Richmond Aug: 20, 1835
I received your very kind
and complimentary letter only a few minutes ago, and hasten to
I have been long aware that
a connexion existed between us—without knowing precisely in what manner. Your letter however has satisfied me
that we are second cousins. I will
briefly relate to you what little I have been able to ascertain, or rather to
remember, in relation to our families.
That I know but little on this head will not appear so singular to you
when I relate the circumstances connected with my own particular history. But to return. My paternal grandfather was Gen: David
Poe of Baltimore—originally of Ireland.
I know that he had brothers—two I believe. But my knowledge extends only to
one, Mr George Poe. My grandfather married, when very young,
a Miss Elizabeth Carnes of Lancaster, Pa, by whom he had 5 sons—viz: george (who
died while an infant) John, William, David, and Samuel: also two daughters Maria
and Eliza. Of the sons none married
with the exception of David. He
married a Mrs. Elizabeth Hopkins, an English lady, by whom he had 3 children,
henry, myself, and Rosalie. Henry
died about 4 years ago—Rosalie and myself remain. The daughters of Gen: David Poe, Maria,
and Eliza, both married young.
Maria married Mr Wm Clemm, a gentleman of high standing and some property
in Baltimore. He was a widower with
5 children—and had, after his marriage to Maria Poe 3 others—viz: 2 girls and a
boy, of which a girl Virginia, and a boy Henry are still living. Mr Clemm died about 9 years ago without
any property whatever, leaving his
widow desolate, and unprotected, and little likely to receive protection or
assistance from the relatives of her husband—most of whom were opposed to the
marriage in the first instances—and whose opposition was no doubt aggravated by
the petty quarrels frequently occurring between Maria’s children, and Mr Cs
children by his former wife. This
Maria is the one of whom you speak, and to whom I will allude again
presently. Eliza the second
daughter of the General, married a Mr Henry Herring of Baltimore, a man of
unprincipled character, and by whom she ha[d sever]al children. She is now dead, and Mr Herring, having
married ag[ain…] communication with the family of his (sisters) wife’s sister,
Mrs [Eliza Poe] the widow of General D. Poe, and the mother of Maria, died on[ly
6 week]s ago, at the age of 79. She
had for the last 8 years of her life been [confine]d entirely to bed—never,
any instance, leaving it during that time.
She [h]ad been paralyzed, and suffered from many other complaints—her
daughter Maria attending her during her long & tedious illness with a
Christian and martyr-like fortitude, and with a constancy of attention, and
unremitting affection, which must exalt her character in the eyes of all who
know her. Maria is now the only
survivor of my grandfather’s family.
In relation to my grandfather’s brother George I know but little. Jacob Poe of Frederich town, Maryland,
is his son—also George Poe of Mobile—and I presume your father Wm Poe. G Jacob Poe has two sons Neilson, and
George—also one [page 2] daughter Amelia.
My father David died when I was in the second year of my age, and when my
sister Rosalie was an infant in arms.
Our mother died a few weeks before him. Thus we were left orphans at an age when
the hand of a parent is so peculiarly requisite. At this period my grandfather’s
circumstances were at a low ebb, he from great wealth having been reduced to
poverty. It was therefore in his
power to do little for us. My
brother Henry he took however under his charge, while myself and Rosalie were
adopted by gentlemen in Richmond, where we were at the period of our parents’
death. I was adopted by Mr Jn Allan
of Richmond, Va: and she by Mr Wm McKenzie of the same place. Rosalie is still living at Mr McK still
unmarried, and is treated as one of the family, being a favourite with all. I accompanied Mr Allan to England in my
7th year, and remained there at school 5 years since which I resided
with Mr A. until a few years ago.
The first Mrs. A. having died, and Mr A having married again I found my
situation not so comfortable as before, and obtained a Cadet’s appointment at W.
Point. During my stay there Mr A
died suddenly and left me—nothing.
No will was found among his papers.
I have accordingly been thrown entirely upon my own resources. Brought up to no profession, and
educated in the expectation of an immense fortune (Mr A having been worth $750,000) the
blow has been a heavy one, and I had nearly succumed to its influence, and
yielded to despair. But by the
exertion of much resolution I am now beginning to look upon the matter in a less
serious light, and although struggling still with many embarrassments, am
enabled to keep up my spirits. I
have lately obtained the Editorship of the Southern Messenger, and may probably
yet do well.
Mrs Thompson, your aunt, is still living in Baltimore. George Poe of Baltimore allows her a
In conclusion, I beg leave to assure you that whatever aid you may have
it in your power to bestow upon Mrs Clemm will be given to one who deserves
every kindness and attention. Would
to God! That I could at this moment aid her. She is now, whi[le] I write, struggling
without friends, without money, and without health to support [herself] and a
children. I sincerely pray God that
the words which I am [writing] may be the means of inducing you to unite wit[h]
your brothers a[nd…fri]ends, and send her just now, and which, unless it reach
her soonwill, [I] am afraid, reach her too late. Entreating your attention to this
subject I remain
Yours very truly & affectionately
1 Source: Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849. Letters. Edited by John Ward Ostrom. New York, Gordian Press, 1966, Volume I,