California Genealogy and History Archives
|Wesley Lee Hopper
It is no unusual thing to find the sons of well-to-do men living in leisurely enjoyment of the hard-earned wealth of their fathers, having to all appearances no other object in life than the rapid and complete dissipation of the same. In direct and refreshing contrast thereto is the career of Wesley Lee Hopper, the son of Thomas Hopper, the well-known rancher, miner, lumberman, cattle-raiser and stock-dealer, who with his no less courageous wife came to California before the “days of old, the days of gold” and established the family name and fortunes in this then wilderness. A sketch depicting the life and experiences of this early pioneer will be found elsewhere in this volume.
The third child and second son in the parental family, Wesley Lee Hopper was born January 25, 1852, in the Blucher valley, Sonoma county. These were days of changing fortune with the father, who was divided in his occupation as well as location, and his son obtained such education as the time and location of the home at the time of his school days permitted. When not in school his strength was employed in the numerous duties that the youth upon a ranch finds before him to do, and he accepted his lot willing, for he was reared to a right understanding of his duties to his superiors, to himself and the world about him. At an early age, when only twenty years old, he took upon himself the obligations and responsibilities of married life, at that time being united with Miss Anna Corbin, a native of Iowa, and the daughter of James A. Corbin. At her death, August 23, 1900, she left three children, as follows: Henry Lee, who is married and living in Calistoga, Napa county; M. Myrtle, who became the wife of John Payne and is living in Willits, Mendocino county; and William Thomas, who at one time was bookkeeper in the National Bank at Santa Rosa, but now assistant cashier of the Bank of Santa Rosa. From his earliest days Mr. Hopper had been trained to an understanding and appreciation of agricultural life, and as his father’s holdings increased and his interests enlarged he became increasingly useful in assisting in their management. It was thus that after his marriage he operated one of his father’s ranches, carrying on stock-raising on a large scale until 1882, when he went to Knight’s valley and conducted a ranch of twenty-seven hundred acres for about eight years. Subsequently, for about the same length of time, he carried on a meat market business in Calistoga, Napa county, in connection with the ranch.
In 1901 Mr. Hopper leased the ranch to tenants and has since made his home in Santa Rosa, finding his time sufficiently taken up in managing his large ranching interests. Besides the cattle interests already mentioned, he owns a vineyard of two hundred and forty acres on two ranches, and while the grape industry is a newer undertaking, it has every indication of becoming as vast in scope and as remunerative financially as the cattle industry. After taking up his residence in Santa Rosa Mr. Hopper married his present wife, who was formerly Miss Nellie Felton. Mrs. Hopper presides with grace and dignity over their home at No. 904 McDonald avenue, and with her husband shares in the respect and admiration of citizens, friends and neighbors. While Mr. Hopper has many interests to claim his time and attention, he still takes time for the social amenities of life, and also to do his duty as a good citizen. He is an active figure in the ranks of the Democratic party, believing in its principles and working for the advancements of its candidates, but never seeking recognition for himself. By right of birth he is proud to claim membership in the Native Sons, being an active and welcome member of Santa Rosa Parlor. Mr. Hopper’s love for nature in the great out-of-doors comes to him as an inheritance from his pioneer father and mother, and his greatest pleasure and recreation is found in company with his rod and gun, away from cares of city life.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011