The Museum Collection
Edgar Allan Poe's Mother-in-Law's Cap
Description:Edgar Poe's mother-in-law, Maria Poe Clemm (1790-1871), was also the sister of Poe's father, David Poe, Jr. It was to Maria Clemm that Poe dedicated his 1849 poem "To My Mother" in which Poe writes that Clemm is more dear to him than his won mother because is not only his "mother" but also the mother of his wife, Virginia (1822-1847).
This piece was one of the articles of clothing Clemm kept in a trunk of her possessions. Although the trunk is lost, we know that it also contained Poe's vest and socks as well as Maria Clemm's stockings. Before her death, Mrs. Clemm left the trunk with her sister Elizabeth Poe Herring, through whose family the trunk descended until it came into the possession of Mrs. Edmund Morton Smith. As a child, her granddaughter fondly recalled seeing Mrs. Smith open the trunk and show her family the vest, which she said belonged to "Cousin Eddy." Usually, Mrs. Smith would return these items to the trunk after the showing, but, on the last occasion, she left the vest, socks, stockings, and cap on a shelf in her hall closet. She passed away shortly afterwards, and her possessions, including the trunk, were given to charity and forever lost. The few items of clothing that had been left on the shelf were saved by Mrs. Smith's daughter and eventually donated to the Poe Museum by her daughter, Mrs. Antoinette Suiter, the great, great, granddaughter of Elizabeth Poe Herring.