Brick Wall Study 1 – Sam Hopkins of Hamilton County, Indiana 1

I have an ancestor by the name of Sam Hopkins who has stumped many generations in the family.

Samuel Hopkins

  • Born 1827 in Indiana
  • Living in Hamilton County, Indiana
  • Died in the Civil War
  • Appeared in only one census ‘1860’
  • Married in Boone County, Indiana in 1848 to Lucinda Goodnight.

Problems encountered:

  • Samuel Hopkins was not found in the 1850 census
  • 1820’s is very early in Indiana history with little genealogical documentation
  • Hopkins is a fairly common name
  • The Goodnights do not appear to have any associations with any other ‘Hopkins’
  • The children of Samuel and Lucinda do not appear to have any biographical or genealogical information written about the family later.

CountyMap-HamiltonJenningsDocuments that broke through the brick wall:

Civil War Pension Documentation – (found on This document contained 73 pages of information about Samuel Hopkins, his military service history, and pension applications.

  • Listed his birth as Jennings County, Indiana, narrowing it down to a specific county instead of the entire state of Indiana.
  • Listed the full birthdates and names of his children.

Indiana Marriage records for the children of Samuel and Lucinda list the first and last names of parents and their birthplaces. His children’s marriage records confirm his birthplace as Jennings County, Indiana. Although at least one child lists Samuel’s birthplace as Kentucky. My speculation for further research: Samuel Hopkins was born in Indiana (Jennings County), but the Hopkins family migrated from Kentucky to Indiana.

Indiana 1830 Census:

There were 4 Hopkins households living in Jennings County, Indiana in the 1830 census. Samuel would have been 3 years old. All four of these households were from the same Hopkins family. Three of the households contained a male under the age of 5. All members of this Hopkins family were members of the Coffee Creek Christian Church in Jennings County, Indiana. The Coffee Creek Church has lots of historical records online regarding its church members, their births, marriages, and deaths, including many facts about the Hopkins family. This extended Hopkins family also migrated from Kentucky to Indiana.

John Hopkins – Had a son, Riley Hopkins, b. 1825

Thomas Hopkins – 2 Unknown males under the age of 5

Samuel Hopkins – Had a son James Allen Hopkins, born in 1827.

William Hopkins – No Children under the age of 5.

John (b. 1790) , Thomas (b. 1788), & Samuel (b. 1786) Hopkins (listed above) were the sons of Thomas Hopkins (b. 1760 in Virginia) and Rebecca ‘Bena’ McKinney.

The transcription of handwritten notes were found online in 2004:

7-2004: Jack Van Eaton has received family history materials from Margaret Nutley, whose husband Jack Nutley recently passed away. Jack Nutley was the son of Lorena and Benjamin Nutley and the sister of Nancy Nutley Mayo. Ben was the Roadmaster on the Northern Pacific Railroad for the trains from Yakima to the east. Evidently Jack Nutley had these materials which were passed down from his father. The following is taken from these papers:
“The first Hopkins family of whom we have accurate knowledge is Samuel Hopkins, son of Conrad and Rebecca Hopkins, who was born in 1783 and died November 4, 1869, aged 86 years. His brothers and sisters were:
Samuel M. Mary “Polly” Edwards. Polly Edwards was the daughter of Peter Edwards, one of the brothers of Robert Edwards, principal heir to the Edwards Estate of New York.
Thomas m. Rebecca Lett (children: Samuel; Polly m. —Wright)
John m. Zilpah Lett
Polly m. —Renfrow
Nancy m. —James

This note further emphasizes the fact likelihood that our Samuel Hopkins (b. 1827) is the child of Thomas (b. 1788). Thomas Hopkins (b.1788) and Rebecca Lett who were married in Jennings County, Indiana in 1823, had a son named Samuel. The Jennings County census lists Thomas Hopkins (b. 1788) as having a son between the ages of 0-5 in 1830, also the right fit for our Samuel Hopkins (b.1827).

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