Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Chapter 02,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 51-64


[page 51:]

Richmond — The Early Years

If Elizabeth Poe had any intimation from Mrs. John Allan and Mrs. William Mackenzie that they would take care of Edgar and Rosalie, she must have died with her greatest dread removed. Their grandfather, David Poe, was still living in Baltimore, it is true, but he was not well-to-do, and he had assumed the responsibility for William Henry Poe, his eldest grandson. On the other hand, John Allan was a partner in the firm of Ellis and Allan, exporters of tobacco and general merchants, and was in comfortable, if not in affluent, circumstances. The Allans were childless and the little boy, whose early charm had attracted Mrs. Allan, was apparently sure not only of material advantages, but also of that love and sympathy which foster-parents owe to a child for whom they voluntarily assume the responsibility. So much that is incorrect has been written concerning the relationship between Poe and John Allan, and so important was that relationship in shaping Poe's career, that it becomes necessary to try to understand the character of the two persons who were to guide Edgar Poe during his formative years.

Fortunately for our purpose, John Allan was one of the most voluminous correspondents of his time. In the hundreds of letters which he wrote, or received, and of which, with true Scottish caution, he preserved copies, we see a man exact in his business relations, anxious naturally to buy cheaply and sell at a good price, competent, and reasonably progressive in his methods. Many of these letters have been preserved in the papers of the Ellis-Allan firm, now in the Library of Congress and in the Edward V. Valentine Collection in the Valentine Museum in Richmond. A selection from the Valentine Collection, including the letters from Poe to John Allan, edited in 1925 by Mrs. Stanard, threw a new light upon Poe's life in a previously obscure period. New facts are also recorded in the manuscript by Thomas H. Ellis, the son of John Allan's partner, which has apparently not been available to biographers.(1) [page 52:]

John Allan was born in Cresland House in 1780,(2) in the parish of Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland, and came to Richmond before January, 1795, living at first with his uncle, William Galt, who had preceded him by twenty years, and who was one of Richmond's leading merchants. By articles signed on November 23, 1800, Charles Ellis and John Allan, clerks in William Galt's employ, entered into partnership as merchants, the business to commence on the first of September following.(3) Each contributed £1,000 sterling.

On June 4, 1804, John Allan was naturalized in the United States Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit at Richmond, Virginia, and took the oath before Chief Justice Marshall. On this occasion he proved that he had lived within the United States since before January 29, 1795.(4) [page 53:]

John Allan married Frances Keeling Valentine, daughter of the late John Valentine, of Princess Anne County, on Saturday, February 5, 1803. The Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser of February 9th announced the marriage of John Allan, merchant, “to the much admired Miss Fanny Valentine, both of this city.” When Poe became a member of the household, Mr. and Mrs. Allan and Ann Moore Valentine, her sister, were living over the store of Ellis and Allan, on the northeast corner of Main and Thirteenth Streets.(5)

The fact that the Allans lived over the store had no such significance as it would today, for it was not an unusual custom in Richmond at that time. The neighborhood, however, was rather on the outskirts of fashion, being southeast of Capitol Square. They did not live on Fourteenth Street near “Tobacco Alley,” at this time, as usually stated in the biographies, since the houses mentioned were not built until 1817. William Galt bought the lots in 1815.(6)

The Richmond to which John Allan came as a young man was a town in transition and his position, financial and social, developed with it. Samuel Mordecai, whose reminiscences(7) are accepted by modern Richmond antiquarians, describes it as made up in these early days of wooden houses, usually of two stories. No portion of Main Street in the carriage way, and only a few sidewalks, were paved. But its situation determined its future.

Founded in 1733 by Colonel William Byrd, of Westover, Richmond, through its location at the head of the navigation of the James River, was destined to be an important commercial city. In 1779 the seat of State government was transferred from Williamsburg and in 1782 it became a city in law as well as in fact. In 1800 it had a population of 5,300, about equally divided between whites and Negroes.

It was, and is, a city of hills. On the southeast rises Church Hill, [page 54:] whose name still reflects its chief attraction, the old Church of St. John. Capitol Square, in the heart of the city, overlooks the James River to the south and Shockoe Hill and Cemetery to the north. When John Allan came to Richmond, there was an ugly old guard house on the Square, and the Governor's House adjoining was a plain wooden building of two stories, “unconscious of paint . ... With goats grazing on his Excellency's grounds.” This crudity was redeemed, however, by the Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson along the lines of the Maison Carrée at Nîmes, and built in 1792. Its Greek simplicity and dignity made it a landmark, visible for miles. Even today it is a noteworthy building, hardly improved by the later wings. Houses like that of John Marshall, dating from 1780, still remain to mark this earlier period of Richmond as not entirely lacking in stately homes.

By one of those curious movements of fashion so common to American cities, the social center of Richmond moved from Church Hill to the neighborhood of the Capitol and to Shockoe Hill. A period of building began about 1810 when an architectural order of a modified late Georgian came into favor. The typical house was a square building, usually of two lofty stories, and a basement, with Greek porticoes in front and Doric pillars in the rear. The Wickham-Valentine house, built in 1812, now the Valentine Historical Museum, is a fine example of the residence of a prominent citizen. It was during Poe's childhood that this architectural renaissance was beginning, and it is quite possible that the prevailing classical tone may have had its effect upon him in developing a love of ordered beauty. In any event, of much greater importance were the character of the people he met at John Allan's home, and the influences of that household upon him. If there were varying degrees of affection shown him by John Allan and his foster-mother, this difference would have had its influence upon a sensitive child.

John Allan belonged, naturally, to that group of English, Scottish, and Irish merchants, usually younger sons, who came over before and after the Revolution. According to Mordecai, these young men were often requested by their employers not to marry in America, so that their interests would remain undivided, and he indicates that this prohibition prevented that social intercourse between merchant and planter which the hospitable disposition of the latter would have encouraged. If this were true in general, John Allan was a decided exception. In the first place, he came not as a representative of a British house, but as a man who identified himself with his adopted country. [page 55:] Later, he reversed the usual process and went to England to establish a branch there of an American firm.

Certainly the letters which make up the Ellis manuscript reveal a distinctly active social life for the Allans, not only in the so-called “merchant set” but also with the planter group of which men like Bowler Cocke was an example. The first group of these letters, from 1808 to 1812, from Margaret Keeling Nimmo, a cousin of Mrs. Allan, whom she was visiting in Richmond, tell of many entertainments in which her hosts took part. A typical postscript in a letter to her brother, James Nimmo, on February 4, 1811 reads: “If you can meet with some good oranges, I wish you would bring up a dozen or two, as Cousin (Mrs. Allan) is to have a large party next week.”

Of even greater interest are the letters from John Allan himself. Those whose reading has been limited to the business letters found in the Library of Congress, will be surprised at the lightness of touch, the gallantry and even raillery to be found in his letter of February 26, 1811, to Margaret Nimmo when she has left their home in Richmond to return to Norfolk. He begins with a quotation from Scott's verse — then writes a Preface:

My text will not fail to make you smile, if not laugh, for then you will fancy you see me strutting, with extended arm, relating the fight between Snowden's knight and my hero — stop! stop! Let me see: I think I have read somewhere, that the beauty of letter writing consists generally in using exactly that kind of freedom which a person might be supposed to do to another in common conversation; at all events, I have a mighty desire to try what stuff my brain will jumble together in the experiment. Hitherto, you see, I have not said anything to much purpose, and yet I have already written full eleven lines. Gracious God! as Bowler Cocke says; and if it be really true that in eleven lines, I have said nothing, how many more must I write before I come to my purpose? Now, curse me, if I can tell. I was going to tell you a long story; but I know you don’t like long stories, and so I will e’en shorten it as much as possible. Pray, how do ye do? how did you get home? and where is my cloak? All these are important inquiries to “a man of my talents” as Swift says in a letter to — Oh the Devil! I forget, God forgive me! how fast I am consuming these most valuable items both to myself and others — Time, Candle, and Patience. I mean yours, — not to say anything of the minor objects — Pen, Ink and Paper. But just let me trespass a little farther; I shall run out presently, unless it should happen with this letter, as with most concerns in life, and that is, we generally say more [page 56:] about nothing, than when talking of Somebody, because in the latter case our ideas are fixed by a sort of imaginary boundary line, but in the former it's like the immensity of space, the subject is really inexhaustible, as you will see most amply illustrated by the preceding example! Now only consider, how I began, what I began about, how I have continued, and fancy where I should end if I did not here make a full (stop)

The Letter.

I really thought it probable we might have had a few lines from you on arriving safe at home, just to let us know the Gulf of Hampton Roads spared you for creating so many aching ♥'s in Richmond. Fitz James bears his misfortunes nobly: he feels, whilst he struggles — I hope successfully; Rhoderic is the same as ever; and Doctor Biscuit is almost restored to his senses. In fact, we begin to move on regularly and systematically as usual. Fitz spends the greatest part of his leisure hours with the family. Poor Frances has really been quite ill, and though by no means well now, yet she has much recovered. Nancy sticks to the old thing, Caroline has been unwell, but has recovered. So that we consider ourselves nearly fit for a frolic, as Davie says. I dreamt I heard there was a Lieutenant in your head, but I dreamt wrong. Peter has not been in our doors since you went away. Write Fanny and tell her all the news of Norfolk. How goes the report about you there? They will have you engaged, I doubt not. I have no more news at this time; so God bless you and all the family.

Your sincere Friend

But the most significant revelation comes in a letter from Allan to James Nimmo, dated October 14, 1814:

I have great pleasure in informing you of the return of my family to our own fireside, after a pleasant trip to the mountains, not, as you well know, from choice, but compulsion. Frances has caught a bad cold, but is not confined by it. Nancy has seen one of the wonders of the world — the Blue Ridge Mountains; she experienced much satisfaction in contemplating these prodigious works of nature, whose cloudcapped summits appear to aspire to the very heavens. To the stranger, their first appearance is awfully grand and interesting; but it by no means equals the view from their summit; which is extensive, various, and delightful. Mrs. Nimmo will be able to give you a pretty good account of the upper country for, as I am informed, she wanted to know everything by inquiring about all that she saw. ... Margaret and your grandson are hearty; she is beginning to recover her flesh. Thomas H. Ellis is a wonderful fellow; I can’t distinctly comprehend him [page 57:] yet, but in a short time I have no doubt he will be an equal match for little Margaret. I suspect he will be a perfect wonder, and I may have occasion in six or seven months more to relate such exploits of his performance, that you will be obliged to come up here (with Mrs. Nimmo, who I have no doubt was much pleased with Richmond,) to witness them.

I hope you have perfectly recovered your health, and see things with a more cheerful eye. Philosophy you must invite, which, aided by a hearty pinch of snuff, will work wonders. Try the experiment — for this is the age of experiments, both public and private. It's true, publickly, I cannot say much in their favour, privately, though not very fully informed, yet I know some folks who have learned to do without many comforts and conveniences which they once thought indispensable to their existence, (I leave enjoyment out of the question,); many others have found out that they can live on bacon (middling too) and not starve, can lay on straw (if to be had) in place of a feather bed and do pretty well. Now, my dear Sir, these things called privations — starvations — taxations — and, lastly, vexations, show the very age and figure of the times — their form and pressure, as Shakespeare says, — and he was a tolerable judge. Gods! what would I not give, if I had his talent for writing! and what use would I not make of the raw material at my command!

John Allan had ambitions then to write creatively! He was not, as is pictured, a man whose only interest lay in a ledger. Should not this dream, cherished but not followed, have made him sympathize with Poe? Or did it make him harder in his dealing with one who was bent on realizing an ambition to which John Allan knew he could never attain?

That John Allan was fond of children is revealed in a letter from Rosanna Dixon, a daughter of John Dixon, who had married a half sister of Mrs. John Allan. The letter also gives interesting information concerning Rosalie Poe:

September 6th, 1812

Dear Uncle, I received your affectionate letter from the Sweet Springs, and it gave me pleasure to find that you and Aunt Fanny were both pleased with my writing; indeed I will endeavour to improve, and follow the good advice you gave me in your letter. I now go to school to Mr. Taylor, who has lately come from Norfolk; I like him very much, altho’ he is very strict. I am very sorry to inform you that poor little Rosalie is not expected to live, altho’ she is much better now than she has been for two weeks past; she [page 58:] was christened on Thursday last [September 3, 1812] and had Mackenzie added to her name. — Uncle Richard was very much disappointed at not receiving a letter from you; he wrote to you at the Sulphur Springs and told you a great deal of news. Aunt Nancy is spending a week at Uncle Lambert's she sends her love to you and Aunt Allan. Tell Edgar, Tib is very well, also the Bird and Dog. — Commodore Rogers has arrived in Boston with four Prizes. — Uncle, Aunt, Caroline and the Doctor and myself send their love to you and Aunt Fanny. Kiss Edgar for me. —

T. H. Ellis adds a footnote which partly explains the problem of Rosalie's support:

Rosalie Mackenzie Poe, the sister of Edgar Allan Poe; who was adopted by Mr. William Mackenzie at the same time that Edgar was adopted by Mr. Allan, to wit, on the death of their mother, whose obituary appears in the Richmond Enquirer of the 10th of December 1811. Mr. Gallego by his will leaves to Mr. Mackenzie “for the benefit of Rosalie Poe (the orphan child that he and his good wife have taken charge of) $2,000.” She died last year [1874] at the charitable “Home” founded by Mr. William W. Corcoran in Washington.

This letter of Rosanna Dixon does away with the statement made by Mrs. Weiss, that Edgar and Rosalie Poe were baptized on the same day, since the letter was sent to Staunton, Virginia, where Edgar was visiting with his foster-parents.

Of Frances Valentine Allan we know comparatively little. Her portrait by Sully reveals her as a woman with some claims to beauty. She was evidently fond of amusement, and ambitious to take a prominent part in Richmond social life. How competent she was to bring up a boy like Edgar Poe is an open question. One of the rare letters which have been preserved indicates a nervous temperament, easily disturbed and apprehensive. It was written from Staunton, Virginia:

sunday Septr 11th [1814]

My Dear husband

I received your kinde epistle of the 6th and was pleased to heare my dear friends were well also that our City is safe from the enemy I trust in god it may continue so — you refered me to the paper for news. I have not recived them yet Im anxious to heare a true statement of the conduct of the enemy in alexandria — thire are various reports we are at a lose to know what to believe. I am at present with uncle Ned — I came out last evening and intend returning to morrow I have declined going to the springs [page 59:] you know my reason judge Coalter has been so polite as to call on me and invite us to dine with him we accepted the invitasion and spent a very agreable day it is probable this will go by him do my Love write by every opportunity and let me know when you will be able to come up I shall endevour to take you advices as to my fears you see how badly my trembling hands perform give my love to all my friends and accept the same from

yours affectionnately


P S  I have just returned and thire is a report that the British have landed at York I shall be very unhappy until I know the trueth(8)

It will be best before attempting any final judgment upon the relations of Edgar Poe and his foster-parents to let the actors in the domestic drama speak for themselves.

Edgar Poe seems to have been accepted quickly into the household. On January 7, 1812, John Allan paid Hobday and Seaton a bill of $8.00 for “1 crib,” evidently for the little boy.(9) It seems to be the first recorded expense John Allan incurred for him. On May 14, 1813, John Allan writes to Charles Ellis that “Edgar has caught the whooping cough. Frances has a swelled face.”(10)  By May 18th they “are getting better.” On July 26th Edward Valentine, Jr., tells John Allan, “I am happy to hear that Edgar has recovered from an attack of the meazels.”(11)

Amid the many details of business, there come at times sentences which throw light on Allan's character. On June 2, 1813, in connection with the blockade of American shipping, he remarks to Charles Ellis, “I am not one of those much addicted to suffer by unavailing regrets.”(12) In a long letter from Charles Ellis to Allan on August 10, 1813, telling of his engagement to Margaret Nimmo, Ellis, who writes with an ardor and a delicacy of feeling which he assumes that John Allan will appreciate, pays a tribute to the married life of his friend. “You, I well know, long ago possessed something which I would have given worlds to have known.”(13) [page 60:]

There are frequent bills to be found among the papers for the services of tailors “for cuting [sic] a suit for Edgar,” and on January 15, 1815, among other items, James Hetherton charges Allan with $5.00 for “making a suit of Cloaths for son.”(14) There can be little doubt that Edgar was looked upon by others, if not by John Allan, as his adopted son. Thomas H. Ellis, both in his manuscript in the Valentine Museum and in a letter published in the Richmond Standard, May 7, 1881, speaks of Poe as “the adopted son” of John Allan.

Poe's early schooling has been colored by romantic stories, based on insecure tradition. The first actual document I have found reads:

Mr. John Allen [sic]

To Clotilda Fisher, Dr.

1814. Janry the 20th To 1 quarters Tuition of

Edgar A. Poe   $4.00

Received Payment

Clotilda Fisher.(15)

Who Clotilda Fisher was, I have been unable to discover. Her name does not appear in the earliest Richmond Directory of 1819 — or in newspaper advertisements. She was probably the mistress of a “dame's school.”

The only other school of which we may be certain, at this time, was kept by William Ewing, probably on Seventh Street between Franklin and Main Streets. In a letter sent to John Allan in London on November 27, 1817, Ewing says, “I trust Edgar continues to be well and to like his School as much as he used to do when he was in Richmond. He is a charming boy and it will give me great pleasure to hear how he is, and where you have sent him to school, and also what he is reading ..... Let me now only beg of you to remember me respectfully to your lady Mrs. Allan and her sister, who I hope are well, and also do not forget to mention me to their august attendant Edgar.”(16)

It is a matter of regret that John Allan did not answer Ewing's question concerning Poe's reading. He did, however, on March 21, 1818, reply, “Accept my thanks for the solicitude you have so kindly expressed about Edgar and the family. Edgar is a fine Boy and I have no reason to complain of his progress.”(17) The rest of John Allan's reply [page 61:] was brief and was mainly concerned with the substance of Ewing's letter, which was a request to pay the balance of the tuition fees of a boy, Edward Collier, from March 15, 1815, to March 14, 1818, at $42 per annum. Allan had evidently paid only one year's bill, and while he arranges for the payment of the remainder he quite definitely declines to provide any more education for the Collier boy. In fact, he wrote so hastily that he misspelled Ewing's name.(18)

There are other bills for Collier's education,(19) one to a Daniel Ford, on February 2, 1814, for one term, five dollars, and another, dated vaguely “Jan. 1,” but certainly earlier, from a William Richardson for the same amount.(20) Since Ewing made his demand at the request of Mrs. Collier, it seems reasonable to assume, especially in the light of later acknowledgments of John Allan concerning the Wills twins, that Edward Collier was John Allan's son. Since Collier was going to a man's school while Poe was attending the dame's school of Clotilda Fisher, it is clear that Edward Collier was older than Edgar Poe, and therefore that John Allan's infidelities began before the latter was made a part of his household. The date of the Fisher receipt shows that Poe could hardly have been at William Ewing's school more than a year at the utmost, and that it is extremely unlikely that he attended any other school.

Why John Allan did not legally adopt Edgar Poe has been made the subject of much speculation. It could hardly have been due to a doubt concerning the possible demand from General David Poe, to give up his grandson, for a letter from Eliza Poe, David's daughter, makes clear both her interest in Edgar and her gratitude to Mrs. Allan:

February 8th, 1813.

Tis the Aunt of Edgar that addresses Mrs. Allen [sic] for the second time, impressed with the idea that A letter if received could not remain unacknowledged so long as from the month of [page 62:] July; she is induced to write again in order to inquire in her family's as well as in her own name after the health of the Child of her Brother, as well as that of his adopted Parents. I cannot suppose my dear Mrs. Allen that A heart possessed of such original humanity as your's must without doubt be, could so long keep in suspence, the anxious inquiries made through the medium of my letter by the Grand Parents of the Orphan of an unfortunate son, surely e’re this allowing that you did not wish to commence A correspondence with one who is utterly unknown to you had you received it. Mr. Allen would have written to my Father or Brother if it had been only to let them know how he was, but I am confident you never received it, for two reasons, the first is that not having the pleasure of knowing your christian name I merely addresed it to Mrs. Allen of Richmond, the second is as near as I can recollect you were about the time I wrote to you at the springs where Mr. Douglas saw you, permit me my dear madam to thank you for your kindness to the little Edgar — he is truly the Child of fortune to be placed under the fostering care of the amiable Mr. and Mrs. Allen, Oh how few meet with such A lot — the Almighty Father of the Universe grant that he may never abuse the kindness he has received and that from those who were not bound by any ties except those that the feeling and humane heart dictates — I fear that I have too long intruded on your patience, will you if so have the goodness to forgive me — and dare I venture to flatter myself with the hope that this will be received with any degree of pleasure or that you will gratify me so much as to answer it — give my love to the dear little Edgar and tell him tis his Aunt Eliza who writes this to you. my [[sic]] mother and family desire to be affectionately remembered to Mr. Allen and yourself — Henry frequently speaks of his little Brother and expresses A great desire to see him, tell him he sends his very best love to him and is greatly pleased to hear that he is so good as also so pretty A Boy as Mr. Douglas represented him to be — I feel as if I were wrighting to A sister and can scarcely even at the risk of your displeasure prevail on myself to lay aside my pen — with the hope of your indulgence in pardoning my temerity I remain my Dear Mrs. Allen yours with the greatest respect


Mrs. Allen the kind Benefactress
   of the infant Orphan Edgar, Allen, Poe.(21)


John Allan [thumbnail] Frances Valentine Allan [thumbnail]

[Illustration facing page 62]
John and Frances Valentine Allan

It may have been Allan's prejudice against the child of strolling players, or it may have been his doubt as to the feeling of his uncle, [page 63:] William Galt, which made him hesitate to adopt Edgar Poe. There were also the claims of his kindred in Scotland.

William Allan, John's father, a seafaring man who had married a sister of William Galt, was the father also of Nancy — who married Allan Fowlds — Mrs. Jane Johnston, Mrs. Elizabeth Miller, and Miss Mary Allan. Their letters to John Allan, both before and after his visit to Great Britain, show clearly that they had that dependent attitude toward him so characteristic of sisters toward a brother who is or will be prosperous, and who has the ear of their uncle, the ultimate source of wealth. In one of these letters, from Jane Johnston, on February 19, 1814(22) after expressing her joy that her marriage had been approved by her uncle and her brother, she speaks of “Mrs. Allan's family, on the Halfway,” and sends their greetings. They are referred to in other letters and it may be that Mrs. John Allan's family were also originally Scottish, or it may simply be a reference to another one of John Allan's clan.

There is no evidence that Allan visited Great Britain for family reasons. He had been to Lisbon in 1811 on business, but had not taken the opportunity to see his family. It was rather his sense of growing opportunities for trade that animated him. The earlier letters(23) indicate that he had thought of establishing a branch house in London in 1812, but the embargo put an end to this project. The business of Ellis and Allan was expanding. There is a statement, not dated, but placed among the papers in Volume 183, which includes November and December, 1814, which shows that the firm had assets of $223, 133 and liabilities of $182,494. They were being recognized as solid citizens by the planters. James Penn, of New London, Caroline County, Virginia, who owed them £1,470, writes on February 7, 1814, that he would soon be with them and “in all spirit of friendship accede to those terms proposed.”(24) During the war John Allan offered his services to General Cocke, but warns him that he “is not a military man.” Charles Ellis, however, volunteered as a private in the Nineteenth Regiment of Richmond City.

In 1812 there began what Mordecai calls the “Flush Times in Richmond.” Speculation was rife, and John Allan was caught with its spirit. Consequently, preparations were made in the spring of 1815 for the invasion of England, including the making by Hetherton of [page 64:] “a great coat for son.” Allan writes to Ellis on June 22, 1815, from Norfolk, to sell Scipio, one of his slaves, for $600, and to hire out others at $50 a year, and continues:

The Lothair & Steam Boat went off together today at 10 AM, the Boat moved off handsomely and with the tide, think she must have reached the Halfway House in an hour or a little better — to-morrow at 9 A. M will all go down to the Road to take our departure. I shall write by the Pilot Boat we have everything comfortable. Frances & Nancey evince much fortitude; it has been a severe trial to them, their Spirit is good, Ned cared but little about it, poor fellow.

In a postscript he adds:

Friday, June 23d 1/2 P. 3 P. M. off the Horse Shoe. Inclosed you have $8.63 which to my Credit — we are trying to Beat out, I hope to succeed. Frances & Nancy rather qualmish Edgar and myself well.(25)

Edgar Poe's first Richmond period was over.


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 51, continuing to the bottom of page 52:]

(1)  The Ellis-Allan papers, in the Manuscript Division of the Library of [page 52:] Congress, to which the late Killis Campbell first called attention in 1910, were arranged in 1929 in 437 volumes, containing letters and other material from 1795 to 1856. There are also 27 volumes of Letter Books and 151 volumes of Journals, Ledgers, etc. These will be referred to as “Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C.” Some, but not by any means all, of the more important items relating to Poe have been separated from their chronological order and placed in one volume. This will be referred to as “Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.” The letters edited by Mary Newton Stanard as Edgar Allan Poe Letters Till Now Unpublished in the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia (Philadelphia, 1925), contain twenty-eight letters from Poe to John Allan, two from John Allan to Poe, and one from Mrs. Clemm to Allan. These have become known as “The Valentine Letters” and will be referred to under that title. Other letters of value, written to or by John Allan and members of his family, especially during his stay abroad, are in the Valentine Museum. Only a portion of these have been published in the Introductions to the “Valentine Letters.” They will be referred to as “E. V. Valentine Collection.” Other letters are in the Koester Collection. Much valuable material is also contained in “A paper prepared for Mrs. Margaret K. Ellis, in the 85th year of her age; from old letters in the possession of her son, T. H. E[llis], 1875.” This Ms., dated Richmond, Virginia, May 11, 1876, forms part of the E. V. Valentine Collection. It contains, as will be seen, copies of some highly interesting letters by John Allan, and also information concerning family matters. It is in the handwriting of Edward V. Valentine, who evidently copied or organized T. H. Ellis’ manuscript, which seems to have disappeared. It will be referred to as the “T. H. Ellis Manuscript, Valentine Collection.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 52:]

(2)  His tombstone in Shockoe Hill Cemetery reads, “John Allan who departed this life, March 27, 1834, in the 54th year of his age.”

(3)  T. H. Ellis Ms., Valentine Collection. The full articles of agreement are given in Vol. 13 of the Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 52, continuing to the bottom of page 53:]

(4)  Order Book 4, p. 469, U. S. Circuit Court, Fifth Circuit. The order is signed by Marshall, who, though Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at [page 53:] the time, had also from time to time to preside over the lower Federal Court in Richmond.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 53:]

(5)  There has been some doubt concerning the exact location of this first house in which the Allans lived. T. H. Ellis, who should have known where his father did business, states definitely in his manuscript — “She (Margaret Nimmo) was staying with Mr. and Mrs. John Allan, whose residence was at the N. E. Cor. of Main and 13th Street, over the store of Ellis and Allan.”

(6)  Mary Wingfield Scott, “Old Richmond Houses,” Richmond News Leader (January 23, 1941), p. 20. Complete notes on the Richmond houses associated with Edgar Poe are to be found in the Valentine Museum.

(7)  Richmond in By Gone Days, Being Reminiscences of An Old Citizen. (Richmond, 1856).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 59:]

(8)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 137.

(9)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 115. Hobday and Seaton were “chair-makers” according to the Richmond Directory of 1819, with stores on 13th Street, near E or Main Street.

(10)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 127.

(11)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 129.

(12)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 128.

(13)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 130.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 60:]

(14)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 139. See other items in Vol. 141.

(15)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 133.

(16)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.

(17)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 61:]

(18)  The signature of Ewing's letter is not very legible, and Allan's reply is clearly to “Mr. William Ervin,” which has caused one biographer, at least, to embalm his error. But the advertisements in Richmond newspapers prove clearly that William Ewing is the correct name. See the Virginia Patriot for February 21, 1816, in which Ewing gives notice of the removal of his school “from Mr. McKechnies, to a brick tenement at the intersection of 8th with H St.”

(19)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 134.

(20)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 62:]

(21)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 63:]

(22)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 134.

(23)  See letter from Margaret Nimmo to James Nimmo, T. H. Ellis Manuscript, Valentine Collection, April 10, 1812.

(24)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 134.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 64:]

(25)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.





[S:1 - EAPCB, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn) (Chapter 01)