JAMES WATERMAN HOPKINS. The gentleman of whom we shall attempt to give a biographical sketch in outline, was born in Argyle, Washington County, N.Y., May 14,1840. He has naturally an executive ability that has pushed him to the front so that he is well known wherever he happens to be. In the words of a breezy account given of the gentleman in one of the Lansing papers, not to know "Jim" is unpopular. He is the Grand Keeper of Records and Seals of the Knights of Pythias, of Michigan.
The father of Mr. Hopkins was Dr. Freeman Hopkins, who was born in Argyle, Washington County, N. Y. His paternal grandfather, James Hopkins, who was a native of Rhode Island, was a blacksmith by trade. At an early day he removed to Washington County, N.Y., and there located on a farm of five hundred and sixty-five acres that is still in possession of the Hopkins family, Later he removed to Wayne County, N.Y., where he was a pioneer in the township of Sodus. He established the fashion there for gentlemen of wearing a shawl, by wearing a checked blanket over his shoulders on one of his trips from Wayne to Washington County. Interestingly original, he was amiable and companionable and liked by all the early settlers in the portion of the county where he lived. He graduated at Fairfield, N.Y., in 1831, and later took his degree as physician from a New York Medical College. Soon after he came to Michigan where he remained a short time at Albion and Kalamazoo, but he returned to Washington County N.Y., and later to Wayne County. All this time he was engaged in the practice of his profession.
In 1845 our subject's father came again to Michigan and after a short stay at Albion he located at Kalamazoo and there practiced medicine until the fall of the year of 1866. At this time he removed to Otsego, and there his death occurred July 31, 1873. He was deeply mourned by many friends and acquaintances. Throughout life he was a strong adherent of the Republican party. Our subject's mother was Adeline M. Potter in her maiden days. She is a native of Argyle, Washington County, N.Y., being there born November 29, 1809. She is a daughter of Abel and Mary (Waterman) Potter, natives of Rhode Island. Later her father became a farmer in Washington County, N.Y. Mrs. Hopkin's paternal grandfather was Sand Potter, who was a native of Danbury, Conn. Her great-grandfather was Thomas Potter, also born at Danbury, Conn., and her great-great-grandfather was Daniel Potter, born at New Haven, Conn. He was the oldest son of Nathaniel Potter, who was born in New Haven, Conn., and Nathaniel's father was William Potter, who. came from England to this country about the year 1735 [actual date was 1635-1638] in company with his brother John. Together they sailed from London on the sailing vessel "Abigail." On landing in this country they settled at New Haven, Conn., and there were the first settlers in America of this branch of the Potter family. Our subject's mother still resides in Argyle, N.Y. She is a woman of striking personality and is foremost in every good and progressive work that is undertaken at her home. She is a Baptist in her church preference.
When Mr. Hopkins was only five years of age he removed with his parents from the county of his birth over to Wayne County, same State, and there he remained until he was thirteen years of age, at which time he with the whole family came to Kalamazoo, Mich., and that city he has called his home until moving to Lansing. The rudiments of his education were acquired in the district school of his native place, after which he graduated at the Kalamazoo College. He then went to Union College of Schenectady, N.Y., and graduated in the Class of '61, taking the degree of A. B. in the classical course. He took his degree of A. M. at the same college in 1864.
With his sheepskin under his arm our subject came from college to Judge Giddings law office in Kalamazoo and tried to master the abstruseness of Blackstone. Deciding that his affection for legal lore was not so great that he could spend his life over musty law books, he drifted into journalism and took was made an Inspector of Lodges, or rather a Grand Lecturer and his friends anticipate that under this new order of affairs the lodges of Michigan will be greatly stimulated and spring forward into new activity. Aside from being an active Pythian, Mr. Hopkins ranks high in the Masonic order. In his political preference he is strongly Republican, indeed, so radical is he that his party consider him one of the safest delegates that they can send to county and State conventions. Our subject has sustained a severe blow in his domestic relations by the loss of his wife who died August 6, 1880. She was a most estimable woman and a perfect lady.