Jim never saw his father. At least, he never saw the man he was told was his father. And he spent very little time with his mother even though she lived to be 74 years old.
He was born 1 Dec 1861 in Mulberry Gap, Hancock County, Tennessee. His mother was Eliza Hopkins, daughter of Stephen Hopkins and Rachel McFarland.
According to family stories, Stephen Wolfenbarger was his father. The story goes that Eliza married Stephen in Hancock County and had two sons before Stephen was killed during the Civil War. Eliza and the boys moved to Harlan County, Kentucky with her parents and other family members. She married Ephram Simpson there and moved away leaving her sons with her parents. Because the boys were raised by their Hopkins grandparents, they went by Hopkins instead of Wolfenbarger.
There is a little truth to that story.
Eliza Hopkins did have two sons, William Columbus "Lum" (born 13 Jan 1860) and Jim. She and the boys moved with her parents from Tennessee to the Jerry Branch area of Harlan County between 1862 and 1865. She married Ephram Simpson there on 11 Oct 1866. (It should be noted that their marriage record says Eliza Hopkins married Simpson, not Eliza Wolfenbarger.) Eliza and Ephram moved to Greene County, Indiana before 1870 and later to Butler County, Missouri. Her sons remained in Harlan County with her parents and they both always went by Hopkins.
Due to courthouse fires, Hancock County marriage records before 1930 no longer exist but census records indicate Stephen married a woman named Margaret. Stephen and Margaret Wolfenbarger lived near the Hopkins family in 1860. Stephen joined Company K of the 19th Regiment Tennessee Infantry 22 May 1861. He was killed in battle sometime before 14 May 1863 according to his service record.
Was Stephen Wolfenbarger Jim's father? Was he the father of both of Eliza's sons? Was he just a convenient answer when the boys asked about their father since he wasn't around to answer any questions? DNA testing is probably the only chance we have of answering those questions but results for Y and autosomal tests for three of Jim's descendants are inconclusive so far.
Jim went to Indiana to visit his mother once after he was a young man but before he got married. That is apparently the only time he saw her after she left Harlan County when he was about five years old. Later in life, he told that Simpson did not make him feel welcome so he returned to Harlan County.
Jim and Cindy's first home was a log house at Wallins Creek on property owned by her parents. Between 1886 and 1900, seven sons were born in that house — John Covey (9 Nov 1886), Henry Madison (9 Jan 1889), Elijah F. (8 Aug 1891), Elmer Dennis (2 Apr 1894), Orie Columbus (24 May 1896), Leo Berry (28 Feb 1898) and Howard Doctor (26 Jan 1900).
Jim was a farmer and also served as Magistrate for a time in the late 1890s. Between 1900 and 1902, he moved his family to Rockcastle County, Kentucky for better farm land. His brother, Lum (William Columbus), moved there at about the same time and a couple of their cousins from Harlan County settled in nearby Lincoln County.
|Hopkins family on the porches of the Brodhead house|
In 1919, Jim sold the Brodhead farm at an auction and moved to a smaller farm a few miles west in the Gum Sulphur community but still in Rockcastle County. About 1923, they moved again. This time to Warren County, Ohio.
|Jim (right) with his brother, Lum (left) and cousin, Landon (center) in 1932|
Written for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge at No Story Too Small.Jim was my great-grandfather through his son, Elmer D.