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Jacob Hopp

Early printer and newspaper owner in De Smet.

J.W. Hopp is about building a house of grout. What does a bachelor want of a house? – De Smet Leader, March 10, 1883.

noteJacob Willson Hopp was born in Clayton County, Iowa, on January 13, 1858, the son of John and Sara Hopp. Jake Hopp was the middle of five brothers, all of whom apprenticed as printers. In 1879, Jake’s brother George followed the railroad to the town of Fountain, Dakota Territory, where he began publication of the Brookings Press. The railroad ended up not going through Fountain, so George moved his paper to Brookings as soon as it was laid out. Jake settled in De Smet (Kingsbury County) Dakota Territory in 1880 and set up shop as a printer. Brother Henry filed on a claim near De Smet and later worked on a Huron paper, and brother Thomas lived at Lake Preston and worked on the Lake Preston Times.

Laura Ingalls Wilder first mentioned Mr. Hopp in Little Town on the Prairie, Chapter 16, “Name Cards,” writing that Laura accompanied Minnie Johnson to the printing office to pick out personalized name (calling) cards. Later, Laura purchased her own name cards from Mr. Hopp as well. Jake Hopp and attorney George Mathews began the Kingsbury County News, almost immediately taken over by Jake, who published the weekly newspaper until the summer of 1884. Following the sale of his interest in the newspaper, Jake entered into the furniture business with Charles Tinkham. Two years later, Jake bought back the newspaper and returned to the world of journalism.

June 11, 1883, Jake Hopp married Susie Power, older sister of Little House character Mary Power. Two years earlier, Jake and Susie had filed on adjoining claims southwest of De Smet; a portion of Jake’s preemption claim on the NW 4-110-56 is where the De Smet Cemetery is located, and Susie’s homestead claim was the SW Section 5. Their marriage announcement in the De Smet News read:

Jake has done it now. We mean Jake Hopp, our brother of the News. No longer can we condole with each other upon the hard fate that kept us in dreary loneliness, for he has escaped and we are left. On Thursday last he departed this life and entered the state of matrimony, in company with Miss Susie Power, of De Smet. The event occurred at Kasson, Minn. Goodbye Jake. May your shadow never grow less.

Around 1890, Jake and Susie Hopp moved to Genesee (Latah County) Idaho, where Jake and his brother-in-law Charley Power published the Genesee News and ran a printing office. When Jake left the newspaper business for good in January 1902, this letter ran in the Genesee News:

The undersigned, who has been the main “push” behind the pencil on this journal for nearly ten years, this week lays down the Faber to take up the hardware business in the beautiful town of Whatcom, Wash. We leave the editorial chair to our partner, Mr. Power, who has been with us ever since taking hold of the NEWS May 1, 1892, having charge of the mechanical department. The writer has been in the newspaper business since 1879, with an intermission of about sixteen months, and it is with considerable regret that we step down and out. We have leased our interest to Mr. Power.

With the generous and kind assistance of the advertisers and subscribers this firm has been able to make of the NEWS the leading and neatest local newspaper in the country. Our exchanges have told us so time and again, and right here we wish to thank them for their kindly expressions. We may have said some things and made enemies, but who of us have not? If mistakes have been made, they have been of the head and not of the heart. It is with regret we say good-bye to our many friends in and around Genesee, and now we realize who weak and vain are words in expressing feelings. Should we ever feel like retracing our steps we know we have friends who will welcome us back. If at any time you visit our new location, please pull our latch-string.

Good-bye. Sincerely,

J.W. Hopp

noteIn the early 1900s, Jake and Susie moved to Sumas, Washington, then to Bellingham (Whatcom County) Washington; they were later joined there by Mary and Edwin Sanford. For many years, the Sanford and Hopp families lived next door to each other on Chestnut Street. In Bellingham, Jake was very active in local politics although he never held public office. He ran a company which manufactured concrete pipe used in construction.

Susie Hopp died in July 1907; she and Jake had no children. In 1910, Jake married Alice Leitch. On a 1926 car trip to California, Jake became ill and died unexpectedly. Jake and Susie Hopp are buried in Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham. Alice Hopp died in 1932; her body was sent to her former home in Illinois for burial.


Jake Hopp (LTP 16)