Born on September 17, 1804, Washington County, state Senator William Hopkins was the son of Thomas H. and Elizabeth Moffitt Hopkins, originally of Maryland. Hopkins’ most auspicious occasion was as the Speaker of the “Hopkins House” during the Buckshot War, 1838-1840.
In 1827, William received an executive appointment as justice of the peace of Pike Run township; served in the House of Representatives, 1834-1839; House Speaker, 1838-39-40; appointed commissioner of the Cumberland Road, 1840-1845; Secretary of the Land Office, 1842; he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress, 1844 and 1848; and elected Canal Commissioner, 1852-1855. In 1849 he served as a member of the Borough Council, on which he was elected burgess in 1850 and assistant burgess in 1857-58. In his later years he was engaged in the banking business and served as school director many years. In 1861 and 1862 he was again elected to the House of Representatives; in 1863 he was elected to the State Senate; and in 1872, Col. Hopkins was elected a member of the state Constitutional Convention. Col. Hopkins started for a short visit home; however, on the train he contracted a severe cold, and he died shortly thereafter of pneumonia.
He married Elizabeth Moffitt. His niece, also Elizabeth Moffitt Hopkins, was the wife of state Senator, Dr. E.A. Wood of Allegheny County. The Hon. Speaker of the House died March 5, 1873. Senator Black, also in the convention, noted:
“I do not propose to give an analysis of his character, and it is not necessary to repeat his history. I may say, for I know it, that he was in all respects the best balanced man that it was ever my good fortune to know. His moral and personal courage were often tested; he was one of the most fearless men that ever lived, yet all his measures were in favor of peace and everyone who knew him testifies to the gentleness and kindness of his manner."