Poe  Portraits
* from the Family Vault *

Neilson & Josephine Poe, continued from here


Josephine Emily Poe (1808-1889), who married her first cousin, Neilson Poe, had the same father as Poe's wife, William Clemm, Jr. This photo of Josephine, in middle age, is the only known portrait of her. Even in middle age the resemblance between Josephine and her half-sister, Virginia, is startling! Seeing side by side portraits of Virginia and Josephine answers the oft-asked question, "Why didn't Virginia look anything like her mother?" Clearly-it was the Clemm genetics that both Virginia and Josephine Poe displayed, not those of the Poe family.
 
Josephine Poe
Josephine Poe
As there are no known photographs of Virginia Poe, this photo of her look-alike sister is very important in identifying unknown portraits of Virginia.

William Clemm, Jr., had five children by Harriet Poe. Virtually nothing is known about these children, except that Josephine Poe was the second daughter to William and Harriet. It is possible that there were only two daughters born to them, who would have been both cousins and half-siblings to Virginia Poe! So, when Poe remarked that Virginia missed 'her sisters,' he was most likely referring to both Josephine and her other half-sister, whose name has eluded me. Still, if Virginia was missing both her sisters after leaving Baltimore, it implies that this second sister was, like Josephine, also living in Baltimore. Yet, there is no information whatsoever indicating a connection between any of the Poe relations to this other half-sister to Virginia; except for the one stray comment of Poe's about, "Virginia missing her sisters."

Since virtually nothing is known about Virginia's second sister, we we have no way of knowing whether she is featured in any of these (primarily Baltimore) plates. It is important to remember that this second sister to Virginia was a Poe, because her mother, Harriet Poe Clemm, was a cousin to Maria Poe Clemm. So, it may be that the elderly woman who so resembles Maria Clemm in these photos might indeed be her cousin Harriet Poe's daughter, by the man who fathered both their children, William Clemm, Jr. That Harriet was, indeed, a Poe, would explain why the "Muddy Look Alike" woman so resembles Maria Clemm.



Photo supplied by Edgar A. Poe's cousin, Mrs. Suiter, with great appreciation for all her help.

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