Alabama Pioneers Honored

BIOGRAPHY: Arthur Francis Hopkins born October 18, 1794

This biography is included in the book First Families of Lawrence County, Alabama Volume I




Lawrence County, Alabama


Arthur Francis Hopkins was born October 18, 1794 in Virginia to James and Frances (Carter) Hopkins. He came to Alabama in 1814 after growing up in Virginia and attending several academies in North Carolina and Virgina.

Arthur’s father, born Feb. 22, 1765, fought in the Revolution and was wounded at the battle of Guilford Court House and was the grandson of Arthur Hopkins, Jr. who married a Miss Jefferson. She was said to be a cousin of Thomas Jefferson and of Jesse and Mary(Chattan) Carter, who lived at Oakland, Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He was also the grandnephew of Mary Hopkins who married Col. Joseph Cabell who was interested with Thomas Jefferson in founding the University of Virginia and was the ancestress John C. Breckenridge, general and vice-president of the United States, of W. C. P. Breckenridge, of the Carter Harrisons of Chicago, of Gen. William Cabell of Texas, and of Gen. Castleman of Kentucky; great-grandson of Dr. Arthur and Elizabeth (Pettus) Hopkins; the former of whom was a justice of the county court, 1737, was high sheriff of the Goochland County and vestryman of St. James Parish, 1739-1741, was commissioned colonel of horse for Goochland County by Gov. Dinwiddie, 1752; great-great-great-grandson of Col. Joseph Cabell, a member for twenty years of the Virginia colonial council, who settled in Virginia in 1640, and was closely related to Sir John Pettus, of the London Company, one of the founders of the colony of Virginia.

Maj. Gen. Sam Hopkins of Hopkinsville, Ky., who fought in the War of 1812, is of the family. The Carter family is descended from Capt. Thomas Carter and his wife Katherine Dale the granddaughter of Sir Henry Skipwith.

Education in common schools

Judge Hopkins was educated in the common schools, in an Academy at New London, Va., an Academy in Caswell County, N. C. and attended the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, but did not graduate. He studied law with Judge William Leigh of Halifax County, Va., and began the practice of law in Huntsville, Madison County, 1816. With the exception of one or two years in St. Louis, Mo., he practiced his profession entirely in Alabama.

Settling in Huntsville, he also became a successful businessman, and a large landholder, operating plantations in Mississippi and Alabama and ending his career as president of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.


He moved from Huntsville to Lawrence County in January 1819, and in May of that year was elected to the first state constitutional convention. He was elected to the State Senate from Lawrence County in 1822, and in that session, fought the establishment of state banks, foretelling their course and end. In 1825, he returned to Huntsville and applied himself to his practice. He was elected to the State legislature as a representative from Madison County in 1833 and was elected a justice of the supreme court of the state, January 1836. He was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1837, and in the same year was made chief justice of the Alabama supreme court, which commission he resigned the following year. After serving his term in the Federal Senate, he returned to Huntsville and resumed his practice.

He was on the Harrison electoral ticket in 1840 and was the temporary president of the national convention which nominated Henry Clay for the presidency, in 1844. In that same year, he was again elected to the U. S. Senate, defeating Mr. Lewis, and was returned to that body in 1847 and 1849. He moved to Missouri in 1845, and a year later located in Mobile. He practiced in the latter place for ten years and was during that time associated mainly with Hon. William G. Jones. He retired from the practice of law in 1856, and in the following year became president of the Mobile & Ohio railroad.

He was sent by Governor Moore as one of the two commissioners to Virginia to invite the co-operation of that state in the secession of the Southern states. He was the acknowledged leader of the Whig party in Alabama and was one of the authors of the “Address to Citizens of Alabama,” published by the Whig party, June 1840. During the Civil War, he served as state agent for Alabama hospitals.


He was a Presbyterian. Married. (1) in 1815, in Bedford County, Va., to Pamelia Moseley who died in 1852, daughter of Arthur and Pamelia (Thorpe) Moseley, who lived near the Peaks of Otter, Bedford County, Va., on a farm adjoining that of the father of Bishop Cobb of Alabama, a cousin of Col. Jack Reid of Nashville, Tenn., who served on Gen. Jackson’s staff during the battle of New Orleans, and a descendant of the Calloway’s, pioneers of Kentucky; (2) to Mrs. Julia Aan Opie Gordon, who was known as “the Florence Nightingale of the Confederacy,” whose vignette is on the twenty-five cent and fifty cent Alabama Confederate bills, and who was buried in Arlington Cemetery, with a military funeral, and with the Alabama delegation in Congress as honorary pall-bearers.

Children, by first marriage:

  1. Arthur Moseley Hopkins, graduate of Yale University, lawyer, commission merchant of New Orleans, m. Eliza Bibb daughter of Gov. Thomas Bibb of Alabama, and a niece of the first governor of Alabama, Hon. W. W. Bibb;
  2. Marie Malinda Hopkins m. Maj. John James Walker who served on Gen. Bragg’s staff during the Creek War, son of John Walker, first U. S. Senator from Alabama;
  3. Louisa Hopkins, m. George P. Blevins, a graduate of Yale University, lawyer, at Selma;
  4. Cornelia Carter Hopkins m. Henry Allen Lowe, an English cotton merchant of Mobile, and first president of the Athelstan Club of that city;
  5. Augusta Hopkins, m. Capt. John Washington Rice, b. Chester District, S. C, a graduate of Columbia College, a member of the South Carolina legislature, who moved to Talladega, became captain in the Thirteenth U. S. Infantry, Mexican War, moved to Oktibbeha County, Miss., and developed large planting interests there, was a member of the Mississippi state senate, located finally in Mobile, was a first cousin of Samuel Rice of Montgomery, chief justice of the supreme court of Alabama;
  6. Mary Moseley Hopkins m. Maj. William Barnewall, member of the staff of Gen. Hardee, Mobile;
  7. Catherine Erskine Hopkins m. Col. Starke H. Oliver, of Dallas County and Mobile, son of Samuel W. Oliver, once candidate for governor of Alabama;
  8. William Leigh Hopkins, graduate of Virginia Military Institute, 1861, captain, C. S. Army, unmarried;
  9. and six other children who died in infancy or very young;
  10. Juliet Butcher by adoption, m. Gen. Romaine B. Ayres, Gen. of the U. S. Army, who was in command of Fort Henry, Washington, D. C, in the Hayes-Tildenembroglio.

Arthur Francis Hopkins died in Mobile Nov. 10, 1865. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama along with his wives and many children.

  1. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography Volume 3, by Thomas McAdory Owen, Mrs. Marie (Bankhead) Owen
  2. Who Was Who in Alabama Compiled by Henry S. Marks
  3. The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama
  4. Find A Memorial# 8032758 # 3030 # 48917070 # 49865507 # 49865472 # 50770394 # 50770353 # 51349505 # 48872374 # 48872343 # 50576857

This biography is included in the book First Families of Lawrence County, Alabama Volume I




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