A great deal of information has recently been uncovered about M. W. Hopkins. Although Hopkins is known to have been trained as a decorative painter, he did not support himself solely as an artist. He was a farmer and a teacher, and had a brief career in business. He had a large family, owned property, and participated in church and civic affairs. Most of Hopkins's sitters were educated people of comfortable means who chose to have their portraits painted in a plain style, unlike the academic style of trained artists. Noah North (1808–1880), another well-known portraitist, is thought to have been Hopkins's apprentice, and the stylistic similarities between their works often make attribution difficult.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection in the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)
Milton W. Hopkins worked in