Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The when and where of Alonzo Marion Poe

The following is a chronology of the life and times of Alonzo Marion Poe who I've written about before.

The energetic Poe in Olympia
about 1855.

Poe moved around ‘Oregon Country’ where he spent most of his adult life and trying to confirm his location at different times is difficult. 

In some cases, it seems he was operating in two places at once. He certainly had assistance from his brother Americus who probably ‘managed’ his land in Bellingham, preceded him to Napa and managed his affairs after his death. 

It is possible that his youngest brother Alexander was in Thurston County in 1853 as he bought a small block on the edge of the city. If so he would have also worked for his energetic brother.

One activity that does not show up in the chronology is his apparently successful export of fruit trees to Canada. When it began and how long this 'side-line' lasted is not clear. His interest in real estate (perhaps learned from his father) continued through his adult life. His interests in 'news' and printing were strong but he was also a politician, 'lawman' and 'civil engineer'.

‘Oregon Country’ was a disputed region of the Pacific Northwest of North America, occupied by British and French-Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s. Its coastal areas north of the Columbia River were frequented by ships from all nations engaged in the maritime fur trade. The region was divided between the UK and US in 1846.

Map of Oregon Country by Kmusser.

Key events in Alonzo’s life

April 1826 – Born in Clay County (now part of Clinton County formed 2 January 1833), Missouri. He was the second child and first of three sons for William Romulus and Margaret Ann Po(w)e.

April 1845 – Poe leaves Missouri on the Oregon Trail employed with the Lemmon-Walden group which was aiming for the Willamette Valley.

September 1845 – The group arrives in the Oregon Country.

19 December 1845 – Lewis County created as Vancouver County changing to Lewis in 1849.

1846 – Settles in Tumwater, Lewis County (now part of Thurston County).

15 June 1846 - The Oregon Treaty establishes the British-American boundary at the 49th parallel (with the exception Vancouver Island which becomes British territory).

12 November 1846 – Poe submits a provisional land claim for property in Lewis County which he ‘intends to hold by personal occupancy’.

13 June 1847 - Elected sheriff of Lewis County.

The scorecard for the sheriff’s vote.

31 December 1846 - Submits a provisional land claim for property in Linn County.

18 April – 5 July 1848 – Enlists as a private in Captain Burnett’s Company N 1st Regiment of the Oregon Volunteers during the Cayuse War, in Thurston County.

14 August 1848 - Territory of Oregon incorporated into the United States. It includes the current states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and parts of Wyoming and Montana.

25 June 1850 – Listed in Lewis County census as a farmer.

1851 – Part of volunteer militia to Victoria to rescue sailors captured by the Haida Indians in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

1851 – Listed in Lewis County census of Olympia township as a single person.

June 1851 – Appointed County Clerk of Lewis County.

4 July 1851 – Olympia settler John B Chapman calls for settlers to split from Oregon Territory. Poe elected secretary of a preliminary meeting to form Washington Territory from Oregon.

29 August 1851 - One of twenty-six delegates at a meeting at Cowlitz Landing, Lewis County, to ‘take into careful consideration the present particular position of the northern portion of the territory, its wants, the best method of supplying those wants, and the propriety of an early appeal to Congress for a division of the territory’.

Memorial in Monticello celebrating participants of both the Cowlitz and Monticello conventions. The first is what lead to the creation of the new territory the second garnered popular support.

12 January 1852 – Thurston County created out of Lewis County.

7 February 1852 - A public hearing in Olympia, composed of the citizens of Thurston County and the passengers and crew of the sloop Georgianna, recently returned from Queen Charlotte's Island, elects Colonel M T Simmons as Chair, with D R Bigelow and A M Poe secretaries.

June 1852 – Elected Clerk of Thurston County.

1852 – Appointed Deputy US Marshall.

8 July 1852 - Petition by citizens meeting in Olympia demands the establishment of a newspaper to be called the Columbian and 'neutral in politics and religion, and devoted to the interests of Northern Oregon'. Poe appointed to receive funds.

11 September 1852 – First edition of the Columbian published by T F McElroy and J W Wiley in Olympia aims to create an independent territory and advocates Whig policies. The press was constructed by Adam Ramage and itself has an interesting history.

24 September 1852 – Land claim by Andrew Moses refers to an adjacent claim by Poe near Budd’s Inlet Thurston County apparently not referred to elsewhere.

25 November 1852 - Monticello Convention also produced a memorial to Congress calling for the creation of a new territory north of the Columbia, though it was received after the decision had been made.

22 December 1852 – Island County and Pierce County created out of Thurston County.

2 March 1853 – Washington Territory created with Isaac Stevens as governor.

17 September 1853 – Date of Poe's successful donation claim for 303.25 acres in Bellingham, Island County.

14 November 1853 -  Resigns as clerk of Thurston County.

1853 – Admitted to the Bar as a lawyer [Record to be located].

1853 – May have acquired land in Thurston County.

28 November 1853 - Isaac Stevens selects Olympia as capital of Washington Territory.

February 1854 – State Legislature’s first meeting.

9 March 1854 - Whatcom County created out of Island County. Poe appointed public notary in Thurston County.

September 1854 – Elected to the Territorial Legislature representing Whatcom County as a Whig candidate.

1854 – Appointed Auditor for Whatcom County.

20 October 1855 to 21 January 1856 - Lieutenant in Captain Charles H. Eaton’s Puget Sound Rangers during the Indian Wars raised in Thurston County.

October 1855 - When Lt. McAllister reports that Leschi, chief of the Nisquallies, had decided to fight for his land a small group of men, including Poe and McAllister, to bring Leschi in. McAllister is shot. Leschi is tried and hanged for 'murdering' A B Moses. Leschi was exonerated in 2004, by a special historical court.

1855 - Script Warrant Act of 1855.

11 August 1857 – Poe’s friend Captain Isaac Ebey killed and scalped at Coupeville, Whidbey Island, in Island County, as part of an Indian ‘payback attack’.

Poe’s network included the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

12 July 1858 – Elected surveyor at Whatcom County. He plats Whatcom town and quitclaims most of his land in Bellingham to his younger brother Americus.

1858 - Discontinuation of the land warrant program.

14 February 1859 - The State of Oregon admitted to the Union. The eastern portions of the Oregon Territory, including southern Idaho, portions of Wyoming west of the continental divide, and a small portion of present-day Ravalli County, Montana were annexed to the Washington Territory.

5 April 1860 - Returns Ebey’s scalp to his brother Winfred, after receiving it from Captain Charles Dodd who had purchased it from Indians.

4 June 1860 – Census shows Poe living in Thurston County as ‘Artist’ land ownership indicated.

5 November 1860 – Lincoln elected US President.

12 April 1861 – Civil War breaks out.

29 July 1861 – Founding editor of Overland Press published in Olympia, Thurston County, and its proprietor until 11 August 1862.

6 January 1862 – Elected Public Printer for Washington Territory by the Legislative Assembly. The British Colonist based in Vancouver wrote that ‘Mr Poe received 21 out of 35 votes cast on the fifth ballot. The office is worth about $7,000, and could not have fallen into better hands.’

About 1862 – Dr A G Henry, editor of rival paper The Standard assaults Poe with his cane and threatens him with a Bowie knife following a disagreement over an article. Henry shortly after joined his old friend Abraham Lincoln to become his doctor and political adviser.

Dr Henry after his spat with Poe.
Note that Lincolnesque beard!

11 August 1862 - Overland Press becomes a weekly and Poe assigns his interests to B F Kendall, who being less urbane and fleet-of-foot than Poe was murdered in the Press office the following January.

Saturday 23 August 1862 – Leaves for California to ‘recover his health’.

About 1863 – In Stockton, San Francisco as 'topographical engineer'.

19 January 1863 – Marries Emma M Hartshorn (1829-1872) daughter of Rev Chancellor Hartshorn in Napa, California. Many assume incorrectly that Emma is the daughter of Poe's associate Judge Chancellor Hartson.

21 November 1863 - Appointed enrolling officer for the Union in Napa County California under the Conscription Act.

January 1864 – Daughter Emma Agnes is born.

9 March 1864 – Elected corporal in a Cavalry Company in Napa City.

July 1864 – Tax return shows him operating a news ('intelligence') office and a real estate office in San Francisco.

3 May 1865 – ‘Baby’ Poe dies in Napa California.

9 May 1865 – Proclamation of the end of the Civil War.

1 August 1865 – Death of daughter Emma Agnes in San Francisco.

18 October 1865 – Elected one of two justices for Napa township.

29 January 1866 - Poe dies in Napa, California of ‘inflammation of the lungs’.

April 1966 – Emma returns to her father’s home in Michigan where she remains until her death without marrying again.

May 1866 – Brother Americus commences work of settling his affairs.

11 November 1889 – Washington Territory admitted to the Union as the State of Washington.

An impression of Olympia as Poe would have known it in about 1853.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Jottings of interest: October 2017

William R Powe and the D that wasn’t…

In an earlier post, I commented that William R Poe had not been found in the 1840 census in Clinton County, Missouri. The ‘omission’ may have meant he’d left Clinton and gone somewhere else or perhaps just been forgotten by the enumerator Mr Armstrong M'Clintock. 

It turns out neither is correct and it was just poor handwriting and a change of spelling (both can be blamed on M'Clintock) and not reading closely enough (my fault) ….

Here is an extract of the 1840 image.

The last name is 'Wm [William] R Pow'

Apart from the spelling being ‘Pow’, as opposed to Poe or Powe, the initial ‘P’ had been previously read and recorded as a ‘D’. Comparing it to other names, such as Poge confirms that ‘P’ is intended, it's just a distended loop which its one leg has been unable to hold up!

The names of the others in the households were not included, but the total number of persons have been grouped by age and divided into males and females. The numbers add up. That is, the numbers are appropriate for William his wife Margaret and their four children; Agnes, Alonzo, Americus and Alexander (my ancestor).

The other minor correction is about the statement that his second marriage took place in April 1949 in Buchannan County. This information came from his widow late in her life as part of a sworn statement for her to obtain a widow’s pension. My guess is that she would have remembered her wedding day and her attestation is very specific even giving the name of the celebrant, Mr Saunders, justice of the peace.  

It is possible that it took place in another County, though the obvious choice would have been Clinton. It turns out that the marriage is not recorded there either. However, wherever it did take place, Mr Saunders did not lodge the information with the County Recorder so there is no official record. 

So the event is probably correctly remembered by his wife; it's just that there is no official record.

Even if there were a record in the marriage record book, it would not tell us the names of William’s parents – which is what I am trying to find out. The information in the record books at the time say something to the following effect;

I (name of officiant) married (groom’s name) to (bride’s name) on (date) and (place—often just county name).  Name of the officiant.  Date filed. 

Later records would have included parents’ details and the consent of the father for an underaged girl, as the JP would have been required to convince himself of in this case.

I’ll tweak my earlier post to bring it up to date with these clarifications.

Joseph Swan now in Wikipedia

My short item on Joseph Swan is now part of Wikipedia and can be added to by anyone with an interest. It’s a ‘cut down’ version of my blog item on him.  Hopefully, more detail can be added to the story of his life.

Of course, Joseph was mentioned before in a variety of articles but generally only with his name and a designation as engraver or publisher – now he has a justified separate identity!

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia which aims to allow anyone to edit articles. Wikipedia is the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet and ranked the fifth-most popular website. Wikipedia is owned by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable organisation headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Lucy Poe Blandy: another picture and more details

Lucy was a member of United States Daughters of 1812 and it seems one of the last of the 'real daughters'. She passed away at the age of 94 on Christmas day 1946. I have previously obtained a copy of her Daughters of 1812 application papers which have been of great help in obtaining information about her father my ancestor William Romulus Poe. It was also the starting point also for my item on his daughter Lucy Poe Blandy.

The Society’s Newsletter of July 1947 had an item which stated that ‘Mrs Charles Henry Plotner presented a portrait of the late Mrs [Lucy Jane] Blandy, a Real Daughter who was a member of the society in the District of Columbia, to be placed in Headquarters.’ On reading that I wrote to ask if they still had the portrait.

Sadly, 70 years later after that gift, that portrait can’t be found, but the Society kindly kept looking and 12 October I received a note from Mary Raye Casper, 4th Vice President National. She informed me that:

Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a portrait of Mrs Blandy but did find mention of her in one of our District of Columbia Society scrapbooks. This information then led me to a familiar photograph that is at the Library of Congress which includes an image of Mrs Lucy Poe Blandy. I have attached this image taken on May 14, 1923, of four Real Daughters whose fathers "took an active part in the War of 1812".

From left to right: Miss J. E. Richardson, Mrs H. W. Blandy, Mrs J. F. Galliard, and Mrs Clara Louise Dowling, 14 May 1923 outside the famous Willard Hotel, Washington DC. 

The women were attending the twentieth-anniversary meeting of the founding of the national organization in Washington, DC, at the Willard Hotel. Comparing it to the photo in the earlier blog item, they were obviously taken at about the same time, which should make it easier to identify the blurry monument behind them. 

The photo is wonderfully clear and frank. The flag they are holding is a replica of the US flag as it was during the War of 1812 - with 15 stars.

By the way, the Daughters of 1812 are this year celebrating their Quasquicentennial

That's their 125th - from 1892-2017. 

Amongst their achievements, the effort to make the Star-Spangled Banner the official National Anthem of the United States began with the United States Daughters of 1812. The story and the efforts of Mrs Reuben Ross Holloway makes an interesting read.

The lyrics come from Defence of Fort M'Henry, a poem written on 14 September 1814, by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key. He wrote it after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the huge American flag, the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the Fort during the American victory.

Flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814,
photographed in 1873 in the Boston Navy Yard
by George Henry Preble. Via Wikipedia

Mrs Casper confirmed that their records show that Lucy Poe Blandy was very likely the last surviving Real Daughter of the District of Columbia Society of the N.S.U.S.D. of 1812. They have records that indicate that Marie Burnham Bonorden of El Paso, Texas, was the last surviving Real Daughter of the National Society. 

Mary died on 26 June 1973. Her father was Rev Jonas Burnham, who had a most interesting life and his story is recorded in a short book, Seventy years a teacher. Sketch of the life of Rev. Jonas Burnham (1920) by, Arthur Wellesley Perkins. Mary’s mother was his second wife Mary Lovina Wells.  Mary’s grave is in the Evergreen Cemetery East, El Paso, Texas.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Agnes Miriam Bald: windows to her mind

The previous item about Agnes Miriam ‘Nan’ Bald outlined her life. This item describes some of her writing with a few examples to illustrate her preoccupations and mood.

The following are excerpts of some of her poems as they appear in her short book, Pencil Poems. They were written before about 1925 and the earliest may date from 1919, though there is no indication of the dates for specific poems. The book is dedicated to her mother whom she cared for after the death of her father in December 1925.

A sentence which represents a strong theme of the book is on page 15:

‘It would be nice to feel when ends life’s weary way,
We’ve done our best!’

There is another celebrating a betrothal which may reflect the experience of her youngest sister Ruth or perhaps her eldest sister Evelyn on page 20. The theme of betrothal is the subject of a number of poems and though none seems to refer specifically to herself it is clearly a topic which occupied her mind. 

One gets the impression that this theme comes from a personal experience which was too painful to describe directly. Apart from this, she is consistent in making clear when speaking about herself, which is helpful in identifying other aspects of her life.

‘The Bruised Reed; to a war hero’ tells of a soldier, Bill, who though wounded in the [First World] War and permanently confined to bed, dictates words of beauty which are printed in a newspaper to cheer and ‘comfort half the race’. The story seems to be of someone she knows about as the focus is a nurse copying down his words to send to an editor – whose name is unknown to the author. Her sister Ruth was a nurse during the War so could be based on her experience.  

The poem follows the title of a book by Richard Sibbes (1567–1635) published in 1630 to help struggling Christians see their Saviour as a tender shepherd. Sibbes is best remembered for his little book that draws from Isaiah’s description of the coming Messiah who will not break a bruised reed nor snuff a faintly burning wick.

Another poem called ‘The Proposal’ describes a proposal of marriage and might be the story of a female friend of hers.

‘You are young Mary meadows’ is a kind of tribute to ‘You are old Father William’ and though it shows genuine verbal fun – possibly the only poem to do so - there is the theme of marriage again which obviously preoccupied her. ‘You Are Old, Father William’ is a ‘nonsense poem’ written by Lewis Carroll and appears in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), recited by Alice. The poem was popular with my mother and I guess widely enjoyed at the time and was itself a parody of a now ignored didactic poem by Robert Southey ‘The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them’ published in 1799 and once well-known and loathed by children. 

The first two verses of ‘You are old, Father William’ (1865) by Lewis Carroll are:

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

The first two verses of Agnes’ poem are as follows;

You are Young Mary Meadows
“You are young Mary meadows,” the young man said,
“And your eyes are as bright as the stars,
And yet you refuse charming fellows to wed
You seem to prefer their papas!"

“In the days of my childhood,” she said to the youth,
“I used to like young men like you;
But since I’ve grown up, I must say of a truth,
I seem to like older ones too!”

'Raggles' celebrates the Tibetan Lhasa terrier she had in India. The only picture in Pencil Poems is of this dog. Raggles also appears as an ‘extra’ in a family photo in front of her parents’ home at Tukvar shown in the previous post.

Raggles gets star billing as the only picture in Pencil Poems.

A glimpse of her love for India is in the poem of that name.

‘India, thou land of sheer delight!
Land of my birth, I know I love thee quite.
How many years have I spent on thy shore?
I think they’d reckon up to half a score.’

When you near home, and your verandah see,
You will be longing for some home-grown tea…’

The poem remind me of the following picture taken at Tukvar which shows Nan's sister Evelyn, mother Margaret and sister Jessie. The picture was probably taken by her father Claud.

Taking tea at Tukvar.

There are two poems about her nieces who visited in August 1922, my mother Joan and her sister dubbed ‘Maya’. We learn from the poem that it was Maya’s ayah who dubbed her thus. Joan ‘is a very bright wee spark, as clever as can be!’ and Maya is ‘a charming little child.’ 

Nan was delighted when the girls did come to join her and her mother a few years later. The phrase ‘wee spark’ reminds me that her parents were both Glaswegian and must have retained that accent through their lives.

Joan the 'bright wee spark' and her mother
 at the time she met Nan and her Bald grandparents for the first time.

The final poem returns to a theme which is consistent throughout the book; a life of pain which others cannot understand and in which she gained strength through her faith.  The title is ‘Be Strong’ and final verse reads;

‘When weariness and weakness is my lot,
What would I do if I ever forgot
These words as through this life I go along,
“Quit ye like men, be strong”’

The last phrase, like others in Pencil Poems, is from the Bible and illustrates her faith which persisted through her life. The phrase is a call to ‘man up’, take responsibility for yourself and do what you need to do. The Apostle Paul uses it in the context of what might be called a moral fight. The phrase had a military application in World War I, consistent with its Old Testament usage where the against the odds the Philistines took this approach and defeated the lax Israelite army. The approach is one my mother adopted though she did not have a specifically Christian sense of faith.


I think the crucial factor of Nan's life which the family memory may have missed is the devastating impact of the first world war.

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps tend the graves of fallen British soldiers.
Abbeville, France, 9 February 1918. Imperial War Museums

Nearly three-quarters of a million young British men died in the first world war. Their loss was also that of a generation of young women who had expected to marry. Virginia Nicholson's book Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War details the phenomena of the single women of the 1920s and 1930s. Even before the war, there were more women than men, but the 1921 census revealed that in Britain women exceeded men by 1.75 million.

Nicholson shows how difficult it was for women who viewed marriage as their birthright to adjust. They had not only to manage their own disappointment and reduced expectations in a climate that pushed homemaking to the fore but do so in the face of both pity and condemnation.

‘Surplus Woman and spinster’, she says, were terms of 'crushing weight'. While her book celebrates women who did climb out from underneath the weight, others would have simply found it very difficult. Nan had a tough time adjusting but was buoyed somewhat by her faith and perhaps her sister Jessie struggled more. In a strange twist, Jessie imagined that men were always chasing her.

For the Bald sisters, a clandestine affair would have been out of the question given their upbringing. This was underlined in the climate that life for the single woman meant enforced celibacy or the loss of respectability.

We have no information on how Nan was employed after her mother died in 1935, though the stipend her parents will provided for her may have meant finding a menial task was the necessity it was for many single women.

Her debt to her parents’ in this provision was significant and in recognition of this I suspect she is the person who organised arrangements for their grave which consists of a pink granite Celtic cross and a grave edging also in granite with the words

‘Their children and grandchildren record their deep gratitude for loving service and noble example.’

By this time her nieces Joan and Maya had returned from India to Worthing for their schooling and Nan spent much time looking after them as well as her ageing mother.

After her mother’s death, her nieces spent summer holidays with their Aunt Ruth and her husband Arthur Campbell in Bangor, North Wales or stayed on at School. 

Nan threw herself into a variety of organisations; she was a founding member and or honorary secretary to the Worthing branches of the Lord's Day Observance Society, Women’s International Fellowship, Protestant Alliance and Women’s World Day of Prayer. 

In 1938, she took up a position as leader of the Sunday Defenders, the children’s section of the Lord’s day Observance Society, based in Brighton, though had returned to Worthing after a year.

In late 1941 she suffered a breakdown in her health and resigned from some of these roles for what turned out to be a short time and returned to her various roles of public advocacy.

In these roles (before and after her break), she was a frequent writer to the editor of the Worthing Herald and spoke at public meetings in support of ‘The great need for women’s influence and responsibility’. She was not shy in offering public expositions of her views of the Bible for example.

In July 1936, no doubt still mourning the loss of her mother, she wrote on the topic of ‘The Pacifist and the burglar’ concluding in a characteristic way;

‘It is this spiritual freedom to serve the unseen Deity which our country still retains, for which we owe the deepest debt of gratitude to our heroes of the Great War, Jesus Christ commends watchful defence of property in Matthew 24:43.’

The tone of her writings had become combative, her feelings are often raw, bitter and unhappy and they often invited cynical responses.

Her apparently joyless advocacy of sacrifice in later life may have been a subconscious expression of bereavement not only at the loss of her mother but also of the married life she dreamed of as a younger woman. She would have been reminded of her loss regularly at the sight of couples with children and in a society increasingly interested in enjoyments such as Sunday cinemas instead of sacrifice. Her inability to regulate her emotions would have reduced her ability to maintain social relationships which would have exacerbated her sense of loss.

Nan’s faith may have provided some buttress to sanity and the absence of such belief, in the case of her sister Jessie, may have made her isolation complete.

Though the first world war deprived many women of potential husbands, it enabled the pioneering few to establish careers. A Bald cousin, Dr Marjory Amelia, dedicated her life to the study and teaching of women’s literature and supporting missionary work and is worthy of recognition for this. Her major work was Women-writers of the nineteenth century and it remains a go-to text for that study and her life a positive example.

The collection of Pencil Poems provides a fascinating glimpse into a part of Nan’s life. A more careful examination of the poems may identify all the people mentioned, the references made to other writings, and the circumstances referred to, though we may never know the name of the person whose loss caused her deepest sense of isolation.

Nan died on 4 May 1950 in a Worthing nursing home and was cremated.

Nan in happy times.
Taking nieces Joan and Maya to school in Worthing.

Let me know if you would like a soft copy of Pencil Poems.