My Research Adventures

September 21, 2018

Ariana was a 19th Century African American woman in Loudoun County, Virginia. She was born in about 1816 and was enslaved by Charles Powell by 1830. She was a mother, a wife, and an instrumental member of the Powell household. Although, her bondage m...

March 24, 2018

I've just completed a research trip to Henry, IL and am astonished at what I was able to find on the Powells - including their home, which still stands with all its charms.

Charles Leven Powell and his wife Selina Lloyd Powell moved their family...

March 13, 2018

A well caught fire in September of 1859 near Henry, IL, creating a spectacle that townspeople rode out to see like tourists. It made the news even in Chicago. Lloyd Powell recorded the riveting tale in a letter to his sister, Hattie, dated September...

November 24, 2017

Charles L. Powell rode a train for the first time on April 3, 1835, and he had a wild ride: another passenger was almost crushed to death, and a dog managed to chase the train for 16 miles. He was traveling from Harper's Ferry (then Virginia) to Poin...

November 10, 2017

Leesburg, VA celebrated the election of General Zachary Taylor as President with an illumination and fireworks in December of 1848. Mrs. Selina Lloyd Powell described the preparations in a letter to her daughters Rebecca and Minna (who were visiting...

October 13, 2017

Nina Powell was 6 years old in 1848 when she wanted her kisses included in family letters, and she wanted them clearly labeled so that the recipients could find them and know which was which. This became a sweet and tangible way for little Nina to pa...

October 6, 2017

The artistic scribble of a little girl is as timeless as it is charming. I found such scribble on a 180 year old letter from Mrs. Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee (wife of Robert E. Lee) to her friend Mrs. Selina Lloyd Powell. The letter is not dated, b...

September 29, 2017

A headstone peeking out in a photo solved a gossipy mystery from 1848. A "Mr. Benedict" was a regular visitor to Leesburg, and it was known that he was courting a local woman. However, it was not clear which one! Was it Mrs. Henderson or Mrs. Michie?...

September 22, 2017

Does that word say what I think it says? Surely not - but it's certainly suspicious. The letter is from Lloyd Powell in Henry, IL to his sister Hattie in Winchester, VA  (dated December 1, 1857). Lloyd's handwriting is very easy to read, but in this...

September 15, 2017

On December 31, 1852, Hattie Powell attended a New Year's Eve party in Henry, IL that got out of hand. A few days later she wrote a letter to her sister Rebecca (who was visiting family in Alexandria, VA) with all the details. Henry, IL was a small t...

September 8, 2017

I found a sweet treasure hidden away in a miniature envelope with one of Hattie's letters last week. I've been making my way through the Powell letters in the 1850s that were written to and from Henry, IL (where the family moved in about 1851). Withi...

September 1, 2017

In January of 2017, I attended the First Presbyterian Church in Winchester when visiting friends. I admired the stained glass windows in the sanctuary and noted one dedicated to an Ann Powell near where my friends and I were seated. Ann's name didn't...

August 25, 2017

Imagine being 18 years old in 1863 and encountering Robert E. Lee on his retreat from Gettysburg. Then imagine that Lee mentioned seeing you in a letter to his daughter. Your name is in a war-time letter of Robert E. Lee's - an epic encounter for any...

August 18, 2017

I have spent a lot of time in Winchester, VA performing  research on the Powells, the school they ran for girls, and the town. While there, I've heard it said that Robert E. Lee never came through the town during the war. In addition to hearing it, I...

August 11, 2017

A girl named "Bell" appears regularly in the Powell family adventures in Leesburg, VA in the 1840s but it has been difficult to identify her because the name Isabelle is common in Leesburg. However, through the meticulous process of my database of na...

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©2019 by Alison Herring