Many folks believe that Hopkins Tomb located in Port Colbourne, Ontario holds much mystery and paranormal activity to the area. Stories of horror are told by many residents in the area and even some that are not from the area where the tomb is located. This area intrigued us and we decided to investigate and report what we have found at this site. Let's take a look at the man who was put to rest within the tomb and judge for ourselves what makes this tomb so famous. By unlocking the history of the man within, maybe then we can better understand why so many stories have come to be.
Sam Hopkins was born in Cork, Ireland December 17th, 1822. Mr. Samuel Hopkins, the man, had a deep interest in making money. He came to Toronto, Canada in the year of 1831 with his folks that immigrated into Canada. When Sam Hopkins reached the age of 16 he signed up to join the army and was assigned to a gunboat (Niagara) and later was assigned to the man of war mines that were located on the Grand River in Port Maitland. It was during this time that Hopkins dreamt of wealth and riches that could be made by various ways in the business world. While stationed in Port Maitland, Ontario he met his first love, Joanne Jones, and then they got married. Two years had passed after the marriage when they had their first born, a son, that they named "Fredrick". About a year later they adopted a girl named "Ida".
When "Gold Fever" broke out in California, Sam Hopkins was overwhelmed by the idea of getting rich fast. He'd met some men that were planning a trip to where the gold rush was taking place in California. He left his family in Dunnville, Ontario in the year of 1849 to seek his claim with the other men and made the trip by foot. It took six months to reach California. Once he arrived at the gold mines he managed to work in the mines for only a short time. Bad luck had fallen upon his shoulders for he became very sick and had to abandon the idea of staking his claim.
He then travelled to San Francisco where he worked as a dockhand and then on a steamboat and traveled to New York. By the year 1851 Mr. Hopkins and his family pulled up stakes from Dunnville and moved to Port Colbourne, Ontario. Once they had settled in Mr. Hopkins opened up a tug boat business and made a lot of money. He also acquired through various business ventures into such places as the McNeal Hotel, The Imperial Bank on Main Street where he had various bank stocks and share holdings. He also had a building that was called the "Hopkins Block" later to be known as Lewis Textiles. After a few years he owned several residential wooded lots. There was some doubt if Sam Hopkins came by some of the holdings he had honestly or through dubious business practices.
No matter what the view by those wondering how he made his money, he was a very successful man in business.He also got into politics and became reeve of the village. He enjoyed the social parties that would come about in the town. He was also the type of person to tell a joke or pull a prank. After the death of his first wife Joanne, he met another women by the name of Catherine Thomas. However this marriage was short lived as she took him for a lot of money through the courts after leaving him. After suffering a long time illness Sam Hopkins, on October 12th 1899, made his journey to the great beyond. Or Did He?
Samuel Hopkins was laid to rest at Oakland Cemetery located just west of Port Colbourne, Ontario along lakeshore Road.
"Last Will and Testament"
His last will and testament stipulated that his homestead of four acres go to his sister, and the sum of $10.00 per week go to his son Fredrick. The caretaker of the Cemetery, to care for the tomb, was to be given the sum of $10.00 a year. It was further stipulated that ten years after his death all his holdings were to be sold and re-invested.
However in the second part of the will, the names of the beneficiaries were transposed, that lead to some validation to the contention that he had first intended to benefit some relatives and later limit the distribution of monies to said parties.
Fredrick, his son, had immensely enjoyed the ten dollars a week that was granted to him from the will. For he took great enjoyment at the hotels in Port Colbourne. Fredrick Hopkins died four years later after his father's death. The key to Hopkins Tomb went to Texas with a women named Lizzie Upthegroove, that was the daughter of Mary. This left the Cemetery Board with no access to the tomb.Today there is only one living relative of the Hopkins Family that is the Great Grandniece that now lives over in England.
There is something very odd about the documents of who is inside the tomb. Sam and his son's names are conspicuously missing from the old records that are kept at Oakland Cemetery Office. It is very ironic that a man that was so affluent and well known in Port Colbourne was not acknowledged after death.
The imposing Mausoleum of Sam Hopkins sits within Oakland Cemetery. It is a very well kept building that is made of large blocks of cut stone and is surrounded by a waist high stone fence. There are two stone columns that add grace to the front entrance of the tomb.There are two small windows on each side of the tomb that have been long since covered. The tomb has seen a lot of mischief and vandalism over the decades. The doors have been abusively smashed and the stone columns were once painted pink by vandals. The inner door of the tomb is made of concrete. There was a beautiful bronze grill that used to guard the entrance to the tomb. In its place today there is a heavy steel door. Inside there are six crypts, only five are in use. Those laid to rest within are, Sam Hopkins, his wife Joanne, their son Fredrick, Mary and Jacob Upthegroove.
There are many reported ghostly stories from Hopkins Tomb. As well, the tomb is said to hold a curse for anyone that approaches. It has had a long history from sightings of ghosts as well as sounds that seem to come from inside. Are all these amazing stories of Hopkins Tomb just mere fabrication of overactive young minds or is there any truth to these tales told?
Sam Hopkins was known by many folks in the town to have loved his faithful canine companion. He loved his dog so much and spent many hours with it. The canine was always by his side in town. It is said today that his dog has been seen sitting on the tombs front door step guarding his master from any predators. It has also been reported that some folks have seen Sam and his dog walking along the side of the road by the tomb. Some say that on a night of the full moon one can hear the howls of Sam's dog fill the night time sky from within the tomb. Some stories have emerged saying that Sam's dog has chased intruders out of the cemetery.
In the early sixties three strong and curious young men smashed the heavy concrete tomb door to gain entry. Some say that the young men had been egged on to smash the door and that the men had been drinking prior to this night of destruction. One of the men walked inside the tomb, the other only reached in and the third had only stepped in the doorway and found he could not move any further. It was at this point that all three young men at the same time felt a very forbidding presence that made their skin tingle. It did not take long for the three men to take notice that something was not right. They desperately scrambled away from the entrance of the tomb and jumped over the stone fence and ran as far as they could from the cemetery. Within a few months after that summers nightmare, the first fellow that entered the tomb lost his life in a highway accident. The other fellow that only reached into the tomb lost his arm in an accident, the third fellow that entered the tomb and froze just inside the doorway lost his leg just below the knee in a motorcycle accident. The question is were these mishaps just accidental?
The above is only one of many stories told of Hopkins tomb and the curse it holds. Apparently the only way to break the curse of the tomb is to walk around the tomb seven times and knock on the front door in passing each time. This feat was tried by a local teenager who found by the third time around he had heard loud noises from inside the tomb and the ground started to shake. He had in his possession a tire iron that he threw at the door while he made his hasty retreat. (I have to ask this question. Is a tire iron really the appropriate weapon to use on a ghost?) Apparently after getting his nerve back he went back and searched the area for his tire iron and found it in some bushes, red hot to the touch.
The Oakland Cemetery where the tomb sits was known to be a great spot for sorority and fraternity initiations. Why this came about was that the cemetery was located about seven miles from the town of Port Colbourn. Also the residents that lived in the area were few. The cemetery provided a private spot for local teenagers activities. One night a group of teens had gathered at the cemetery by Hopkins Tomb and had a girl that wanted to pledge to the sorority blindfolded and shut into the tomb. Hysterically she yelled and screamed to be let out. The mental shock of her experience led her to a prolonged stay in the psychiatric ward of a metropolitan hospital. In the early part of the 70's she appeared live on CHUM FM. radio in Toronto recounting her horror story.
So is Hopkin's Tomb haunted or cursed? Does the adventurous spirit of Samuel Hopkins live on long after his mortal death? Does he still love a good laugh on unsuspecting intruders or is his spirit still at unrest for some unknown reason? Does the spirit of Sam's dog really guard the tomb? Is it all just a hoax? You be the judge whether to believe or not. One thing is for certain, the stories from others having an experience at the tomb will carry on. Those who do not visit the tomb will never know what to really believe. Then others will just never visit the tomb and just pass it off as a hoax. By studying the history of the reports we have concluded that most of the activity around the tomb occurs on the full moon.
July 17, 2005