Tuesday, November 5, 2013

P.E. Hopkins, Millinery and Fancy Goods

Peter Emile Hopkins was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 21, 1835.  His mother was named Adele,
P.E. Hopkins
Passport Application
maiden name unknown.  His father is unknown.  He had a younger brother named Louis O. Hopkins.  He married Lena Wendel/Lina Windel, from Germany, sometime between 1856 and 1860. Census records show she didn't even come to the States until 1856. 

In the 1860 Census the family has moved to New York City.  Peter and Lena have one child, a boy, named Francis.  He was one year old at the time of the census.  Francis didn't survive for long and disappears from the records.  This will happen with other children as well.  One of the questions posed in the 1900 Census was about births and living children.  Lena indicated she had 6 children with only 2 living, Alice and Emily, leaving 3 children whose names and gender we don't know.   Peter's occupation in 1860  was photographer. His mother Adele was in the household with them.

The family still resides in New York as of the 1870 Census and this time includes Peter's brother, Louis O. Hopkins.  Louis was 24, born in Louisiana and listed as a store clerk.  Peter has moved on from photography and is listed as a clerk as well with a value of $1000. Another new addition to the family is Alice, just 6 years old.

During the late 1870's the family moved again, this time south to Memphis.  Brother Louis remained in New York and marries Ida Bell Wood.  They appear in the 1900 Manhattan Census with two children, Edwin O, age 24 and Ella M, age 18.  

Advertisements begin appearing in Memphis newspapers in 1878 for P.E. Hopkins & Co., successors to
Stewart & Doherty located at 269 Main Street. (Daily Appeal, Nov 17 1878). If you needed a hat it seemed that he could supply anything from sun hats, leghorn hats, chip and rustic hats, French Pattern Bonnets and felt hats for gentlemen.  He also sold artificial flowers, fans, combs, bracelets, cuffs, collars, and other assorted accoutrements for the well dressed lady and man.

In the midst of his success sadness descended on the family with the death of his mother.  On November 4 1879, Adele Hopkins died. She was 69 years old.  The newspaper reported that she died of old age and "debility."  Her body was was returned to New York for burial.

The 1880 Census shows another daughter has been added to the family, Emily, age 7.  

In 1883 Peter's millinery business appears in the Commercial And Statistical Review of the City of Memphis. The review is a statistical compendium of "historical sketches of the growth & progress of the "Bluff City," also sketches of the principal Business Houses and Manufacturing concerns."

In May of 1883 the Public Ledger reported that Peter's business was doing so well he made a second trip to New York in the spring to select more products to sell at his millinery store.  "It speaks volumes of praise for his popular house that his spring sales were so large as to necessitate a second trip east for new goods." (Public Ledger may 5 1883)

In 1884 he is listed among the elected officials of the Memphis Lodge No. 27, Elks.  He was elected Treasurer.

The Daily Appeal reported in February 1885 that the entire family had gone to new Orleans for Mardi Gras and to attend the exposition.

In March 1885 he is off again to New York to select the new spring stock for his popular store.  

On July 11, 1897, Peter Emile Hopkins died.  The Register of Deaths lists the cause as apoplexy and reports that his final resting place was Elmwood Cemetery.   However, research revealed that Peter has a headstone at Forest Hill Midtown in Memphis which is where the rest of his family are interred.  It's possible that he was laid to rest at Elmwood and later removed to Forest Hill.  It's also possible that the maker at Forest Hill is a cenotaph and of course the possibility exists that the Register of Deaths listed the wrong cemetery to begin with!  At any rate you can see his headstone at Forest Hill here and there is also a find a grave record for him at Elmwood here.

His wife Lena, her names appears as Lina on her headstone, died in 1921.  

Their daughter Alice married Bird Wells in 1900.  They had a daughter which they named Alice.   Their other daughter, Emily married Henry J. How.  Their children were Emily and John How.

As for Peter's brother Louis, his daughter Ella Maud married Alfred Williamson on June 1 1908 in Manhattan.  On the marriage record her father was listed as Louis Octave Hopkins and her mother was Ida Bell Wood.  The groom's parents were John George Williamson and Julie C. Emminger.  The wedding announcement appeared on the society pages of the The Sun, May 31 1908 just above the entry about Mr. and Mrs. Reginald C. Vanderbilt. 


  1. Elmwood's records show that he's still there and buried in the Masonic Lot just east of The Cottage, Turley 612, Div. 2, Sp. 86.

  2. Thanks Dale for letting us know that Mr Hopkins still resides at Elmwood. :)