Chambers County AlGenWeb - Photographs
Copyright. All rights reserved.

Johnson Jones Hooper 1815 - 1862
Biography Listed Below Photo

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina on June 9, 1815, the son of Archibald Maclaine and Charlotte De Berniere Hooper, Johnson Jones Hooper would migrate at the age of twenty to join his brother's law firm (George De Berniere Hooper) in LaFayette, Alabama. It is here in 1840 that Hooper helped take the census for adjoining Tallopoosa County. The experiences he encountered with the backwoods frontier families served as material for his first story in William T. Porter's Spirit of the Times, "Taking the Census in Alabama", in 1843. After the success of this story, Porter encouraged Hooper to write more humorous sketches for the Spirit, a New York publication. On December 15, 1842, Hooper married Mary M. Brantley of LaFayette, the daughter of Green D. and Elizabeth Brantley. The 1850 Census of Chambers County lists Johnson J. Hooper, age 34, wife Mary M., age 25, and sons William A. and Adolphus S. Hooper's occupation is listed as attorney at law and he owned one slave. Hooper would become nationally recognized in his day as the creator of fictional character Simon Suggs. His first Simon Suggs stories appeared in the East Alabamian, of which Hooper was editor, in 1844. At this time the Hoopers were living at what would later be known as the old Samuel Spence home on Jefferson Street. In the Preface of his first book Hooper gives his residence as LaFayette, Chambers County, Ala. March 1845. Hooper was a passionate Confederate and was deeply affected by the politics of his day. He was an avid enemy of the Democrats and wavered between his support of the Southern Whigs and the Know Nothing parties -- often using Suggs as an agent of propaganda for his own political views. He established the Montgomery Mail in the 1850s and edited it until 1861. Hooper was appointed Secretary to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States and moved with the Congress from Montgomery to Richmond, Virginia. One June 7, 1862, Hooper died two days before his 47th birthday. Shortly before his death he had converted to the Catholic faith and was buried in Shockoe Hill, Richmond's Catholic Cemetery. For 88 years his grave had no marker, but in 1950, eleven of Hooper's modern day admirers bought and erected a suitable monument over his remains. Although Hooper spent most of his life as an editor and politician, he is best remembered for his humorous sketches in the Spirit and his books, Some Adventures of Simon Suggs, Late of the Tallapoosa Volunteers and The Widow Rugby's Husband.

Contributed by Don Clark Jun 2004

Back to Chambers County AlGenweb