My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

WORDEN POPE. Pope’s Creek is situated in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Here, in the year 1772, Worden Pope, who was the son of the Hon. Benjamin Pope, was born. It was here also that Gen. Washington was born. Irving, in his life of that great man, states that he was born at Bridge Creek. In this, it is submitted with great reverence, he was betrayed into error. It seems clear from Hower’s History of Virginia, that Washington was born on Pope’s Creek, where G. W. Custis has placed a stone, with a simple inscription, to commemorate this interesting event. The spot is one of great natural beauty, commanding a charming view of the shore of Maryland, and of the Potomac River for many miles in its majestic course towards the Chesapeake Bay. There are many other associations connected with Pope’s Creek which would be of interest, but they are not within the scope of this little sketch. John Washington and his brother Andrew arrived in Virginia in 1657, and settled in Westmoreland County. John married Miss Anne Pope, who was the near kinswoman — probably the daughter of Nathaniel Pope, and by this marriage she became the great-grandmother of Gen. Washington. One of the many evidences of the friendship and intimacy which arose from the kinship between the Washington and Pope families is found in the will of Thomas Pope, executed in 1684, and now on record in Virginia.

The Popes of North Alabama also emigrated from Pope’s Creek. They first went to Petersburg, and from there LeRoy Pope emigrated to Louisiana, where he established the first bank organized in that Stats. Subsequently he was in North Alabama, where, being impressed with the beauty of the country, he acquired a large tract of land, upon which he laid out a town, naming it Twickenham, after the villa of the poet Pope on the Thames. Afterwards, by a vote of the people, the name was changed to that of Huntsville, and so remains to this day. LeRoy Pope was the grandfather of LeRoy Pope Walker, (an eminent lawyer and the first Secretary of War in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis,) and of Richard W. Walker, a Senator from Alabama in the Congress of the Southern Confederacy.

It appears from Dr. Brock’s Extract from the Land Office of Virginia that Nathaniel Pope, in the year 1654, three years before the arrival of the Washington in the colony, settled upon the banks of the creek which has just been mentioned, and to which he gave his name. He seems to have been a man of great vigor of character and strength of mind.

It is needless to trace from father to son the descent of Worden Pope, the subject of this sketch, from Nathaniel Pope. It would be tedious and uninteresting to do so. In 1779 three brothers, Benjamin Pope, William Pope and Alexander Pope, having disposed of their estates in Westmoreland County, emigrated from Pope’s Creek to Kentucky County, then a County of Virginia. In 1780 Kentucky County was divided into Jefferson, Fayette and Lincoln Counties. The brothers crossed the mountains of Virginia, reached the Ohio River and came down with the current of that beautiful stream to the Falls, where the city of Louisville now stands. It was then a most dismal spot, full of swamps and ponds, and quite unhealthy. Not a house was to be seen. Nothing was visible but a fort, which was built in the early spring of 1779, and known as Patton’s Fort, situated at what is now the corner of Main and Seventh streets, and in immediate proximity to the Union Depot of the Chesapeake & Ohio and other railroads.

The Popes were camped outside the fort and narrowly escaped massacre (by taking refuge in the fort) from the Indians, who crossed from the Indiana side and made a determined attack upon the little garrison. At this time Worden was in his eighth year, and witnessed the onslaught of the savages. His elder brother, Nathaniel, for a time was missing, and it was feared that he had fallen a victim to the tomahawk, but happily no such fate had overtaken him. The depreciated value of Continental currency at this period is shown by the fact that the Popes paid $150 for a bushel of corn. About this time General Clarke took the British Forts of Kaskaskia, Cahokia and Vincennes, which checked the incursions of the Indians and afforded to the country about the Falls comparative security. In 1779, or early in 1780, Benjamin Pope removed with his family to a fort which stood on the north bank of Salt River, now a part of Bullitt County. It was here and on the path leading to the ferry, about to be mentioned, that George May, a surveyor of Jefferson County, and a party of followers, excepting one, were waylaid and murdered by the Indians. The escape of the one man, whose name was Hardin, would furnish a thrilling episode, but it would perhaps be a digression to insert its details in this narrative. It was in the midst of such stirring scenes that Worden Pope passed his boyhood and early manhood. Benjamin Pope resided here with his family for several years, and in 1787 bought a tract of land on Salt River, opposite the Fort, which is now owned and cultivated by James Y. Pope, one of the first citizens of Bullitt County, and a cousin of Worden Pope. Benjamin Pope established a ferry at his house, which carried passengers across Salt River, and was much traveled by persons going to Bardstown and other points. Worden Pope was put in charge of the ferry.

In those days lawyers of reputation, living at Louisville, found lucrative employment at Bardstown and similar places. Among these was Stephen Ormsby, then clerk of the Jefferson Courts, a lawyer of distinction, and who later on in life adorned both the bench and a seat in the Federal Congress at Washington. At this period, in the history of the State, the clerks of the important courts, generally speaking, were fine lawyers; and although not permitted to practice in the courts of which they were clerks they could practice in all other courts in the Commonwealth. Now a clerk of the court is rarely or never a lawyer. Among those who regularly attended and practiced in the courts at Bardstown was Stephen Ormsby, and in going and returning between that place and Louisville, he was ferried across Salt river by Worden Pope. In this way he became acquainted with the young helmsman. Judge Ormsby was endowed with a profound insight into character, and he soon discovered that Worden was no ordinary youth, clad, as he was, after the manner of the pioneers, in his leather breeches and coon-skin cap. He saw that there was a career before him for future usefulness and eminence, and conceiving for him an affection and friendship, he induced Worden to come with him to Louisville, where he at once installed him as deputy in his office.

Worden soon acquired a knowledge of its duties; and on the resignation of Ormsby, he was appointed clerk of the Circuit Court, also of the County Court. The former he held until 1834, when he resigned, and his third son, Edmund Pendleton, was appointed; but the county clerkship he held until 1838, when he died, and his fourth son, Curran Pope, succeeded him. In the commencement of his career as clerk, Worden Pope studied law, and to the day of his death was always an ardent and methodical student of jurisprudence. Being forbidden to practice in Jefferson County, the county of his office, he practiced in Oldham, Nelson, Hardin, Bullitt and Meade, but, as he grew older, he confined his practice to Oldham and Builitt.

The Hon. J. R. Browne, of Washington County, says when Ben Hardin was a candidate for congress, he was rebuked by his clients for his consequent inability to defend large ejectment cases brought for their lands in Washington County; he replied: “I have asked my friend Worden Pope, who is the greatest land lawyer in Kentucky, to represent me.” Mr. Pope justified the high estimate of his distinguished friend by successfully defending all of the actions. His practice in the federal courts was large and lucrative, and after his resignation of one of the clerkships was also large and lucrative in the Chancery Court at Louisville. Mr. Pope’s contemporaries at the bar often spoke in terms of the warmest praise of the masterly ability and the profound learning he displayed for the defense in the well known case of Beard vs. The City of Louisville, and others, in which was an array of counsel rarely exceeded at any time or in any place. It was Mr. Pope, Wm. Pope and Alexander Pope that brought out Gen. Jackson for the presidency. The meeting at which Jackson’s candidacy was initiated by the Popes was held at the house of Alexander Pope on the south side of Jefferson, between Sixth and Seventh streets, in Louisville, Ky.; where, also, for many years Edmund Pendleton Pope resided, and where his second son, Judge Alfred Thruston Pope, was born.

Governor John Pope, a man commanding talents, who had served with distinguished ability a number of terms in the lower house of congress from 1837 to 1843, and in the senate of the United States from 1807 to 1813, was a close kinsman of Mr. Pope. He had made the race for congress in the Ashland district against Henry Clay. It was a tilt of giants. Governor Pope, being a man of stubborn convictions, refused in that canvass to bend to the popular will. He was defeated and burnt in effigy at Lexington. Worden Pope, whether he was right or not, believed the great Clay could have prevented this outburst of popular feeling. And it was the indignation which Worden Pope and his family felt at this insult to their kinsman, as well as the warm and devoted attachment which Mr. Pope cherished for Gen, Jackson, that led him to urge upon the country the name of the latter for the office of chief executive. In the canvass which followed Mr. Pope gave Jackson a most loyal and devoted support. The Advertiser, then the oldest and most influential newspaper in the West, was edited by Shadrach Penn. In the columns of this journal Mr. Pope furnished a series of articles, over the nom de plume of “Publicola,” advocating the claim of Gen. Jackson, which created something of a stir and sensation, and excited widespread comment and discussion. Judge Little, in his life of Ben Hardin, states: “To the Pope family, in Kentucky, Gen. Jackson owed his majority in that State in 1828. When Gen. Jackson became President, he tendered any office within his gift to Worden Pope, but Mr. Pope, whilst appreciating the action of his friend, declined to accept any appointment, for the reason that he was quite near-sighted and not able to see at night. Gen. Jackson, however, appointed John Pope governor of Arkansas; and Curran Pope, who afterwards with heroic valor fell at the head of his regiment at Perryville, as a cadet to West Point.”

The contest which took place between the old and new court parties was one of the most able, bitter and determined controversies which has ever occurred in this country. With his characteristic frankness and boldness Mr. Pope without hesitation threw the whole weight of his ability and personal influence on the side of the old court party. Again the productions of his pen were a feature in the canvass. He was in the very front of the fight and helped lead the forces with consummate ability.

In a historical sketch of the “Pope Family,” by the Hon. Wm. R. Thompson, that admirable and forcible writer says: “Worden Pope was an eminent lawyer—but few his equal in Kentucky—a great politician, and the life-long and unswerving friend of Gen. Jackson, and though he acquired an immense property, he died by no means owning a fortune. His munificent liberality and generosity, which is a trait of many of the Pope family, caused him to give away in his lifetime several fortunes. The Pope family, taken all in all, is one of the most distinguished families in the history of Kentucky from the day Boone passed the Allegheny gap to the present time.” Mr. Pope’s death came unexpectedly to his friends. He was making an argument in an important land suit in the court house at Louisville when he was seized with a sudden illness. Judge J. J. Marshall immediately adjourned court. Mr. Pope, however, rallied and went to his home, which then embraced what is now between Fifth and Tenth and Walnut and Broadway streets, in Louisville, Ky. He never recovered, and after a brief illness he passed peacefully away.

Dr. Nat. Field, of Indiana, in his interesting little volume on “The Pope Family,” states that “The name of Worden Pope was a household word in Jefferson and adjoining counties. His name was a synonym of honesty and benevolence. He died in a good old age, laden with the honor and esteem of all who knew him. His funeral was the largest ever seen in Louisville. It was an outpouring of all classes of people to do honor to a great and good man.” The late Coleman Daniel, a stanch Methodist, one of the purest citizens of Louisville, used to say that when he would hand the box around in his church for charitable purposes, Worden Pope would empty his purse, not knowing what he gave, and that for the sake of curiosity Daniel would count it, and the contribution “would amount to hundreds of dollars.” A writer of a recent sketch of Worden Hope, who knew him well, does not employ the language of exaggeration when he states: “ His home was always open to the poor and needy and his ear to the cry of distress. He was, it may be said, the adviser of his county, and in the advice he gave the utmost confidence was placed. He never charged a widow, orphan or minister of the gospel or a young lawyer. He adjusted difficulties amongst his friends and prevented litigation by his counsel. In his practice he aided young lawyers, devoting his abilities to them, rejoicing in their success, but refusing fees they insisted on sharing with him.”

The Hon. John Rowan, a Kentuckian whose biography should be written, eloquently said of Worden Pope that “he was the oldest member of the bar. . . Endowed by nature with a good constitution and a vigorous mind, he improved the former by manly exercise and enriched the latter by zealous and unremitting devotion to the attainment of solid and useful information. Without the aid of classical learning he acquired a very thorough and accurate knowledge of English literature. He was temperate in all his enjoyments, patient of labor and research in whatever he was engaged; benevolent and charitable in a high degree, of high moral firmness, of sincerity in his friendships, his enmities were slow in forming and swift in fading. His moral habits were exemplary; his manners were neither gracious nor repulsive. He had an habitual aversion to artificial or fictitious mannerism. His manners and morals were founded in the old school, where the solid was preferred to the showy, and where simulated courtesies were rebuked by honesty and sincerity of sentiment. Influenced through life by sentiments of that school and the inherent benevolence of his own heart and feelings, his powers and attachments were devoted more to the benefit of society than of himself. As clerk of the courts of Jefferson County he was in a position to be consulted by the widows, the orphans, and the indigent; and his knowledge of law enabled him to obey the kind impulses of his nature most beneficially to the applicants. The young men who officiated as deputies under the influence of his example and benign instructions went hence into society with good habits and qualified for usefulness. .but the deceased was as remarkable for his exemption from sordid and selfish influences as any man of the age in which he lived. As a clerk of the County Court he had the custody of the books, papers, and records of the trustees of Louisville from its origin, which afforded him an opportunity of becoming blamelessly rich. He resided in the town from its first establishment, with but little exception, until his death, without speculating in town property, while other men by such means under his eye were acquiring great wealth. Although he possessed the facilities for such speculations beyond anybody else, he never touched them; so that it might be said of him emphatically that he lived for others, not for himself. The facts of his life constitute his best eulogy, and the more they shall be known the more his loss will be deplored and his memory revered. A pocket edition of the Bible was his constant companion. His daily life was controlled by its precepts, and he tried to live and be governed by its beneficent teachings. It was his daily habit to turn to its pages and he seemed to be supported and sustained by its comforting words.

In 1804 Worden Pope married Elizabeth Thruston, a lineal descendant of the Thruston of the revolution, an eloquent divine who left his pulpit and fought gallantly in the Colonial ranks against Great Britain and who in consequence of his courageous service has ever since been known, by the sobriquet of “The Warrior Parson.” She was a daughter of John Thruston, who represented Kentucky in the Virginia Legislature before the former became a State, and also the niece of Judge Buckner Thruston, who was one of the first two United States Senators from Kentucky. She was also the sister of Charles M. Thruston, of Louisville, a great lawyer and a speaker, who, when in the mood or aroused, was the equal of anyone.

The fruit of the marriage of Worden Pope with Elizabeth Thruston was a large family. Of all the children, thirteen in number, Hamilton Pope alone has reached an old age. He has enjoyed a long, successful and most honorable career at the Louisville Bar, and is a man of decided ability and marked characteristics. Averse to public life, he has never sought office; indeed, he has declined several times the nomination for Congress tendered him by the Whig party, although in early life he was induced to serve the people of Louisville in the Legislature and in the Senate at Frankfort. Had he chosen to follow the paths which lead to public honor, he would have achieved a national fame and been eminent in the councils of the Nation. Standing six feet and four inches high, he is a man of commanding presence, of the very purest private and professional character, of an integrity that has never been sullied, and is possessed of a magnetism which has made his personality potent in its influence with all those with whom he has come in contact. In the fall of 1855 he was married to Mrs. Prather, of Washington County, Kentucky, the daughter of Mr. Samuel Booker, and a woman of many personal attractions, of brilliant attainments and gifted with rare conversational powers.

* * * *

This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.