Putnam County

JOEL WILLIS HOPKINS

a valued and esteemed agriculturist of Putnam county, located upon his present farm in Granville township as early as 1835, and has therefore witnessed the full and complete development of this region. He was born on the 29th of July, 1814, at Ripley, Brown county, Ohio, and is a son of William and Jane (Willis) Hopkins, the former a native of Virginia, and the latter of South Carolina. When young people, however, the parents went to Ohio, where they were married, and in 1835 brought their family to Putnam county, Illinois, settling upon the farm which is now the home of our subject, and where his present residence stands was erected the first home of the family here. There the father secured three hundred and twenty acres of government land, to the cultivation and improvement of which he devoted his time until his death in 1842. His wife survived him about seven years.

One son of the family, Archibald, had previously come to Putnam county, locating here in 1832, and while here participated in the Indian war. His death occurred in 1836. John is a resident of Marshall county, Iowa. Stephen, who was an invalid, died at the age of thirty years. George lives in Granville. Elizabeth, who was the wife of Willis Margrave, died about two years ago at Hiawatha, Kansas. Martha married James B. McCord and died about six years ago. Margaret engaged in teaching for several years in Putnam and Grundy counties, Illinois, and died when past the age of thirty years. Melinda wedded Abbott Barker, of Grundy county, and died about fifteen years ago. Our subject is the oldest of the family. The parents were faithful members of the Union Grove Presbyterian church, but in later life assisted in the organization of the Congregational church at Granville.

In 1840 was celebrated the marriage of Joel W. Hopkins and Miss Eleanor Harrison, a sister of Stephen Harrison, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. She and her brother, Richard D. Harrison, died in the same week in 1849, and in 1862 Mr. Hopkins married the widow of the latter, Mrs. Sarah Harrison, a daughter of Alba Smith, a pioneer of Bureau county, Illinois, who settled near Princeton in 1835. Mrs. Hopkins is a native of New York, and was eleven years of age when she accompanied her father to this state. Five children were born of the first union of our subject, two of whom died in childhood, Eveline and Jennie. Those living are: Archibald W., who is living upon tile home farm with his father; Helen De Armand, wife of Rev. Robert McCord, of Lake City, Iowa; and Mary Harrison, wife of Judge William W. Wright, of Toulon, Illinois. One child graces the second marriage, Martha B., at home. By her first husband Mrs. Hopkins had one son, Richard D. Harrison, who is living near Princeton in Bureau county.

Mr. Hopkins is now the owner of over fifteen hundred acres of valuable land in Putnam and La Salle counties, which are divided into seven or eight farms, his home farm containing over eight hundred acres, much of which is used for pasturage. At one time he also had one thousand acres of land in Iowa, which he has since given to his children, but still has an extensive tract there and also in Dakota.

Cattle dealing has been the principal business of Mr. Hopkins for many years, and he usually pastures annually from four hundred to six hundred head, which he ships to the markets; also kept from one hundred to five hundred head of sheep upon his place; and has been a breeder of good horses. He buys all the cattle which he feeds, raising no calves for over twenty years, but buys, grazes and feeds. His son has also taken an interest in buying jacks in Kentucky, which he raises and sells to an advantage, and has exhibited some very fine specimens of that animal. Since its organization, twelve years ago, Mr. Hopkins has been president of the Peru National bank, which is capitalized at fifty thousand dollars, and to that line of his business he has also given considerable attention. His land is underlaid with a fine grade of coal, from the sale of which he also derives a good income.

A leading and popular citizen, Mr. Hopkins has been called upon to fill several important positions of honor and trust, being supervisor, and for ten years county judge. He resigned the latter office in order to become a member of the twenty-sixth general assembly, being elected on the republican ticket, and acceptably served for one term. He has taken an active part in campaign work; was a delegate to the convention at Cincinnati, which nominated R. B. Hayes for the presidency, and has often attended the state conventions of his party. On the republican ticket bis son Archibald was also elected to the legislature, being a member of the thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth general assemblies. During the dark days of the civil war, Mr. Hopkins assisted in raising money for substitutes and for the care of the soldiers' widows and orphans, and took an active part in public affairs during that trying period. Both himself and wife are consistent members of the Congregational church at Granville, with which he is officially connected, and no couple throughout this Secof the state is held in higher regard or is more worthy of the esteem in which they are held by all.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 56.


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