Hoffman mansion has been the cause of rumor and speculation within Ottawa county for decades. Those speculations have carried over to making the property an attraction to even those outside of these boundaries.
Today, not much stands of the original property aside from the cemetery. The mansion itself had spent years decaying and picked apart by vandals before the family asked the late Ed Rodgers to demolish it. John Rodgers says his grandfather buried it in the old pool. The old property now has a new house on it, but this does little to dissuade would-be trespassers from trying to gain access to it.
The Quapaw Post sat down with Quapaw tribal member Jean Ann (Ramsey) Lambert to find the history of Hoffman mansion.
"My grandmother, Agnes Track and Benjamin Quapaw were married in January of 1921. They resided on Benjamin's farm that was located on part of his land allotment east of Quapaw," said Jean Ann.
Benjamin's farm was described as a good, complete, well-equipped farm home in an interview with the Quapaw Indian Agency in 1921.
"The farm included a large frame house, barn, garage, sheds, and a water system," Jean Ann continued.
"There was also a Native American church roundhouse and sweat lodge on the property. Agnes's mother Anna, often referred to as grandma Slagle, hosted a memorial meeting every year on April 15, in honor of John Wilson, better known as Moonhead. When her fireman died, she couldn't run the meeting by herself anymore, so she gave it to the Lookout family from the Osage to continue. The Lookout family still hosts this meeting every year." Continued Jean Ann.
Agnes was much younger than Benjamin, being approximately 20 years of age when they wed. Benjamin and Agnes had one daughter, Jean Ann Quapaw in 1922. The birth of their daughter also marked the first expansion of the property. Benjamin died May 28, 1926, just five years after his marriage to Agnes. Agnes would go on to marry Henry Hoffman, Sr. later that year.
In 1928, Agnes and Henry built a permanent house in Miami, Okla., utilizing the old farmstead as a summer house. Their new property had six bedrooms, five bathrooms and several amenities, including a sunroom. The sunroom had a mural from Charles Bank Wilson on all four walls.
A second expansion to the country home [Hoffman mansion] took place in 1936.
"The house included five bedrooms and bathrooms in addition to a kitchen, formal dining and living room. There was also an ice cream parlor that had a soda fountain countertop and stools, and a couple of booths," stated Jean Ann.
Just across the driveway of the main house is a family cemetery. One of the old ghost stories focuses on the "two bears," but Jean Ann says there was only one and the bear's name was Peggy.
"Peggy's den was in front of the cemetery," Jean Ann remarked.
"The swimming pool was located behind the main house. The pool had two diving boards, with men and women bathhouses on the south side of the pool. A tennis court was located south of the bathhouses, and a guest house was across from the main house on the west side," Jean Ann continued.
"West of the cemetery was a garage and gas pump," said jean Ann. "Beside the garage was the coach house that stored some saddles, carriages, and buggies etc. There was also a large cookhouse, connected to the main house by a screened-in breezeway, that included a large BBQ pit with a few tables and several benches."
"The big barn was located west of the main house in front of the racetrack," Jean Ann continued. "It had about six stalls with sliding doors. Henry had standardbred horses that were kept in this big barn. Northwest of the big barn was a smaller horse barn that had a row of horse stalls, a saddle room, and an area for the blacksmith. A caretaker house was also located northeast of the horse barn."
For years, the only thing other than the cemetery remaining was the old caretaker house, but that was demolished when the family cleared the land.
The current inhabitants of the property are family members to Jean Ann, and they hope those that wish to see the old mansion location understand their need for privacy.
"Even though there's a home there, and the land has been cleared, a few people that have heard various stories still try and trespass on our private property," said Jean Ann.
Several media outlets have embellished stories of an orphanage and an ax-wielding man that murders children on the property throughout the years. Reports of a little girl in a swing and mysterious fires are just a few more of these wild and outlandish tales. Of course, many of us heard these tales growing up, but that comes from a lack of understanding of the true history.
According to an article from the Miami News-Record, there was a point when the residence was being made into a disadvantaged boy's home in 1981. Perhaps it was, as this would explain the marked graves of children in the cemetery better than the old ghost tales, but not much evidence could be found in that regard.
The Quapaw Post thanks Jean Ann for so graciously providing us with the history of Hoffman mansion.