Clay County

Biography - Charles W. Hopkins

Charles W. Hopkins, retired hardware merchant of Clay City, Illinois, is well and favorably known at the present time as the owner of one of the "banner" farms, formerly the property of his parents, of Clay county. For fifteen consecutive years Clay City was the scene of his successful endeavors as a hardware merchant. He has not yet reached his fiftieth year, and while he has already "made good" as a citizen and a business man, many years of increased prosperity await him in his farming pursuits.

The subject of our sketch was born in Mason county, West Virginia, on January 12, 1860, and was the son of William and Adriana (Donnelly) Hopkins. Both parents were natives of old Virginia, and came of good stock. William Hopkins married in his native state, resided on a farm there, and was a member of the convention called to partition the state into the present divisions of east and west. He ran boats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers for thirty-five years. During that time he was captain of "The Tigress," which General Grant pressed into service at Cairo, Illinois, during the progress of the Civil war. All through its meteoric career in the military service he remained its captain under command of the gallant Grant. At Pittsburg Landing, Grant made his headquarters upon on the boat, and he and the elder Hopkins had many chats together. Later then ran the blockade at Vicksburg successfully, but when they had safely passed the last battery "The Tigress" sank, having been shot through the hull. At this time Captain Hopkins was home on a furlough, and owing to the loss of his boat was discharged from the service. He then moved with his family to Illinois, and settled in Clay county, in the winter of 1865, having bought nearly one thousand acres of land. This he was easily able to do as at the time of his arrival in Illinois his capital amounted to something like seventy-five thousand dollars. He had previously sold a farm in Virginia for forty-three thousand dollars. The farm settled in Clay county is now the property of the subject of our sketch. In 1883 William Hopkins retired from his farming activities and moved with his family to Flora, Illinois, where he afterwards died on July 25, 1887, aged sixty-nine years. William Hopkins married three times. Our subject was the youngest of three children, and his mother died when he was only three years of age. One of his brothers, Andrew, by name, is now dead. His father afterwards married Marian Kelly, who died in 1873. Later he espoused Kate Wilson, who still continues to survive him. His second marriage brought William Hopkins three children, all of whom grew to maturity though only one is now living. His third marriage brought him one son, Frank, who lives with his mother in Evansville, Indiana.

Charles W. Hopkins remained in the parental home up to the time of his marriage which occurred on the 15th of March, 1883, with Mary E. Brissenden in Clay county, Illinois. For a number of years he lived on a farm near Clay City. In the spring of 1886, he and his wife removed to Furnas county, Nebraska, where he purchased a farm of three hundred and twenty acres. There they remained three years, when Mrs. Hopkins returned to Clay county, Illinois, on a visit. There she died on May 25, 1887, being buried in the Clay City cemetery. Our subject soon sold his Nebraska property and went back to live in Illinois in the fall of 1888. His marriage resulted in the birth of two girls, Adrianna, now the wife of Clayson Black, of Clay City, who is engaged in the grocery business, and Sarah A., who lives at the family residence. Shortly after his return to Illinois, Charles W. Hopkins engaged in the hardware business in Clay City, continuing in the same for fifteen years to a day. December 24, 1889, he married Mary Barnes, of Clay county, where she was born April 1, 1861. She was the daughter of Joseph and Ellen (Gardner) Barnes, natives of Indiana. They married in the Hoosier state and came to Illinois in 1857, settling in Clay county, where they remained until their deaths. Mrs. Barnes died December 1, 1866, aged thirty-three years. Her husband married secondly Lou Chapman, a widow, but their married life was of short duration as she died within two years. Joseph Barnes died April 27, 1891, aged fifty-five years, and was buried in Xenia. His first wife was buried in Oskaloosa. They were the parents of five children, of whom two died in infancy, our subject's wife being the third in order of birth.

Charles W. Hopkins sold his hardware business on February 19, 1904, remained in Clay City until April 29, 1906, and then moved to the old homestead of his parents, where he now lives. He owns approximately five hundred and seventeen acres of some of the best land in Clay county. His present married life has also been a happy one, three children having been born to him; two boys and a girl - William B., Charles L. and Hazel - all of whom live at home with their parents.

Our subject has always been politically a Republican and has served as Supervisor, as member of the County Board in Clay county for two years, as President of the Town Board in Clay City for three terms. He is a member of the Modem Woodmen of America, Jefferson Lodge No. 1437, at Clay City. Mrs. Hopkins is a. member of the Methodist church in Clay City, and has always taken an active part in church affairs.

Extracted 27 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay & Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 339-341.


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