At the time of his death, Poe's funds were so diminished that even a simple marker was not afforded him. His body lay in an unmarked grave in the rear yard of the Westminster Burying Grounds in Baltimore, Maryland. Sometime later, a plain marker bearing the number 80 was set, but the site was left to ruin and decay.
Upon hearing of the dilapidated state of the gravesite, Poe's Aunt Clemm and cousin Neilson commissioned a three-foot high gravestone, carved of white marble and bearing the epitaph: Hic Tandem Felicis Conduntur Reliquae ("Here, at last, he is happy."), Jam parce sepulto ("Spare these remains"). Unfortunately, before the new stone could be erected, it was destroyed by a train that jumped the nearby railroad tracks and ran through the graveyard. Not being a wealthy family, they did not order a second stone.
Fans who came to pay their respects began leaving pennies at Poe's gravesite as a contribution toward a proper tombstone, and in 1875 a new monument was erected. The only mishap this time: Poe's birthday was inscribed as January 20 rather than January 19. Poe's remains were moved to the front corner of the cemetery so as to permit viewing of the gravestone, and another memorial was installed to designate his original resting place. Later, the remains of his wife Virginia were also brought to Baltimore to rest along with those of Poe and his aunt.
Today, thousands of admirers visit Poe's grave every year, where an annual Halloween tribute honors those buried there. The tradition of leaving coins at Poe's grave continues, as people pay their respects at the original burial site.
Each year since 1949, on the eve of Poe's birthday, a mysterious stranger enters the cemetery and leaves as tribute a partial bottle of cognac and three roses upon Poe's grave. This curious rite began in 1949, and the identity of the stranger remains unknown to this day.
Born: January 19, 1809
Died: October 7, 1849