Private Samuel Hopkins
Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry
Samuel Holt Hopkins was born on May 17, 1841, in Unadilla, Michigan. Hopkins came from a proud family in which his forebears had distinguished themselves in their military service to their nation. His father, Samuel Lucas Hopkins had lost a leg during the Mexican War. His maternal grandfather, Seth Holt (1776-1813) was killed during the War of 1812 at Schlosser (now Niagara Falls) New York. Seth’s father, Silas Holt (1752-1815), had actually been one of the Minutemen who served at Lexington and Concord. As if that were not enough, the father of Hopkins' maternal grandmother, Edward Cheney (1751-1813), was also a Minuteman, noted for his presence at the same engagements.
On his father's side, Samuel's ancestors also helped in defending the nation during its infancy. His great-grandfather, Nehemiah Hopkins, Sr (1730-c1814), served as a private in the Vermont Militia during the Revolutionary War. His son (Samuel's grandfather) Nehemiah Hopkins, Jr (c1766-c1844) was too young for the War of Independence, but did see combat in Shays' Rebellion in 1786, during which he lost an arm. (Shays' Rebellion was an insurrection by farmers which was countered by significantly larger army and militia forces.)
It is no surprise that, coming from such patriotic roots, Samuel Holt Hopkins answered his nation’s call during the War Between the States. He enlisted on September 21, 1861, and served for a year and a half before the results of his wounds forced his discharge for disability on February 16, 1863. Although later paroled, Hopkins was one of the men captured by the Confederates during the battle at Cumberland Iron Works, Tennessee on August 26, 1862.
Following the war, Hopkins recovered sufficiently to become a successful merchant. He also served as the Postmaster of Macedonia, Iowa. On December 7, 1865, he married Emma Fay. They had four daughters and one son. Eventually they relocated to Wenatchee, Washington, where he died on February 21, 1929. Sadly, his beloved wife had passed away five months earlier.
For this insightful background, we are indebted to Diana Gale Matthiesen, great-great-granddaughter of Samuel’s sister Martha.