Karen just hop, hop, Hopping along this week

Ya’ just never know when or where or how I am going to come up with a subject to mold into an article or where you as a reader might see it. Fell upon this fellow while researching a lawyer for the upcoming Prosecuting Attorney November Montgomery Memories. So, meet Joseph Miller Hopping who is not a lawyer at all!

“Uncle Joe” as he was known all over the county was born October 12th (1819) in Princeton, New Jersey, the youngest of a family of eight having two sisters and five brothers. When Joe was young, the family moved to Auburn, New York and this is where Joe Hopping grew to adulthood. Much of the family stayed around there, and his mother passed away in New York. So in 1843 (1837 in one place), he, his oldest brother, Sylvester and their father moved to Yountsville. Joe did farm work until … he heard of the California Gold Rush and off he went with friends and some he didn’t even know. Did just fine and in 1852 he returned via the ocean, landing back in his original home area in New York, but a farm near Yountsville is really what he desired; thus, he returned to Indiana, purchasing property (160 acres) with the money he had tallied in the gold fields. Upon his return, he was particularly close to his brother, Sylvester and his several children. Sylvester would make a great story sometime, as well.

One very sad happening in Joe’s life occurred to a friend and employee in the summer of 1874. William Snyder was working with Joe in Hopping’s wheat threshing group and when Will was using a rake to remove the straw, he “happened to make a sudden turn and the rake, being concealed in the straw, one of its sharp teeth penetrated his breast bone, completely severing one of the arteries of the heart.” He lived but 20 minutes passing with a perfect trust to his future reward. He was one of a large family of orphans and left but one older brother, Parker. Imagine that weighed upon the sweet, gentle Joe for a long time.

Sure most of you (probably 99.9%) are better at math than I am so you can figure out Joe’s age when he married on April 12, 1870 to Miss Mary Berkshire. Two sons, Ben and John and two daughters, Thirza (who sadly passed at age three) and Bettie were their children. If you’re one of my regular readers (all three of ya’) you’ll know that I am also fascinated with the large patronage to the bicycle in the late 1890s here and John Hopping loved to ride, going from Yountsville to Alamo and Alamo to Yountsville, and probably a lot of other places, as well. He also was, I believe, the only one who furthered his education, attending a college in Ohio but don’t think graduating. Also, according to some old newspaper articles, it looks like he did some teaching in Ripley Township lasting about a dozen years as well as serving as Township Trustee. Also, John was in several groups, especially fraternal organizations (Masons; Odd Fellows; K of P). Bettie was more of a social butterfly popping up in the newspapers quite a bit and Ben was named for his grandfather Hopping (who by the way was 87 when he passed away and is buried at O’Neall cemetery at Yountsville). According to FindAGrave, Ben’s father, Silas was in the Revolutionary War. Young Ben didn’t hit the newspapers as often as his brother and sister, but he did go to the Chicago World’s Fair with three buddies in 1893 and enjoyed travelling, visiting all the states west of the Mississippi, especially spending time in Oklahoma. Ben was said to have inherited his father’s devotion and kindness. Bettie remained with her father after her mother passed but upon Joseph’s death, “Miss Bettie Hopping will keep house for her brothers.”

Joe and Mary had lived on the Yountsville farm until the end of the 1890s, then moved into Crawfordsville, locating on South Water Street while the children lived on the farm and ran it. Oddly, Joe being so much older than Mary outlived her, she passing away just a few months after they moved into the city. A member of the Universalist church, she was well loved by many friends, passing away on

April Fool’s Day in 1899. A beautiful thank you was published by Joe and family after her passing, especially thanking neighbors, friends, and the choir “that sang so sweetly the favorite songs of our loved one!” Mary was born in Perrysville, Indiana the daughter of William G. and Thirza Berkshire, but grew-up in Rising Sun, Indiana. “Uncle Joe” passed in April as well, on the 13th just two years later. Tilgham E. Ballard preached his funeral, and he is the lawyer I was researching when I discovered ‘ol Joe. Mary and Joe are buried with their children at Wesley Chapel Cemetery (thanks to Velma Dalton for the nifty Find A Grave photo) near Waynetown.

Both Mary and Joe were deep believers in the Bible and the doctrines of the Christian Religion. Above all, he was an “affectionate husband and very indulgent father.” The neighbors appreciated him as a good citizen, never causing trouble, his word as good as his bond, and helping anyone he could.

Found it quite interesting that their father waited so long to marry and in 1920, Joe’s three children, John as head of household, age 45 with Ben 48 and Bettie (Elizabeth) Florence 40 – none were married, still all three living together in Ripley Township farming. Bettie passed at age 84 having “never worked” dying of colon cancer according to her Death Record. Sure feel like taking care of the home and her brothers was work, but … indeed, she was active in DAR and other groups. John passed at age 60 after fracturing ribs and getting “traumatic pneumonia.” Ben also passed at age 60 (oddly both at 3:20 in the morning) of liver cancer. John, especially with Ben at his side, continued farming on the 160-acres Joe had purchased when he returned from his California Gold hunt, but I think it is so sad that of these three children who grew to adulthood, there were no other little ones hopping around to continue on with the family’s love of the good earth, the good folk and the good Lord!

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. You can reach her at Karen@