Monday, July 19, 2010

Rev. Increase Poope?

This morning, while looking for information on Daniel Malcom, I stumbled across a Freedom Trail website that gives biographical information for the first-person characters adopted by tour guides. As far as I can tell, these are all real people — Phillis Wheatley, Dr. Samuel Prescott, Deborah Samson, Crispus Attucks, etc.

One of the people is Jeremiah Poope, a native of Roxbury who was killed en route to the Battle of Bunker Hill. The bio says that Jeremiah was "the 13th of 18 children born to Mehitable Clapp and Rev. Increase Poope."

So the question is, was there really a minister named Increase Poope living in the Boston area in the mid-18th century? If there was, the internet appears not to know about him, and I can't imagine that any minister would go unrecorded. I have also looked for Increase Poop and Increase Pope, but haven't found anything in Roxbury or elsewhere.

A follow-up question: If Rev. Increase Poope did not actually exist, who chose this name for the Freedom Trail guide and why?

In other news, my "recent searches" menu now contains all possible spellings of both "Poope" and "Clapp."


JESCIE said...

J. L. Bell said...

No, this guy didn’t exist. No rowboat was “blown out of the water by a British Man-O-War” before the Battle of Bunker Hill. Casualties from that battle are well documented. Ministers are well documented, as you note, and their thirty-year-old sons rarely became “journeyman yeoman," which is just stringing two olde-fashioned words together.

Somebody just likes telling the tourists he’s descended from “first Poope who landed on these shores.” And tourists seem to enjoy it.

Unlike some other Freedom Trail Foundation guides, “Mr. Poope” isn’t wearing a beard, so there’s a point in his favor.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Good to know. I knew no 18th-century Roxbury minister could fly under Google's radar, but thought there was a possibility of it being a spelling issue.

Weird that they would mix real and fictional characters like that, especially when there is such an abundance of documented people of this age, race, and class. And I hope that I have proven over the years that you certainly don't need to make up funny names for this era!

Anonymous said...

Should the Freedom Trail guides be expected to shave their beards for their day job? I think J.L. Bell is taking himself too seriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that Poope is an example of "historical fiction," much like Johnny Tremaine, that the Freedom Trail uses to give a fun and common perspective when dealing with school children and visitors. I thoroughly enjoyed his tour, and didn't really feel like I was being misled.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing misleading or otherwise wrong with making your character an amalgam. Mine is. In fact, there is precious little documentation for most people, of any class. A few decades back, historians thought Deborah Sampson was black. I have painstakingly researched the lower and criminal classes of the time to create my character, and a tour with me is a far better window to the 18th century than to go along with some guy who has read one book on John Adams and then claims to be him.
"Journeyman yeoman" is, however, contradictory.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Are you saying that you portray the son of a minister as a member of "the lower and criminal classes"?