Humphrey Thomas (also known as Thomas, Henry, or Harry) Hobdell was baptized on 23 July 1837 at Lambeth, St. Mary, Surrey, England. He was the son of Alfred Dutton Hobdell and Betsy Cox.

Humphrey “Henry” arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana, with older brother George Henry, born in 1829, and father Alfred, born in 1798, on 26 November 1849. The 1850 U.S. federal census shows the trio living in St. Louis. The father Alfred apparently died before 1860 since he does not appear in the 1860 U.S. census, and his wife in England was shown as a widow in the 1861 census. Family lore indicates Alfred died of cholera in one of the many epidemics that swept St. Louis in those years.

George returned to England after the death of his father, returning some twenty years later to live in Philadelphia, but Henry seems to have remained behind in St. Louis. On 13 August 1859 in St. Louis, he married Ellen “Nellie” Smith, born on 23 August 1844 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, daughter of Thomas Smith and Ann Walker Brown. At least four children were born to this couple, but only one survived to adulthood: Alfred Dutton Hobdell, born on 25 November 1861 in St. Louis.

The Hobdell family in London had been goldsmiths and silversmiths for several generations, and possibly the three Hobdells were sent to establish an American trading connection for the family business. However, Henry was listed as a tobacconist in the St. Louis city directories of 1860 and 1867, and by 1878 he had gone into the furniture business.

Following an 1876 divorce from Nellie, Henry Hobdell married Florence E. Hill on 28 July 1881. She was born in October 1859 in Missouri, the daughter of Thomas and Mary E. Hill. Of ten children born from this marriage, only two survived: William, born in 1888, and Florence, born in 1892, both in St. Louis. Henry Hobdell died in St. Louis on 25 July 1904, with burial at New Pickers Cemetery.

Alfred Hobdell Sr.
Alfred Dutton Hobdell, born 1798
Photo in the collection of Janis Greenlaw Seaton
Used with permission

Times were hard for his widow and children. Florence had to move her daughter Florence into a children’s home several times during the years 1905–1907. By 1910, the mother and both children were employed. By 1920, Florence Hill Hobdell lived in North Dakota with her two children.

Shortly after her divorce in 1876, Ellen/Nellie Smith Hobdell remarried in St. Louis, to Theodore Schultz, born in 1847 in Germany. This couple had only one child, Nellie Theresa Schultz, born on 21 May 1878 in St. Louis.

In 1891 in St. Louis, Alfred Hobdell (born 1861) married Annie Jane “Anna Laura” Stack, daughter of Margaret Elizabeth Tully and Gerard Joseph Stack, born on 25 April 1869 in Glenamaddy, Galway, Ireland. They then lived in Chicago, Illinois, before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota, by 1898. Alfred Hobdell’s mother Nellie and half-sister Nellie joined Alfred and his family in Minneapolis, and that is where Alfred died on 17 March 1929. His mother, Nellie Smith Hobdell Schultz, died on 18 December 1928, and his half-sister Nellie died on 1 April 1959.

Written by Janis Greenlaw Seaton
June 2017

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Last Modified: 25-Oct-2018 22:17