Biography of Dave Hopkins
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This grand old Texas hero was born in the state of Indiana in the year 1825. He is therefore seventy-seven years of age. He came to Texas with his parents when he was only fifteen years old. He has lived in the state for sixty-two years. His parents died in Red River County and are buried at the old McKinzie burial ground. He came into what is now Hopkins County in the year. 1844. It was at that time a republic, and very few people had ventured to cross over the trackless swamps of the Sulphur creeks. These creek bottoms were considered a howling wilderness and dangerous and impracticable for the travelers to undertake to pass through without an informed guide.
Dave Hopkins married Miss Annie Hargrave, daughter of James Hargrave, in the year 1846. There was no authority in the county to grant permit to marry, therefore he was compelled to go to Paris for license to wed Miss Hargrave. He married his wife in the neighborhood of where he has lived all of his life. There were seven children born to them, four of this number are living, Josh E. married Miss Sudie Gregg, Susan married Joe. W. Connor, Ellen married James Donagee, he died and she afterwards married
A. P. Hudson, Sallie married William Smith, son of Dr. Smith, an old pioneer citizen, John Howard married Miss Emmie Staten, a young lady of good birth and excellent family. When Mr. Hopkins (Uncle Dave) came into Hopkins County, it was known as Red River District, and very few people were living anywhere near him. He refers with pride to Rev. Joe Bishop, whose name has been previously mentioned in connection with this history.
As the only authorized agent anywhere in the whole county to perform the marriage ceremony, Rev. Bishop was a primitive Baptist preacher and could not read print. The Hardshell Baptist as they were called were the dominant religious party in the country. In fact they had almost a monopoly of religion among the people. They would never accept any remuneration at all and to the very last they protested and argued against the principle of paying preachers anything for their services. A little later the voice of the ubiquitous Methodist circuit rider was heard in the land, and in his wake came the Cumberland Presbyterian preachers and evangelists. Their coming inaugurated a war of words touching man’s free agency and God’s predestination, and stirred up no little bitterness and strife among the settlers. Preachers began to wear their coats while they were preaching, and to give the chapter and verse where the text could be found. There were no Sunday Schools, but singing schools flourished in every neighborhood. The schools were in different neighborhoods, and as the country was sparsely settled and neighborhoods were few and far between, a singing teacher would often ride on horse-back sixty or seventy-five miles a week to complete the circuit and visit all his schools. The preachers of that day would give blood-curdling descriptions of the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. Their descriptions of hell and the intense agony of the damned were perfectly appalling. The preachers firmly believed it all, and the people never for a moment doubted it. Rev. Joe Bishop had a brother whose name was Oliver, a mechanic of great importance to the settlers. He manufactured all the chairs for the people for miles around. Uncle Dave has one of these chairs in his house at this time of his make, a curious and strange piece of architecture and wonderful piece of furniture in this day and generation. This old chair is now worn and in a dilapidated condition, but it serves to demonstrate the fact that the pioneer settler was not without invention and ingenuity. He had this chair made expressly for his wife at the birth of her second child, Susan. He takes pleasure in referring to Robert Hargrave as being one of the most useful men to his county in that day. Robert Hargrave was the founder of the old and new Sulphur Bluff. He built the first mill and the first gin that was built in Hopkins County. He was strictly sober, and religiously opposed to the sale of liquor, therefore no whisky was ever sold in Sulphur Bluff as long as he had control of affairs there. The morals of the village have been exceptionally good, never a man killed in the place.
At the time Dave Hopkins came into the district there was living in the neighborhood an old time doctor. His name was South. Dr. South did all the doctoring for the settlers for miles around, being the only doctor in all the county. He was entirely illiterate, could not read a line in any book, but strange to say, he was eminently successful, seldom losing a patient, and in cases of obstetrics he was a great success. His efforts as a doctor were attended with most wonderful results, and he was considered a remarkable physician by all the old pioneers, who had him called in on all occasions of distressing sickness. He dressed in a manner so odd as to often excite remarks, and on one occasion when he was referred to as being a splendid physician, a stranger being present and observing the unique style of dress said : ” If I had been called upon to shoot a doctor I would never have pointed my gun- towards that man. His charges were liberal and satisfactory to his customers. Mr. Hopkins is living on his father’s head-right, he began building the house in which he now lives in the year 186o. The house is old now and shows signs of decay, as does its owner. Old Time with its devastating hand has made its impression on all the surroundings. There stand in his yard a few old scarred and storm shaken seedling pear trees that were planted by the hand of the woman he led to the altar when she was a sweet, blushing maiden, and who lived for years to help him bear the burdens, the trials, hardships, afflictions and disappointments of life. She has passed away to wait in heaven with the angels for the coming of her companion. She has sat in the evenings under the shade of these old pear trees and sung sweet lullabies to her children and waited with feelings of love and affection for the approach of her husband from his daily toil. Mr. Hopkins is a Prohibitionist and a devout member of the Methodist church, liberal in his views, conservative in his ideas, and consistent in his actions. He is seventy-seven years old, in good health, and promises to live for a while yet. He is a brother to Joslin and Harry Hopkins, both deceased, an uncle to Frank Hopkins of Sulphur Springs, who is loved for his sobriety, honesty and general manhood.