Wednesday, April 22, 2020

John Riley Hopkins: singer and inventor

Hopkins, J. R. is listed on the White revision committee. This likely is John Riley Hopkins of Norcross, Gwinnett County, Georgia, a Sacred Harp singer who served as president of the Gwinnett County Sacred Harp Singing Association. John Riley Hopkins (November 5, 1835–July 14, 1909) was the son of George Harrison Hopkins and Lucinda Turner. In 1857, Hopkins married Emeline J. Veal (1840–1858). After her death, he married Zipporah Jane Henry (1840–1923) in 1859. He and Zipporah lived on Beaver Ruin Road near Norcross. They had ten children. The guide to the “John Riley Hopkins Family Papers” at the Georgia Department of Archives and History gives the following regarding Hopkins: “John Riley Hopkins...was a schoolteacher, landowner, political aspirant, inventor, businessman, lawyer, and prominent citizen of Gwinnett Co., GA, for the last half of the 19th Century. During the Civil War he was superintendent of the Confederate niter works in Alabama. After the war he returned to Norcross, GA, to pursue his diverse personal and business interests: he operated sawmills, cotton gins, and lathe shops; ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature; and took an active part in the Sweetwater Primitive Baptist Church.” He was a member and deacon at the Sweetwater Church, southeast of Norcross. Contained in the “John Riley Hopkins Family Papers” are materials of or related to the Gwinnett County Sacred Harp Singing Association – of which he was president at least in 1891 and 1898. Though Hopkins’s name is listed in the 1910 and 1911 books, he was deceased by that time. His name was probably continued because of the respect in which he was held.
1909 Revision Committee

“Singing Association,” The Atlanta Constitution, Thursday, 09 July 9, 1891, p. 2
“Sacred Harp Singing Association,” Jackson Herald, Friday, July 22, 1898, p. 3

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