Lewis Cheeseman Hopkins was born July 5, 1828, at Albion, New York and died Monday, May 9, 1904, at Englewood, New Jersey. He was living in Brooklyn, New York, at the time. He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery with a private funeral at the Spring Grove Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, 1904.
L. C. Hopkins was a driving force in the residential development of early Norwood, even before it was Norwood. However, he had his financial problems early on in his real estate career. Because of these difficulties, he went into backruptcy and his properties were auctioned off. According to Hamilton County Deed Book 358, pages 577-592, in 1868, he placed his land holdings, from Cincinnati, Norwood, Covington and other places, in the control of "George Maxwell and Isaac M. Jordan, Trustees of the Estate & Effects of Lewis C. Hopkins a Bankrupt & their Successors."
DRY GOODS & CLOTHING STORE OWNER
Before he was a real estate or insurance man, L. C. Hopkins was a clothing and dry goods store operator.
In the 1850's, while residing at 262 Vine Street, he was associated with J. F. Cole and George M. Wood at George M. Wood's wholesale and retail dry goods store on the northeast corner of 5th and Vine in Cincinnati.
Later, when he developed the Ivanhoe subdivision in Norwood, Mr. Hopkins named one of the streets (between Hopkins and Delaware Avenues) in honor of Mr. Wood.
By the 1860's, he and B. F. Turner operated the L. C. Hopkins & Co. store at the northeast corner of 5th and Vine. Since this was the same address as the George Wood business, Hopkins obviously acquired it. The Hopkins firm was described as "wholesale and retail dealers in staple and fancy dry goods." At the time, L. C. Hopkins' residence was in Mt. Auburn, while Mr. Turner's home was on West 8th Street. The business must have been a thriving one; newpaper advertisements for L. C. Hopkins & Co., 5th and Vine (1865-1866) and 4th & Race (1867), were printed almost daily in The Cincinnati Daily Commercial. In 1868, L. C. Hopkins sold his store to B. F. Turner and Geo. R. Littster. With Hopkins' permission, they continued to use the L. C. Hopkins & Co. name. The 1869 directory still listed L. C. Hopkins as living in Mt. Auburn and as being associated with the dry goods business at the southwest corner of 4th & Race.
According to Libby v. Hopkins, 104 U.S. 303 (1881) before the U.S. Supreme Court, L. C. Hopkins stopped his business operation on January 1, 1868. At that time, he owed A. T. Stewart & Company of New York $231,515 and to others $500,000. A petition in bankruptcy was filed against him on February 29, and he was determined to be a bankrupt on March 30. On April 30 Isaac M. Jordan was appointed trustee.
By 1875, the L. C. Hopkins & Co. store appears to have left the dry goods business, moved its location, or changed its name (possibly under new ownership). An April 10, 1875, advertisement in The Cincinnati Commercial for James Wilde, Jr. & Co. (clothing), located at the southwest corner of Fourth and Race Streets, Cincinnati, states that it was at "L. C. Hopkins' Old Stand."
Note: From at least 1871-1876, Robert Leslie, another Norwood developer, had a gentlemen's clothing store at the northwest corner of Fourth and Race Streets, across the street from the Hopkins store.
INSURANCE & REAL ESTATE
In the summer of 1867, Mr. Hopkins and his wife Maria purchased property in Sharpsburg from Hiram Smith and Columbus Williams. This land as well as other holdings in Greater Cincinnati were lost when they declared bankruptcy.
Later, Mr. Hopkins became involved in insurance. Listings from the 1879 and 1880 Williams Directories show list him as the General Agent for Ohio of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. His residence was Norwood.
BUILDING & PARK WITH HIS NAME
According to the 1880 King's Pocket-Book of Cincinnati, around 1870, L. C. Hopkins erected Hopkins Hall, at the south-west corner of Fourth and Elm Streets, Cincinnati. It included a large hall with seating for eight hundred people for minstrels, political meetings, etc. The same book described Hopkins Park, also named after the "former dry-goods merchant." L. C. Hopkins had donated to Cincinnati the 3/4-acre property in Mt. Auburn, at the head of Sycamore Street and the south end of Auburn Avenue.
The following was taken from the 1880 Federal Census.
L. C. Hopkins, 51, was a general manager of life insurance. He was born in New York of New York parents. His wife, M. W., 45, was born in Ohio. She was probably Maria Whetstone, whose father, John Whetstone, owned, by grant from John Cleves Symmes, the southwest corner quarter of Section 34 in Columbia Township. M. W.'s father was from Pennsylvania and her mother from Connecticut. The Hopkins' son, A. R., 14, was attending school. He was born in Ohio. His name may be Allison. Another son, not recorded here, was named Franklin. Two Norwood streets are named after them. Mary Meyers, 28, was employed as the family's servant. She was born in Ohio of Prussian parents. James Gross, 35, worked as an illiterate laborer for Hopkins. He and his parents were born in Kentucky. The approximate birth years were: L. C., 1829; M. W., 1835; A. R., 1866; Mary, 1852; and James, 1845.