John Hoppes died in Buffalo, New York on this day in 1918. He was not a veteran of the First World War, but served in the American Civil War between 1862 and 1865. He was born in Quebec in 1846 and was a resident of Deseronto between about 1879 and 1899. He worked as a millwright in one of the Rathbun Company’s mills.

We know about him from a newspaper article published in Deseronto’s Tribune on August 3rd, 1888 (coincidentally, 30 years to the day before he died).

Deseronto Tribune article about John Hoppes


A Veteran’s Proud Record

We hear that [one of] our fellow citizens, Mr. John Hoppes, is about to receive a yearly pension from the U.S. government as well as a liberal sum for back pay, as one of the veterans of the civil war through which he passed and in which he was several times wounded. Mr Hoppes was born in Quebec where he lived until nive years of age when his parents removed to Buffalo, N. Y. where he resided for many years. At that city in June 1861, he enlisted for three years during the war in Company C. of the 116th Regiment New York State Volunteers, which afterwards formed part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the 19th Army Corps.

He served until the war closed in 1865, being frequently for bravery and good conduct promoted, and was honorably discharged at Washington, D.C. His regiment when formed was composed chiefly of young men and was 1025 strong. After three years’ service, and having taken part in twenty-one engagements, it returned home only 280 strong.

His first campaign was under General Banks in Louisiana where he was present at the engagements of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plain Store, Port Hudson, Alexandria, Pleasant Hill, Sabine Cross Roads, Donaldson, etc. He then served in Virginia under that distinguished cavalry officer, Gen. Phil. Sheridan, when he was present at the engagements of Newtown, Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, Cedar Creek (where Gen. Sheridan made his famous ride to the front), etc.

It will thus be seen that Mr Hoppes has had a long and distinguished war record, and as he has proved himself a good citizen as well as a brave soldier we unite with all his Deseronto friends in congratulating him on the proper recognition of these services by the government he served so faithfully.

Hoppes enlisted in Buffalo on July 28th, 1862, according to the Grand Army of the Republic records at New York State Archives (available through Ancestry). He moved back to the US from Deseronto in around 1899 and was working as the superintendent of a cement works in Margaretta, Erie, Ohio in 1900. By 1905 he, his wife Margaret and their youngest child, Ida, were living in Buffalo. The last address we have for John was 430 Normal Avenue. He died on August 3rd, 1918 and was buried in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Hoppes’s grandson, John James Hoppes, joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Kingston in June 1918.

If you missed the history talk on the nineteenth century development of Deseronto this weekend, there’s a chance to catch it again on YouTube:

Due to a technical hitch on the day, the visuals weren’t available, but this version includes the slides!

From a Hastings County directory of 1868-1869, this map shows the street plan of the village of Mill Point, later to become the town of Deseronto.

Mill Point in 1869

It is interesting to see how few streets were laid out at that time: Thomas Street, which now runs the entire length of the town, was only two blocks wide in 1869. Centre and Prince Streets were yet to be established and there were no roads north of Dundas. In 1869 the village did have a Third Street, however, which is more than the town can boast today! Compare this plan with the appearance of the town in 1962:

Deseronto lots, 1962

In 1869 the industrial core of the village was firmly in the southwest corner, where the steam saw mill, wharf, post office and ship yard can be seen. The H. B. Rathbun and Son advertisement from the 1869 directory neatly summarizes the firm’s interests at this date:

1869 advertisement for H. B. Rathbun and Son

The 1869 map also shows the location of Deseronto’s first church, at the top of [St.] George Street, close to the current location of the Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer. The Union Church had been built in 1868 as a shared place of worship: the Anglicans had a service there in the morning, the Presbyterians in the afternoon, and the Methodists in the evening.

Only one residence is marked on the earlier map: presumably that of the Rathbun family. At this period, Edward Wilkes Rathbun (1842-1903) had taken over the day-to-day running of H. B. Rathbun and Son, due to his father’s ill health. E. W. Rathbun built the Deseronto firm into a hugely successful business, becoming a millionaire in the process. While other family members built houses on Dundas Street, away from the busy industries of the waterfront, E. W. Rathbun liked to be close to his concerns. His Main Street home was a substantial property, as this photograph shows:

E. W. Rathbun's house on Main Street, Deseronto

This house no longer exists. To the front, it looked out on Central Park (now the Rathbun Memorial Park), which was laid out at E. W. Rathbun’s expense. He brought in A. J. Hopkins, a landscape gardener from Oswego, New York, to do the work.  The back of the house would have afforded good views of the Rathbuns’ industrial empire along the waterfront of the Bay of Quinte: Edward Wilkes Rathbun was clearly a man who liked to keep a close eye on his business!