Our next #MuseumCat is Major Johnson Pope Gilbert, who lived at two shops on North Market Street in Frederick.
In the late 1800’s Thomas E. Pope made 20 North Market Street (pictured here) his home and business. Thomas Pope operated a tobacco wholesale and retail store, a trade that he most likely learned from his father John, who also was a tobacconist. In the 1890’s George Gilbert operated his boot and shoe store along side Pope’s shop. Though both men were doing a profitable business it seems that their cat named Major Johnson Pope Gilbert was monopolizing most of the headlines.
The first appearance that features the Major in the newspaper, is his celebrated return home on July 25, 1894, after a disappearance of a few days. The Major makes the news once again on April 13, 1894…
A Distinguished Cat
Major Johnson Pope Gilbert is the name of a fine large cat which has for sometime past made its headquarters at the store of Geo. A. Gilbert, on North Market street. Major is about nine years of age and weighs thirteen and one-half pounds. He is well known about the neighborhood and is generally looked upon as a privileged character. Major makes frequent visits about meal time to the residence of Thos. E. Pope, but soon comes home and takes his afternoon nap. He is generally peaceful and quiet, but if tantalized will make it unpleasant for his aggressor.
Sadly, on September 14, 1895, the newspaper posts Major Johnson Pope Gilbert’s obituary.
Death of The Major
The fine large pet cat known as “Major Pope Gilbert,” and familiar to almost everyone on North Market street, died a few days ago., much to the sorrow of its friends. The cat was between ten and eleven years old and made its home at the stores of Messers. Geo. A. Gilbert and Thomas E. Pope. During the past few years it became too old to find food and was well taken care of by its masters.
The Major must have been a very distinguished cat indeed to be remember by all of his friends and by us a 119 years later.
- Jennifer Winter, Museum Operations Coordinator