Thomas Jefferson Hooper was born November 1, 1845 in Jackson County, North Carolina. He would live until October 8, 1921 and be buried between his two wives in the Old Burch Cemetery in Towns County. He is listed as four years of age in the 1850 census of Union County, Georgia, not having reached his fifth birthday when the census taker visited the home of his parents to enumerate the household. His father was Benjamin Chastain Hooper (1812-1862) and his mother was Elizabeth Cathey Hooper (1815-1888). You might like to refer to the Cathey family articles written previously to see Elizabeth’s connections. Going back another generation, Benjamin Chastain Hooper’s parents were James and Mary Emaline Chastain Hooper, his mother a descendant of the noted Virginia settler, Pierre Chastain, ancestor of many who proudly claim this Chastain connection. James, father of Benjamin Chastain Hooper, was the first son of famed Absalom Hooper, Sr., Revolutionary War soldier.
When Thomas Jefferson Hooper went a-courting as a young man, he gained enough courage to go to the home of the Rev. Elijah Kimsey, a noted early preacher in the mountain area whose wife was Sarah Bryson Kimsey. Thomas Jefferson had caught the eye and favor of their daughter. Thomas Jefferson Hooper wed Araminta Caroline Kimsey (1846-1874) on Christmas Eve, 1865 when the Civil War was still a raw memory in the minds of many.
To Thomas Jefferson and Araminta Kimsey Hooper were born five children: (1) William (1866) who married Emma Stuart Coffey; (2) Violet Virginia (1869-1929) who married Warne Ketron Hedden (son of the Rev. Elisha Hedden and Juanita Caroline Butt Hedden); (3) Georgia Ann (1871-1921) who married Col. Sylvester M. Ledford; (4) Ollie Araminta “Minnie” (1872-1946) who married David Henry Puett; and (5) Mary Caroline known as “Callie” (1874) who married John H. Davis. Araminta died September 6, 1874, possibly from complications from childbirth when Callie was born. Thomas Jefferson Hooper was thus left with five small children.
He found himself another good wife, the second being Sarah Elizabeth Clementine Ellis (1852-1939), daughter of J. C. and Elizabeth Ellis, whom he married August 22, 1876. In addition to helping Thomas Jefferson rear the first five children, Sarah and he had five children, making him ten altogether: (1) James Lafayette (1881-1954) who married Eva Elinora Barrett; (2) Martha Elizabeth (1884-1937) who married Walter E. Warren; (3) Noah Franklin (1887-1942) who married Julia Kelley; (4) Maggie (1890-1961) who married Charles Colwell; and (5) Richard (1895) who married Ezra Willa Mae known as “Billie” Wood.
Thomas Jefferson Hooper moved his family into the town of Hiawassee, Georgia. There he established the Hooper Hotel, a stately and Victorian-designed landmark that received guests and served notable food for several years. In the town he also helped to establish the Bank of Hiawassee and set up and outfitted a mercantile store. He was elected to and served in the Georgia Legislature from Towns County in 1911-1912. Mr. Hooper was also a trustee of the Hiawassee Academy; an outstanding mountain boarding school founded by Dr. George W. Truett and Dr. Fernando Coello McConnell, cousins, and noted Baptist ministers.
Focusing now on the first son of Thomas Jefferson Hooper and Sarah Ellis Hooper, James LaFayette Hooper (Sr.), born March 1, 1881 (died April 8, 1954), he attended Hiawassee Academy, graduating in 1902. He went to the Atlanta College of Pharmacy and became a licensed pharmacist, working first in Cornelia, Georgia, and then opening Hooper’s Drug Store in 1911 in Buford, Georgia. He married the love of his life, Eva Elinora Barrett, daughter of Forrest C. and Mary Holcomb Barrett of Nacoochee Valley, Georgia on May 2, 1909. The couple returned to Hiawassee in 1914 and opened the Hooper’s Drug Store there. It proved to be one of the most continuously-operated businesses in the town, with the founder’s son, James LaFayette Hooper, Jr. (1914-1982) who graduated from the Southern School of Pharmacy in 1937, succeeding his father as owner and pharmacist. Later a grandson, Representative Ralph Twiggs, Jr. owned and operated the store, succeeded by purchaser Charles Nicholson.
James LaFayette Hooper, Sr. and Eva Barrett Hooper had four children: (1) Faye who married Ralph J. Twiggs, Sr.; (2) James LaFayette, Jr. who married Mary Richardson; (3) Gussie who married J. Walter Moore; and (4) Sarah who married Dr. John H. Carswell.
The legacy of serving the community has continued in the Hooper descendants.
We have only to trace the progeny of Absalom Hooper, Sr. through many generations to see that various regions of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and other states have benefited from the genuine hardiness, community spirit, work ethic, public service and church and educational support from those who hark back to the stalwart young man (Absalom, Sr.) who served his country well beginning in 1776 in our War for Independence. As we observe Veterans Day on November 11, we have opportunity to reflect on this heritage and salute those who have stood faithfully in the gap to win and preserve freedom from then until now and into the future.
c2010 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 11, 2010 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.