Poems menu
website menu
Hannah Potter (Robinson) Landis album menu

Origin of Hannah Potter Robinson's book of poems, and dedication by her brother

This writing book was passed to Jeanne (Landis) Illian upon the death of her mother in 1980, and Jeanne has passed it to her daughter Carroll Flood of Wildwood, Illinois. The book was apparently conceived by Hannah's brother E.W. Robinson when Hannah was in her early twenties. Various friends and relatives entered thoughtful verses in their own handwriting, apparently as Hannah was planning to leave her childhood home of Providence (or Kingston) Rhode Island for marriage to Edmund Landis of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Hannah's marriage took place in Baltimore on 20 October 1845 (from Maryland marriage records), and Hannah's first child was born 4 October 1846.

All but one of the 36 entries were written in 1842, 1843, and 1844, but one was contributed in 1893 by "Will, aged 6", who is probably William Walter Landis, Hannah's grandson. Several poems have the theme of a recent death, such as a contribution by Caroline B. Denise, which names the deceased as "Sarah", probably Hannah's sister, Sarah Ann Robinson. Sarah, born 1807, died at age 25 (source of 1807 date: Hazard, Recollection of Olden Times...). The Rootsweb cemetery index lists a Sarah Anne Robinson, born "1815c", died 19 June 1843, the exact date on the poem number 31 in this book, buried in Grace Church Cemetery, Elmwood Avenue at Broad Street, Providence, Rhode Island, in Plot 244, which contains members of the Balch family. Hannah's sister Francis married Benjamin Balch in 1842.

In email from Vermont historian Doug Cambell, Hazard's 1879 book on the Robinson family, House of Robinson by Paul Bunnell, and the 1888 book Genealogies of the Potter Families and Their Descendants in America, the family of Matthew Robinson is described, including his wife Mary Seager Potter and ten children, among them Hannah, her brother Edward W., and a sister Sarah. The Potter genealogy definitely identifies Joseph S. Potter and Lucy S. Potter, the authors of two poems (and possibly 2 more, "C.T.P." for Charles Thomas Potter and "LS" for Lucy Smith Potter ?) to children of Christy Potter and Lucy Smith; Christy is the brother of Mary Seager Potter whom all books list as the wife of Matthew Robinson and probably mother of Hannah. Thus, it is certain that the Hannah Robinson in the above two genealogy books, and the Hannah Robinson who owned this book of poems, are the same person. Furthermore, the authors of four other poems (LS, EHS, WmFS, and CCS) give their initials ending in "S"; assuming that "S" is "Smith", these would be siblings of Lucy Smith or their children. There was earlier some doubt that the two Hannahs were the same, since Hannah's son John states that Hannah was born in 1820, whereas the Hazard book gives her birth date as 1811. The family of Matthew Robinson is listed in the 1820 census for South Kingston, and the family's age distribution in this census is consistent with a birth date for Hannah of no earlier than 1819. In any case, the controversy over Hannah's birth date may be unresolvable.

There remains uncertainty over whether Matthew Robinson married once or twice (both wives named "Mary Potter"), and if twice, which wife came first. Some accounts list the oldest 3 children as of Matthew's first wife. However, the authors of 3-4 poems are children of Christy Potter (brother of Mary Seager Potter). Also, the Rhode Island Cemetery index lists a Mary Seager (Potter) Robinson, born "1783c", died 9 Jan 1828, buried in Swan Point Cemetery, Blackstone Blvd., Providence , R.I., which marks this woman as the second wife of Matthew (if there were 2), since the first wife is described as dying in 1801.

photo of