Partner Lewis Ginter, buried together

Queer Places:
901 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23284
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave, Richmond, VA 23228
Hollywood Cemetery, 412 S Cherry St, Richmond, VA 23220

John Pope (1856 – April 8, 1896) was the vice-president of the American Tobacco Co.

Pope not quite 40 at the time of his death, was, with the exception of Lewis Ginter, the wealthiest man in Virginia. Ginter's relationship with John Pope began when Pope delivered packages to Ginter's business in the early 1870s. Pope, a messenger boy was around 32 years younger than Ginter. In 1872, Ginter returned to Richmond and with the consent of Pope's parents brought the 16-year old with him. He later formally adopted Pope as his son. Both Ginter and Pope amassed great wealth over the next twenty years. Ginter joined J.F. Allen & Co., who were manufacturing cigarettes on a small scale. When Allen sold out his interest to Ginter, Pope became a partner in the business. In 1888, when the concern was incorporated, he was made vice-president. When, in 1890 the business was absorbed by the American Tobacco Co., Pope was retained as vice-president. Besides his interest in the American Tobacco Co., Pope was connected with some of the most important enterprises in the state.

Lewis Ginter (1824 – 1897) was Richmond’s premier magnate with business dealings in tobacco and silk. Ginter and Pope owned much of the area that is now the “Northside” of Richmond and built several homes there that set the architectural tone of the neighborhood. In addition, they bought property in Henrico County, just north of the city line which eventually became Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Although some will argue that their relationship was more paternal, since Ginter actually adopted Pope, the relationship between Ginter and Pope was the primary relationship in their life and neither man married nor was recorded as enjoying the intimate company of women.

Ginter’s House

The two also lived together until Pope's death in 1896. According to John Pope’s obituary in The Richmond Times Dispatch, on April 9, 1896: "Mr. Pope never married but lived quietly with Major Ginter, for whom he professed the utmost affection. The two were like father and son and were almost always together." Ginter also never married and according to his obituary in The Times, October 3, 1897, "he never pointedly sought" the company of women. Ginter's death at age 73 on October 2, 1897 was attributed to consumption and diabetes. This cocktail of maladies had gradually worsened since the death of his longtime companion John Pope in 1896, a loss that left Ginter severely prostrated.

Historians speculate on the nature of Mr. Ginter's relationship with Pope. There is no solid evidence to back up the idea that the two men, who lived together for nearly thirty years, were in a relationship beyond the platonic. Due to Victorian attitudes about sexuality it is likely that no one thought twice about what was going on between Ginter and Pope's closed doors, or at least those speculations weren't publicly documented. It's also possible that no one cared about Ginter's personal affairs.

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