Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Voices from the Past: The Death of Julius Vom Hofe (1907)

Sometimes you read an obituary and a portrait of a person emerges that is very unlike your perception. Other times, an obituary reinforces your impressions of what a person was like. This obituary of Julius Vom Hofe, the great reelmaker, from the 04 May 1907 Forest & Stream magazine, basically describes the kind of guy I always envisioned JVH to be. To me, the best part of this profile is the fact that perhaps for the only time in his life, he escaped the shadow of his brother Edward.

Julius Vom Hofe

Because he was of a quiet, retiring disposition, few anglers knew the late Julius Vom Hofe--whose death was announced in these columns last week--but they were all familiar with the class of work he put into his fishing reels. Mr. Vom Hofe's fishing reel factory, on South Fifth Street, near the Brooklyn end of the new Williamsburg bridge, adjoined his residence in Keap street, and he was seldom found far away from home or shop. When the fishing was good he might be found at his little cottage in Bay Side place, Hammels, Rockaway Beach, or in his fishing boat near by. Generally he went out alone, and only those in whom he confided knew how great was his store of knowledge concerning practical fishing as well as reel making. Jamaica Bay was an open book to him, and his special favorite was the striped bass, whose haunts he knew intimately.

Mr. Vom Hofe's birthplace was Altena, Westphalen, Germany. He came to the United States in 1848, his twelfth year. He began the manufacture of reels in 1857, in New York city, and five years later removed to Brooklyn. His reels were exhibited at the World's Fairs in Chicago and St. Louis, at both of which the highest awards and gold medals were received by him. Four years ago his son, Edward, died, and since then his health began to fail, the end being due to apoplexy. He is survived by Mrs. Vom Hofe, two sons, Julius and Alfred, and three daughters. His sons will continue in the business in which they were trained by their father.

--Dr. Todd

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