Shortly before her brother shot her husband, Laura Hopkins Nuckolls returned to her parents’ home on North Main Street in Springfield.
The husband was Dr. John Nuckolls.
The brother, who killed him, was Bunch Hopkins.
Strangely enough, Hopkins had already killed another man.
This was Edward Kirk, a neighbor on North Main of the parents of Bunch Hopkins and his sister.
Kirk had built his brick house around 1867, after he married Lucy Jernigan of Cross Plains.
The Kirk family was already well-known, not just as brick masons but also as the designers and builders of homes. The father, John H. Kirk, had started the business. Sons Edward and Henry H. Kirk joined him.
Many of the red brick homes in Springfield had been the results of their skills.
H.H. Kirk’s home at the top of Fifth Avenue East was/is an example. (Incidentally, this was the home where Laura and John Nuckolls had lived before his murder.)
An old photo shows another Kirk home on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Willow.
And the “beloved red brick Methodist church,” built in 1882, was another example of Kirk talent.
Edward Kirk’s home was at 316 North Main. It was one-story but had 14-inch walls.
According to “Robertson County’s Heritage of Homes,” the kitchen and dining-room were originally in the basement. There were four rooms on the first floor.
Edward Kirk was usually called Ned, and he lived only 10 years after his marriage. Bunch Hopkins shot and killed him in 1877, just as Hopkins would shoot and kill Dr. Nuckolls in 1882.
No one seems to know what led Hopkins to kill the neighbor.
Estelle Kirk Banks, his niece, only discussed the actual event. She told that on a Sunday afternoon, her Uncle Ned Kirk had “walked past a group of men standing in front of the courthouse.”
She added, “Bunch Hopkins, a member of the group, shot Uncle Ned.”
As stated before, Hopkins was never tried, due to the death of the trial lawyer.
The Edward Kirk home was sold to support John Henry Kirk. He was the couple’s only son and was nine years old in 1877. The house was purchased by Eliza B. Judd, the wife of J.W. Judd.
Through the years, many families lived in the house. This includes the families of Dr. George Draughon, Guilford Moore, and Ollie B. Sprouse.
In 1921 Granville B. Sprouse bought the home. In 1924 he deeded it to Bertha Sprouse Kemper.
After her death, her husband, Joseph Orman Kemper, became the owner. Nell Richardson Kemper, his second wife, also lived there.
Bunch Hopkins’ family lived at 306 North Main, in the gravel home built by Dr. R.K. Hicks. His parents were Asa and Mary B. Hopkins. They bought the home in 1871 and lived there until 1886.
Besides the tragic story of Bunch Hopkins and of Laura Hopkins Nuckolls, their sister Irene is also remembered.
She had married H.T. Stratton, Sr., and the two had a young son. For whatever reason, Irene abandoned her husband and child. Stratton gained custody of the son.
The Hopkins family, in the old days, would surely have been called “star-crossed.”
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.