WALTER C. HOPKINS. NAVAL STORES OPERATOR AND LAND OWNER
CHARLTON COUNTY HERALD
R. Ward Harrison, Editor, Charlton County Herald
December 16, 1949
Born in the neighboring county of Camden in 1882, Walter C. Hopkins came to Charlton County on January 1, 1915 to take over the management and operation of Toledo Manufacturing Co., then a small naval stores concern struggling under the financial difficulties of that period. Mr. Hopkins’ career since that time is a story of success and reflects great credit upon his energy, enterprise and business ability. Along with the successful management of his own affairs he has contributed his time and talents to the public service of the county and has proved to be a loyal, forward-looking citizen always ready to aid in any worthy undertaking.
Mr. Hopkins is a member of one of the prominent pioneer families of Camden County. His education was obtained in the public schools of that county and he has been actively identified with the naval stores industry since young manhood.
In the year 1903 he went to Wayne County and for a period of several years and was associated with the McKinnon interests in Brunswick in carrying out extensive turpentine operations. His successful management of the Wayne County operation brought him to the favorable attention of large naval stores interests in Brunswick and was instrumental in establishing his connection with the Toledo enterprise of this county.
The Toledo Manufacturing Co., of which Mr. Hopkins has been the active manager for 35 years is a corporation of which he is the largest individual stockholder. Other stockholders include the Bennett interests, Fendig and Shelander in Brunswick and Noah Stokes of Toledo. The McKinnons were formerly associated with the concern, Mr. Hopkins having acquired their stock. Mr. Stokes has been connected with the enterprise almost from its beginning having been an employee for two years before Mr. Hopkins took over its management.
From a small struggling concern, it was when Mr. Hopkins took over 35 years ago that Toledo Manufacturing Co. had been extended and developed into one of the largest, most successful enterprises of the kind in the naval stores belt, its timberland holdings forming one of the largest tracts of pine timber in a single body to be found in this section of the state. The holdings of the concern in this county and extensive acreage across the St. Marys River in Florida owned by Mr. Hopkins individually constitute a veritable enterprise in extent forming one of the most magnificent unbroken pine forests to be found anywhere.
With the exception of only a few small farm homesteads the domains of the company extend from well east of Corn House Creek to the vicinity of Emmaus Church about three miles beyond St. George, a distance of approximately fifteen miles. Estimated to be more than 30,000 acres in extent. Route No. 23, the highway between Folkston and St. George transverse about the center of the tract. A drive along this road reveals a forestry scene of unsurpassed beauty.
Naval stores operations on this tract have been greatly curtailed the past year or two, Mr. Hopkins says, although he still operates on a very large scale. In addition to the Toledo holdings he owns a tract of timber lands in Wayne County almost as large in extent, the two properties making him one of the largest individual landowners in southeast Georgia.
Since coming to Charlton County, Mr. Hopkins has taken an active interest in public affairs and has been a very valuable citizen. He served for 24 years as a member of the Board of County Commissioners, much of the time as chairman of the board. In the management of the county’s affairs he has rendered particular valuable and successful services in its finances during a period of depression, this county having come through free of debt and in good condition.
He is a member of the Episcopal Church. In 1912 Mr. Hopkins was married to Miss Lula Mae Sheppard of Gardi, Wayne County. Although they have no children of their own, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins have reared three children of a brother of Mr. Hopkins, whose mother was a deceased sister of Mrs. Hopkins. During their long residence in this county, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins have made their home in Toledo, the center of his large naval store operations. They now have a modern, attractive home nearing completion in this city but have made no announcement as to when they will occupy it.
They are both friendly and agreeable in manner and are among the county’s best-known and most highly-esteemed residents.