Richard J. Hopkins, lieutenant-governor of Kansas, a worthy representative of the best citizenship of this great state, is a young man who has had a remarkably brilliant career for one of his years, and the eminence he has already attained bespeaks for him a no less brilliant future. He was born April 4, 1873, at Jefferson City, Mo., but at the age of six years accompanied his parents to what was then Sequoyah, now Finney county, Kansas, where he was reared to young manhood and received his earliest education in the first school house erected in that county. Completing his preliminary education at Garden City, he was graduated in the high school there in 1892, and after teaching one year entered the University of Kansas in the fall of 1893, where he was a student for two years. He then entered Northwestern University, at Chicago, Ill., and was graduated in the law department of that well known institution in 1901. His choice of a profession was a most natural one, for his father, Col. W. R. Hopkins, for years has been one of the best known lawyers of western Kansas and also has set a worthy example for his son as a statesman. That same year he was admitted to the bar of Illinois and for the five years following, until 1906, practiced law in Chicago. Returning to Garden City at that time, he became a law associate of his father as the junior member of the law firm of Hopkins & Hopkins and has since continued to be thus identified. He has a keenly analytical mind, is a capable public speaker, has the peculiar power which comes from deep conviction, and both in his practice and subsequent public career has been a forceful and influential man. In the domain of politics the legal profession is more largely represented than is any other calling, the bar seeming the stepping stone to political preferment under our American system. Governor Hopkins has always given unswerving allegiance to the Republican party, but is unmistakably aligned with that branch of it known as the Progressives, for he is in sympathy with all efforts to purify politics, to raise the tone of public life, and to secure the best there is in government. Governor Hopkins' political career has been short and his rise rapid. In 1908 he was elected to represent Finney county in the state legislature and in the following session of 1909 was elected and served as speaker pro tem of the house. At that session he served as a member of the house committee on banks and banking, which had largely to do with the forming of the present bank guaranty law of this state. He had also other prominent, committee connections, having been a member of the judiciary, forestry, irrigation and legislative reapportionment committees. Such marked ability was shown when filling the position of speaker pro tem that Mr. Hopkins was selected as the logical candidate for lieutenant-governor in 1910. In the primary election in August, he led the Republican candidate for governor in many counties by a majority of from 800 to 900 votes, and in November following was elected to the office by about the usual Republican majority in the state. The same division between the progressives and standpatters occurred in the Republican ranks of Kansas as did all over the country, and by a combination of the latter branch and five Democratic senators the lieutenant-governor, as president of the senate, was for the first time in the state's history deprived of the privilege of appointing the senate committees. Naturally, it was expected that President Hopkins would, in the progress of the session, show resentment in his rulings and otherwise express his displeasure at the action of the senate. On the contrary, he presided over the deliberations of that body with such fairness, ability, and dignity as to secure from every one of the thirty-nine members of the senate words of highest praise and commendation. Senator Francis C. Price, leader of the standpatters at all times, said in open senate: "I have been in touch with this senate for many years, but I know of no presiding officer during that period who has excelled Lieutenant-Governor Hopkins in fairness or parliamentary knowledge, or in capacity expeditiously to conduct the business of this body." In further recognition of his ability, fairness, and courteous demeanor the senate, at the close of the session, presented President Hopkins with a beautiful gold watch, as a token of their genuine friendship and esteem. His was a signal victory, and not only did he win the admiration of his colleagues of the senate, but the course he pursued caused him to grow steadily, day by day, in the estimation and good opinion of the people of Kansas.
Governor Hopkins is a son of Col. William R. and Elizabeth (Murphy) Hopkins, citizens of the highest standing at Garden City. Col. W. R. Hopkins was born in Indiana, in 1846, but removed to Missouri when a boy and was reared and educated in the latter state. He was admitted to the bar at Jefferson City, Mo., in 1871 and practiced law there until 1879, when he removed to Kansas and settled on government land, near Garden City, Finney county. He was one of the first settlers of that county, of which he was also one of the organizers, and he served as its first county attorney. In 1890, as a Republican, he was elected to the Kansas state legislature and was successively reëlected, in 1892 and 1894. His service in that body was one of great credit and usefulness. He is the author of the general irrigation laws of Kansas enacted in 1891, and is also the author of the measure appropriating money by the state for the first experiments in irrigation in western Kansas. He was a member of the famous "Douglas House." For many years he has been city attorney of Garden City and is the present incumbent of that office, and for four years was president of the Garden City board of education. Fraternally, he is a Mason and an Odd Fellow. Col. W. R. Hopkins is a veteran of the Civil war. He enlisted as a private in Company I, Twelfth Missouri cavalry, with which regiment he served throughout the war and was with General Wilson on his famous march from the Tennessee river to Macon, Ga. After the war he returned to his home in Jefferson City and in 1870 was married, at St. Louis, Mo., to Elizabeth, daughter of Capt. Richard Murphy, a large contractor and builder at Jefferson City, Mo. Mrs. Hopkins was born in County Cork, Ireland, Dec. 27, 1849, and was an infant when her parents immigrated to the United States. To Col. W. R. Hopkins and his wife have been born nine children: Edgar, born in 1871, died in 1882; Richard J. is the second in order of birth; Lewis W., born in 1875, a dental surgeon at Garden City, Kan.; Fannie, born Jan. 1, 1878, is the wife of C. M. Colburn, a train dispatcher at Houston, Tex.; Mary L., born June 18, 1880, is the wife of Dennis D. Doty, a capitalist at Garden City, Kan.; William R. Jr., born in 1882, is a machinist at Garden City; Nelle, born in 1885, graduated in the Garden City High School in 1903 and is at home; J. Emmett, born in 1887, is a high school graduate and is a state clerk at Topeka; and Elizabeth Murphy; born Dec. 7, 1889, is a high school graduate and the secretary for her brother, Lieutenant-Governor Hopkins. She did the clerical work for him during his campaign of 1910.
Governor Hopkins was married Sept. 16, 1909, at Eminence, Kan., to Miss Dora May, daughter of D. P. Cathcart, a prominent stockman of Finney county, Kansas. Mrs. Hopkins was born Jan. 12, 1880, is a graduate of Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Col., and is a charming and cultured woman. Of their union was born a daughter, Isabelle, June 17, 1910. Governor Hopkins unites fraternally with the Masonic order, the Knights of Pythias, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is a member of the national Greek letter fraternity, the Sigma Nu. The position he has won in the public life of Kansas has been attained by strength of character and by strict adherence to honest convictions, and the many admirers of his ability are confident that the limit of his capabilities has not yet been reached and that the experience already his has but fitted him for greater eminence in the history of Kansas.Pages 1171-1173 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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