Collection 2535 - James Worden Pope Diaries, 1896-1900
Creator: Pope, J. W. (James Worden), 1846-1919
Provenance Note: Original diaries created by General James Worden Pope were purchased by Montana State University Library from the Cowan Auction Company of Cincinnati, Ohio on June 28, 2010.
Historical Note: James Worden Pope was born in Louisville, Kentucky on June 6, 1846. He attended the University of Indiana before receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1868. Pope began his military career as a second lieutenant in the Fifth United States Infantry and participated in several campaigns during the Plains Indian wars during his first years in the service. In 1887 he was assigned to command the U.S. Military Prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a position he held until 1895. Pope was assigned quartermaster’s duty at Fort Hamilton, New York after his prison command, and in 1897, was sent to Yellowstone National Park to supervise improvements at Fort Yellowstone. He spent about six months in the Park before he was transferred as chief quartermaster to the Philippine Expedition under General Wesley Merritt. Pope's subsequent service for the Departments of Colorado and the Gulf resulted in his eventual promotion to Colonel, Assistant Quartermaster General, on February 16, 1907. He retired on June 6, 1910, but he received a post retirement appointment as a brigadier general on August 29, 1916. By that time he had retired to Denver Colorado where he died on August 23, 1919.
Content Description Note: The Pope diaries consist of three small memoranda books that record his daily activities in considerable detail. The first volume displays entries from July 10, 1896 to September 16, 1896, when Pope was assigned to Fort Hamilton, New York. Pope's daily routine of office work, family activities, social life, and continuing political observations, form most of the material in this volume. His duties took him to Washington, D. C. in the course of this volume, and Pope describes many politicians and top Army officers he dealt with during this visit. Pope also traveled to Bismarck, South Dakota, where he had been assigned to locate a new military post and inspect the prison at that location. The second diary contains entries written from August 23, 1897 to February 18, 1898, when Pope was assigned to Yellowstone National Park. In addition to describing his routine duties of supervising the payment of contractors and workers on buildings constructed at Fort Yellowstone, Pope's entries describe trips all around the Park for both business and pleasure. Observations of wildlife, natural features, and visiting tourists are recorded in considerable detail. Among the people mentioned are Frank Grouard, "Uncle John" John F. Yancey, and Colonel Samuel Baldwin Marks Young. Among the more dramatic incidents described is the August 14, 1897 stagecoach robbery on the Canyon-Norris road and the subsequent trial of the robbers. The last volume contains entries dated from October 15, 1899 to March 17, 1900. Pope begins the entries on his arrival at San Francisco from his Philippine service and continues with his residence in Washington, D. C. where he again worked at the War Department. These entries are primarily a record of Pope's social life, without as much political commentary as was the case in his first diary. Daily routine and periodicaltravel to inspect various posts on the east coast provides most of the descriptions.