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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Colonel Hopkins Said To Be Fine 'Gentleman Of The Old School'

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 17 August 2004
Source:
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

"He was a man of fine presence, tall, erect and commanding, and in his demeanor always affable while maintaining the dignity and courtliness of a gentleman of the old school."
This is the personal description given by Josiah Morrow in his article written about Colonel John Hopkins in The Western Star. Col. Hopkins was one of the influential leaders of the pioneers, which settled in Warren County in the early part of the nineteenth century.
John Hopkins was born November 5, 1786, in Rockbridge County, Va., near Timber Ridge meeting house six or seven miles northeast of Lexington.
In the fall of 1795, John moved with his parents, James and Margaret Hopkins, along with his brother James, to Georgetown, Ky. Their residence in Kentucky extended to nine years. Here his mother died. The family moved to Warren County, Ohio, about 1804, John being approximately eighteen at the time. John's father died in 1813.
Apparently stressing the education factor, John received a much superior education in Virginia and Kentucky than most students. He became a reputable land surveyor and conveyancer.
John married Susanna Branstator and made his home on "The Ridge" located about two miles south of Lebanon. This union conceived nine children, Huston being the oldest.
His father apparently inspired John's interest in the militia. He trained and served under his father and advanced as a non-commissioned officer in a volunteer company and afterward was elected captain.
Congress, before the declaration of the war against England, gave authorization to the President to garner special companies of spies or mounted rangers for the protection of the new frontier. John was one of the first to receive this assignment. President Madison commissioned him second lieutenant of rangers.
The knowledge of this appointment was a complete surprise to him, for he had made no application. His recommendation apparently stemmed from Governor Jeremiah Morrow's influence, then the sole governmental representative from Ohio. The Governor had high praise for Lieutenant Hopkins writing: "The friendship and esteem of such a man was inestimable, and after becoming acquainted with him I ever admired him, believing him the best, or among the best men I ever knew."
Lieutenant Hopkins' first assignment was a march with Captain William Perry's company. The trek consisted of a rendezvous at Dayton and on to old Fort Loramie, located north of Piqua on General Wayne's old trail.
The company was next ordered to Old Vincennes, and while in Indiana and Illinois the one-year's service was up.
An authorization by Col. William Russell summoned Lieutenant Hopkins back to Ohio with directions to fill up a new company by enlistment. The order fulfilled, he again marched to Fort Loramie. Remaining a short time, until September 28, 1813, the company was dissolved.
A commission to First Lieutenant found him marching to Urbana to join General McArthur, but, arriving too late, the company was disbanded.
After the War of 1812 he received his discharge, having served a little over three years.
In his service as a mounted ranger, he reached a location opposite St. Louis. Leaving his horse behind, he was ferried over the Mississippi in an Indian canoe. (East St. Louis at that time was simply a trading post.)
Proceeding east to Peoria, a decisive battle with the Indians was fought with the latter being completely routed and their winter provisions destroyed.
With the war ended, he was elected Major of a battalion of the militia and afterward Colonel. Resigning this commission, he was elected sheriff of Warren County, but retained his title of Colonel until his death.
He was elected to the office of Justice of the Peace in 1817, serving for four years. His next venture was his election twice to sheriff, the year being 1821. In this capacity he moved to Lebanon from "The Ridge."
Governor Morrow appointed Sheriff Hopkins his "aid-de-camp" in preparation for the visit of LaFayette to Ohio. The Colonel accepted an invitation to ride to Cincinnati as an escort, but the sheriff's duties in court prevented an acceptance.
After his sheriff's tenure, he moved to Hopkinsville, a village already settled by many Hopkins families. The mercantile business took his time until 1839 when he turned his store over to his son.
An election as a representative in the legislature was in the year 1826, with his re-election the following year. About 1836 he was elected County Commissioner and served six years. In 1846 he was selected State Senator and served in that capacity for two terms.
He was a confirmed Whig in politics, but after the dissolution of the party, he became chairman of the Warren delegation in the Republican convention in 1858, which nominated Tom Corwin for congress.
With his retirement from the State Senate, Col. Hopkins resigned to his farm, which adjoined Hopkinsville. He spent the next twenty-five years as surveyor and conveyancer. He served as postmaster at Hopkinsville for many years.
Having achieved much in life, Colonel John Hopkins died near Hopkinsville March 12, 1875, in his 89th year.


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This page created 17 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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