This is Samuel Hopkins III, my mother's mother's grandfather. Although he was only about 5 foot 5, he was an extremely large character in my family, mostly for his adventures in prospecting for gold during the Klondike gold rush in 1897-98. This picture was probably taken in Seattle on his way back home after a disasterous foray into the frozen north. This was his second attempt at striking it rich and after his return to South Norwalk in 1899, he settled down and lived a very quiet life until his death in 1926. His adventures became the subject of an opera that I've been composing on and off since I started looking into this story in the early 1980's.
This is Sam's wife Fanny and my mother (with her doll Helen) on Crescent Terrace in South Norwalk in 1924. Fanny was an equally important character, a "homeopathic doctor" trained in England by Queen Victoria's personal surgeon. She had been a nurse during the Crimean War in the 1870's and was known in South Norwalk as the person women took their sick children to when the all the other (male) doctors had run out of ideas. She apparently raised the first $100 towards building Norwalk's first hospital (today one of New England's best) and took on its first President over the issue of public sanitation. James Tracey, whose grandsons and great-grandsons are practicing doctors in Norwalk today, held that there was no connection between open sewage ditches in the town and the various outbreaks of cholera and diptheria which plagued the poorer inhabitants of the town. Apparently the debate went on for about 10 years when finally that part of Fairfield Couty built it's first water treatment plant in 1907.
This was probably the same day in 1901 as in the picture to the right (I suspect Easter Sunday) in the frontyard on Concord Street. Standing left to right are Grace Hopkins, Alfred Hopkins, another unidentified lady friend of George's, George Hopkins, and Fannie and Ernest Hopkins (Lillian's parents. Front row seated is Sam, Gertrude Jennings, Grace's daughter, Sam and seated on the ground is Lillian Julia.
This picture is in 1940. Standing left to right are Stephen and Lillian Clifford, Marcella and John Disbrow (they were cousins -- John was the fire chief in Wilton, CT and I remember playing taps at his military funeral in 1961). Seated left to right is Nellie Bartram (another cousin), Fannie and Ernest Hopkins, my uncle Edward Hopins Clifford and my mother Vivian Ester Clifford. Everyone in this picture have passed. The last was my uncle Edward in March 1999.
Below is Sam Hopkins posing with this son-in-law's Buick about 1922. Apparently, he loved the car, loved to ride in it, but no one would ever let him drive it.
The Hopkins Family in Blackshear, England were undertakers. Samuel Hopkins II, seated in the center with the beard, trained his two sons Edward (rear left) and Samuel III (front right) to be in the family business. About 1882, there was a fire that destroyed the buildings the family's business were housed in and the mother was killed. The woman seated next to Samuel II is his second wife. This picture was taken about 1884 just before they decided to take the insurance money from the fire and emigrate to Toronto to start anew. Edward Hopkins, with the help of his father, began a new funeral business in Toronto, while Samuel III, decided to take off for California to propect for gold.
This picture is from about 1894. Seated left to right are Grace Hopkins Samuel III's daughter, his wife Fanny, his daughter-in-law Fannie Disbrow who married his oldest son Ernest in October 1895 and Sam. The child to the left is probably Grace's daughter Gertrude.
This picture was taken in the early spring of 1897. Sam, seated left, was a carpenter in those days and had been framing new houses on Lincoln Avenue. This was the period that he was hatching the plan to go to the Klondike with several of his friends and had joined an expedition group that was being formed in Stamford, CT. The two men standing are Sam's middle son George on the left and Ernest on the right who was the father of baby Lillian (who married Stephen Clifford). The woman seated next to Sam was probably George's girlfriend (since he had many throughout his life and never married), Lillian's mother Fannie and Sam's wife Fanny -- obviously a popular name in those days.
This picture was taken probably in 1901 in the backyard of the family's house on Concord Street. This was after Sam got back from the Klondike; left to right are Alfred Herbert, Ernest, George and Sam with Fanny in the background on the porch.
Sam's brother Edward, who became a very successful undertaker in Toronto, visited South Norwalk several times -- this was about 1920. Left to right are Alfred, Sam, Sarah and Edward -- front row are Fannie and Ernest. This was on the porch of their house on Chestnut Street.
Alfred Henry was the youngest of Sam's 3 sons and the only person in our family to be divorced until me. He was always referred to in my family as "Uncle Alf." He worked for the Post Office most of his life and died in 1958. He had two sons: Reggie born in 1907 and Alfred Henry in 1909 pictured here below both as children about 1912 and graduating from high school about 1925.
Alfred Henry, the last of the generation of Sam Hopkins' grandchildren, and who was one of Sam Hopkins' pall bearers in 1926 lived quietly in Florida until his passing on September 14, 2005. His son, Al Hopkins, Jr. lives and works in Connecticut and has helped me locate more Hopkins pictures. We've been trying to develop a comprehensive gallery of all the existing Hopkins pictures and with this perhaps we can finally bring it all to completion. There's still a lot of stories we don't have information on and answers to questions about what happened at certain times in the history of the family, but like all families, there are some things that people take to Heaven with them when they leave.