Elizabeth Ellen Smith Pope

Smith, Elizabeth Ellen Blog

Elizabeth Ellen Smith Pope

Living in an age when women have their own identity it bothers me that so many of our women ancestors have little identity, not like our male ancestors. They may be listed in wills and probate documents and possibly in deeds. You might be able to find out when they were born, married, and died. But many times they and their maiden names are lost to time.                                     

The further back you go there are no photos to capture their essence on a certain day and time in their lives. My husband’s great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Ellen Smith was fortunate to have had her picture taken, albeit later in life when the bloom had faded from her cheeks.                                  E

Elizabeth Ellen Smith was born in Illinois on 5 December 1849. She was born to Eliza Ann (Ellen) Armstrong and Colby/Coalby Smith. The family had moved from Kentucky about 1842 to Chatham, Sangamon County, Illinois where the family was enumerated in the 1850 census. There were five children in the family ranging in ages from ten to under one year. James was the oldest and the only boy. Elizabeth was the youngest of four girls. Her three older sisters were Harriett Isabelle, Martha, and Mary. Another boy, Joseph, was born three years later.

In 1855 the family experienced great loss when their mother Eliza Ann died. Elizabeth was six years old. On 24 September 1866, her father married Melvina Thompson. From this union came five additional children, Noah, Lucy, Clara, Agnes, and Alma.

In the early 1860s, the family lived on a prosperous farm. James most likely helped Colby with the farming and the older girls helped with household chores while attending school.

 At the age of sixteen, Elizabeth left home marrying William David Pope on 24 September 1866. They were so young and, like most youngsters, filled with hope for the future. The future looked bright when Minnie Alice, their first daughter, was born on 13 December 1868 when Elizabeth was eighteen. Heart-break would descend upon the family when one month-old Minnie died on 19 January 1869, followed by the death of Elizabeth’s sister Mary on 1 July. Like her husband William, she would know loss several times during her lifetime.

Perhaps because of the loss of their child, or perhaps because her father and step-mother were going to Kansas to start a new life, Elizabeth and William packed up their belongings sometime in 1869 and headed to Kansas where they settled in Franklin, Bourbon County, Kansas.

Mary Louisa, Elizabeth’s second child, was born in Kansas on 28 April 1870 followed by Annettie Bell in 1872, and Hattie Lu Ella in 1874. On 20 March 1877, Walter Colby, her first son, was born. Elizabeth would know sorrow again when Walter died on 20 February 1879. She was twenty-nine and had lost her mother, her sister, and two babies.

For reasons unknown, the family was back in Blue Mound in 1880. The farm was profitable based upon the 1880 agricultural census. The accounting of the usual farm animals, cows, horses, pigs, and chickens appeared on the census. However there were one hundred and fifty chickens producing approximately three hundred dozen eggs per year. That’s a lot of chickens and eggs. Besides the household chores of cooking, washing, tending to the children and the family garden, most likely Elizabeth was responsible for the chickens as well. Perhaps the older children helped. With that many chickens they would have had a huge egg hunt every day. And Elizabeth was pregnant, delivering Arthur Lee on 14 August.

Again the family was on the move sometime after Arthur’s birth. This move landed the Pope’s in the Fort Scott area of Bourbon County, Kansas where they stayed. Their last daughter Lola Devin, my husband’s grandmother, was born 5 April 1883.

The area where they lived was close to the Missouri-Kansas border. Elizabeth made sure the children attended school, sending them to Clarksburg School. Both Arthur and Lola graduated from this school.

Pope, Lola Birth Place Ft. Scott KS

A picture of the family homestead many years after the farm was sold.

In 1900, Hattie, Arthur, and Lola were still living at home. By 1910 all the Pope children had fled the nest but living with William and Elizabeth was a ward named Silas Hoffman. On 13 April 1911, Elizabeth’s married life came to an end when William, her partner for forty-four years, died. His confidence in her showed when he appointed her executrix for the estate.

We don’t know how long Elizabeth lived on the farm. A search of deeds would probably tell us. But like most widows at that time they went to live with their children, sometimes staying with one, and sometimes moving between children. In 1920 Elizabeth was living with her daughter Hattie in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Hattie had married Walter Ferguson. Lola, her sister, had married Walter’s brother Thomas.

On 2 December 1929, Elizabeth Ellen Armstrong Pope died at the age of seventy-nine at the home of her daughter Lola and son-in-law Tom Ferguson. They lived at 679 Clark Avenue in Webster Groves, Missouri. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage with contributing factors of high blood pressure and old age.

Tom Ferguson worked for the railroad and most likely was responsible for shipping Elizabeth’s body back to Kansas where she is buried with her husband, the man she shared both good times and bad, in Maple Grove Cemetery in Fort Scott, Kansas.

From Blue Mound to Fort Scott Kansas…the Life of William David Pope

Pope, William D Picture

William David Pope

William David Pope, my husband David’s great-grandfather, was born to a family of early pioneers who settled in the Blue Mound area of Macon County, Illinois about 1827. He was born on 8 October 1848 to James Madison Pope and Louisa Hanna Taylor Pope. William was the oldest of six boys: Thomas John, Charles Willis, Millard Fillmore, James Franklin, and Zachariah Taylor. A sister, Sarah, died in infancy. He, like his ancestors, was a farmer all of his life.

The family land was flat with the exception of a cone-shaped hill in the distance that took on a blue hue. The area was called Blue Mound. Mosquito Creek, a narrow rivulet of water, ran through the farm. At one time the family farm had forests but, whether as a means to stay warm or a way of making extra money, a great deal of the forest slowly faded into memory. The land was rich and productive. And his father James was a successful farmer and a good role model for his children.

No doubt William had a normal childhood. He attended school and most likely helped his father with the farm. All of that ended at the age of fourteen when his father and uncle Zachariah left home in August 1862 to serve in the Civil War. Four months later in December his father was dead, dying of measles and cardiac obstruction at Camp Butler in Sangamon County, Illinois. About the same time his uncle, Zachariah, died in the same camp. Two lives wasted to disease, neither one able to serve their cause. Being the oldest boy a good deal of the burden of running the farm fell to him and his mother. Fortunately he had a large extended family to help out, but the shadow of the deaths of his father and uncle settled over the family during this time.

William’s life would change again 24 September 1866 when he married Elizabeth Ellen Smith. He was seventeen and she was sixteen. They were two youngsters, no doubt eager to make their way in the world. Two years later this young couple would experience loss when their one month-old daughter Minnie Alice died on 19 January 1869. She is buried in Pope Cemetery in Blue Mound.

This young couple must have been fearless as they set out for Kansas in 1869 where they settled in Franklin, Bourbon County. There is evidence that Elizabeth’s father and step-mother left Illinois about the same time and settled in the same area as the young couple. Perhaps they traveled together. No matter the circumstances it took a lot of gumption to leave the known behind.

Their second child Mary Louisa was born in Kansas on 28 April 1870 followed by Annettie Bell in 1872, and Hattie Lu Ella in 1874. On 20 March 1877, Walter Colby, their first son, was born. Again sorrow filled the family home when Walter died on 20 February 1879. At the young age of thirty, William knew heart-ache. He had lost his father, his uncle, his little sister, and two children.

Sometime between 1874 and 1880, William and Elizabeth were back in Blue Mound, Illinois with their three girls. William, like his father, was a prosperous farmer. His farm included sixty-three acres of land that was tilled or fallow and three acres of land in permanent pasture. The value of land, equipment, and livestock was close to $3,000, a goodly sum for that time period. He had two horses, two milk cows, one cow, two calves, fifteen swine, and one-hundred fifty poultry. The farm produced eggs, sixteen hundred bushels of Indian corn, one-hundred twenty-five bushels of oats, four-hundred seventy-four bushels of wheat, and forty gallons of molasses. It appears that he did this with the sweat of his own brow and the help of one hired hand. William was thirty-one. And of course Elizabeth helped when not tending the family garden and seeing to the children.

During 1880, Arthur Lee, their only surviving son was born on 14 August. Sometime after Arthur’s birth, probably early the next year, the family was on the move again. Who knows why the Pope’s decided to move away from their established farm and extended family. Perhaps the fertility of the land in Illinois was failing or the wide-open spaces were calling. Whatever it was, the Pope’s landed in the Fort-Scott area of Kansas and stayed. Their last daughter Lola Devin, my husband David’s grandmother, was born 5 April 1883.

As train transportation continued to expand at the end of the century, the Pope’s traveled back and forth to Macon County. They attended the funeral of William’s mother, Louisa, in 1896 and traveled to a family reunion in September of 1897. The reunion was covered by The Daily Republic Newspaper in their 20 September 1897 edition and read:

“Pope Family Reunion

Pleasant Gathering Sunday at House of Z. T. Pope on West Main Street

On Sunday there was a pleasant family reunion at the home of Zach T. Pope, district manager of Singer Sewing Machine Company, 1765 North Main Street. There are six brothers in the family, and all were present except Charles Pope, of Morrisonville, whose absence was greatly regretted. Those present were William D. Pope and wife, of Ft. Scott, Kan.; J. F. Pope and family of Morrisonville; Thomas J. Pope and wife, of Blue Mound; Zach T. Pope, of Decatur and family; and Uncle Willis Pope, of Lincolnville, Kan., the total number present being 21. A splendid dinner was served and all day the families were at the home engaging in social converse, and listening to stories of the early days in Macon county and life in Kansas, related by Uncle Willis.  The Pope brothers will probably visit the state fair at Springfield next week. It was the first time the brothers had met at one place since the death of their mother a few years ago. All of the brothers except Zach are farmers and are doing well.”

William died on 13 April 1911 at the age of 62 and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Fort Scott. He and Elizabeth were married forty-four years. As a testament to her, he appointed her as the executrix for his estate. He left each of his children $500 with the remainder of the personal property to Elizabeth and at her death the land was sold and proceeds divided among their children.

Pope, William D - 1900 United States Federal Census

William was an enumerator for the 1900 US Federal Census for Scott Township. His handwriting was neat and readable.

Not only was he a successful farmer, but during his lifetime William was a member of the Mason’s Rising Sun Lodge No. 8 in Bourbon County. Was he a pillar of the community? No one knows, but given how well he managed his farm and took care of his children and his wife, he would have been judged to be a success.