Columbus Ora Hopkins was the fifth child born to James Arton Hopkins and Lucinda Howard. He was born on 24 May in either 1896 or 1897 in Wallins Creek, Kentucky. Birth certificates were not issued in Kentucky until 1911 and Lum’s birth year varies on other records.
When Lum registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917, he gave his birth date as 24 May 1896. But he said the year was 1897 when he registered for the World War II draft on 16 February 1942. Lum’s age in census records for 1900, 1920, 1930, and 1950, based on the census date for each year, equals a birth year of 1896. For 1910, his age calculates to a birth year of 1895 and his age in 1940 calculates to 1897. If Lum was born in 1897, then his brother Berry was born nine months and four days later, but their ages in 1910 and 1920 censuses are two years apart. Based on that and the fact that the earliest records indicate Lum’s birth year was 1896, it is most likely the correct year.
Lum was about eight years old when the family left Harlan County for Rockcastle County, Kentucky, in 1904. He completed the 8th grade at Red Bud School.
On 1 Feb 1918, Lum enlisted as a private in the U. S. Marine Corp at Mare Island, California. He was in Company E, stationed at Mare Island for a few months. On 11 May, Lum was assigned to Company C, Replacement Battalion. On 21 June, Lum was transferred to the 5th Regiment of the 51st Company, which was part of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe.
Exactly when his unit went to Europe is not known, but from 11 to 16 September he participated in an offensive on the St. Mihiel front in France. By October he was in the 5th Regiment of Company G, still in France, and from the 1st to 9th participated in offensive operations in the Champagne Sector and the battle of Blanc Mont Ridge. From 1 to 14 November, Lum participated in the offensive operations in the Argonne Forest and along the Meuse River in France. The remainder of November and through 13 December, he participated in the march of the Allied Armies towards the Rhine River following the evacuation of the German Army. Between the 14th and 16th, they marched to their destination of Segendorf, Germany. Lum remained in Germany through April 1919.
From 7 May to 3 June 1919, Lum was part of Detatchment D in Le Mans, France. He returned to Segendorf from June 4th to 17th. He was on march on the 18th and 19th, moving to Strassen, Germany, where he remained from the 20th to 28th. On the 29th, he was again on march and returned to Segendorf on the 30th.
Lum remained stationed in Segendorf from 1 to 17 July 1919. He was he was enroute to Brest, France from the 18th to 20th and was stationed at Camp Pontanesen there on the 21st to the 24th. From the 25th to the 31st, he was aboard the U.S.S. George Washington, enroute back to the U.S.
On 18 August 1919, Lum was discharged from the Marine Corp at Mare Island, where he had joined. He served in the Marine Reserves after he was discharged until 31 January 1922.
Lum returned to Rockcastle County after his discharge and lived with his parents at Gum Sulphur in 1920. He worked as a farm laborer, likely helping his father with their farm.
Lum married Nancy Alva Helton on 27 March 1920 in Brodhead, Kentucky. Nancy was the daughter of John S. Helton and Jerusha Ledford, who lived in the Freedom community in Rockcastle County. She was born on 2 December 1898 in Harlan County. Like the Hopkinses, the Helton family left Harlan County for Rockcastle County.
When Lum and Nancy married, he worked for the railroad, and she taught school. They had one son, Kenneth Helton Hopkins, born on 21 May 1921 in Rockcastle County. Lum and Nancy divorced by 1926 when he remarried. In 1930, he lived in Harlan Township in Warren County, Ohio, where his parents had moved in 1922. Nancy and Kenneth remained in Rockcastle County and lived with her parents on West Main Street in Mt. Vernon.
Little is known about Lum’s second wife, Ethel, who was born about 1909 in West Virginia. They had no children and divorced between 1932 and 1940.
Lum married for a third time by 1940. Ellen Veidt was born on 3 October 1906 in Warren County to George Veidt and Mattie Simpson. She was previously married to Robert C. McConnell and had two children, William and Martha Betty. Lum, Ellen, and her children lived at 557 West Fancy Street in Blanchester, Ohio in 1940.
In 1950, Lum and Ellen lived at 304 North Broadway in Blanchester. Martha Betty, her husband, Carl Blocker, and her son lived with them.
Lum farmed when he first moved to Ohio. By 1940 he drove a dairy truck and in 1950 he was a county highway department truck driver.
Lum died of a pulmonary embolism at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 25 March 1981. His funeral was held on the 27th, and he was buried in Morrow Cemetery near his parents.
Ellen died less than two months later on 9 May in Wilmington, Ohio. She was buried beside Lum in Morrow Cemetery.
Nancy Helton (Lum’s 1st Wife)
After Lum and Nancy divorced, she reverted to her maiden name and lived the rest of her life in Rockcastle County. Nancy’s teaching career spanned forty-nine years, thirty-three of them at Mt. Vernon Grade School. She spent fifteen years at other Rockcastle County schools including Hickory Grove, Maretburg, Freedom, Skeggs Creek, Sowders, Rocky Bend, Gauley Branch, and Mullins Station. Nancy also taught one year at Wallins Creek early in her career, possibly her first job.
Less than two months after reaching her 100th birthday, Nancy died on 23 January 1999 at Sowder Nursing Home in Brodhead. She was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon.
Kenneth Helton Hopkins
Kenneth married Iona Joyce Laswell, daughter of Tony G. Laswell and Mary Iva Newland. Joyce was born on 11 August 1926 in Rockcastle County. Kenneth and Joyce had one son.
Kenneth and Joyce lived in Boyle County, Kentucky, where he worked for South Central Bell Telephone Company. His career spanned forty-two years and he rose to district manager.
After Kenneth retired, he and Joyce moved back to Rockcastle County to a house on West Main Street in Mt. Vernon. Joyce died on 7 September 1988 in Fayette County, Kentucky, and was buried in Piney Grove Cemetery in Brodhead.
Kenneth married twice more. His second wife was Reita Mae Sowder, daughter of William Sowder and Mildred Smith. She was born on 27 May 1925 in Brodhead and died on 18 January 2004 in Arizona. Reita was buried in Valley of the Sun Mortuary and Cemetery in Chandler, Arizona. Ann Owens, daughter of Robert Owens and Locie Payne, was his third wife. She was born on 26 May 1930 in Frankfort, Kentucky, and died on 14 April 2022 in Stanford, Kentucky. Ann was buried in Piney Grove Cemetery.
During World War II, Kenneth served in the U.S. Navy. He was a musician and loved playing with the Rockcastle Bluegrass Group. He was instrumental in getting his Uncle Doc Hopkins inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class. Kenneth performed at that induction ceremony.
Kenneth died on 19 June 2022 at Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Mt. Vernon at age 101. He was buried in Piney Grove Cemetery.