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Matamoras Minute: The Pope family

Another surname from the past in Matamoras history is that of Pope. Captain Lewis Pope chose Matamoras as the site for a new home. He and his wife, Eliza, were impressed with an available lot from the Stinson Burris annexation of river frontage and built what was considered a solid Victorian small-town mansion.

The site was located on Front Street and included the land on the opposite side of the street which ran clear to the Ohio River. The home they built was impressive indeed. The two story structure had a “widow’s walk” cresting the roof. A wrought iron fence surrounded the walk so that Mrs. Pope could safely stand and watch the family’s boats ply the river.

Another feature of the house was the inside shutters. They were drawn by knobs and could be fastened across the windows for privacy. There were also outside shutters to accentuate the home.

The Popes were a nautical family. The sons, Benjamin and Elmer, became captains as their father had. There was also a daughter, Adelle. One of the tow boats the family owned was named after her.

While living in Matamoras the Popes were civic minded and strong members of the Methodist Church. The father was appointed church steward. Benjamin, the older son, was a trustee.

Sometime circa 1892 the family moved to Parkersburg and founded the Parkersburg Dock Company. When they left Matamoras they sold their home to Dr. W.L. and Mary Eva West, who lived there the rest of their lives.

The house remained in that family throughout the lifetime of their daughter, Florence West Courtwright, and then was sold.

In addition to the dock company in Parkersburg, Pope operated a business in selling railroad cross ties which were shipped to Pittsburgh by two of the family owned towboats. Those were the “Adelle” and the “Darling”. After Lewis’s death, Benjamin took over the family business. He extended the enterprise to the packet trade, buying three sternwheelers.

It was told that the younger son speculated and subsequently prospered in Mexican silver mines.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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