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George Poe

George Poe, Jr.

Poe and Arthur Ostrander, 1907
BornMay 8 1846(1846-05-08)
Elkridge Landing, Maryland
DiedFebruary 3 1914 (aged 67)
Norfolk, Virginia
ParentsGeorge Poe, Sr.
Elizabeth Ross Ellicott
RelativesEdgar Allan Poe, cousin

George Poe, Jr. (May 8, 1846 – February 3, 1914) was a pioneer of chemical technology and artificial respiration. He was the first to manufacture nitrous oxide for commercial use. [1] [2] [3]


He was the son of George Poe, Sr. (1808-?) and Elizabeth Ross Ellicott (1810-1881), who married on December 14, 1835. [4] He had the following siblings: Harriet Poe (1839-?); Fanny Poe (1841-?); Elizabeth Poe (1844-?); Lucretia Poe (1850-?); Mary Poe (1853-?) and Mary Elizabeth Ellicott Poe (1874-?). [5] [6]Around 1885 he married Margaret Amy Wallace (1854-1932). [6]

He attended the Virginia Military Institute, and after fighting in the American Civil War, Poe built the Poe Chemical Works in Trenton, New Jersey, USA, which included the first plant in America for mass-producing liquid nitrous oxide. [2] By 1883 he was supplying about 5000 dentists with laughing gas. [7]

Using the resources of his large factory, Poe experimented with oxygen cylinders and tubing and found that he could resuscitate rats and rabbits that he had apparently suffocated to death. In 1889, he undertook a nationwide tour, amazing his audiences. He claimed that his apparatus could revive humans who had drowned or been poisoned by gas lamps, and should be available in all hotels and lodging houses to deal with gas poisoning. This attracted wide attention in the press. [7]

Illness curtailed his activities. By 1900, he was nearly blind and partly paralysed, and his doctors advised him to relocate to the country and retire. He moved to the Norfolk, Virginia farm of a friend, Abram Cline Ostrander (September 12, 1843 - October 2, 1914)[8],[9] and his family. [10] He found that he could continue his research by enlisting the help of Arthur Frederick Ostrander (February 14, 1895 - February 1978)[11], [12]the 10 year old son of his friend. [13] Arthur Ostrander acted as Poe's eyes and hands, allowing him to further refine his device. In 1907 he began another tour, accompanied by Arthur Ostrander, and two Norfolk physicians, Dr. Francis Morgan and Dr. J. P. Jackson. [10] He gained fresh publicity in 1909 when a man called Moses Goodman was revived using his apparatus. Again, his health prevented him from doing much, and other inventors developed their own artificial respirators. Nevertheless, when he died, the obituaries said that he had been nominated for a Nobel Prize. [7] [2] He is buried in Confederate Square, a Civil War memorial situated within Magnolia Cemetery, in Norfolk, Virginia.[14][15]

He was a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. [2]

Poe and Dr. Jackson

Dr. J. P. Jackson and George Poe reviving Poe's rabbit "Socrates", in the parlor of Abram and Harriet Ostrander, Norfolk, Virginia, 1907


  1. ^ "Smother Small Dog To See it Revived. Successful Demonstration of an Artificial Respiration Machine Cheered in Brooklyn. Women in the Audience, But Most of Those Present Were Physicians. The Dog, Gathered in from the Street, Wagged Its Tail.", New York Times, May 29, 1908, Friday. Retrieved on 2007-12-25. "An audience, composed of about thirty men and three or four women, most of the men being physicians, attended a demonstration of Prof. George Poe's machine for producing artificial respiration in the library of the Kings County Medical Society, at 1,313 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, last night, under the auspices of the First Legion of the Red Cross Society." 
  2. ^ a b c d "George Poe is Dead", Washington Post, February 3, 1914. Retrieved on 2007-12-29. "Cousin of Famous Poet and Noted as a Scientist. Inventor of the Respirator. Also First to Liquefy Nitrous Oxide. Cadet at Virginia Military Institute at Time of Battle of Newmarket. Mentioned for the Nobel Prize for Scientific Attainment in Chemistry." 
  3. ^ "George Poe", New York Times, February 4, 1914. Retrieved on 2007-12-29. "George Poe, scientist and inventor and cousin of Edgar Allan Poe, died in Norfolk, Virginia, yesterday. He was 68 years old and had held chairs in chemistry, especially as relating to gases." 
  4. ^ Maryland Marriage Index, 1655-1850
  5. ^ George Poe and family in the 1860 US Census for Baltimore, Maryland
  6. ^ a b George Poe, Sr. family
  7. ^ a b c "Poe's cure for death.", New Scientist, 13 January 2007. Retrieved on 2007-12-26. "One spring evening in 1908 three doctors stood before an expectant audience in the library of the Medical Society of the County of Kings in Brooklyn, New York. Before they began their demonstration, they needed one last thing. "Fetch a stray dog," they cried, tossing a quarter to an urchin outside. The boy returned with a yelping yellow mutt, which the doctors gently petted until it wagged its tail. Then they hog-tied and smothered it. The dog struggled for a few agonized minutes before giving a low moan and going limp. It was a scene worthy of Poe - not the great master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, but his cousin George. For he had promised the audience a feat befitting his family name: this dog would be brought back from the dead." 
  8. ^ Ostrander: A Genealogical Record, 1660-1995, By Emmett and Vinton Ostrander, page 448
  9. ^ Death Certificate of Abram Cline Ostrander, October 2, 1914
  10. ^ a b The Washington Times, Magazine Section, January 27, 1907.
  11. ^ Ostrander: A Genealogical Record, 1660-1995, by Emmett and Vinton Ostrander, page 448
  12. ^ Social Security Death Index of Arthur F. Ostrander
  13. ^ Arthur Frederick Ostrander and family in the 1900 US Census
  14. ^ "Professor George Poe passed away yesterday", obituary of George Poe in the Norfolk, Virginia, Ledger-Dispatch, February 3, 1914
  15. ^ Cemetery Records of Riverside-Magnolia Cemetery, Norfolk, Virginia
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "George_Poe". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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