caption. The bible also contains two unlabeled photos in the back, as well as some other materials, both of which we present here as well.

Front Cover Dedication
"Elizabeth from Her Husband
John Dieffenbacher"
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Bible Spine
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Bible Presentation Page
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The Holy Family
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Bible Title Page
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

List of Books
Old and New Testament
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Jesus Blessing the Children
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The First Two Commandments
Bible Page Before Genesis
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Marriage Certificate
John Dieffenbacher and Elizabeth Hoffa
January 1, 1835
"At the house of Mr. Hoffa"
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin
Click on caption for larger image.

Note that the marriage was officiated by William Colley, Esquire, one of the early settlers in the area and a prominent local judge, scholl board offical and town leader. The town of Colley, Sullivan County, PA, formed in 1849, was named for William Colley..

Dieffenbacher Family Marriages
Children of John and Elizabeth (Hoffa) Dieffenbacher
And Their Spouses
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The list is as follows:

Hannah Dieffenbacher to J. H(oratio) Lawrence (1833-1907)
Daniel Dieffenbacher to Loretta Zaner
Catharine A. Dieffenbacher to Julius Vogel
Amos C. Dieffenbacher to Carrie Kinsley
George F. Dieffenbacher to Edith K. Bahr
-----"November 20th, 1879 by Rev. W. A. Wallace"
Elizabeth L. Dieffenbacher to G(eorge) W(illiam) Heberly ("Heverly") (1863-1922) *
* Editor's Note: You can learn more about this branch of the family at The Descendants of Elizabeth Dieffenbach.
The children intermarried with several, primarily German-American, locally prominent families. Where known from other sources, full names and birth/death dates for spouses have been entered above. George Franklin Dieffenbacher was eventually married three times. Most records indicate that his first wife's birth name was Ada, not Edith. They had two chldren who died in childhood or infancy. Ada may have died in childbirth in the second case in the mid-1880s. George subsequently married Sarah "Gertrude" Strong in 1887, after Ada died. Then when Gerrtrude died in 1915, he married Minnie Schwinn, who eventually survived George.

Dieffenbacher Family Births
Parents and Children
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The list is as follows:

John Dieffenbacher
-----"Was born in Columbia Co., Pa., Madison Township, Jersey Town, March 29th, 1813"
Elizabeth Dieffenbacher
----"Was born in Mahatonga Township, Schuykill Co., Pa., April 10th, 1819"
Hannah Christiana, Sullivan Co., PA, Jan. 4, 1835
Jacob, Sullivan Co., Pa., Nov. 26, 1837
Daniel Emanuel, Sullivan Co., Pa., Oct. 11, 1839
John Sylvarian, Sullivan Co., Pa., Oct. 29, 1841
Henry Sylvester, Sullivan Co., Pa., Dec. 15, 1843
Catharine Angeline, Sullivan Co., Pa., March 19, 1846 *
Amos Clinton, Sullivan Co., Pa., July 20, 1850
George Franklin, Sullivan Co., Pa., June 6, 1858
Elizabeth Laura, Sullivan Co., Pa., Oct. 29, 1864
* Editor's Note: Catharine Angeline "Angie" (Dieffenbacher) Vogel, wife of Julius Vogel (1854-1928) (see marriage list above), died May 16, 1918 in Sayre, Bradford County, PA. Here is her Death Certificate, courtesy of Lyle Rockwell. .She is buried at Tioga Point Cemetery, Athens, Bradford County, PA.

Note that the first child, Hannah, was allegedly born three days after the official marriage date for her parents. However, this date conflicts with her reported death date and age listed below on the family deaths list. If the death information is correct, then she would have been born on January 4, 1836. Various other historical records indicate that the correct year of birth is 1836.

Dieffenbacher Family Deaths
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The list is as follows:

Jacob Dieffenbacher, Oct. 1, 1840, aged two years, 10 months, five days
John S. Dieffenbacher, Oct. 11, 1862, in Virginia (as Lieutenant, 145 PV), aged 20 years, 11 months, 12 days
Henry S. Dieffenbacher, Feb. 6, 1871, aged 27 years, 1 month, 21 days
Hannah C. (Dieffenbacher) Lawrence, Jan. 30, 1874, aged 38 years, 26 days
George Franklin Dieffenbach [sic], Mar. 20, 1928, 70 years, 10 months, 16 days

Note that the information given here with his death date, as well as other sources, suggest George Franklin Dieffenbach was born in 1857, not 1858 as written on the family births record above. The fact that his death record is handwritten in the bible also gives us reason to believe that either he or someone close to him had the bible in their possession as recently as 1928. Here is his Death Certificate, which also lists Minnie (Schwinn) Dieffenbach, his surviving third wife.

Blank Memoranda Page<
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

First Unlabeled Photograph
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin
Click on caption for portrait image. Click on photo itself for an artificially lightened image.

There is a photo of Elizabeth (Hoffa) Dieffenbacher as an older woman shown in Descendants of Conrad Dieffenbacher. Is the younger woman pictured here in the Dieffenbacher Family Bible an earlier version of the woman known to be Elizabeth in the linked source? They do seem to have a strong resemblance. Lynn Franklin believes the style of clothing and form of the earlier photo found in the bible puts it in the 1850s! This opinion would be virtually confirmd if indeed this is Elizabeth (Hoffa) Dieffenbacher who would have been age 31 in 1850.

Second Unlabeled Photograph
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin
Click on caption for a portrait image.

We have no idea who this woman might be, but perhpas she is one of the Dieffenbacher daughters or daughters-in-law.

Now let's look at the items "stuck" in the back of the bible or which were found in between pages in different places. We'll show them, then comment below.

Art Sketch

George L. Moyer Funeral Clipping

Pennsylvania Institute for Blind Card

We don't really know why the Funeral Note for George L. Moyer (1853-1916) was inserted in the bible. You can click on the caption for an enlarged version. The clipping appears to be from the Bloomsburg, PA Press Enterprise, which at one time operated as The Morning Press. The date is cut off, but we know he died on Feburary 17, 1916 from cancer of the tongue. Here is his Death Certificate. He worked as a foreman at the Hassert and Harman plant, referenced in the article, which went out of business in 1924. The Moyer family was intermarried with the Dieffenbacher family early in the 19th century, so we imagine there was some lingering relationship between this Moyer individual and one of the Dieffenbachers. The logical candidate would be George Franklin Dieffenbach(er), who lived ten miles from Bloomsburg in Millville, PA in the early twentieth century. Moreover, as we shall see, several other items inserted in the bible can be associated with him. You can examine the Moyer and Dieffenbacher ancestral linkage at Descendants of Conrad Dieffenbacher. The Moyer family were prominent in the business communicty in Bloomsburg from the middle of the 19th century onwards. Also, one major branch of the Dieffenbacher family also settled there, so the Moyers and Dieffenbacher families undoubtedly were familiar with one another. You can learn more about this Dieffenbacher branch and its history in Bloomsburg at Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Volume II (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1915).

It is unknown why the card for the Pennsylvania Institute for the Blind, established in 1832 by Julius Reinhold Friedlander, an emigrant from Germany. Perhaps it reflects some form of cultural affinity or there may be some closer personal or family reason that we are unaware of.

Next comes a letter form Dr. J. Howard Reeves, Philadelphia, to George Franklin Dieffenbach, dated February 8, 1910. The letter references a past operation on George's heart performed by this physician some 12 or 14 years previously. Dr. Reeves seems to be responding to an inquiry by George and offers to see him again. Later, in 1919, Dr. Reeves was listed as a member of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; this listing marks him as an internal medicine specialist and his appointment at Penn means he would have been considered a highly competent physician. The building where his office was located in 1910, at the corner of 15th and Walnut Streets, is now occupied by a futuristic glass structure with a Cheesecake Factory in one corner.

Letter to G. F. Dieffenbach: Envelope

Letter to G. F. Dieffenbach: Text

Letter to G. F. Dieffenbach: Sender's Address Photos Contributed by Lynn Franklin<

A handwritten address for Mrs. A. S. Kester of West Chester, PA is the next item in the bible. A cursory online search will confirm that the Kester family has been living in West Chester, outside Philadelphia, for over a century. Howeer, the connection to this individual, or between the Kester and Dieffenbachere families on some largre scale, is not apparent to us at this time.

Address for Mrs. A. S. Kester
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

We now find a page with four business or introduction cards--three for Dr. Reeves, the correspondent physician in Philadelphia pareviously introduced above. His cards show two different addresses n Philadelphia, so presumably he moved his office at some time during his interaction with George F. Dieffenbach. The other person with a card inserted here is Elizabeth Thomson Strong. She was the niece of George's second wife, Sarah "Gertrude" Strong (1859-1915). Gertrude was the daughter of James and Uzillah Sands of Wyalusing, Bradford County, PA. Gertrude died of carcinoma in 1915; here is her Death Certificate. She had a brother, Edwin Augustus Strong (1849-1934), who lived in Dushore in Sullivan County, PA. In 1881, while was a senior editor at the local Sullivan Review newspaper, Edwin married Mary Bernice Thomson (1858-1923), daughter of James and Elizabeth C. (Jackson) Thomson. They were the parents of Elizabeth Thomson Strong. Here is the Death Certificate for Edwin Strong. From this document, it appears that he later married Anna Kuykendall, presumably after the death of his first wife.

Four Business Cards
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin
Click on caption for enlarged image.

There were four more inserts in the back of the bible--three of a religious nature and one, an ad for a sewing cabinet. We will show the religious items first. The first item is a pamphlet cover for an article by Frederick D. Power on behalf of the Disciples of Christ. The date of publication is indicated in the text as February 1884. However, we have no idea when this artifact was actually placed in the bible. It has a stamp for a local Bloomsburg branch of the denomination, so presumably that is where Geroge Dieffenbach or someone in his family acquired it. Frederick Dunglison Power (1851-1911) was a prominent evangelical minister in the last quarter of the 19th century, serving in Virignia, West Virginia. the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. He was instrumental in what historicans call the Restoration Movement in American religious history. We have no idea whether George or any family members were members of, or sympathetic to, this somewhat ecumenical organization. The second item is an undated address by E. H. Little, Esquire to the Farmers' Institute. It also has a moral theme. Little was a well known Columbia County, PA attorney, descended from a New York State Revolutionary War family, and an early settler in the area. Right after the sewing cabinet ad, appears a tract written by A. B. Simpson. It is dated 1894 and reproduces an address given at a religious convention in Altoona, PA. The Reverend Albert Benjamin Simpson was a Canadian-born writer and evangelical minister who founded The Christian and Missionary Alliance to propagate the Gospels internationally. The idea of a tract called "premillenial" would have been aimed at encouraging Christians to believe there were things that Christ could ask of them before the Millenium, when He would return in person at the end of the world.

Pamphlet Cover: Frederick D Power

Address to Farmers' Institute: E. H Little, Esq.

Discourse on Premillenial Theme: A. B. Simpson
Photos Contributed by Lynn Franklin
Click on captions for enlarged image.

And here, as we mentioned above, is the ad for a sewing cabinet. We do not recognize the brand or manufacturer.

Parlor Sewing Cabinet Advertisement
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The final items to show were found inserted randomly throughout the bible. First is the business card for a Dushore photographer, F. L. Landon. Landon's Photography Galleyr and Liquor Store was a proprietry business in Dushore in the early 20th century. Presumably, this business card came from a predecessor shop in that Sullivan County town. We don't know if Landon was the studio used to produce the photos found in the bible.

F. L. Landon Photographer
Dushore, PA
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Then comes a card which likely served as a "cover note" on a present of some kind. We don't know if the "Father" alluded to here was John Dieffenbach or one of his sons.

"Presented to Father by His Children"
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

The last set of items consist of pages, and torn partial pages, from Peterson's Magazine. Charles J. Peterson was a 19th century magazine publisher. In conjunction with Mrs. Ann B. Stephens, they produced a "ladies' journal" that sold nationally and included stories, poetry and gossip. Mrs. Stephens actually wrote much of this material, including The Lost Inheritance. Chapter X of this serial story, published in 1873, makes up all or most of the torn up text inserted in the bible. Why? Who did it? When were the insertions made? We have no idea. But here are the pieces. Full versions of The Lost Inheritance can be found online.

The Lost Inheritance
Random and Partially Torn Pieces from Peterson's Magazine, 1873
Photos Contributed by Lynn Franklin

Dieffenbacher Family Bible
Back Cover
Photo Contributed by Lynn Franklin

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