Friday, March 1, 2019

The Hopwood Family, South Union, Pennsylvania 1900's

The writing on the back reads:
"Hudson Hopwood
Mother Hopwood
Your grandmother, Pat
Verda Hopwood
George took picture"

In this small photo, three members of the Hopwood family sit around a table. Each person is reading or at least pretending to, almost as if the photographer told them to look busy with something in their hands.

The Hopwoods lived in South Union Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. George Hopwood was a farmer and member of the Pennsylvania State Assembly. The Hopwoods were a prominent family and had lived in the area for several generations. In fact, the town of Hopwood in Fayette County was named for one of George's ancestors, John Hopwood, who according to family lore was a friend of George Washington. George Hopwood's wife, Alverda (née Black), was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and came from an equally distinguished family. Together they had 8 children: George, Verda, William Hudson, Julia, Margaret, Jane, Walter Monroe, and Mary Katherine. In September 1898, just a few months after finishing his second term in the Pennsylvania State Assembly, George Hopwood died of heart trouble. Though the family had lived in Pennsylvania for generations, Alverda decided to relocate to West Virginia with her daughters a few years after his death. They remained there until 1911 when they moved to California. I believe this photo may have been taken in the time before the initial move, while the family was still together in Pennsylvania in the "old Hopwood home."

George Black Hopwood, who took this photo, was the eldest of the Hopwood children. As a young man, he worked as a reporter for the News Standard, a local paper. In 1902 he left his job at the paper and went to Philadelphia with his brother, Hudson, the young man in this photo reading a newspaper (I wonder if he's reading the News Standard?). Together they enrolled in Jefferson Medical College. Hudson graduated in 1906, after which he worked in Grindstone, Pennsylvania as a physician for the Pittsburgh Coal Company. In 1909 Hudson became ill with tuberculosis. He spent the winter of that year in Mexico and Arizona, hoping to improve his health in a drier climate. Sadly he never recovered and died in July 1910 at the age of 28.

The young woman in this photo is Verda, the eldest Hopwood sister. She attended the California State Normal School, graduated in 1904, and became a schoolteacher. She mainly taught the 4th grade. In August 1919, Verda began showing signs of severe mental illness. According to hospital records, she suffered from hallucinations and became violent. She believed her doctor was a German spy and threatened to kill him, and at times imagined she was on fire. The record also suggested her illness may have been caused by a head injury she suffered as a young girl after falling off a horse. Her mother admitted her to Stockton State Hospital in Stockton, California a few weeks later. Verda remained there for the rest of her life. She died in 1947.

Alverda, or "Mother Hopwood," continued to live in California with her daughters Julia and Jane, Jane's husband Charles Rice, and Alverda's sister-in-law Julia. Alverda suddenly became ill after attending a Women's Christian Temperance Union convention in September 1921. She passed away 2 months later at age 68.

George Hopwood's life turned out somewhat happier. After graduating from medical school, he went on to practice medicine for nearly 50 years. He married Mary Reed, with whom he had two daughters, Dorothy and Myrtle. He died at age 77 in 1955.

I think the "Pat" referenced on the back of the photo may be Patricia Rice, a daughter of Jane Hopwood. She was born in 1922, the year after her grandmother passed away. I wonder if Jane wrote the inscription?

If you know who this family may be, let us know in the comments!