B Y   T H E   N U M B E R S

Memories of the Poe brothers

Football season at Princeton often brings up memories of the Poe brothers, who contributed to many Tiger football victories in the 20 years beginning in 1882. There were six of them, sons of John Prentiss Poe 1854, attorney general of Maryland (and a cousin of the writer Edgar Allan Poe):

• Samuel Johnson Poe 1884, the eldest, played halfback in 1882 and 1883, and was also a lacrosse All-American.

• Edgar Allan Poe 1891 was quarterback and captain in his junior and senior years. He was named All-American in 1889. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and became, like his father, attorney general of Maryland.

  The Poe brothers

The Poe brothers, from left: Arthur Poe, Samuel Johnson Poe, Neilson (Net) Poe, Edgar Allan Poe, Gresham Poe and John Prentiss Poe Jr.

• John Prentiss Poe Jr. 1895 was a star halfback on the varsity team his freshman and sophomore years. He was required to withdraw from college for scholastic reasons, and embarked on an adventurous career as cowpuncher, gold prospector, surveyor and soldier of fortune. He was killed in action in France in 1915. Poe Field was provided in his memory by classmates and friends. The Princeton Alumni Weekly <www.princeton.edu/~paw/> published a story on the legend of Johnny Poe in its Sept. 10, 2003, issue.

• Neilson (Net) Poe 1897 played in the backfield in 1895 and 1896, and returned to coach football at Princeton in later years.

• Arthur Poe 1900, who played at end, was named an All-American in 1899. But perhaps his most famous play was in the 1899 game against Yale, when he substituted as a kicker (the other two were out with injuries) and won the game for Princeton with a field goal. He had never before kicked in a college game.

• Gresham Poe 1902 spent most of his time on the bench as a substitute quarterback. But he almost amanaged to rally the team during his senior year at the Yale game, when Princeton was losing 12 to 0. Late in the game, Poe came off the bench to a rousing cheer from the crowd, received a punt and gained 23 yards. "Poe's presence seemed to rejuvenate the Tigers,'' Harper's Weekly reported, "and for the last 10 minutes of the contest they fairly outplayed the weary Elis. The ball was twice carried half the length of the field, but the whistle blew before Princeton could score.''

Source: "A Princeton Companion" by Alexander Leitch.


PU shield
PWB logo