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 William Henry Pope

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William Henry Pope

  • Birth 18 Jul 1840 Enfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death 16 Feb 1907 Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Burial Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Memorial ID 64287908

The name, Pope, is an early English surname of the class whose origin is found in nicknames. It signifies literally 'the pope', and was applied at the beginning of the surname era to one of austere, ascetic or ecclesiastical bearing. Pope is derived from the post classical Latin, papa, meaning father. The name is its present form first appears in England registers in the year 1273.

Arms - Argent two chevrons gules on a chief of the second an escallop or.

One of the foremost figures on the business horizon of New England during the past half century, an eminently successful business man and manufacturer, was the late William Henry Pope, who was for several decades identified with a number of the largest milling enterprises in Rhode Island.

To him belongs the distinction and honor of having developed and practically established the town of Esmond, R. I. That he was the prime factor in its existence is evident from the fact that upon his retirement from business the enterprise and industry which had been its more prominent feature fell off to a marked degree. Mr. Pope was one of the foremost business men of his day, directing enormous banking and railroad interests.

William Henry Pope was born in Enfield, Hampshire county, Mass., July 18, 1840, son of Icabod and Serena (Woods) Pope. Icabod Pope was a prominent manufacturer of England, and was for several years justice of peace in the town. His wife, Serena (Woods) Pope, was a sister of Josiah Woods, founder and donor of Woods Library, Amherst College; she died in the year 1846. Their son received the advantages of an excellent education, and until he reached the age of fifteen years attended a private school at Enfield. He then went to Pawtucket, R. I., where he resided for a short time with his aunt, Mrs. Frank Pratt. Later, while residing in Providence with an uncle, he attended private schools in that city, and on completing his preliminary studies entered the A. G. Scholfield Business College. Following his graduation from this institution he was employed by various firms in the city. In 1863 he became connected with Albert Gallup, then head of Gallup Brothers, cotton manufacturers, in the office of the firm, and continued in this capacity until the removal of Mr. Gallup to New York City. During the period spent with this firm, Mr. Pope familiarized himself thoroughly with the details of cotton manufacturing, and the practical side of business management, serving, as it were, an apprenticeship to the cotton manufacturing trade. He possessed considerable genius in this line, and in his connection with Gallup Brothers amassed a wealth of information and experience which later stood him in good stead in his own ventures. After the removal of Mr. Gallup to New York, Mr. Pope entered into the independent manufacturing of cotton, after a short period spent in the cotton brokerage business. After 1871 he entered this field, and accepted the agency for the Robert Watson Mills at Willimantic. In 1878 his success in the brokerage business made it possible for him to engage in cotton manufacturing, and he purchased the mill and mill village owned by the Smithfield Manufacturing Company at Allenville, in the town of Smithfield, R. I.

Allenville had taken its name from the first mill erected there in 1813, by Governor Philip Allen. Mr. Pope renamed the village Enfield, and forthwith inaugurated a plan for its development and the establishment of a standard of civic efficiency. Enfield, named after the birthplace of Mr. Pope in Massachusetts, subsequently became one of the most prosperous and thriving towns of its kind in Rhode Island, a prosperity and thrift which was due entirely to the presence in it of the mills which Mr. Pope owned and directed. The village was his pride, and was a monument to the ability and constructive industry of its founder. His management of the mills was as nearly ideal as is possible, and the operatives of the mills at Enfield were never known to strike. By the application of judicious policies he was able to keep his mills running constantly, the period of idleness which was common to mills of New England being unknown in his plants. His purchase of the property was against the advice of his friends and associates who knew manufacturing conditions in New England, but the venture proved to be a stroke of far-sighted and excellent business policy. Mr. Pope was extremely successful, and brought the mill from an old and comparatively useless establishment to one of the most modernly equipped and best managed cotton mills of the State of Rhode Island.

Cotton manufacturing formed only a small part of Mr. Pope's large interests. He was active in several of the largest financial and commercial organizations of Rhode Island, holding executive positions in many of them. He was treasurer of the Pawtuxet Valley Railroad for over forty years; treasurer-secretary of the Providence & Springfield Railroad Company from 1892 until its absorption by consolidation; director of the National Exchange Bank for over twenty years; at one time the largest individual stockholder of the Union Railroad Company; director of the Providence Telephone Company from the time of its formation; director of the Providence Dry Dock Marine Railways Company; of the Windham Manufacturing Company of Willimantic for several years; secretary of the Providence Press Company for a time after its reorganization in 1880. The value of Mr. Pope's executive ability and constructive policies in these organizations cannot be overestimated. The demands of these various interests upon his time made any connection with public life, otherwise than as a business leader, impossible and his never became identified with politics or public affairs.

He was, however, active and prominent in the club and fraternal life of the city, and was a charter member of the Narragansett Boat Club. He was a true sportsman, keenly interested in yachting. He was also one of the first members of the Squantum Association, a member of the Commercial Club, the Home Market Club of Boston, the Hope Club of Providence, of which latter he was treasurer for four years, and a member of the board of governors from 1885 to 1891. His religious affiliation was with the Congregational church. He was a man of magnetic personality, cultured and of refined tastes. Justice and the strictest code of ethics characterized his transactions in the business world, and by friends and competitors alike he was considered the soul of honor.

William Henry Pope married, September 27, 1888, Catherine Elizabeth Robertson, daughter of Andrew and Maria (Halcro) Robertson, of Montreal, Canada. Mrs. Pope survives her husband and resides at No. 11 Young orchard avenue, Providence. Mr. Pope died at his home in Providence, February 16, 1907. Tributes to his memory came from all sources. A friend said:

'Who of all that went to him for advice was ever disappointed in the final outcome? Under an impatient manner and an air of desire of being rid of the whole subject, were hidden a careful listening and interest and in a few days or so there came from him an opinion vested in cautious language. If it was a recommendation, t'was well to follow it; if a warning t'was equally well to heed it. Of his boyish generous nature how many of us remember his open hand and his heartfelt sympathy?'

At a meeting of the directors of the Providence Dry Dock & Marine Railway Company, held on April 10, 1907, it was voted that the following minute be entered upon the records of the Company:

'The directors desire to express their deep sense of loss in the removal by death of their esteemed associate, William H. Pope, which occurred on the 16th of February last. Mr. Pope has served as a director of the Providence Dry Dock & Marine Railway Company since its organization, and was very deeply interested in its success. Always prompt and regular in his attendance of our meetings his good judgment and business ability were of much value in conducting the affairs of the company. His genial and kindly face will be sadly missed at our gatherings.

John H. Cady, Secretary.'


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  • Created by: sticksandstones
  • Added: 16 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64287908
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Henry Pope (18 Jul 1840–16 Feb 1907), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64287908, citing Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by sticksandstones (contributor 46888135) .