Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Pope Quarter

My grandmother never really got much of chance to meet her husband’s mother’s family when she lived in North Dakota, but she did receive a few letters.  One was written in 1945 from Verna Pope Johnson, my great grandmother’s younger sister.  There are all kinds of interesting details in this letter if you look closely enough.  One of which was when she talked about her daughter who had married and already had several children.  The married name of this daughter was unusual enough to merit some additional research.  I got online and found all the Zinggs I could in the area around Washburn, ND and wrote them letters asking them if they were connected.  I left my phone number and address…and one day, I got a letter back!

Sharyll Zingg Tweeten was a granddaughter of Verna Pope Johnson and she had been elected by her siblings to make the contact with us.  Soon, we were making plans to travel to North Dakota and meet this new branch of the family.  My aunt and her husband as well as their granddaughter and my parents, my niece and I began the long trip to North Dakota.  Along the way, we stopped at a few spots like Craters of the Moon, Yellowstone, Buffalo Cody Museum, and Devil’s Tower.  We had two teenagers with us and felt that they should see these places.  Soon enough, we had arrived at Washburn, ND and began making our way to the Tweeten home place.  After meeting Sharyll and her husband Clint, we felt as if we were meeting old friends.

The old pictures were brought out and we were seeing photographs for the first time of family members that we had only heard about as well as stories of a family we knew very little about.  It was interesting to me personally that Sharyll’s mother’s name had been Capitola…and it was my grandmother’s name as well. I brought out some documents that I had gotten online from the Bureau of Land Management site ( that listed either Shirlie Pope or her father Winslow Pope.  On one of these records, Clinton (Sharryll’s husband) paused and read it more carefully.  He got out a platte book that had been published based on some early land owners of these lands.  As he compared the land entry and the book, he got a big grin on his face.  It seems that his uncle had bought a piece of land back in the 1920’s and had farmed the land.  He had always called it the “Pope Quarter” and now Clint understood why.  That document with the description fo the land that Winslow Pope had  - was what Clint’s family had always called the Pope quarter.  Clint had never imagined that this piece of land was his wife’s great grandfather’s original homestead. 

The BLM record for Winslow Pope
The next day, Clint took Dad and me over and showed us the Pope quarter…there was nothing all that impressive about the piece of land…but it was interesting to think that this was the piece of land that my 3rd great grandfather had homesteaded nearly a century ago!