Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

CAPTAIN CALEB HOPKINS, JR. - So many were the commendable elements in the character of Captain Caleb Hopkins, Jr., that no history of Sangamon county would be complete without the record of his career, especially as he was for forty years an honored and representative citizen here. He was born at Cape Cod, Massachusetts on the 26th of January, 1809, and was a son of Captain Caleb Hopkins Sr., and his wife, Priscilla Hopkins. He sailed the seas and was commander of a vessel for over thirty years. Both were natives of Massachusetts. The great-grandfather of Captain Hopkins, of this review, came to America in the Mayflower and his descendants are now numerous throughout this country.

In the common schools of his native state the subject of this review acquired his early education in his boyhood days and went to sea with his father. He was the only son in a family of six children, his sisters being Betsey, Priscilla, Deborah, Katherine and Thankful. His proximity to the sea and his interest in his father's calling naturally induced in him a fondness for nautical pursuits. In his youth he spent much of his time upon the briny deep. Later, however, he turned his attention to other callings.

Captain Hopkins was twice married. He first wedded Miss Mary Kelley, who died leaving a son, Frank. He, too, is now deceased, although he lived to be grown, his death occurring in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the year 1837 Captain Hopkins was married to Miss Elizabeth Augusta Dennis, of Charlestown, and the old home in which the wedding was celebrated is still standing near Bunker Hill monument, in Boston, Massachusetts. It was recently visited by their daughter, Mrs. A. W. Kessberger. For about a year the young couple remained in the east and then started for Illinois in 1838, making the trip across the country in a covered wagon. Eventually they arrived in Griggsville, Pike county, where they remained until 1840, when the took up their abode in the city of Springfield, which continued to be their place of residence until they were called to their final rest.

For forty years Captain Hopkins resided here and he was connected with various business interests and official positions. For many years before the state arsenal was built he was in charge of the state arms, which he had at his own home at the corner of College and Jackson streets. He was one of the active and energetic men of the city, and idleness and indolence were utterly foreign to his nature. His services proved valuable in many positions in which he was placed. He was one of the organizers of the fire department of Springfield at the time the old hand engine system was in force and he became a fireman of the old pioneer company. Subsequently he was foreman of the hook and ladder company, and in those early days he took an active part in fighting the fiery element in this city. In 857 he was elected city marshal on the democratic ticket and served so capably that he was re-elected in 1858. No public trust reposed in him was ever betrayed in the slightest degree, his loyalty to his duty being one of his strongest characteristics. A stanch advocate of the Union cause, he enlisted in 1861 at the breaking out of the Civil war in response to the call for troops to serve for three months. He did good service at Cairo, Illinois, in command of a battery, and when his term of enlistment had expired he again enrolled his name among the defenders of the Union cause, this time for three years' service. While serving as captain of Battery C of the Second Illinois Artillery, in 1862, he was wounded and because of his injuries was obliged to return to Springfield. In the early days of his residence in this state he had served as a soldier in the Mormon war, and he was very deeply interested in military affairs. Following his army experience, he gave his attention to roofing and other business interests in Springfield and lived a life of enterprise that enabled him to provide a good home and comfortable living for his family.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins were born fourteen children. Those still living are: Mrs. E. G. Willey, Leon P.; Eben W.; James D.; George D. B.; Mrs. Charles Bales; and Mrs. Augusta Kessberger. All are married and reside in Springfield. Captain Hopkins died at his home in Springfield on the 2d of May, 1880, in the seventy-first year of his age, and his wife passed away January 18, 1890. He was a valued member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and also of the grand Army of the Republic, and he never ceased to feel the deepest concern for his old comrades who wore the blue during the hour of their country's peril. He was a kind hearted man, generous and kindly, and was ever ready to lend a helping hand to those in need or give an active support to all measures for the public good. His honesty was above question and his many excellent traits of character made him popular with young and old, rich and poor. His life record was as an open book that all might read. He was widely known as a brave soldier, a loving husband and father, a faithful friend and a loyal citizen.

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