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CAPT. GILLUM HOPPER. There is no greater pleasure for the hand and pen of the historian or biographer to perform than in recording the life and achievements of a man who, through his own unaided efforts, has secured a comfortable competency and the general acknowledgment of being an honest man and esteemed citizen. Gillum Hopper, whose success in life is the result of honesty, industry and good management on his part, first saw the light in Warren County, Tennessee, in 1841.
His parents, Moses and Rebecca (Hicks) Hopper, were natives of Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively, the former born in 1802 and the latter in 1804. When a lad Moses went with his parents to Tennessee, grew to manhood there, and was married in Cannon County, that State to Miss Hicks. Afterward they located in Warren County, Tennessee, and there all their children were born. In 1851 they moved to what is now Boone County, Arkansas, and settled in the woods, one mile northwest of the present town of Harrison. There the father tilled the soil until 1862, when he was killed by bushwhackers, on the farm where our subject now resides. He was a Union man and opposed to secession, but took no part in the war. He was one of the pioneers of this section and an extensive stock trader. When he first settled in Boone County it was common for the inhabitants to go fifteen or twenty miles to a house-raising and to visit, etc. The nearest mill was twenty-five miles distant and the nearest trading point, Carrollton. Mr. Hopper was well known and universally respected. His father, Gillum Hopper, was a native of the Green Isle of Erin and the latter’s wife was of Pennsylvania Dutch origin. Gillum Hopper followed farming and trading in Kentucky until his death. Three weeks after the killing of her husband, Mrs. Hopper, too, passed away. Her father, Archibald O. Hicks, died in Cannon County, Tennessee, where he followed farming very successfully for many years. He was a soldier in the Mexican War, in which he was wounded. Nine children were born to the parents of our subject, and are named in the order of their births, as follows: Archibald W. served in the Confederate Army during the war, and is now farming on Long Creek; Nancy, deceased, was the wife of Hiram Cantrell; William B. died in Pratt County, Kan.; Eliza L., wife of Luke P. Holmes, of Polk County, Missouri; James T., one of Harrison’s prominent and wealthy citizens; Paralee P., wife of Washington F. McCormick, of Taney County, Missouri; Elvira J., wife of Joseph H. Speer, a prominent citizen of Harrison; Gillum, our subject; and Ruth B., deceased, was the wife of William H. Thomason.
Our subject was about ten years of age when the parents moved to Boone County, Arkansas, and he was reared amid the rude surroundings of that section. He received only a few months’ schooling, and that when but a child, for when he first came to Arkansas there were no schools. On May 1, 1861, he went to Springfield, Missouri; soon after engaged in scout duty, which he continued until 1864 and then enlisted in Company M, Seventy-third Missouri Cavalry. He was in active service as a scout all the time, in Missouri and Arkansas. He was captain of his company under Gen. Sanburn, was always ready for duty, and was never captured nor wounded; that is, he was never severely wounded, although several times struck by balls that drew blood. The Captain was as brave an officer as ever commanded a company and had the confidence and respect of all who became acquainted with him. At the close of the war he was discharged at Springfield, Missouri. and remained in that city until 1867, when he returned to Boone County. There he was married in 1870 to Miss Prudie C. McCormick, a native of Webster County, Missouri, and the daughter of Joseph R. McCormick (see sketch of John R. McCormick). Capt. Hopper’s union has been blessed by the birth of ten children: Ida; Nannie H., wife of Prof. Joseph W. Blankinship, who is principal of Marshall Seminary, at Marshall, Arkansas; Lillie died young; Bertha M.; James T.; Lou Ella Gertrude; William Carson; Cora Prudie; Lester died in infancy; and Gillum Carl.
For sixteen years Capt. Hopper has lived on his present farm of 540 acres, one mile and a half north of Harrison, and he also owns 200 acres in Taney County, Missouri Nearly 600 acres of his land is under cultivation, and he has it well improved with good buildings, fences, orchard, etc. He purchased 160 acres in 1860 and added to that as he was able. Now he is one of the most extensive stock feeders and shippers in the county. A few years ago he shipped seven car loads of cattle and six car loads of hogs at one shipment, the largest single shipment ever made from Boone County. He is a Republican in politics, but not an office seeker, and in religion he is independent. The Captain has witnessed all the improvements that have been made in the country and can relate many interesting anecdotes of the pioneer days. About 1854 his elder brother, Capt. James T., was sent by his father to Springfield with a drove of hogs and our subject accompanied him as far as Layton’s Mill in Taney County, Missouri, with a load of feed drawn by three yoke of oxen. He was to return home from Layton’s Mill with a load of lumber. All went well until he reached what was known as the Central place, where Omaha now stands, just at dark. Here he stopped to get a drink at the spring and while there he heard what he thought was a woman crying in distress. He called to her and was soon confronted by a panther when but a few steps from the wagon. It did not take him long to get into the wagon but the panther was close after him. Seizing the whip, the only weapon he had, he began beating the animal with all his force. The attack was continued from one side of the wagon to the other, but the whipstock was used with such skill and force that the panther’s attacks were of no avail. There was no settlement for several miles and the battle continued until about 2 o’clock in the morning, when our subject reached the place where Burlington now stands and stopped at the house of Redden Mattox to put up for the night. He called to the latter and told him he had been attacked by a panther, but Mr. Mattox came out laughing and made fun of him. He changed his mind a moment later and made a rush for the house followed by our subject. They did not venture out again, but left the oxen with the yokes on all night. By morning the animal had disappeared and Capt. Hopper was permitted to reach home without further molestation.