Elisha Albright Hoffman was born May 7, 1839, in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania to a minister named Francis Hoffman. At a young age, Elisha accepted Christ as his Savior.
He attended the Philadelphia public schools, studied science, and then studied the classics at Union Seminary of the Evangelical Association.
When he was 24, the War Between the States had been raging for two years, and he enlisted as a Private in the Union Army on July 9, 1863 with Company A, 47th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania. He was discharged just over a month later on Aug. 14, 1863, a couple years before the war ended.
About 1866, he married Susan M. Orwig. He was about 26, and she was about 22.
He worked for the Evangelical Association Publishing House in Cleveland, Ohio, for eleven years.
He was ordained by the Presbyterian Churches in 1873, at the age of 34. Two years later in 1876, his wife, Susan died, leaving him with three young boys.
He was never formally trained in music, but wrote over 2,000 hymns, providing both the words and the tune for most of them. He assisted in compiling and editing fifty song books!
Some of the hymns he wrote are as follows (Note: some of these are known by two titles):
In early 1879, at the age of 40, he remarried to Emma, a woman who was 26 years old. They had a baby boy in December, adding to the family of three other boys. They were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and had his sister-in-law living with them and working as a dressmaker. He was working as a clerk in a print shop.
After this dramatic loss, he quit the publishing house and returned to Pennsylvania.
He took the pastorate at the Benton Harbor Presbyterian Church in Michigan and remained there for 33 years.
In 1900, he was 61 years old and Emma was 47. They had been married for 21 years, and had their only daughter (together) living with them who was 19. He was a “preacher” and they lived in a rented house at 394 Territorial Street, Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 1904 he was 65 and his physical description was that he was 5 feet 5 ½ inches tall, with high forehead, gray eyes, straight nose, mustache, oval chin, gray hair, fair complexion, and an oval face.
In 1910 he was 70 and Emma was 58. They had been married for 31 years and Emma had lost a child. Their house was a rental on 275 Territorial Street, Benton Harbor, Michigan. He was still a Presbyterian minister.
In 1920 he was 80 and Emma was 62. They were living in a rented house and he was still serving as a Presbyterian minister. Their house was on Chester Street in Cabery, Illinois.
Elisha Hoffman lived to be ninety, and died on Nov. 25, 1929, in Cook County, Illinois.
Robert J. Morgan, More Real Stories for the Soul, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), p. 5. Information on education and career. This same article is published in several other volumes by the same author including: On This Day, and Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985), p. 131. Source of the birthplace and date of the author and several general facts about his career.
Ancestry (Provo: Utah, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 2011), www.ancestry.com accessed Mar 27, 2011 to use the many resources for census information and family trees.