Biography of William Hoffman

William Hoffman is president and manager of the Stock Yards Serum Company of Kansas City, Kansas. This is a company whose name and products are familiar to all the progressive hog raisers throughout the Middle West. Mr. Hoffman is a veteran in experience in the packing industry, and some years ago applied his practical knowledge, together with some capable associates, in giving Kansas City, Kansas, a special plant and laboratory for the production of a serum that would answer a widespread demand for an adequate preventive of hog cholera.

Thus in 1910 the Stock Yards Serum Company was organized and in 1912 incorporated with Mr. Hoffman as president and manager; J. H. Williams, who for many years had been connected with the Kansas City Stock Yards, as treasurer; and J. C. Fagan, secretary. The two directors of the company are J. M. Nichols and E. C. Senter, the latter being general superintendent of the Kansas City Stock Yards.

At the beginning Mr. Hoffman had only two assistants, but at the present time about twenty men are employed in the laboratories and other departments, and the business is now the largest of its kind in the country. The company had a capital stock of $30,000, fully paid up. The success of the company is directly due to Mr. Hoffman’s efforts and ability. He is responsible for the building of the first sanitary serum plant in America. The plant of the Stock Yards Serum Company is a model of its kind and in point of convenience and sanitation is equal to the finest of hospitals. Interior finishing is white tile, all the rooms where the technical processes are carried on are sealed against the entrance of outside dust and contamination and the entire process of manufacture of the serum and virus is under direct Government supervision.

A few words should be devoted to a general description of the process of manufacture. Hog cholera had long been the recognized scourge of swine raisers. It is an extremely infectious disease, and when once started in a herd its progress can seldom be stopped. The only adequate remedy is prevention. This is accomplished by the familiar vaccination process, as a result of which hogs are rendered practically immune from disease. Vaccination is a process of injecting into a live pig the virus or serum. This virus and serum are the products manufactured by the Stock Yards Serum Company. The first process is the infection of absolutely healthy animals with the germs of cholera. The greatest precautions are taken throughout to insure that the animals thus selected are free from other diseases, which would naturally vitiate the process, and when such disease is discovered the virus is destroyed. When a pig thus inoculated had reached a certain stage in the disease of cholera it is slaughtered under the careful antiseptic system employed in the laboratory, and its virulent blood is withdrawn and after certain processes and tests the ultimate product is the standard virus. This virus alone had a high degree of potency, but the most satisfactory results are obtained when the virus is used together with the serum. In the production of the serum, healthy hogs are inoculated with a portion of the virus, but in larger amounts than the usual dosage employed for practical purposes. Again the previous process is repeated, and after a certain length of time the infected hog is killed and the blood after passing through the processes of the laboratory becomes the Stock Yards serum. In the preventive treatment against disease by growers of hogs the application is usually the simultaneous or a combination of the serum and virus.

William Hoffman, who had spent so many years in and around the stock yards at Kansas City, Kansas, is a native of New York City, where he was born May 9, 1881, the third child of Theodore Phillip and Rose (Newby) Hoffman, his father a native of New York City and his mother of England. His mother came to this country with her parents when about five years of age. The Hoffman family ancestry goes back to the time of the Dutch settlement in New York. One of the family, Anthony S. Hoffman, was connected with Cornelius Vanderbilt in the building of the first steamboat for Robert Fulton. It was he who had the old family name changed from Von Huffmann to Hoffman.

Theodore P. Hoffman was for many years a salesman in New York City. In 1887, acting on the advice of a brother, he moved to Kansas City, Kansas. He had since been a resident of this city, and for a number of years was connected with Armour & Company. In 1894 he was elected clerk of the District Court and filled that position two years and from 1896 to 1910 was jailer in Kansas City, Kansas. Since 1910 he had been connected with the laboratory and serum plant of his son. He was a youthful soldier in the Civil war, being with the Seventy-first Militia of New York, but was never in a battle. He is a Mason and a member of the Congregational Church.

William Hoffman attended the common schools of Kansas City, Kansas, and when only nine years of age began making his own way. He had been a student and observer as well as a hard worker and had rounded out a thorough practical education. For a number of years he was with the Dold Packing Company in their office, and later learned the packing business in all its technical details by ten years of service with Moffet & Dennis. He resigned from that company to become superintendent for the Cochrane Packing Company, with whom he remained five years, then established the plant which was the forerunner of the Stock Yards Serum Company’s business.

Mr. Hoffman is a republican and had never found time for mixing in practical politics, though ever ready to give his support to laudible enterprises. He is a member of the Mercantile Club and other civic organizations, and is active in the Congregational Church, while his wife is a Catholic. He was married February 23, 1914, to Clara Mehany, a native of Kansas City, Kansas, and a daughter of Joseph Mehany, who is now on the pension roll of Armour & Company. They have one child, William Henry, born in 1915.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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