Louisa Emmerson

Louisa Emmerson 1819-1907


Louisa Emmerson, only surviving daughter of Capt. John Emmerson, never married. "Aunt Lou was housekeeper, and not a very good one, I'm sure" wrote her nephew John. "There must have been several servants, and from my knowledge of Aunt Lou, they must have practically had charge."

She passed most of her life in Portsmouth, remaining at home during the Yankee occupation of the town.

She was deeply involved with charitable and church work, preserving family letters and documents, and writing her reminiscences of the people and places she knew well over her long life, for which those who come after her are grateful.

Family historian John Cloyd Emmerson Jr., no slouch himself in the area of family and local history, dedicated his 1966 Emmerson family history' 'The Emmersons and Portsmouth' to her memory.



In l847, she made a journey to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in search of relics of her great-grandfather, the first Rev. Arthur Emmerson, who immigrated to the Virginia colony from Newcastle-on-Tyne England in 1736. She visited the site of his home in company with Eastern Shore relatives, discovering the brick foundations of the old church near Assawoman Creek.

'If I were able' she wrote,'I would build on Old Church Branch a monument to the memory of Arthur Emmerson and Anne Wishart, his wife ...'

She also maintained the family's correspondence with Judge Thomas Emmerson, who departed Portsmouth for Tennessee, and chronicled the multi-faceted career of her father, Capt. Arthur Emmerson III.

She traveled also to New York City and Florida. She is said to have cradled a 65-year-old magnolia in her lap on the return journey from Florida, by stage coach, and to have planted it at the family home.


She died at home May 24, 1907. The local papers noted:

"The death of Miss Louisa Emmerson, which occurred at 7 o'clock yesterday evening, cast a shadow over the lives of a large number of our citizens, to whom she was so well and favorably known for many years. Miss Emmerson was the daughter of Capt. Arthur Emmerson and granddaughter of the Rev. Arthur Emmerson, who was rector of Trinity Church from 1785 to 1801. She was born in Portsmouth December 21, 1819, and spent her entire life of 88 years in her native city. At the time of her death, she was the oldest member of Trinity Church by baptism and confirmation. She was noted for her charities, her Christian character, her amiability and unassuming modesty. Possessing a remarkably well stored mind and pleasing conversational ability, she was always a favorite in social life, with the young and old."

Here she is photographed very late in life, with the maid who attended her until her death.


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