Biography of Hon. Milton B. Hopkins
Howard County, IN Biographies





HON. MILTON B. HOPKINS (deceased), late Superintendent of Public Instruction of Indiana, was born in Nicholas County, Ky., April 4, 1821. His father, Joseph Hopkins, was a talented lawyer of that day. After his father's death, his mother married a farmer and cam e with her husband and son to Indiana and settled on a farm in Rush County. At the age of fifteen, feeling an innate and strong desire for knowledge, he appealed to his step father for assistance. This being refused, he left home, determined to work his own way and procure an education. He worked in a livery stable and spent all his earnings going to school. As soon as he was competent, he began to teach, with marked success, in the country schools. He studied Greek and Latin in private. At the age of twenty, he began to preach the Gospel and advocate Christianity, locating in Milroy, Rush county; thence he moved to Frankfort, Ind., and six years later to Noblesville. Here, from his anxiety to understand the legal profession, he abandoned the ministry and studied and entered upon the practice of law. He was fast gaining the reputation of a lawyer of more than ordinary efficiency when, being persuaded to return to the ministry, he established a superior reputation as a preacher. After living there about five years, he was induced to unite with Benjamin Franklin, of Cincinnati, Ohio, editor of the American Christian Review, in the publication of that paper. He moved to Cincinnati and entered upon the work, preaching at the same time in Cincinnati, Louisville and Covington. But his health failed and he was obliged to return to farming. In 1858, he located in Chilton County, Ind., and founded Farmers' Academy, which soon wielded a powerful influence in the community and attracted a patronage from adjoining counties. While living there, he was nominated by the Democratic party for Superintendent of Public Instruction but he declined the nomination. After remaining there about four years, he moved to Boone County and took charge of the Lebanon High School. Desiring still greater opportunities for the exercise of his educational powers, he made arrangements to take charge of Ladoga Academy, intending ultimately to convert it into a college. This institution soon gained a wide reputation and commanded a patronage from other States. After teaching there, and preaching at the same time in various parts of the State, for about six years, and finding better encouragement and facilities in Kokomo, Howard County, for the establishment of a college, he moved to this place and, in connection with his sons, the eldest two of whom had finished their course of study in the Kentucky University, he founded Howard College, under his own Presidency. This institution soon attracted a patronage that compared favorably with other colleges in the State, when his nomination by the Democratic party in 1870 for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and his subsequent election, prevented him from being more than a nominal president of the college and thus checked its progress. He now devoted all his energies and abilities to the duties of his office, and with such success that in 1872 he was reelected by a handsome majority. Upon entering his second term, he abandoned Howard College. But a few months before the expiration of his second term, the whole State was shocked at the announcement of his sudden death, which occurred at his residence in Kokomo August 16, 1874, at the age of fifty three. The obsequies were attended by the officers of State. At the funeral discourse, Gov. Hendricks said: "No man ever died in the State who received the honors this man will receive." "Happy will it be with his fellow officers," said Lieut. Gov. Sexton, " if, when they are called upon to render their accounts, it shall be as well with them as it is today with Milton B. Hopkins." In 1842, Mr. Hopkins was married to Jaalah Rebecca Stallard, daughter of James Stallard, a pious, pioneer Methodist preacher. They had five children - Alexander C., Professor in the Danville, Ill., College; John O. (deceased), late Professor of Greek in Butler University; James I., Principal of the Kirklun Schools; M. Jennie, wife of Prof. A. J. Youngblood, of Eureka, Ill.; and Mary Belle, wife of P. O. Updegraff, of Kokomo. Mr. Hopkins and family were members of the Christian Church. As a preacher, he ranked among the ablest of his church. As a teacher, he gradually rose from the district schools of Rush County to Superintendent of Public Instruction. " He gave the school system of Indiana," says Gov. Hendricks, "a national reputation." At the close of his first term, Indiana had a larger school fund, by $2,000,000, than any other State in the Union. Mr. Hopkins was a close student all his life. He was a true lover of his country, and was greatly devoted to the great State in which he lived.

From:
Counties of Howard and Tipton, Indiana
Historical and Biographical
Charles Blanchard, Editor
F. A. Bettey & Co.
Chicago 1883.


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