Monday, March 12, 2012

Frank Pope(s), Ole Miss and Georgetown, Colorado

The images here are a bit of a mystery. First, there is the photo of Frank A. Pope of Holmes County, Mississippi, who was a student at the University of Mississippi in 1861. Interestingly, he is also listed as "Francis Asbury Pope" from Georgetown, Colorado. As Colorado was still just a territory in 1861, it would seem odd to me that someone enrolled at the University of Mississippi would be associated in some way with a small town in Colorado, but aside from that I might not have given it another thought, except that I visited Georgetown, Colorado, a couple of summers ago.

A gathering of lawyers in Georgetown, Colorado, 1874.
From the Denver Public Library.
Georgetown is an old mining town and is wonderfully preserved (the modern photo at the bottom is from my trip there in 2010). Located high in the Rockies, it is as picturesque as any place ever I've been. In the mid-19th century, though, Georgetown was a rough place, full of murders, mining and mayhem of all kinds. With lots of mayhem, of course, come lawyers, and one of the lawyers in Georgetown happened to be named Frank A. Pope. At one time a partner in the law firm of Pope & Wolcott (Edward Wolcott went on to be elected a U.S. Senator), "Judge" Frank Pope was, according to a published history of Georgetown, "a Southern gentleman, a ladies man, and not especially fond of work." Above is a photo of all the lawyers in Georgetown in 1874 gathered in front of a local law office. Pope is the third person standing on the left.

Francis Asbury (aka Frank) Pope
As for Frank A. Pope the university student, one might imagine he would enlist in Co. A, 11th Mississippi (the University Grays), but apparently he enlisted instead in the 29th Mississippi in 1862 in Lexington, Mississippi. A 1st Lieutenant in Co. K (the "Dixie Rebels"), he was captured at Lookout Mountain on November 24, 1863, and sent to Johnson's Island prison where he was held until released in June 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance. All this is according the historian of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, who tracked down the military service record of a man buried at Green-Wood named Frank Pope from Holmes County, Mississippi. Curious about why a Mississippian might be buried in Brooklyn and assuming he might be a Confederate soldier, the cemetery historian confirmed that the Frank A. Pope buried in New York was in fact a Confederate soldier from Mississippi and he also discovered the connection with the University of Mississippi and his photo as a young man in 1861. Frank Pope, by the way, died in 1880 at the age of 40. Green-Wood Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark.

A view of Georgetown today. The building on the left is the 
Hotel de Paris, built ca. 1870.
Now, I wonder - are the two Frank A. Popes just coincident? If so, why is the younger Pope alternately listed as 'Francis Asbury Pope' of Georgetown, Colorado? Perhaps they were father and son. If so, what compelled "Judge" Pope to relocate to a remote Colorado mining town at the beginning of the Civil War while his son was in Oxford and soon to be marching off to war in the Confederate army? Maybe the attorney Pope was an uncle, but then why was the younger man listed as being from Colorado at the university? And how did Lt. Frank A. Pope wind up in a cemetery in Brooklyn? The answers to these and other questions will no doubt be revealed in time. A check of the census records in Holmes County might clear things up a bit.
Then again, history is rarely so simple and clear...

For a great site on the 29th Mississippi, try and for Green-Wood Cemetery

1 comment:

  1. Frank Pope was in the Uof M class of 1861, he was also in the Law school class of 1861. Don't ask me how that is possible but that is how he is listed. He served as an "Independent" in the University Greys for the first year of the war, then he came home and joined the 29th MS back at home in Holmes County. He went back to Ole Miss Law school and got his law degree in 1868, '69 or '70. (I am going from memory and it is nearly midnight now) He moved to Colorado after the war and was in New York trying to find help for an un named illness when he died. I am Starke Miller and I am working on a book on the Uof M class of 1861. You found one or two things on Pope I have not found, thanks.