Family, Providence, R.I.
Size: 0.25 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 631
Processed by: Rick Stattler, October 1997
©Rhode Island Historical Society
These papers all relate to the family of Sarah Helen (Power) Whitman (1803-1878), the renowned Providence poet and fiancé of Edgar Allen Poe. The bulk relate to her father's Power descendants, and her mother's immediate Marsh family. Whitman was an avid genealogist, and believed that her and Edgar Allen Poe shared an Irish royal ancestry through the "Po'er" family.
Although Whitman had great pride in her Power ancestry, her relationship with her father was strained at best. He left Providence in 1813, when Sarah was only ten years old, and spent the next twenty years estranged from his wife and children, leaving them in difficult financial circumstances. He returned to Providence in 1835, but even then maintained a separate residence, which must have been a scandalous situation in the town's small community of elite families. Toward the end of his life, he became one of the closest associates of Thomas W. Dorr, the leader of the Dorr Rebellion of 1842, for which he served time in prison.
Nicholas Power Jr.'s parents were Nicholas Power (1742-1808) and Rebecca Cory, who had the following children:
Nicholas Power Jr. (see below)
Rebecca (d.1860), m. Joseph L. Tillinghast 1798.
Sarah, m. David R. Williams of South Carolina, 1796
Mary Ann (1777-1840), m. William Blodgett
Nicholas Power Jr. (1771-1844) married Anna Marsh in 1798. Their surviving children were:
Rebecca Matilda (1800-1825), m. William R. Staples, 1822. Had son William (1824-1829).
Sarah Helen (1803-1878), m. in 1828 John W. Whitman (1799-1833). No children.
Susan Anna (1813-1877), never married.
The source of much of this information was a discussion with scholar Noelle Baker, who is working on a collected edition of Whitman's works. We can expect that her research will soon be published with accurate citations, superseding this present unreliable anecdotal account.
Return to top
Scope and content:
This collection includes genealogical records, family correspondence regarding land inheritance and other papers. Sarah Helen Whitman, the renowned poet and Poe fiancé, compiled these papers and is represented by several letters addressed to her, as well as several genealogical pieces in her own hand.
Return to top
This collection was apparently in the possession of Sarah Helen Power Whitman at the time of her death in 1878, as she was the last surviving member of her family. All of Whitman's papers then passed on to her literary executor and close friend, Mrs. Charlotte Dailey, who in turn left the papers to her two daughters Miss Charlotte K. Dailey and Maude Dailey Chace. They donated this small collection of Power family papers to the R.I.H.S. in 1909, but retained a larger collection of Whitman's personal papers, many relating to Edgar Allen Poe. These other papers were broken up and sold at a much later date; the bulk ended up at the University of Virginia and the John Hay Library at Brown University.
Return to top
This collection was pasted into a scrapbook circa 1910. The page numbers from the scrapbook are still used, although the items were removed and placed in individual folders circa 1975. The original numbering is erratic, so many folders can appear to be missing, but all items from the original accession list remain in the collection.
Return to top
Folder 1. Deed, Nicholas Power to William Burrough, 1733
"Powers in Rhode Island", undated genealogical manuscript apparently in hand of Sarah Helen Whitman.
Folder 2. Letter, H.H. Clements to Mrs. Whitman re Raleigh family. Undated fragment.
Folder 3. Letter, H.H. Clements to Mrs. Whitman re Raleigh family, Jersey City. Undated.
Folder 4. Letter, H.H. Clements to Mrs. Whitman re Raleigh family, 1875.
Folder 5. Letter, H.H. Clements to Mrs. Whitman re Raleigh family, Jersey City, 1876.
Folder 6. Winslow Ancestry of J.W. Whitman, undated, by Sarah Helen Whitman
Folder 7. Letter, Cousin S.A. to Mrs. Anna Power, including "Grandmother Marsh's Memorandums", undated
Folder 8. Chart of the family of Nicholas Power III, undated
Folder 9. Two pages of notes relating to early colonial common lands, undated
Folder 10. No folder 10
Folder 11. Marsh-Power family record, undated. Gives family of Nicholas Power and Rebecca Marsh, 1798-1833; and of Daniel Marsh and Susanna Wilkinson, 1756-1845.
Folder 12. No folder 12
Folder 13. * Family record of Nathaniel Sheffield, 1691-1730.
Folder 14. No folder 14
Folder 15. No folder 15
Folder 16. No folder 16
Folder 17. Gould-Marsh family record. Family of Daniel Gould, 1686-1752.
Folder 17a. Letter draft, [Sarah Helen Whitman] to E.H. Hazard, Providence, 7/16/1871
Receipt from J.W. Richmond from Mrs. Power for state certificate, 1848
Folder 18. Letter, Rebecca Power Tillinghast to Sarah Helen Whitman, Georgetown, 1860
Folder 19. Letter, William H. Whitman to William Whitman Bailey, Plymouth, 1877
Folder 20. Letter, W.R. Staples to Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, 1859, re sale of land.
Folder 21. Letter of administration to Sarah Helen Whitman, re mother's estate, 1858
Folder 22. Letter of administration to Sarah Helen Whitman, re mother's estate, 1858
Folder 23. Letter of administration to Sarah Helen Whitman, re mother's estate, 1858
Folder 24. No folder 24
Folder 25. Deed, J.B. Marsh et al to Anna Power et al, 1846, re common lands
Folder 26. Statement made by Nicholas Power during imprisonment in Dorr War, 7/10/1842
Folder 27. Letter, Nicholas Power to Thomas W. Dorr, Providence, 9/18/1842
Folder 28. Essay on Dorr War principles by "Rob Roy" [Nicholas Power], 1842
Folder 29. Letter, Joseph L. Tillinghast to Sarah Helen Whitman, 6/8/1841.
Folder 30. No folder 30
Folder 31. Ruth Marsh, stock certificate in Manufacturers Bank, Providence, 1837.
Folder 32. No folder 32
Folder 33. Letter, Sarah Carr to Anne Power, fragment, 9/1830
Folder 34. Letter, [Mary Dorrance] to [Anne Power?], fragment, [1830?]
Folder 35. Mortgage, Thomas Pollock, witnessed by Nicholas Power Sr. and Jr., 1733
Folder 36. No folder 36
Folder 37. Inventory of estate of Daniel Marsh, by Theodore Foster, Providence, 1785
Folder 38. No folder 38
Folder 39. Letter, William R. Staples to Nicholas Power, re estate, fragment, 1831
Folder 40. No folder 40
Folder 41. Letter, M.T. Dorrance to Anne Power, Montvilliers, 8/8/1830.
Folder 42. Power of attorney, Jonathan Marsh heirs to W.R. Staples, Beaufort N.C., 1829
Folder 43. No folder 43
Folder 44. No folder 44
Folder 45. Power of attorney, Jonathan Marsh heirs to W.R. Staples, Beaufort N.C., 1825
Folder 46. No folder 46
Folder 47. Letter, C.I. Bogert to Anna Power, 1822
Folder 48. Letter, C.I. Bogert to Anna Power, Jamaica 1821
Folder 49. No folder 49
Folder 50. Will of Jonathan Marsh, fragment, 1788. Copy, probably removed from 1820 letter in folder #53.
Folder 51. No folder 51
Folder 52. * News clipping, Woodell vs. Burgess, 1867
Folder 53. Letter, S. Marsh to Mrs. N. Power Jr., Newport, 1820
Folder 54. No folder 54
Folder 55. Will, Nicholas Power, March 6, 1744. 1808 copy. With memorandum on Power family history apparently in hand of Sarah Helen Whitman.
Folder 56. No folder 56
Folder 57. Receipt, William Corliss to David W. Marsh for share in Ohio Company, 1787
Folder 58. No folder 58
Folder 59. Deed, David Wilkinson to Jonathan Marsh, Providence, 1788. Copy.
Folder 60. No folder 60
Folder 61. Deed, David Wilkinson to Jonathan Marsh, Providence, 1788. Original.
Folder 62. No folder 62
Folder 63. Will, Jonathan Marsh, Providence, September 24, 1789. Copy.
Folder 64. No folder 64
Folder 65. Letter, David R. Williams, South Carolina, to unknown re trade, 5/30/1802.
Folder 66. No folder 66
Folder 67. Letter, Mrs. C.I. Bogert to sister Anna Power, re Ohio lands, Jamaica 1816
Return to top
Dorr, Thomas W. (1805-1854)
Dorrance, Mary R.
Ohio - Land records
Power, Anna (Marsh) (1773-1858)
Power, Nicholas (1742-1808)
Power, Nicholas (1771-1844)
Staples, William R. (1797-1868)
Tillinghast, Joseph L. (1791-1844)
Tillinghast, Rebecca Power (d.1860)
Whitman, Sarah Helen (Power) (1803-1878)
Williams, David R. (1776-1830)
End of finding aid - return to top