This letter was written by Ephraim Stiles Hopping (1799-1853), the son of Daniel Hopping (1769-1857) and Martha Stiles (1770-1826). Mentioned in the letter is Ephraim’s sister, Martha Ann Hopping (1809-1894).
After graduating from Princeton in 1824, Hopping went south and became a language professor at Franklin College (the University of Georgia) in Athens. He married Pamela [or Permelia] Ann (Wray) Stewart, the daughter of Judge Philip Wray on 18 December 1827 in Oglethorpe, Georgia. Judge Philip Wray owned Wrayswood Plantation.
In 1833, he began to purchase lands in Clarke, Walton, and Morgan Counties from his earnings and his wife’s inheritance. In 1836, he moved his family to the town of High Shoals, previously known as Big Shoals, and became postmaster there in 1839.
Hopping organized the High Shoals Manufacturing Company in 1846 with Powell, Kluttz, et al. Ephraim also built a large, handsome home for his family on the granite hill beside the Apalachee River on the opposite side from the mill but he did not live long to enjoy it; he fell victim to the typhoid epidemic of 1853 and died along with a daughter. He was buried in the upper part of his formal gardens in an unmarked grave. His wife, Permelia, would later auction off 17 acres of his property in Athens for the establishment of the Oconee Hill Cemetery. A section of Highway 186 which runs through High Shoals was named “Hopping Road” in his memory. [Sources: Gray-White, Kathryn “The Story of High Shoals” North Georgia Journal. Autumn 1995. Sommer, Margaret F. The History of Oconee County, Georgia, 1993.]
At the time Hopping wrote this letter in 1828, he had just purchased a 700-acre plantation and he was conducting the male school of the Wilkes County — or Washington Academy — in Washington, Georgia. Mrs. Alexander Webster, widow of the first pastor of the Washington Presbyterian Church, was supervising the girls’ school at the same academy with the assistance of Miss Margaret McKenzie, the piano instructor.
Addressed to Daniel Hopping, Esqr., Hanover Neck, Morris County, New Jersey
February 9th 1828
From the place whence I write you perceive that I have changed my residence. The sequel will explain. From the date of this letter you also perceive that I have been criminally deficient in exhibiting that affection which should mark the conduct of a son who has shared so largely the paternal favor. The sequel will contain my apology.
Perhaps you recollect the boisterous saturday in which I crossed the paternal threshold the last time — a day of various storm — thunder, lightening, rain, hail, wind. Had I been superstitious, I should have inferred that I was embarking upon a tempestuous life. Having glided calmly down the current of my youth, the stream unruffled and at rest, save in its continually onward course, but that it was now opening into the vast ocean and that that ocean was tame to be rough & disastrous. But that day has unblematical of my life since only as it regards the variety of its character. The current of my life since that day has been unbroken though subject to various changes. I think I may compare it with a good deal of propriety in the figure to a full stream, bright & tranquil, pursuing its winding way through meadows green & flowery, through forests cool & shady, through fields bright & sunny, its current obstructed by no calamitous rock flung athwart its bed of peddle, until it has just now opened into calm, clear, expanded lake.
But to lay aside a figure of which I begin to become tired, the plain story is this. I had a pleasant voyage to Savannah –as I have told you before. From Savannah I went to Athens [Georgia], from Athens to Hermon. After a residence of three months at Hermon, I returned to Athens where I remained three years & a half very pleasantly indeed & on the 18th December 1827, I was married to a lady by the name of Stewart.
The laws of the college forbid its officers to make any engagements that shall interfere with the duties required of them & it being required of tutors to lodge in the college building, I of course resigned my post there. I then made an engagement with the people of this place to instruct in the Academy for the term of six months. I shall not continue longer inasmuch as the town is dreadfully sickly in the fall months.
The other day I purchased a plantation of about seven hundred acres of excellent land — a large two story house & good out houses. I gave three thousand, two hundred & fifty dollars for it. The person who lived on the plantation last gave nine thousand dollars for it some years ago. Since then, however, property has fallen & the land has become somewhat worn in parts. It is thought, however, by good judges to be worth five thousand dollars at this time. I expect to remove to it at the beginning of the next year. Between the 1st of July and that time, we’d like to visit you and spend some time with you.
Tell Martha Ann that I have just received her letter for which I feel very thankful & will answer it as soon as I can. Tell her that I am very much obliged to her for informing me of cousin Lidia’s good feelings toward me, but her information came too late. You may suppose that I am very busy now. A school to attend to during five days of the week & my plantation & arrangements for another year on Saturdays. I have just rented a part for the coming season. I get a fourth of the crop which, if the year be favorable, will amount to about five hundred bushels of corn.
Write soon. Love to all. Your son, E. S. Hopping