Susan Anna Power

Born in 1813 to Nicholas and Anna Marsh Power, Susan would be described as “eccentric” throughout her whole life. Inflicted with a mental illness or disability, Susan remained under the care of her mother and Sarah Helen Whitman until her death in 1877. Susan never really knew her father, since she was born shortly after his departure at sea to the West Indies in 1813. He was presumed dead after being captured by a British fleet and held as a prisoner of war for two years. However, he was released, but wouldn’t inform his family of his survival and wouldn’t return home for nineteen years! His return surely affected Susan’s already fragile state of mind, and she would express her impression of the ordeal by writing this little couplet:

Mr. Nicholas Power left home in a sailing vessel bound
       for St. Kitts,
When he returned, he frightened his family out of their

Although not much has been documented about Susan Anna Power, we know she shared in the same poetical prowess, to some degree, as her sister Helen. She assisted in writing numerous pieces that would be published in Helen’s two volumes of poetry. It wasn’t easy living with Susan, as company would be turned away at times due to her moods and behaviors. When company was able to enter the house, Susan would usually be hiding in a closet. After the death of their mother in 1858, Helen took sole responsibility for Susan. They moved into the house at 37 Benevolent Street, where they’d live for the next seventeen years. Susan passed away in 1877, and this came as a shock to Helen, since she was certain that her sister would outlive her. Helen took every precaution necessary to set her sister up financially in the event of her surviving her older sister/caretaker. Susan was buried at The North Burial Ground, where her sister would join her in less than a year. It’s as if Helen finally allowed herself to lose strength, since she was no longer fighting  to stay well for her sister. The two are buried side by side, and even have matching stones.