From Portrait and Biographical Album
Page 506, 507, 508
Thomas Hoopes. The old pioneers, who are fast passing away are naturally looked upon with that interest and respect with which mankind is prone to regard those things which, when once departed, can never be recalled. These thoughts involuntarily force themselves upon the mind in contemplating the career of the subject of this sketch, who was the first settler at Hoopeston, and whose honor it was named. He came to this county, and invested in land Aug.9, 1855. Returning to Ohio, he remained there until April 8, 1855, when he with his family removed to this county, and endured his full share of the hardships and privations of life in a new settlement, operating as a tiller of the soil a series of years, and is now enjoying the fruits of his labors amid the comforts of a pleasant and well-ordered home in the southeastern part of the village, which has been the object of his fostering care. He retired from the active labors of life in June, 1882, and occupies a tasteful and commodious brick residence at the corner of Penn and Fourth streets. He is the owner of a good property, which he accumulated solely by his own industry and perseverance. He owns 2,233 acres of fine land, contracted to young men, and upon which they pay a low interest. He also controls 5,180 acres in his own name, making the total of his land holdings 7,413 acres.
Mr. Hoopes was born on the 26th of June, 1806, in a log cabin in the woods of what was then Jefferson County, but is now the southeast corner of Harrison County, Ohio. His father in 1810 removed to a point seven miles distant in the same county, and there our subject sojourned until 1846. He pursued is studies mostly at home under the instruction of his mother, and also attended a private school. He remained a member of the parental household until reaching his majority, soon after which time occurred the death of his father, the property was divided. Thomas in 1829, purchased a two-thirds interest in the estate, and carried on the improvements which had been begun, clearing the land of the remaining timber upon it and preparing the soil for cultivation. There being six children in the family, the share of Thomas, estimated to be $335.04 in value, was accordingly one-sixth of the estate, and in contracting to buy out the other heirs, subject to the mothers life interest, he was obliged to go into debt. The task before him he was aware, required more than an ordinary amount of courage and perseverance, but nature had generously endowed him with these qualities, and from that modest beginning he succeeded in building up the ample property of which he is now the owner.
Our subject continued on the old farm until the summer of 1846, and on the 30th of July that year, was united in marriage with Miss Anna Gray, of the same county. Shortly afterward they removed to the vicinity Marion Ohio, where Mr. Hoopes purchased a farm of 803 acres on what was familiarly known as Sandusky Plains, and added 100 acres three years later. It was nearly fenced and has been largely devoted by our subject to pasturage. Mr. Hoopes began the improvement of his property, and in 1850 put up one of the first brick houses in that locality. He devoted his land mostly to grazing, and gathered together a large flock of sheep. He also took in cattle to feed, and continued this course profitably for a period of nine years. His property naturally increased in value, and became the source of a comfortable income.
In 1853, however, Mr. Hoopes decided to see what lay beyond, and accordingly disposed of his interest in the Buckeye State, and after residing for a year in Marion Village came here to buy, moving here with his family in 1855. There were then but few settlers in Grant Township, this county, and frequently the traveler would go from fifty to 100 miles without passing a farm, a large proportion of the land still belonging to the Government. Mr. Hoopes at once bought of W. I. Allen 180 acres, upon which he established a homestead, and was uniformly successful in his labors as an agriculturist and stock-raiser. He later purchased additional land, and in due time became the owner of 7,413 acres; besides this he sold several thousand acres at different times. The first house which he put up was a frame structure of fair proportions, located at the top of a hill on the old "Chicago Road," lying north of the present site of town. He occupied this with his family for a number of years, and added other buildings as time passed on. He still continued sheep-raising, and frequently pastured large droves of cattle for other men. From the first he made it a rule to keep out of debt, live within his income, and meet his obligations as they became due. Mr. Hoopes, in 1863, disposed of his flocks of sheep on account of the difficulty in getting help to look after them, and at the same time laid aside many of the cares which had been his for many years. Since that time he has taken life more easily. On the 4th of July, 1871, the track of what is now the Danville and Vincennes Railroad was laid across what is now Main St., and the year following the Lake Erie & Western began running its trains. Mr. Hoopes always a man of wise forethought, judged that here would be a good site for a town, and accordingly commenced laying out a portion of his farm in town lots. He did not undertake town-making, but laid out his land after it had been started. Thereafter he engaged in selling these lots and looking after the interest of the embryo village. The town was named Hoopeston by one of the prospectors of a railroad. Mr. Hoopes afterward sold 1,000 acres to the firm of Snell & Taylor, who had a part of the land platted, and sold town lots. In 1873 Mr. Hoopes purchased a house a short distance west of that which he now occupies, and moved into it, occupying it until 1882, when he erected his present residence. In connection with his dealings in real estate, he still continued the general supervision of his farm, but employed agents to carry on the work. In the fall o 1874 he started for the Pacific Slope, arriving in California October 28, and sojourned there until the 27th of March, 1875. In the meantime he traveled over a large portion of the country with his wife, the latter being in delicate health.
Mr. Hoopes cast his first vote in 1828 for a defeated candidate being then identified with the old Whig party, but upon its abandonment cordially endorsed the Republican party, whom he has since for the most part given his support. In local affairs however, he is not bound by party ties, but aims to support the man best qualified for the office. During his long residence in this county, he has pursued that upright and honorable course which has gained him the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens, striving always to be not only just, but also generous as he has had opportunity.
Mrs. Anna (Gray) Hoopes was born in Harrison County, Ohio, July 25, 1810, and was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Eckley) Gray, who spent their last years in Fulton County, Ill. To our subject and his estimable wife there were born no children. Mrs. Hoopes departed this life on the 29th of April 1886, greatly mourned by her husband, and regretted by all who know her. She was a devoted wife, a lady possessing all the Christian virtues, and who was the uniform and efficient helper of her husband during his toils and struggles, and his cheerful, faithful companion amid the hardships and difficulties which they encountered. Her name is held in kindly remembrance by all who knew her.
Nathan Hoopes, the father of our subject was born in Chester County, Pa., May 5, 1765, and was the son of Daniel A. Hoopes, a native of the same county. He lived there until reaching mans estate, and was married to Miss Elizabeth Gardner. Soon afterward they removed to Ohio, and settled in the woods of what was then Jefferson County, about seven miles from where the town of Mount Pleasant grew up. He put up a cabin and began felling trees, and preparing a portion of the soil for cultivation. His first property consisted of only thirty acres, and at this little homestead occurred the birth of his son Thomas.
Later the father of our subject disposed of this property, and purchased 160 acres of land, where he opened up a good farm, and upon which he spent his last days, passing away in the spring of 1828. The household circle was completed by the birth of seven children, six of whom lived to years of maturity, namely: James and Joseph, who were residence of Morgan County, Ohio, until their death; Sarah, Mrs. Nathan Williams of Harrison County, Ohio; Thomas, our subject; Ann, the widow of George W. Scott, living in Camp Chase; and Mary, Mrs. W. Spurier, who died in Harrison County, whiter she returned from Morgan County. The mother survived her husband only six years, her death taking place at the old homestead on May 12, 1834. She was a member and minister of the Society of Friends. Mr. Hoopes, our subject is not a member of any society.
Mr. Hoopes owns large tracts of land, also buys any tract a young, but honest and industrious man may desire, lets him have it and pay a very low rate of interest, instead rent, and avoids double taxation; thus helping many young me to start, simply for the purpose of doing what good he can if he is proud of anything, it is of that, to be considered a philanthropist.
From The Early Pioneers of Vermilion Co.
(Contributed by Mary Paulius)