Member Request – Edgar Allan Poe


Edgar Allan Poe is one of America’s favorite poets and authors of several short stories. He is best known for his dark romantic works. However, he was also one of the most mysterious authors, who was surrounded by problems. He lived and died in a strange way.

The breadth of Edgar Allan Poe’s influence on our culture is incalculable. He invented the detective story, contributed to the development of both science fiction and the horror genre, and wrote about the only American poem anybody knows—certainly the only one popular enough to have an NFL team named after it. His aesthetic and themes have influenced such cultural figures as Salvador Dali, Charles Baudelaire, and Alfred Hitchcock, who credited Poe’s works with inspiring him to make suspense films. A century and a half after his death, Poe still makes appearances on television shows like The Following and South Park as well as movies The Tell-Tale Heart starring Rose McGowan and Stonehearst Asylum with Kate Beckinsale and Michael Caine. In addition to numerous Poe societies (including ones in Denmark and the Czech Republic), there are museums devoted to him in Richmond, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Bronx. Opened in 1922, the Poe Museum in Richmond boasts the world’s largest collection of Poe’s personal items and memorabilia.

Edgar Allan Poe lived for only 40 years, and throughout his adult life, he was known for his gambling and wayward lifestyle. His father abandoned his family when he was only 3 years old and his mother died immediately thereafter. He grew up with foster parents in Virginia. Poe married his younger cousin called Virginia, but she died at a young age. Poe was considered mysterious because of his works and the dark and chilling nature.

Poe went to the University of Virginia and dropped out due to the lack of money. He had a gambling addiction and always got into debts. His father bailed him out several times and eventually gave up.

When Poe joined the army, he did not tell the truth about his age. He was dismissed later by court martial.

Poe died in 1849, but his grave was unmarked. A stone was ordered for him, but it got destroyed in the train it was arriving in. There was a lot of gossip about him before and after he died. A few days before he died he was found on the streets of Baltimore in a delirious state.

His death was as enigmatic as his work

In 1849, Poe (pictured right in 1848) went missing for five days and was found “worse for the wear” and delirious in Baltimore. He was taken to the hospital where he died soon after at the age of 40. No autopsy was performed, the cause of death was listed as a vague “congestion of the brain” and he was buried two days later. Experts and scholars have proposed everything from murder and rabies to dipsomania and carbon monoxide poisoning as the reason for his demise, but to this day the cause of Edgar Allan Poe’s death remains a mystery. Could there be a more befitting legacy?

After Poe’s Death

In the 1860s, the medium Lizzie Doten published some poetry she claimed had been dictated to her by Poe’s ghost. His fiancée Sarah Helen Whitman (after his first wife’s death but before his engagement to Elmira Shelton) hired a medium to move in with her because she thought Poe’s spirit was trying to communicate with her, too.

Even today we find a bottle of cognac and some roses left on Poe’s grave. People have always wondered who left these things and why.


The Tombstone of Stonewall Jackson’s arm


Whilst most of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson was buried in a Lexington, Virginia, cemetery that now bears his name, he was so famous at the time of his death that his amputated left arm was buried in its own separate grave.

On May 2, 1863, General “Stonewall” Jackson and his army had just launched a devastating attack against Union forces at Chancellorsville. Returning to his own lines with several staff officers, Jackson, ever the aggressive soldier, decided to conduct reconnaissance in the area. As he and his men through the woods near Confederate lines, a North Carolina regiment, unable to see who was riding up on them, opened fire. Jackson was struck by three bullets, two of them shattering his left arm. The general was evacuated from the area and given medical treatment, but the arm couldn’t be saved and was amputated. Pneumonia set in, and on May 10, 1863, the South lost its most effective tactician. While Jackson’s body would travel to Lexington, where he had taught before the war, his severed arm would receive its own burial.

Thinking that the limb of such great a solider was too precious to simply throw on the regular body part trash pile, Jackson’s unofficial company chaplain, Reverend Tucker Lacy wrapped the arm in a blanket and took it to his brothers home that was nearby. The reverend gave the limb a standard Christian burial and placed a marker above the site.

But Stonewall’s arm would not get the peace it deserved.
Union soldiers apparently exhumed the arm in 1864. Although they apparently reburied it, no one knows if it was in the same spot or somewhere else. Many years later in 1903, former Confederate soldier James Power Smith set a stone in the cemetery, marking the graveyard as the resting place of Stonewall Jackson’s arm. If there was anyone who knew the true whereabouts of the arm in 1903 it would’ve been Smith, who had served as Jackson’s aide-de-camp during the war and had then married into the Lacy family. Still, some suspected that he may have intentionally mismarked the location of the arm to protect it from treasure-seekers.

The Grave marker for General “Stonewall” Jacksons arm can be found at the Lacy family graveyard at Ellwood Manor in Orange County, Virginia.


The Dead of Antietam


The Dead of Antietam, Civil War Historic Site

The Battle of antietam also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern United States, was a battle of the American Civil War, fought on September 17, 1862, between Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek. Part of the Maryland Campaign, it was the first field army–level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It was the bloodiest day in United States history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.

After pursuing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of the Union Army launched attacks against Lee’s army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller’s Cornfield, and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill’s division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.

Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan’s attacks failed to achieve force concentration, which allowed Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving along interior lines to meet each challenge. Therefore, despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee’s army. McClellan’s persistent but erroneous belief that he was outnumbered contributed to his cautiousness throughout the campaign.

McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, and abandoned their invasion, making it a Union strategic victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.( THE DEAD OF ANTIETAM ),, It was at Antietam, the blood-churning battle in Sharpsburg, Md., where more Americans died in a single day than ever had before, that one Union soldier recalled how “the piles of dead … were frightful.” The Scottish-born photographer Alexander Gardner arrived there two days after the September 17, 1862, slaughter. He set up his stereo wet-plate camera and started taking dozens of images of the body-strewn country­side, documenting fallen soldiers, burial crews and trench graves. Gardner worked for Mathew Brady, and when he returned to New York City his employer arranged an exhibition of the work. Visitors were greeted with a plain sign reading “The Dead of Antietam.” But what they saw was anything but simple. Genteel society came upon what are believed to be the first recorded images of war casualties. Gardner’s photographs are so sharp that people could make out ­faces. The death was unfiltered, and a war that had seemed remote suddenly became harrowingly immediate. Gardner helped make Americans realize the significance of the fratricide that by 1865 would take many lives . For in the hallowed fields fell not faceless strangers but sons, brothers, fathers, cousins and friends. And Gardner’s images of Antietam created a lasting legacy by establishing a painfully potent visual precedent for the way all wars have since been covered.(Location= Washington County,
near Sharpsburg, Maryland)



The East End Ghouls Historic Parkersburg, West Virginia


The East End Ghouls

Historic Parkersburg, West Virginia, is best remembered today for the Blennerhassett Island plot, in which Aaron Burr and wealthy Parkersburg patrician Harman Blennerhassett were accused by President Thomas Jefferson of conspiring to create a private empire west of the Ohio River. Many claim that Blennerhassett Island is now haunted because of all this intrigue and many deaths. One of the strangest stories about Parkersburg involves the ghouls that supposedly haunt Holliday Cemetery in the city’s East End.

According to legend, strange occurrences began because 19th-century Parkersburg was a terminus for the all-important Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). This made Parkersburg a bustling hub for businessmen and owners, who came and went with train loads of the state’s coal. Many stayed the night at the Rowland Boarding House, which was also in the city’s East End. Not long after midnight one day in June 1888, railroad workers were heading toward the Rowland Boarding House when they were approached by what they claimed was a 6 ft tall apparition covered in a white funeral shroud. Emitting a deep, nonhuman groan, the creature glided toward the men over the B&O tracks until it reached the Rowland house and disappeared.

When this story was published in the local papers, a man named Mr. Crolley, who worked for the Camden Consolidated Oil Company, decided to see if the story was true. For two nights, Mr. Crolley stalked the ghoul. The story is that on the first night, the ghoul chased Mr. Crolley all the way to the Rowland Boarding House, where it paused before turning back toward Holliday Cemetery. On the second night, Mr. Crolley watched in horror as the ghoul was joined by another apparition dressed in black. Again, the ghouls made for the boarding house before disappearing at the cemetery. The East End ghouls haven’t been seen since 1888. But these two apparitions, which supposedly stank of death and decay, remain fixtures of Parkersburg folk lore.


Layman Avenue House – Harrisonburg, VA

A ghost named max stays in this house to protect it from his evil sister, who altered his will so she could inherit the building. The German’s guttural voice, groaning sounds, and shuffling footsteps have been reported by tenants for many years. Max explained his motivation at a seance arranged by the current owners.

Directions: Harrison is in north-west Virginia, at the junction of I-81 and U.S. Highway 33. The house is a private residence, at 537 Layman Ave., Harrisburg, VA 22801

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