Lillian May Poe

 

Lillian May Poe 1912 (Glass Plate Negative - Nash Collection)

Lillian May Poe 1912 (Glass Plate Negative – Nash Collection)

Lillian May Poe was arguably the most esteemed citizen of Georgetown, PA  during the 20th century.  She was the town historian; a piano music teacher for most of the children of Georgetown ; pianist and organist of the Georgetown Methodist Episcopal Church; the Sunday School Superintendent; a teacher; newspaper columnist; a renown storyteller; a gourmet cook; and overall most charming host in the village. The Georgetown Poes were all over-achievers; all were well-brought-up individuals,  and all were touched by history.  Lillian May Poe was a conservator of vanishing standards.  Whether at home, or in the Methodist Church, or on a steamboat, or at a radio station recording room, she moved easily among antiques, relics of past glory, and monuments of her own achievement.

 

The last of the Jacob Poe line, Lillian May Poe carried well the mystique that goes with the name.  Like her grandfather Capt Jacob Poe who was known to all in Georgetown  as “Uncle Jake”,  Lillian May was known as “Ning” or “Aunt Ning” to most.  Like her father Charley Poe, Lillian May was a great entertainer.  Her father was a story teller.  Her first love, after her family, was her piano.  Music held forth in The Poe House which was a favorite gathering place for the young people in town.  Lillian May had that special helping of charm and wit, and the hospitable front door of The Poe House was always open.[1]

Born on 6 Sep 1891 in Georgetown, Beaver Co, PA, Lillian May’s parents were Charles Edgar Poe and Mary (May) Ellen Lyon.  Her mother, May, died on 22 Feb 1895 when Lillian May was but three years old.  Ten years later, on 28 Dec 1905, Charles Edgar remarried.  Lillian was fourteen when Annie M Carson became her stepmother.  Annie was born in Wheeling, WV and spent much of her early life in Brooklyn, NY.  An avid reader with an enviable collection of first edition books, Annie was a gentle and sophisticated influence on Lillian May.  Annie died on 4 Sep 1914 when Lillian was a young woman of twenty-three.  Although sad experiences for a young woman to endure, Lillian May always had her half-cousin Parthenia for counsel.  Parthenia Parr Calhoon lived in The Poe House for eighty some years after her father, Capt Joseph MC Calhoon, died of cholera in Alton, IL in 1855.  The home space was also shared by George WE Poe, her father’s brother and steamboat pilot for his entire life.  Charley Poe her father died on 19 Mar 1939.  George WE Poe her uncle died on 16 Feb 1943 and Aunt Parthenia Parr Calhoon died  on 10 Jan 1946.  On 6 Jul 1971, Lillian May died ending 148 years of Poes living in The Poe House where river history and music was made.  The end of that quadrumvirate marked the true closure of Georgetown.   Georgetown never recovered from their loss.

Lillian May Poe Report Card1906-1907

Lillian May Poe Report Card1906-1907

 

School Years.  Lillian May excelled in school.  She won poetry contests and other composition awards.  Whether her formal education extended beyond the local Georgetown school system is unclear.  Her piano training continued at least through 1908.    

 

 

Early Years. The boy next door, Clyne Kinsey, was Lillian May’s first and true love.  In 1912 he wrote several letters to Lillian expressing his feelings – “love sparks to admiration, admiration flames to love, and love blazes with a fury…”.   In a postcard dated 5 Sep 1912, he informed that a birthday gift would be waiting for her at the RR station.  Clyne was three years older than Lillian May.

 

 

 

Lillian Poe with Georgetown friends (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

 

 

Lillian May Poe and hatted friends (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clyne Kinsey Wedding 1917 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

Clyne Kinsey Wedding 1917 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

Something went amiss.  The world went its own way.  Clyne Kinsey, later, rose to a senior mangement position in Crucible Steel in Midland, PA.  He married Mary Catherine Books on 3 Apr 1917 in Sharpsburg, PA.  Lillian May pasted his wedding notification in her hand-made book of memories and saved the letters written in 1912.   Life is funny that way, but the pain of the happiness pursued and lost belonged to Clyne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music career.  Music was a natural source of pleasure and beauty in the Poe home.  Lillian May played and taught the piano her entire life.  One of her early music teachers was Professor AL Hatch of East Liverpool, OH.  In a postcard dated 26 Aug 1908, Prof Hatch notified Lillian that he had returned from Berlin and so Lillian May could resume her lessons.  She performed in his annual recitals – No 2 was dated 14 Dec 1906. Within a few years, she performed to critical acclaim on radio stations in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.  On 2 Feb 1925, she played on WTAM broadcasting station in Cleveland.  She was a seasoned, if not a professional, performer who could play classical pieces and popular tunes with abandon.

 

Her famed showboating trick was playing two pianos simultaneously with a different melody from each hand.  Due to their close family ties with Billy Bryant of showboat stardom, no doubt Lillian played on his riverboat.  Billy Bryant and his wife would stay with the Poes when their str Majestic docked at Georgetown Landing.  In his book “Children of Ol’ Man River”, Billy Bryant devoted a complete chapter to Charley Poe titled “Mister Charlie Poe”.  In that chapter, Billy Bryant describes Charley Poe as “one of the most fascinating River characters we have ever met”. [i]

 

Parallel to her performing life, Lillian May was the chief pianist and organist for the Georgetown Methodist church for more than forty years.  She also played for numerous wedding events and accompanied musicians and vocalists at various concerts.

 

 

Life with Dr Wagner.  According to her notes – “Events to Remember”- in her Menu Book, Dr Louis Henry Wagner and Lillian May met in Dennison, OH at the Bryan’s home on 8 Apr 1922.  It is unclear how they were introduced.  Poes from Georgetown and New Lisbon, OH had moved to Cleveland so a formal family introduction was a possibility. Dr Wagner, a widower, lived and practiced medicine in Cleveland.  Lillian May, aged thirty-one, had never been married.  A short time later on 29 Jul 1922, they were formally engaged.  These two dates were important because the couple celebrated the anniversaries of the date they met and the date of their engagement.  And te dates are recorded by Lillian May in “Events to Remember”.

 

On 11 Oct 1922, Lillian May married Dr Wagner. Planned in the Georgetown Episcopal Methodist Church their wedding was troubled.  A cholera outbreak in the area caused a prohibition on public gatherings in Georgetown and the surrounding area.  On Wed, 11 Oct 1922 a small ceremony officiated by Rev ?, was held at her family home, The Poe House.

 

The wedding trip included stops in Washington, Atlantic City, New York and Pittsburgh before returning to Cleveland for a home reception on 26 Oct 1922.

 

A consummate host and entertainer, Lillian May’s first dinner party was on 30 Nov 1922 and her first house party was 30 Dec – 3 Jan 1923.   Her love of music continued in Cleveland. She also listed that she “heard Rachmaninoff” on 29 Mar 1923.  Lillian also noted that she joined the Pythian Sisters on 18 May 1923.   The Pythian Sisters, the counterpart to the Knights of Pythias, has members in the US and Canada.  They honor the Holy Bible and all religions but are aligned to none.

 

The Wagners vacationed in Detroit, Put in Bay, and Georgetown from 8-23 Jul 1923.  Her first anniversary dinner was Golden Pheasant and followed by a piano concert of Joseph Hoffman..

 

Vacation in 1924 took the Wagners to Canada, Bonar Law (New Brunswick), Pittsburgh, and Georgetown.  Vacation 1925 was a western trip from 24 May to 25 Jun with one photo from the Grand Canyon.

 

In the year 1926, Lillian played over radio station WTAM on 1 Feb from 9-10 PM.  Her first Frigidaire was installed on 4 May.  Vacation that year was scaled back to Toledo lakeside, Pittsburgh, and Georgetown.

 

 

 

On 24 Mar 1927, Lillian had her first Permanent Wave”.  A medical convention called Dr Wagner and Lillian May to Washington in May.  They stayed at the Carlton Hotel (now the St Regis Washington, a historic hotel two blocks north of te WhiteHouse) .  They also stayed in Atlantic City at Haddon Hall for a few days before returning to Cleveland.(Haddon Hall is one of the oldest names inn Atlantic City. Established in 1868, it is the homme of te Resorts Casino.)

 

In Jul 1927 Parthenia Parr Calhoon was brought to Cleveland because of an eye injury.  Operations were performed on 21 and 23 Jul.  Aunt Parthenia was fitted with a glass eye in Aug.  From 11-19 Aug, the Wagners vacationed inn Canada.  Later in Oct, the Wagner sent to Chicago for a Physical Therapy meeting.

 

Dr Wagner was taken to the hospital on 29 Jun 1936.  He died at 7:40 AM on 2 Jul and was buried on 5 Jul  in Cleveland.  Children from his first marriage were grown and so Lillian May had no intense motherly responsibilities for the Wagner children.   Lillian May returned to The Poe House in Georgetown to care for her aging father, Charley Poe, who had had a stroke; her uncle, George WE Poe who was 92 years of age; and her half-first cousin, Parthenia Parr Calhoon, who had lost an eye in 1927.  After thirteen years of marriage, Lillian May never remarried.


 

 

 

Correspondence re genealogy

During the early 1940’s, Lillian May participated in a genealogical research program into the Poe family.  The prime researcher was xxx from Butler, PA.  His connection to the Poe family is unknow.  Eighteen letters, written by XXX, were saved by Lillian May.  The letters dated 1942-1944, always included a few words of appreciation for her contributions.  Unfortunately, the information provided can only be inferred.  In one of the final letters, XXX indicated that the report for Andrew and Adam Poe was nearly complete.  A copy of the report would be priceless.  Contact with the Butler area historical societies and various  genealogy websites have failed to identify XXX or locate his report.

 

 

  Ellis Baily Hawkins Letters    

 

       
 

 

 

   
Writer Ltr Date Pages

Key Topic

Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EB Hawkins

27-Oct-41

1

Article by Mr Chichester of Massilon, OH Thomas O Poe, Mrs Daisy Pratt

 

EB Hawkins

25-Nov-41

1

Genealogy forms

 

EB Hawkins

1-Dec-41

1

Georgetown Cemetery Miss Lottie Poe’s DAR Record

 

EB Hawkins

10-Dec-41

2

Rose C ltr Capt Way , Lottie Lee Poe

 

EB Hawkins

9-Jan-42

2

Lillian M Poe sent large consignment of Poe material “Mystery of Josephine”

 

EB Hawkins

6-Feb-42

1

Lillian m Poe “terribly alone”- last of Poe line

 

EB Hawkins

19-Feb-42

2

Sheets returned from Hugh Poe duaghter-in-law Hugh Poe

 

EB Hawkins

6-Mar-42

1

Working the proper limb of the treeof PG Mrs Starretts

 

EB Hawkins

16-Mar-42

2

Adam Poe Book sent by Lillian M Poe Letta Hartle

 

EB Hawkins

26-Mar-42

1

Thomas Tecumsah Jones article Lottie Lee Poe, Harriet McCollough

 

EB Hawkins

10-Apr-42

2

Mollie Ebert boat story Andrew Poe III, son of James and Eliza (Carnegie) Poe. Daisy Pratt

 

EB Hawkins

22-Apr-42

2

Rev Adam Poe of Wesleyan College Daisy Poe Pratt, EB Hawkins saw stock of Adam Poe’s gun

 

EB Hawkins

3-May-42

1

Thomas Orlando Poe in Massilon, OH James and Elizabeth Carnegie Poe

 

EB Hawkins

23-May-42

2

Thomas O Poe D Poe Pratt, Charles Rayl

 

EB Hawkins

3-Aug-42

2

Elum Grove Poe line Hartle

 

EB Hawkins

2-Sep-42

2

Rev Adam Poe Mrs J Russell Saunders has bible of Adam Poe I, Miss Lettie J Poe, officers of the Poe Reunion 1913:  OS Poe, Chas A Poe, Howard S Poe

 

EB Hawkins

29-Sep-42

1

Ruth Poe married Cynus Dalby Hiram Dalby, Elim Grove Poe

 

EB Hawkins

4-Nov-42

1

Enclosed newpaper clipping missing Mr Peppard

 

EB Hawkins

19-Nov-42

1

Newpaper clippling Private John T Mackall parachutist killed in N Africa

 

EB Hawkins

4-Apr-43

2

Billy Bryant, the Showboat Man Walter Winchell article

 

EB Hawkins

14-Jun-43

2

George W Poe Aunt Parthenia Calhoon

 

EB Hawkins

10-Jul-43

2

Mrs G Trimble died (Zelliah Jane Booher ?)

 

EB Hawkins

19-Jul-43

2

Artist Hugh M Poe Fannie Kirby Smith, cousin Josephine

 

EB Hawkins

25-Jul-43

1

Tom T Jones article

 

EB Hawkins

31-Aug-43

2

Elun Grove Poe Amos Purdy Poe of Clarkesville, OH

 

EB Hawkins

2-Sep-43

1

Capt AH Parr Parr family history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 19 Mar 1939 her father, Charley Poe, died at age eighty-five and her uncle, George WE Poe, followed four years later on 16 Feb 1943 at ninety-nine years.   Parthenia Parr Calhoon, known as Aunt Parthenia to all in Georgetown, lived in The Poe House with Lillian May till her death on 10 Jan 1946. Aunt Parthenia was ninety-four years.  The Poes were long lived.  Very long lived.  For the next twenty-five years Lillian May Poe lived alone in The Poe House serving her community by providing piano lessons and music for the Georgetown Methodist Church and by writing a local news column for the East Liverpool News.  And Lillian May Poe was still the most charming hostess in Georgetown.

 

 

 

 

 

References.



[i]  Billy Bryant, Children of Ol’ Man River, (The Lakeside Press, Chicago, 1988).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1]  James F Mullooly, Steamoat ‘Round the Bend, Fort Vance Historical Society, 1994, p182.