Ernest Hofius and Family
Ernest Johnston Hofiusa was known as E.J. to his friends, that name will be used to refer to him in this text. Subscripts refer to footnotes at the bottom of the page, superscripts denote sources listed on the source list.
E.J. Hofius' Grandchildren. From Left to Right George Hofius, Lesley Reaney and Denny Hofius around 1950
While E.J. appears to have received a substantial portion of his income from Hofius & Hildebrandt, his favorite project was his Farm, a piece of land about 7 miles from Belize City on the Old Northern Highway just above the Haulover Bridge.100 He had purchased it with some assistance from his father around 1918. The property ran along the Belize River and much of the land was Mangrove swamp that had to be drained. Ernest Hofius calls the property Cloverleaf farm. c 1303,1404,100, At first he grew coconuts to produce copra as well as bananas and citrus. At some point he started growing Mangos, mostly indian varieties which he grafted on the locally available mango rootstocks. In the 1940's and 50's the farm employed a few dozen workers most of whom lived on the premises. Since there was a pump house on the farm E.J Hofius was able to supply running water to all his workers' houses, a luxury which was not widely available even in Belize city.1404 There was a narrow gauge railwayd on the farm which was used to transport fruit from the orchards to the fruit house,100,1401,1404 E.J Hofius had purchased it used from a plantation in Punto Gordo.e 1302 The railroad was a three foot gauge and the engine was a small locomotive painted black and green with an open cab and a straight cylinder smokestack. The rolling stock consisted of some flat cars and a few stake bed cars. At first it used a coal fired steam engine and was changed to a diesel engine in the late 1940's to early 50's. 1401
Only E.J or his foreman Joe Benito drove the train.1404
Workers would carefully pick the mangos and place them in a single layer in boxes.
As the train went through the orchard, workers would load the boxes onto the flat cars where they would be unloaded in the fruit house.100, 1401
The fruit would be washed repacked and stacked on shelves to ripen.
Workers would turn the mangos once a day so that the fruit would ripen evenly until it was ready to sell.100
Customers from Mexico and Guatemala would send trucks to the farm to pick up orders of Mangos and other fruit.
Some of the produce was sold in Hofius & Hildebradt as well as roses and gardenias that Eleanor Hofius grew. 1302
In addition to fruit & flowers, the farm had a number of bee hives. Honey would be harvested once a year and the hundreds of bottles of honey would be sold in Belize.
The farm had a electrical generator but it was only run for a few hours at night or if they were doing the laundry.
He had a house in Belize City on Gabourel Lane, a House on the Cloverleaf Farm and a house on St. Georges Cay called Seaview.f 1404,1303 The family would travel to and from Seaview on a 24 foot motor launch that E.J. named the Panthom The family would move from house to house depending on the time of year but wherever they went Alice and Daisy came along. Alice was the cook and Daisy the Housekeeper. Eleanor Hofius played the piano and there was an upright piano in the house on Gabourel Lane and Seeview and a baby grand piano in the Farm House. She enjoyed company and entertained frequently when in Belize City. In the Late fifties her strength began to wane so she and her husband remained mostly on the farm, until they moved to New Orleans in 1959.
Ernest hofius seems to have been most famous for the mangos he grew on his farm. It is a common memory of many of the who were living in British Honduras during the time that my Great Grandfather's farm was in operation. E.J. Hofius obtained several varieties of mangos from India in addition he experimented a great deal with grafting and cross pollination to find better varieties of crops that he was growing.Neil Frasier
"As for the farm, what I remember were the wonderful Hofius mangoes, surely the best I have ever tasted."Emory King
"He had planted his famous mango orchard there. Hofius Mangoes were the talk of the town every year during the season. Anyone who was anyone ate Hofius Mangoes. "B. Keatz
"Hofius did develop what is still, I think, known as the Hofius mango, a particular cultivar. It was a nice big full fruit."Armando Villamor
"Hofius had a big farm outside of Belize City and they raised the biggest & best mangos in British Honduras. They were known as Hofius Mangos."mosquito rose
all I remember are the beautiful wonderful tasting mangos that came from the hofius farm. They were the most beautiful magos ever and they were named hofius mangos.
- The name Johnston was in honor of E.J.s Mother's Aunt Johnston who took Blanche Ella Farquharson in when her parents died.
- A family story tells of EJ going to Mobile, AL in 1916-1917 for the purpose of arranging to have an auto dealership in Belize and meeting Eleanor Winzerling who was to become his wife.
- Otto Hofius in his will refers to his share in the plantation known as "Clover Leaf Bank". It is uncertain whether E.J. Hofius or Otto Hofius selected the name Cloverleaf but it may be taken from the Hanover coat of arms which used the Clover leaf .
- CC Mengel & Brother were operating a number of narrow gauge trains in British Honduras for harvesting Mahogany. It is possible that the train came from them.
- There is some confusion in terms of the size of the farm and the length of the railroad. My mother thinks that the railroad was about 10 miles long and there are a number of different estimates of how much time it would take to travel from one end to another as anywhere between 30 minutes to 4 hours at a speed of 5 miles per hour
- Seaview was sold to the Stansburys before the 1961 hurricane in late fifties or 1960.
St. George Cay was once the Capital of British Honduras. Another unconfirmed family story is the E.J. bought the a piece of property on St. Georges Cay after the 1931 hurricane and fished the old governors house out of a swamp on the island. Taking only the top floor he put it on stilts, fixed it up and it became his vacation house.