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Brightwell Birth Records

Brightwell Birthday
Newspaper Articles

{est 1968 -- b. 1868 + 90 yrs}

To Be 90 on Easter

MRS. JOHN WALTER HOPKINS, at one of her favorite pastimes . . . preparing a paper for the Thursday Club, of which she has been a member since 1897.  Her method:  "I write a little, then put in a clipping or two to save so much writing . . ." (Staff Photo)

{Handwritten notes:}

"Ed. & Platte Brightwell - bros. -
Maude Brightwell Quarles
(R. L.) Roanoke - sister

Henry C. Brightwell
Eliz. Pollard Brightwell =

Mrs. Hopkins to Celebrate
Her 90th Birthday Easter

By Miss Bobby Witt

Mrs. John Walter Hopkins is going to celebrate her 90th birthday Easter Sunday, and despite her age and the absence of almost all of her old friends she plans to enjoy it to the fullest.

She has lived such a full life and grown old so gracefully that it is hard to believe she's only ten years away from the century mark.  She spent last year's birthday in the hospital, seriously ill of pneumonia, but today she's well and active -- only recently she spelled down all the members of the Thursday Club, of which she's the oldest living member (she joined in 1897).  Two weeks ago she presented a paper at the club meeting on the history of transportation, telling many interesting and little known facts about the subject in Bedford County, which she has called home since 1890.  This club, incidentally, is the oldest social club in Virginia still in existence.

Makes Bedford Her Home

It was in 1890 that she was on her way to teach in Vinton when she stopped off in Bedford, bought a house and notified her mother to send a check for it and prepare to send her two brothers, Ed and Platt Brightwell, here to enroll in Randolph-Macon Academy which opened that year.  They were the first to enroll and, of course, the first to be graduated, just as she had been the first to enroll in Farmville College (now Longwood College), back in 1884 at the age of 16 and the first to be graduated in 1886.

She was born Carrie Brightwell April 6, 1868, at the family home, Hickory Grove, in Prince Edward County, and she recalls much about the difficult (See BIRTHDAY, Page 4)

days of reconstruction and hardships that followed the War Between the States.  She attended public school "which was much like high school today" -- offering Latin,  , {sic} algebra, geometry, physiology and ancient history, taught by three teachers -- and then went to Farmville.  There she studied Latin, French, trigonometry "and a special course in teaching how to teach."  She did her practice teaching in the kindergarten and in 1886, at the age of 18, went to Vinton to teach.

Taught at Radford

Later she taught four years in Radford and it was there that she met and married Mr. Hopkins, a Bedford man, who had gone there during the "boom" years to become the first commissioner of the revenue after the town was incorporated.  Later he was associated with Fred Jones in Jones Mercantile Company.  Two years after they married the couple decided to return to Bedford.

In Radford she taught in the old Belle Heth Academy and did her first housekeeping in the old La Belle Inn built in the boom days and long a landmark of East Radford.  Mr. Hopkins had grown up in the Chamblissburg area of Bedford County but, for some reason, went to Cumberland County to stay with relatives and there received private tutoring under Professor Crawley, the same man who had taught Mrs. Hopkins' father, H. C. Brightwell.  She explained that "Professor Crawley was a professor in a college in Richmond but after he acquired such a big family and it became so expensive to live there he just retired from Cumberland County and taught college and went to the farm in private school . . . When the War was over there was nothing left to go to college on, you know."

RMA and Belmont

After her father died, she told her mother that RMA was opening and so was Belmont Seminary (also in Bedford) and that "with two sons ready for college and a daughter (Maude Brightwell, now Mrs. Robert L. Quarles of Roanoke) coming on "the cheapest thing for her to do would be to rent a house and move to Bedford for a couple of years.

She explained in an interview this week:  "I came by Bedford on my way to school, saw Tom Joplin, a real estate man, about a house and I remember he said: 'There's nothing for rent in Bedford, Miss Brightwill {sic s/b Brightwell} -- the boom, you know -- but I can sell you a little piece of property that would not be a big investment.'  I signed the deed and wrote Mother to send a check for $1,600 but they could not occupy the house until the first of the year.  So, the two boys came on to RMA in September and I went on to Vinton to my school.  At Christmas we all went home, packed up, rented our home out and came to Bedford to take over the little house (on Grove Street where Chester Wilkerson now lives) and stay until the boys finished the Academy.

"Maude went to Belmont shortly after it opened; the boys were the first to graduate and by that time they were not thinking of going back to Eastern Virginia.  Ed went to work in the clerk's office with Robert Quarles, then clerk, and Platt went into one of the banks." And that was how this lovely lady came to "settle" in Bedford, which has felt the influence of her life for so many years.

Her Wedding

She and Mr. Hopkins were married in the Main Street Methodist Church here by the Rev. Mr. Mebane, pastor of the Tyler Presbyterian Church, which Mr. Hopkins attended at Radford.  She described her wedding:  "Sister Maude was bridesmaid, Fletcher Thomas was an usher, Miss Lucy Boswell was maid of honor and Archer Montague, best man . . . and later the bridesmaid and best man were married . . . "

Their first child, Mrs. Graham Summerson (now also a member of the Thursday Club) was born on Grove Street.  Then Mr. Hopkins was called to Knoxville, Tenn., to take charge of the New Home Sewing Machine Company's headquarters . . . "it was very popular then, although Singer "was older" she recalled.  Her second daughter, Mrs. James T. Parkinson of Richmond, was born in Knoxville.

After two years there "we returned to Bedford for good," she said.  She explained that "Mr. Hopkins was appointed to travel a wide circuit into West Virginia to appoint agents for the New Home Company.  We decided that if he was going to be away from home anyway we might as well move back to Bedford, the closest point to his territory, and live in our own house and pay no rent.  We lived there several years, then bought the Cabell Thomas house on Longwood (where the George R. Parkers now live)."

Moves to Centerville

Later she lived on Baltimore Avenue until several years ago when she moved to Centerville, two miles north of town, to make her home with her son, J. W. Hopkins, Jr., and his family.  The Summersons live next door.

Submitted by:  Avlyn Dodd Conley
Note on 1st page of copies "From Mrs. C. W. Harris notebook"

Online transcriptions by Susan Shields Sasek.

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Page Updated on: 5 Mar 2004 Page Visitors: c. Susan Shields Sasek