William S. Hofstra

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William S. Hofstra (1861–1932) was a Dutch-American lumber entrepreneur who is the namesake of Hofstra University.

William S. Hofstra was born in Michigan in 1861 to Dutch immigrant parents, Sake Hofstra and Wilhelmina Zageweg. His family came from the province of Friesland, where an ancestor lived on an estate named "Hoflandstra," which in Frisian means "from" the "courtyard" or "farm." The name "Hoflandstra" was eventually shortened to Hofstra. William grew up in various cities in Michigan. In 1881, William Hofstra married Anna Laura Morton and they had two daughters, one of whom lived to adulthood. William and Anna divorced, and he remarried to Kate Mason Wiliams, a widow originally from Boston, Massachusetts, who was seven years his senior, and they had no children. Hofstra was involved in various lumber businesses in Michigan, the Western United States and New York. William Hofstra worked in the lumber business with Howard Brower as a partner in the Nassau Lumber Company and was a director of Price Brothers Company, another wood and paper products company based in Canada.

In 1903, William and his second wife, Kate Mason (1854–1933), purchased the 15 ac Van Vranken Estate in Hempstead and hired H. Craig Severance to design their retirement home there, moving into the house in 1904. To honor his Dutch roots, William Hofstra called the estate "The Netherlands," which is now known as Hofstra Hall. Hofstra died in 1932 and Kate died the following year. Kate Hofstra bequeathed the family home and funding for a trust to honor her husband and left other bequests to St. George's Episcopal Church in Homestead and to various friends and family.[1]

In 1935, the trustees created a branch of New York University in the former Hofstra home, and by 1963, the institution was renamed Hofstra University. The school's orange colors and the Hofstra seal honor the Dutch heritage of Hofstra.[2][3][4]


  1. ^ http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nynassau/hofstra.html
  2. ^ Gajus Scheltema, Russell Shorto, Heleen Westerhuijs, Exploring Historic Dutch New York: New York City - Hudson Valley - New ... (Courier Dover Publications, 2011), pg. 73
  3. ^ http://longisland.about.com/od/familiessinglesseniors/ss/HofstraDutchFestival.htm
  4. ^ http://www.hofstra.edu/Community/museum/museum_exhibition_hofstra65.html