Charles Levin Powell

1804 - 1896

Charles Levin Powell was the son of Cuthbert Powell and Catherine Simms Powell. After marrying Selina Lloyd he and his family lived mostly in Loudoun County, VA with a few years spent in Henry, IL.  Early in 1856 he and his wife opened a boarding school for girls in Winchester, VA.

Image courtesy of The Powell Family Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, the College of William & Mary

Selina Lloyd Powell

1807 - 1871

Selina was the daughter of John Lloyd and Rebecca Janney. Her mother died when she was young, and her father married Anne Harriett Lee (a first cousin of Robert E. Lee) who raised her.  Selina grew up in Alexandria and was close friends with Mary Anna Randolph Custis (later the wife of Robert E. Lee).

Image courtesy of Michael A. Smith

Rebecca Catherine Powell

1831 - 1921

Rebecca was the oldest child of Charles and Selina Powell. She was a teacher in her parents' school in Winchester, VA.  During the war she taught children in homes in several counties. She turned down all marriage proposals and instead founded and ran a boarding school called "The Arlington Institute for Girls" that operated for 47 years.

Image courtesy of Michael A. Smith

Harriet Lee Powell (Hattie)

1833 - 1870

Hattie was a teacher in her parents' school in Winchester, VA and was responsible for teaching the younger girls. During the war she taught children in two rural counties while living with the families that employed her. She was adventurous, a social butterfly, had a fun sense of humor, and was a delightful story teller. Her letters are the most fun to read. After the war she lived in Alexandria and married James Rector Smoot.

Image courtesy of Michael A. Smith

Lloyd Powell

1834 - 1861

Lloyd Powell worked as a land agent in the west. It appears his office was out of St. Louis, but he traveled much of the time across the country. His descriptions of the frontier and "the west," as he called it, are marvelous. Lloyd appeared to have had a strong work ethic, was bright, well traveled, well educated, and kind. His letters rival his sister Hattie's in their humor, prose, and adventure. He was among the first killed in the war - on July 21st, 1861 at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Image courtesy of Michael A. Smith

Mary Emily Powell (Minna)

1835 - 1854

Minna Powell was often ill during her short life and died in 1854 at the age of 19 when the family lived in Henry, IL. Her health was a constant concern of her parents and siblings, and they often took her to Alexandria to doctors or sent her to family members in different parts of the state to see if a change in climate would help.

No image of Minna has yet been discovered.

Charles Leven Powell, Jr. (Charlie)

1839 - 1862

Charlie Powell was just beginning to determine what he wanted to do with his life at the outset of the war. He was studying bookkeeping as he worked in a mercantile store in Henry, IL with his uncles. Charlie returned to Virginia after the death of his brother to follow in his footsteps - and does in his death in a skirmish at Warrenton Springs a few days before the 2nd Battle of Bull Run.

Image courtesy of Michael A. Smith

Selina Lloyd Powell (Nina)

1842 - 1918

Nina Powell was the baby of the family and a student in her parents' school in Winchester, VA. Many of the letters from the 1840s have circles drawn on them that contain Nina's kisses. They are labeled clearly, sometimes each for a different recipient which is quite a charming way to involve a little girl in the letters. When the war broke out she fled as her parents and sisters did and taught school in homes in various counties across the state. After the war she married the Reverend Sewell S. Hepburn.

Image courtesy of Michael A. Smith

The Powells operated a boarding school for girls in Winchester, VA that attracted the daughters of elite families across the state.  They had a robust curriculum for their scholars and strove, "to teach them to think, by directing their minds to the logical process by which scientific results are reached."

 

As a result of the Civil War, the Powells closed the school. Winchester became a dangerous place, and the family fled in the spring of 1862. With no income, and nowhere to go, they had to separate and endure that catastrophe on their own. The three daughters hired themselves out as teachers in homes across Virginia. Their letters record a complete account of life at the various homes where they lived and the events they witnessed.

The image here is the Powells' school on Braddock Street at the corner of Amherst Street in Winchester, VA.

©2019 by Alison Herring