Caspar Hopkins 5

Caspar Thomas Hopkins (May 18, 1826 – October 4, 1893) was an early settler of what is now Fruitvale. He formed the Sausal Creek Water Company which built a dam and reservoir at the upper end of Dimond Canyon near where Highway 13 is now. The reservoir later became part of the East Bay Water Company and remained until the early 1920s. Hopkins' main business was insurance, and was president of the California Insurance Company; Samuel Merritt was the vice-president.

Hopkins was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1826. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 1847, he came to California in 1849. On September 1, 1853 he married Almira Burtnett (Hopkins) (April 3, 1828 – September 13, 1875) and they had four children: Frances Isabella Hopkins (July 23, 1854 – August 16, 1941), Amelia Melusina Hopkins (July 4, 1856 – ?), Myra Louise Hopkins (July 10, 1864 – ?), and William Bayard Hopkins (April 21, 1866 – February 16, 1920). After a lingering and painful illness, Almira died in 1875, and Caspar married Elizabeth Taylor Hopkins (1824 – 1881).


The family home in Fruitvale was known as Alderwood. It was on 6 acres of apple orchard near Sausal Creek. He replaced the apple trees "with two hundred and fifty fine cherry trees, peaches, almonds, apricots, etc." and bought an additional 4 acres across the creek. "The creek meandered through the lot in form like the letter S (it has since been straightened and spoiled) and was lined with huge oaks, laurel alder and buck-eye trees." 1

In 1878 it was reported in the Oakland Daily Times that the grounds of Alderwood were "laid out in exquisite order. Cool, shady walks under interlacing cedars or acacias, grassy lawns, rustic bridges, rustic steps leading beside the clear pools of the creek swarming with the recent hatch of the trout family . . ." 4

Bits and Pieces

  • Caspar's eldest brother John Henry Hopkins, Jr., (1820-1891) was an Episcopal minister, best known as the composer of the Christmas hymn "We Three Kings". 3
  • Hopkins was one of the founders of the Highland Park & Fruit Vale Railroad
  • Hopkins was granted a patent for "S.F. street railroad rails" in 1876. 2

Death and Burial

Caspar retired to a ranch in Pasadena in 189_. He died in 1893 of a morphine overdose (he was taking it for pain), and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in plot 11. Hopkins Street is named for him.

Caspar Hopkins grave marker
photo from Our Oakland

Links and References

  1. Life on Sausal Creek, 1868-1888 excerpted from "The California Recollections of Caspar T. Hopkins"
  2. A Weekly List of Patents Issued to Pacific Coast Inventors Pacific Rural Press, August 5, 1876
  3. Hopkins family papers William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
  4. The Sausal Creek Watershed: A Cultural and Natural History by Lisa Owens-Viani
  5. Men of Vermont: an illustrated biographical history of Vermonters and sons of Vermont on