PLEASANT N. POPE has had an active career in the commercial and financial world of DuQuoin. He was in the banking business as one of its pioneers, as a member of the banking house of Horn and Pope, and when the organization of tlie First National Bank was under consideration he was one of the leading spirits, afterwards acting as its first president and holding this office for nineteen years. He has added much to the prosperity of the city, for he is ever on guard to protect her interests and to stimulate her growth in size and wealth.
Pleasant N. Pope is a member of one of the pioneer families of Illinois, his father having settled on Pope's Prairie about 1817, and here the son was born, at Pope's Prairie, Franklin county, on the 26th of September, 1838. His father was Dr. Benjamin W. Pope, and the spot on which he settled afterwards became the site of the town of Zeigler. Dr. Pope was reared in the humble home of a farmer, and devoted his life to his profession, caring little or nothing about politics. He married Miss Sarah L. Read, whose father was a settler in Illinois from Tennessee. He and his wife were members of the Christian church, and his family were brought up in this faith. Dr. Pope was born in 1806 and died in 1882, having lost his wife when she was a young woman, in 1846. Pleasant N. Pope was the sixth child of his parents.
As a boy he received a liberal education from the country schools and from the public schools of Benton, Illinois. He grew up on the farm, and as usual with boys reared in the country the life of the town and particularly of its merchant class attracted him. Therefore he came to DuQuoin and engaged in merchandising, becoming a prosperous young merchant. He started in this business at the age of twenty and remained in it for a dozen years, then, until 1871, he was engaged in the grain business. At this time his mind was turned toward the financial world and he concluded to go into partnership with Henry Horn, thus forming the firm of Horn and Pope, bankers. It flourished for ten years and then was dissolved, Mr. Pope going back into the grain business for a brief period before again entering the sphere of finance. This happened with the birth of the First National Bank in 1892, when he was made its chief officer, serving in this capacity until his retirement in 1911. The First National Bank of DuQuoin was chartered for twenty years with a capital stock of
fifty thousand dollars, and so prosperous was it under the regime of Mr. Pope, that when a second charter was applied for its surplus was one and a half times as much as its capital stock. The present officers of the institution are H. C. Miller, president; W. R. Kinzey, cashier; and S. B. Eaton, vice-president. Mr. Pope is still a member of its official board.
The patriotic spirit that was to be found everywhere in the country in the year of 1864 seized Pleasant Pope and he joined Company A of the One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry, receiving a commission as second lieutenant. The company was under the command of Captain William Bowlsby and belonged to the regiment commanded by Colonel F. A. Johns. It rendezvoused at Centralia, remaining there until ordered to the front at Hickman, Kentucky. Here weary weeks of camp life passed until finally orders came to go to St. Louis to help check the advance of General Price's army into Missouri. Another delightful period of camp life ensued, and when autumn came the whole regiment was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, without having seen so much as the tail of a gray coat. After this exciting experience with military life, Mr. Pope's enthusiasm for such a career is not overwhelming.
Mr. Pope's interest in politics has been that of a wide-awake citizen, not of a politician. His father being a Democrat, he was reared under the influence of its tenets but believes, as most thinking men throughout the country today are coming to believe, that it is now a case of men, not parties. In 1896 he voted for McKinley instead of Bryan, and has held aloof from the wild-eyed and chimerical policies that have seemed to have his party in their embrace for a time. He has taken considerable pride in the building up of his home city and has contributed substantially to this progress in the erection of his own handsome residence and as one of the builders of the Saint Nicholas hotel. Outside of the city his real estate interest in Illinois lands has grown to be considerable. Mr. Pope has been actively identified with fraternalism for many years, being in Masonry a member of the lodge and of the local chapter, as well as belonging to the order of the Eastern Star, and he has held the treasuryship of all three of these for a very long time. In religious matters he and his family are identified with the Christian church.
On the 11th of February, 1866, Mr. Pope was married in DuQuoin to Miss Eliza Pierce, a daughter of Captain W. J. Pierce, who died in the service of his country. Mrs. Pope was born in Franklin county and died on the anniversary of her marriage in 1880. She was the mother of Ernest H., a locomotive engineer running on the Illinois Central out of East St. Louis; William E.,; Clarence E., who graduated from Eureka College and later from the law department of the University of Michigan, and is now a prominent member of the legal profession in East St. Louis; and Kate, who is the wife of F. M. Dean, of East St. Louis. In August, 1882, Mr. Pope married for the second time, his wife being Miss Ellen J. McClure, a daughter of G. Y. McClure, of DuQuoin. They have three daughters. Lillian M., who is the wife of Dr. W. H. Alvis, of Benton, Illinois, and Edith and Emily.
Successful as a business man and as a financier, Mr. Pope is likewise successful in the art of winning and keeping friends. The same sincerity which won him the confidence of his business associates has made him a valued friend, and the cool head and clear brain that could manipulate the finances of a banking institution so successfully are often called into requisition to assist a friend, or perhaps utter stranger, in some perplexity. The pleasant, tactful manner with which
Mr. Pope greets all alike is not the veneer of a scheming nature working for its own ends, but is a symbol of the true and honorable character that has endeared Mr. Pope to all who know him.