A Commodore in Rockford

Edward Eells Potter, tombstone, at Cedar Bluff Cemetery.

Edward Eells Potter, tombstone, at Cedar Bluff Cemetery.

Did you know that Rockford had a Commodore in the US Navy?

Edward Eells Potter was born May 9, 1833 in Medina, NY to Eleazur Hubble Potter and his wife, Sarah Adeline Eells. They also had a daughter, Adeline Sarah Potter, born in New York. The family came to Rockford in 1837.

In 1846, Edward was appointed to Annapolis, and joined the US Navy on Feb. 5, 1850. He was made a lieutenant in 1858, a lieutenant commander in 1862, and a commander in 1869. At the start of the Civil War, Potter was on the steam frigate Niagara with Schley. Potter participated in the battles on the Mississippi in 1862, and was at the capture of New Orleans. He was on the Chippewa at the capture of Fort Fisher in 1865. After the war, he served in other high positions, and was made commodore.

During the spring of 1880, Potter commanded the Constellation (sister ship to the Constitution), on her errand of mercy. They were sent to Ireland, with a cargo of 2,500 barrels of potatoes and flour to aid the people during that famine.

Potter retired on May 5, 1895, at the mandatory age of 62. He had married twice, first Harriett Raymond Black, and second, Harriett L. Grant. He suffered a stroke in 1899, which affected his body, but not his mind. Edward Eells Potter died January  8, 1902 in Belvidere. He is buried in Cedar Bluff Cemetery (the photo of his tombstone was taken by  Alva Van Houton recently deceased.)

He is but one member of a family in Rockford with a rich history. Other family members have their own stories.