James H. Hopkins was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, on November 3, 1832. After completing his law studies he was admitted to the Bar in Pittsburgh in 1852, and for over twenty years practiced his profession in that city, becoming one of its most prominent members. He was also active in the banking business. For several years he was vice president of the Chamber of Commerce in Pittsburgh. He was elected to Congress from the Pittsburgh District and served in the Forty-fourth and Forty-eighth Congress.
He died at North Hatley, Canada, on June 18, 1904. He had left Washington with his family on May 31st for his summer home at North Hatley. He had been feeling quite well, but suffered an acute attack of indigestion which caused his death.
The remains were returned to Washington, where the Knight Templar funeral service was held at his residence on June 21, attended by the Officers and Past Grand Commanders of the Grand Commandery of the District of Columbia. The burial service of the Episcopal Church was afterwards read by Reverend Sir Knight Alfred Harding. Burial was in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Sir Knight Hopkins was made a Master Mason in Franklin Lodge No. 221 at Pittsburgh on December 4, 1856, and served as Worshipful Master from 1861 to 1864.
He was exalted in Zerubbabel Chapter No. 162 at Pittsburgh on October 2, 1860, and was High Priest in 1867.
In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite he received the 320 in Pittsburgh in 1866. He was Illustrious Commander-in-Chief of Pennsylvania Consistory in 1871-72 and was crowned a Sovereign Grand Inspector General 33o on September 19, 1872, at New York.
He was created a Knight Templar in Pittsburgh Commandery No. 1 at Pittsburgh on April 21, 1862 and became Eminent Commander in 1866. He was Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania from 1869 to 1870. In 1874 he was elected Grand Master of the Grand Encampment at the Conclave held in New Orleans.
He was one of the most active members of the Grand Encampment, ever ready to devote his time and energy in the discharge of any duty assigned to him. His wise judgment has left its impression upon the Templar Jurisprudence of the Grand Encampment. In 1889 the following tribute was paid to him for his valuable service:
"Whereas, Past Most Eminent Grand Master James H. Hopkins has given faithful and efficient services as Chairman of the Committee on Jurisprudence, not only at this but many past Conclaves, it is fitting that some recognition of these services should become a matter of record and it is hereby
"Resolved: That the Most Eminent Grand Master be authorized to draw his warrant for the sum of five hundred dollars in favor of Past Most Eminent Grand Master James H. Hopkins."
Sir Knight Hopkins replied:
"That while gratefully appreciating the feelings which prompted the motion, his work for the Grand Encampment had been a labor of love and he could not consent to accept compensation therefor."
In 1892, at the Conclave held in Denver, Sir Knight Hopkins was presented with a beautiful silver goblet by Grand Master Gobin, which he received with expressions of deep appreciation.
Reference: From Dr. Francis J. Scully's...History of the Grand Encampment, Chapter XXIII, Biographies Of The Grand Masters, as published in the Knight Templar Magazine