Eliza Hopkins is often confused in online trees with her sister—Elizabeth. Yes, it may be a little unusual for parents to name one daughter Elizabeth and another Eliza, but Stephen Hopkins and Rachel McFarland did that.
Eliza married and moved away from the family while Elizabeth, often called Betsey, did not marry and lived with her parents in Tennessee and Kentucky. Eliza was the mother of William Columbus and James Arton Hopkins. Betsey was the mother of Stephen Henry and George C. Hopkins.
Eliza was born on 22 Feb 1837 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. In 1844, the Mulberry Gap area where the Hopkins family lived became Hancock County. Eliza’s two sons, whose paternity is in question, were born there. Family stories indicate Stephen Wolfenbarger was their father, and the rest of that story is already covered in this post about Jim.
Eliza and the boys moved to Harlan County, Kentucky with her parents and most of her siblings about 1864. She married Ephram Simpson in Harlan on 11 Oct 1866. They soon moved to Indiana leaving Eliza’s young sons behind with her parents.
In 1870, Eliza and Ephram lived in Highland Township, Greene County, Indiana. Ephram worked as a farm laborer, and his 18-year-old brother, Hiram, lived with them. They were still in Greene County in 1880 but in Back Creek Township where Ephram was a farmer.
By 1900, Eliza and Ephram moved to Epps, Butler County, Missouri. Vannie Radsdale, a 17-year-old boy whose relationship was listed as adopted, lived with them at that time. He was born in Arkansas, and Vannie was a nickname for Van Buren.
Adopting a child seems like an odd action for a woman who left her own sons with her parents when they were both under 10 years old. Maybe she grew to regret that decision. Although his name was listed as Radsdale in the 1900 census, Van went by Simpson the rest of his life.
Eliza’s son Jim told of visiting his mother in Indiana as a young man. He said that Ephram did not make him feel welcome so he returned to Harlan County. There is no evidence that her son Lum ever saw her again after she left Harlan when he was a child.
The portrait above of Eliza belonged to my grandfather (Jim’s son). One of Lum’s daughters had the photo on the right. It is unclear how either of them came to have these pictures. Eliza was in her late 20s/early 30s when she left Harlan County. It’s possible the portrait was made before that but she appears older. The photo was definitely made much later in life, and the identities of the others in it are unknown.
Eliza died on 16 Jan 1912 in Epps. She was buried in Sparkman Cemetery without a marker. At some time after her death, Ephram returned to Kentucky. He died in Lincoln County on 30 Sep 1923 and was buried in Wilmoths Chapel Cemetery.
Eliza was my 2nd great-grandmother through her son, James Arton Hopkins.