JEPTHA BRIGHT HOPKINS. One of the well known citizens of Clay county and one who has been connected with the many lines of enterprise therein is Jeptha B. Hopkins of this review. Almost a pioneer settler he came to the county in November, 1877, and the profession of law, of teaching, and the real estate, newspaper and farm and ranch business have known him and have felt the impress of his magic and intelligent touch.
Of Kentucky origin, Mr. Hopkins was born in Shelby county, March 8, 1852. His father, John Hopkins, now a resident of Austin, Texas, was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1821, and in early childhood accompanied his father’s, William Hopkins‘, family to Shelby county and there he grew up, was educated fairly and was married. William Hopkins married a Miss Fry, both of whom died in Shelby county, being the parents of John, Luke, William, Alexander, Nancy and Ellen. John Hopkins married Ann W. Bright, born in Henry county, Kentucky, a daughter of Jeptha Bright, a Virginian and a widely known citizen of his adopted county. Ann Bright Hopkins died in February, 1899, at seventy-seven years of age, being the mother of Horace F., of Shelby county, Kentucky; Georgia, wife of H. B. Ford, of Austin, Texas; Jeptha B., our subject; Laura, now Mrs. H. L. Giltner, of Eminence, Kentucky; John W., of Austin, Texas, professor in the State University of Texas, and E. N., of Lexington, Missouri.
Jeptha B. Hopkins received his education in Eminence College, graduating in 1870, with the degree of A. B. bestowed by the institution and five years later that of A. M. He then prepared himself for the law and was admitted to the bar in Shelby county before Judge S. E. De Haven and the year following his advent here was admitted in Clay county in Judge Carroll’s court. After a year’s practice he drifted into the real estate business also and was connected with both for some years. In 1885 he embarked in the newspaper business, founding the Independent, Democratic in politics, which he sold in 1888, when he engaged in the insurance business, being so connected until 1890. At this date Henrietta seemed destined to take on something of a boom and Mr. Hopkins erected and opened the Hopkins hotel, which burned later on, and the same year he moved to the capital of the state. He remained there less than two years, engaged in the insurance business, and on his return to Henrietta resumed the same here. He again entered the newspaper field and established, in 1897, the Henrietta News, which he edited until 1901 and on disposing of it moved to his farm four miles northeast of the county seat where he has since resided. As a farmer Mr. Hopkins has devoted himself to growing grain and stock, and his tract of six hundred and seventy-two acres, well watered, timbered and desirably situated, yields its owner as abundantly as need be for the domestic and other wants of the household. When in the newspaper business Mr. Hopkins also took an interest in politics. He was chosen mayor of Henrietta in 1890 and resigned before the expiration of his term on account of business interests and engagements. As a farmer he has eliminated and proscribed politics and all his spare time is devoted to his papers, magazines and his books. He is possessed of a voracious appetite for literature and few men in north Texas possess a library like his.
February 26, 1884, Jeptha B. Hopkins and Mary F. Merchant were married in Henrietta. Mrs. Hopkins’ parents were J. S. W. and Fannie (Anderson) Merchant who came to Clay county in 1877, and here died, the mother in 1886, at fifty-four, and the father in 1899, at seventy-seven years of age. Mrs. Hopkins is one of thirteen children, ten of whom grew to maturity, viz: George W., who died at Chickasa, Indian Territory, leaving a family; Levonia, died at Magnolia, Arkansas, as Mrs. H. R. Hughey; Wallace, of Gering, Nebraska; Sarah J., married to John Utley, of Marlow, Indian Territory; Sam Houston, of Marlow; Mrs. Hopkins, born January 16, 1862; Lucy, wife of William B. Ellis, of Callahan county, Texas; James; Eldridge E., of Paul’s Valley, Indian Territory, and Ella, wife of John W. Morris, of Vernon, Texas.
Jephtha B. Hopkins, Jr., is the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins. He was born December 26, 1885, possesses the commendable and substantial traits of his parents and is a valuable aid to the proper conduct of the farm.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 703-704.