1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Power-Whitman Papers

 Family, Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1733-1876

 Size: 0.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 631

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, October 1997

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            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.

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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.

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            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.

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Processing note:

            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.

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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

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Clements, H.H.

Dorr, Thomas W. (1805-1854)

Dorr Rebellion

Dorrance, Mary R.

Marsh family

Ohio - Land records

Power, Anna (Marsh) (1773-1858)

Power, Nicholas (1742-1808)

Power, Nicholas (1771-1844)

Sheffield, Nathaniel

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)

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