The Museum Collection
Edgar Allan Poe's Boot Hooks
Description:A few weeks before his death, Edgar Allan Poe left these boot hooks at Duncan Lodge, the home in which his sister, Rosalie Mackenzie Poe, lived with her foster family, the Mackenzies, in Richmond, Virginia. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, both men and women used boot hooks to pull on their tight-fitting boots. The hooks would have fit into loops on the tops of the boots.
Poe last visited the Mackenzie home on September 27, 1849 and died in Baltimore on October 7. After Poe's death his sister's foster brother, John Hamilton Mackenzie kept the items. Mackenzie passed them to his step-daughter, Flora Lapham Mack, who bequeathed them to her brother's grandson, William Lanier Washington, son of Jane Bretney Lanier, who was raised in the home of John Hamilton Mackenzie. The Poe Museum purchased the boot hooks from the Lanier collection through American Art Galleries for $10 in 1922.
According to the affidavit framed with the boot hooks: "John H. Mackenzie of Richmond was married to Louise Lanier in 1822. Louise was a cousin of my mother, Mary Mattox, who was orphaned in 1833. Becoming her guardian, John Mackenzie took her to live in his own home, where she remained until her marriage to Dr. B.B. Lapham in 1840. Louisa Mackenzie died soon after the civil war and my father died in 1866. Seven years later John Mackenzie married my mother, Mary Lapham, and moved to danville to live in the Lapham home. He died there in 1875. During his last illness he gave me as a souvenir of his friend, Edgar Allan Poe, this pair of boot hooks, which he said Poe habitually used. They were left by him in the Mackenzie home in Richmond, Duncan Lodge, when he was there a few days before his death./ FLORA LAPHAM MACK.
"The above is a copy of the attested affidavit of Mrs. Flora Lapham Mack, which is attached to this case, and which she gave me at the time she transferred these boot hooks to me. Louisa Lanier, mentioned above, was the sister of my grandfather, William Lewis Lanier. John H. Mackenzie was the eldest child of Mrs. Mackenzie of Richmond who first adopted Edgar Allan Poe and his sister, Rose Mackenzie Poe; the latter having made her home with John Mackenzie until his house was destroyed during the civil war. John H. Mackenzie was the lifelong friend and advisor of Edgar Allan Poe, who always made his home at Duncan Lodge whenever he was in Richmond. My mother, Jane Bretnet Lanier, also was raised in the home of John H. Mackenzie, and lived there until her marriage./ Wm Lanier Washington [signed]"
Contrary to the above statement, the Mackenzies never adopted Edgar Allan Poe, but they did foster his sister.