Powhatan Ellis was born in Richmond, Virginia. He was the son of Charles Ellis (1770-1840) of Richmond and his wife, Margaret Keeling Nimmo (1795-1877) of Norfolk, Virginia. Charles Ellis owned a store in Richmond named Ellis and Allan. Charles Ellis’s business partner was John Allan, Edgar Allan Poe’s foster father. Powhatan Ellis attended the University of Virginia in sessions 25-26 (1848-1850).
Powhatan Ellis is listed as a merchant in the 1850 U.S. Census, living with his mother and brothers, as well as another “Powhatan Ellis” (age 60) who could be his father’s brother. At some time between 1850 and 1860, Ellis moved to Kentucky. When the Civil War began Ellis enlisted in the 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry, CSA. He served in that unit throughout 1861, then through the rest of the war served as Assistant Adjutant General to a series of Confederate generals: Lloyd Tilghman, Patrick R. Cleburn, Leonidas Polk, Richard Taylor, Stephen D. Lee, and Nathan B. Forrest. He fought at the Battles of Corinth (MS) and Fort Donelson (TN), and other battles in the army of the Southwest. By the end of the war, he had reached the rank of major.
After the Civil War, Major Ellis returned to Virginia. In 1880, he is described as a “farmer” in Gloucester County, VA. In 1900, he is living with his brother Charles in Richmond, VA. Ellis never married. He was the last living member of his family in that generation when he died at 11:50 pm on 19 Jan. 1906, at the home of his nieces. (Times-Dispatch, 20 Jan. 1906.) Ellis was buried at Shockoe Hill Cemetery, Richmond, VA.
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc
- “Last Scion of Honored Family.” The Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA), 21 Jan. 1906, p.4. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1906-01-21/ed-1/seq-20/
- “Maj. Powhatan Ellis: Death Late Last Night of This Honored Richmond Man.” The Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA), 20 Jan. 1906, p.2. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1906-01-20/ed-1/seq-2/
- “Kentucky, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XFZB-SY1 : accessed 15 Nov 2012), Powhatan Ellis, 1861.
- Tombstone of Powhatan Ellis, Shockhoe Hill Cemetery, Richmond, VA. Findagrave.com (accessed 11/14/2012).
- “Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X5Y7-F25 : accessed 15 Nov 2012), Margt K Ellis, 1791.
- “Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRMX-5HX : accessed 15 Nov 2012), Powhatan Ellis, 21 Jun 1829.