Arthur Pope, a Connecticut resident, will be speaking at the Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville, Virginia, Friday September 18, at 6:30 p.m. about the making of his forthcoming book, Carry Me Back, An American Journey in Time and Place, that will be released in mid-October.
The presentation is sponsored by the Barns of Rose Hill and the Clarke County Committee on the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War and Emancipation. This is one of the four last programs of the final year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial in Clarke. The weekend of September 18-20 is also the 151st anniversary of the Third Battle of Winchester, the largest and bloodiest battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War in which Pope’s great- grandfather, John Michael Pope of Berryville, participated as a member of the famed Stonewall Brigade. A German immigrant in 1842, John Michael Pope’s story is a centerpiece of the book.
Carry Me Back is a fascinating book in both its detail and broad context. For over 60 years Pope has been engaged in a love affair with the legends surrounding his family history as it unfolded in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Berryville, Clarke County, Virginia. As a child growing up in Newhallville, an idyllic neighborhood in New Haven, Conn., he was beguiled by family legend filled with emotional tales of landscape, tradition and people.
Heightening his interest, there was an old trunk in his attic that had been shipped North in the 1930s when the last family members to live in Berryville died. The trunk was filled with photographs and memorabilia of Berryville, Clark County, the Antebellum South, German immigration, Methodism, Stones Chapel, the Confederacy and its heroes, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, and American small town southern life.
As Pope grew older and moved beyond the mysteries and emotions that all of this evoked, many questions began to arise, such as how his family dealt with the larger issues of slavery and American apartheid and how the history of Berryville, Clark County, has evolved to the present.
The book describes how over the years he was to learn that his own family history was really a prototype of American history, and how we all are connected to our past in a myriad of ways that decades cannot erase. He concludes, “Sometimes memories get twisted and sometimes the past is illusive, but to live again in its enclosure can be one of most enriching and enlightening experiences that life has to offer.”