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Hopper Family History

Contributed by Jamie (Hopper) Brown

Hopper Family History

Janie (Hopper) Brown.jpg

Jamie (Hopper) Brown

Hopper Family History


  • First Hoppers came to North Carolina in the early 1700’s from Plymouth, England.  My dad’s brother Tanner actually went to Plymouth, England and checked phone books and called some of our relatives

  • Uncle Tanner  used census records, old books and writings and traced heritage back to my great, great, great, great grandfather who was  named Thomas Hopper.

  • In 1800, his son Charles bought 125 acres of land in Tennessee.

  • In 1838, some of Hopper family moved from Tennessee to area west of Lone Jack, Missouri and some moved to Southern Missouri near Springfield.

  • 3 family stories are interesting from this point until the 1900s:

  1. Bartleson Party

  • In 1841, my great, great, great Uncle Charlie Hopper was living east of Lone Jack but was a well known trapper and hunter.  He was asked to lead and feed 33 people (including 1 women and 1 baby) thru 6 states from Independence, Mo to San Joaquin Valley in California.  The trip which took 7 months. 

  • Started with 9 wagons, drawn by oxen and mules. They had engaged some scouts who abandoned them when things got bad and then they  hired Indian guides to help them.

    • This was the 1st American Emigrant wagon train to enter California overland which had many challenges along the way, mostly with daily problems with finding water and food for emigrants and their animals.  They made their way without having a trail to follow, crossing deserts and mountains, many days without water but were able to kill buffalo, deer, rabbits for food.  They eventually had to kill some of the oxen to survive.   They were down to the last oxen when they finally arrived in San Joaquin Valley.

  • Most of emigrants became prominent businessmen and politicians and also became quite wealthy.

  • 3 books were written about the adventure.

2.  1850s Double Barreled shotgun

  • During the Civil War, my great, great grandfather Robert Hopper was a blacksmith while serving in the confederacy. His wife Lucinda was raising their 13 kids (8 children of her own and 5 other children) and she was like a pioneer woman, having to shoot deer, hogs and bear to feed this combined family.  She had to use the only gun they had which was a 1850s double barreled shotgun.  She had to continually hide this gun from the Federal Troops who were always visiting homes looking for food and guns. 

    • This is the gun that she used.

    • The story goes that a man came by their house one day and as was the custom, he was invited for supper and to sleep overnight in the barn.  He was on his way to Texas and was in a hurry to get there.  The man knew that if he carried the gun, he was more likely to be picked up by lawmen who patrolled the areas on Arkansas/Texas borders.  He took my great, great grandfather into the woods behind their house and showed them where he had hidden the gun in a hollow log lying on the ground.  He said that if things cleared up, he would come back through and pick up the gun.  Later in the summer, the woods caught on fire and my great, great grandfather remembered the gun in the log.  He ran to it and found the log already on fire but managed to get the gun out with only small burns on the stock.  This shotgun ended up being more important than that man could have ever thought.

    • When Robert got tired of the defeats the confederates suffered near the end of the war, he just left and came home.  He lived under a rock overhand for a month or so until the war was over, only appearing late at night to visit his family.  I inherited the gun from my Uncle Tanner who had kept it as family keepsake.

3.  Third story is about DeWitt Hopper. 

  • DeWitt Hopper was a very nice looking and was 6’8”.  He moved to New York in the 1920s and was involved in Vaudeville and was an actor in 4 movies during the 1930s.  He also loved baseball and was forever known as the first person to ever recite the poem “Casey at the Bat” at beginning of a game at Yankee Stadium.  He was married 8 times but his 7th wife was Socialite Hedda Hopper.  They had a son named William Hopper who was the private investigator Paul Drake on the Perry Mason.  So he's my cousin I never knew it!!


So now about Oak Grove history.    

My grandfather was James Hopper.  In 1909, at the age of 20, he moved to Jackson County near Sni Mills and Lone Jack area where other family members also had been living for some time.  He met my grandmother, Inez in about 1914 or 15.   They were married in 1915 with Della Corn as their best man and Neva Grayum Corn (Della’s wife) as my grandma’s maid of honor.   These four were life long friends.  Also Della and my grandpa were members of the Sni Mills Baseball team.








So when my grandparents moved to Oak Grove in the house caddy cornered from Royer Funeral Home, he bought the blacksmith shop in town that he operated thru the 1920s and 30s.  During the summer months, he also operated a huge lawnmower sharpening business (back with they had rotator blades on lawnmowers).  He also had a large business, building truck frames, wagon boxes and hay frames.  He sold the shop in 1942.    Then he and my grandmother bought half interest in Walraven’s grocery store, but the Walravens didn’t want to do any of the work, so my grandparents finally sold out their half of the store in 1945.  My grandfather continued with the lawnmower business and worked for different merchants as a butcher and a clerk.    My grandmother did ironing for people in town, worked at Odessa Shoe factory and worked several years as a cook at the school.  They were longtime members of the First Baptist church and for many years, my grandfather was a deacon.   He also was vice president of the school board for over 20 years.   Another Oak Grove relative was Donna Brillhart, who was the daughter of my grandmother’s brother Luther and Leava Minter.  So Donna and my father were 1st cousins and our families were together at many holiday celebrations. 

My father Clyde Hopper was born in 1916 in a barn at their Sni Mills farm (that still is standing today).  Donna Brillhart was also born in that barn and lived with my father’s family for a couple of years.  The Hopper family moved to Oak Grove in 1922, and my father started to school and graduated in 1934. Uncle Tanner said my dad was mainly focused on sports and girls.  He was a 6 time all state track champion taking first place in the pole vault, javelin, high jump, 100 yard dash, 200 yard dash, and 880 relay.  As a youth, he delivered groceries and was a clerk in Paddock’s store.  After high school, he was a clerk and a butcher for Charles Pewitt’s grocery store.  My dad had several other jobs outside of Oak Grove for a few years but finally returned back to Oak Grove.  He was a guard at Lake City at the first part of WWII.  During the war, my dad was on the Army baseball team for 2 ½ years, but then got shipped to Guam at the end of the war.  He had various jobs before and after the war until 1952, when my parents partnered with Carl and Mona Lee Corn and bought the grocery store from the Pruitts and called it the Oak Grove Merchantile.  Both couples worked together in the middle building on southwest side of Broadway.  My grandfather also worked as a butcher.  After 5 years, my dad went into partnership with Kenneth Royer and opened up Hoppe/r Royer Hardware Store, Hopper/ Royer Funeral Home and also built 2 or three houses.  I think their first house was for Alan and Nadine Morgan.    Dad ran the hardware store, and Kenneth taught school and ran the Funeral Home.  They also created the first ambulance service in Oak Grove.  Neither one of them were EMTs for sure, but they did they best they could at getting people to the hospital.


















Ambulance stories from my dad were kind of scarry.  Like he went to pick up Mrs. Gay who needed to go to the hospital to have a baby.   She was standing outside in the road and told my dad that she has had all her other children in 10 minutes.  He drove to the hospital with his shoestrings in his teeth.  I remember asking him why he did that and he said “I don’t know.  I saw that on television.”  One other time, someone who lived on a hill near Monkey Mountain had a bursted appendix.  There was so much snow on ground that the ambulance couldn’t get up the hill to the house.  So my dad got out, climbed up the hill, tied the person to a ladder and brought them down to the ambulance.  Another funeral home story that I remember is that the coffins used to be in the basement.  Pete and I were around 8 I think, and we were down in the basement playing.  His brother Phil, turned the lights off and locked the door.  Scared the crap out of me!!!

When the partnership with Royer amicably ended, my dad moved the hardware store to the NW corner of the OG intersection and changed it to be a Western Auto Store.  He bought the building and rented out part of it to Betty Clark for a flower shop, rented out a corner of his store to Arthur Hawes insurance agency and rented out the back shop to Larry Moore who had a car repair business.  There was also a big area upstairs where they had dances and parties.  Much to the disapproval of Western Auto management, my dad continued to sell bicycles, lawn mowers, baseball gloves, BB guns, games, and mixed Pittsburgh Paint.  He threaded pipe in the back room, cut glass for windows, replaced screens and sold nuts and bolts – all the stuff that people need in a small town.  He was like a Walmart without selling clothes and food.  He was finally forced to only sell Western Auto stuff.  After 17 years, he sold that business to Glendy Hockman in 1973.  Not sure about his hours at the Mercntile, but I know worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for 17 years.  Once he did employ Mr. Spencer who worked on Saturdays.


My father loved Oak Grove sports.  He ran the lines at the football game with Glen Buzzard for many years and when he got older --- he shot the cannon at the football games.  For years, we went to EVERY football game, even all those major car rides to places over the river like Braymar and Breckenridge. 

He also loved the people and the town of Oak Grove. He started up the first Booster Club and the first Senior Citizens housing complex.  He belonged to the school board, the Lions Club, the American Legion, and Chamber of Commerce.  Until his death, he and his buddies put the flags on Veteran’s graves in the OG and Corn cemeteries every Memorial Day.  My mother grew up in Odessa but also loved Oak Grove.  She was secretary of the First Baptist Church for years and participated in the PTA for most of my school years.  She was one of the founding members of the Oak Grove Women’s Bridge Club that started over 75 years ago.


Now, let me give you some Corn family history.


I was able to meet Sandy had some history for me to share.  Their great, great, great, great grandfather was John Slaughter Corn who was born in 1811 and died in 1892.  John was an excellent casket maker.  He once sold a casket for $7.50 which was a lot of money in 1873.  The family farm was 3 1/8 miles southwest of Oak Grove.  In 1865, the Kansas Redlegs  burned now the original homestead.  Probably the Ordinance 11.


Carl Corn’s father Della, was the youngest son of his generation, and he grew up in the Oak Grove/Sni Mills area.  He had 5 brother and sisters.  Here’s a picture of Della and his 2 brothers, Linnie and Omer.  Linnie Corn is Ronnie Corn’s father which makes Ronnie Corn a first cousin to Nancy, Carol, Sandy and Norby.   Omer Corn’s children were Roma George and Paul Corn. 



During WWII, Carl was a member of the Japan Signal Corps.  He met Mona Lee who was from Arkansas while in the service, and they soon married.   Carl also had various jobs like working at coca cola and being a manor bread man, but like my father, his heart was in Oak Grove.   From the Oak Grove Mercantile, to Corn’s Thriftway, to Corn’s Apple Market and the addition of  a Ben Franklin store.  Carl stayed involved with those businesses for 40 years but in 1984, Norby took over control of the businesses.  His daughter Sandy also worked at the stores.  The businesses were shut down in 2004. 

Maybe you might remember some of these names of people who worked for Carl and Norby:

Patsy Martin, Norma Hackley, Clara Lance, Gary Arnett, Faye Scarborough, Curtis Day, Steve Ogden, Wayne Owings, Oscar Flucke, Brent Hutchens, Marie Church, Kenneth Smith, Bill Larmiman, Army Owings, Mike Jackson, Jim Borland, Bill Wright, Richard Dent, Marge Hook, Lisa Shrout Beck, Jimmy Wall, and Bill Robinson.

Carl was a deacon in the First Baptist Church for over 40 years.  He also belonged to the Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce.

I’m sure Sandy and Norby miss their parents as much as I miss mine!!  And although Nancy Corn McCoy Samson and myself do not live in Oak Grove, she and I still play in the infamous Oak Grove Women’s bridge club!! 

Thank you for letting me share the Hopper and Corn family history. 

1916 Sni Mills Baseball Team.jpg
wooden chain.jpg

This is a wooden chain that was whittled out of one block of wood by Jamie (Hopper) Brown's grandfather, James Hopper. 

Only one link of the chain had to be glued.

Corn's Thriftway ad.jpg
Lifelong Friends & Oak Grove Businessmen.jpg
Sandy and Pete Grayum.jpg
Lennie, Dellie, Omar Corn.jpg
Bob Corn stirring the apple butter.jpg

Lennie, Dellie, Omar Corn

Lennie lived at the NW corner of Corn Cemetery Road and F Highway. 

Dellie is Della Norby, Sandy, Carol and Nancy's grandfather. 

Lennie is Ron Corn's grandfather and Bruce Corn was Ron's father. 

Sandy and Pete Grayum

The Bob Corn Family, pictured making apple butter, the son and grandaughter of Ray and Jenny Corn

It's a Corn Thing T-shirt.jpg
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