Olmstead, Robert


Olmstead, Robert
   (b. 1906).
   In “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” the young man who, on a sight-seeing and genealogical excursion to Newburyport, takes a detour in search of antiquarian sights to the shunned town of Innsmouth. While there, he learns the town’s blighted history, but having learned too much, he barely escapes with his life. In the aftermath of his harrowing experience, he finds through further genealogical study that he shares the ancestry of the hated citizens of Innsmouth; but he decides not to kill himself as others in his family had done when they learned the dreaded secret, but to accept and embrace his fate as one of the hybrid amphibian-people. His great-grandmother is Alice Marsh (not named specifically in the story), daughter of Capt. Obed Marsh and the sea-thing, Pth-thya-l’hi. She married Joshua Orne of Arkham; their daughter Eliza Orne married James Williamson of Cleveland, and their daughter, Mary Williamson, married Henry Olmstead of Akron (neither parent is named specifically in the story). Robert Olmstead is their son. This genealogy is explicitly spelled out only in HPL’s notes to the story (published in Cats[1949]).
   Like Olmstead, HPL was an antiquarian and amateur genealogist, inclined to frugality. HPL well recognized the strong influence of heredity in his own life. Photographs of his family show a striking resemblance between HPL and ancestors of generations past. Olmstead was eight years old when his uncle Douglas Williamson committed suicide upon discovering his tainted ancestry. HPL surely was mindful of the madness of his own parents—he was eight years old when his father died in a madhouse.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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