Museum News


Poe Museum Members Explore Shockoe Hill Cemetery


Last Sunday, the members of the Poe Museum were invited to a special Poe-themed tour of Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery led by Jeffry Burden, President of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery. In the above photo, some of the guests are visiting the grave of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. In the below photo, Jeffry Burden shows members Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew’s monument. (Notice the guest sporting a new Poe Museum tote bag.)

In addition to the graves of Poe’s first love Jane Stanard and his foster father John Allan, Burden showed the group the lesser known graves of other Poe acquaintances. Below is a photo of the grave of John Carter, the doctor Poe visited his last night in Richmond. Poe left his walking stick at Carter’s house on East Broad Street, and it was from Carter’s heirs that the Poe Museum acquired the walking stick. According to a later account by Carter, published in November 1902 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, “On this evening [Poe] sat for some time talking, while playing with a handsome Malacca sword-cane recently presented to me by a friend, and then, abruptly rising, said, ‘I think I will step over to Saddler’s (a popular restaurant in the neighborhood) for a few moments,’ and so left without any further word, having my cane still in his hand. From this manner of departure I inferred that he expected to return shortly, but did not see him again, and was surprised to learn next day that he had left for Baltimore by the early morning boat. I then called on Saddler, who informed me that Poe had left his house at exactly twelve that night, starting for the Baltimore boat in company with several companions whom he had met at Saddler’s, and giving as a reason therefore the lateness of the hour and the fact that the boat was to leave at four o’clock. According to Saddler he was in good spirits and sober, though it is certain that he had been drinking and that he seemed oblivious of his baggage, which had been left in his room at the Swan Tavern. These effects were after his death forwarded by one of Mrs. Mackenzie’s sons to Mrs. Clemm in New York, and through the same source I received my cane, which Poe in his absent-mindedness had taken away with him.”

The next images shows the recently damaged monument of Rev. John McCabe, a poet who contributed his work to the Southern Literary Messenger while the journal was under Poe’s editorship. In his “Chapter on Autography,” Poe wrote, “Dr. JOHN C. MCCABE, of Richmond, Virginia, has written much and generally well, in prose and poetry, for the periodicals of the day — for the ‘Southern Literary Messenger’ in especial, and other journals.” In a March 3, 1836 letter to McCabe, Poe (who has just rejected one of McCabe’s poems for publication in the Messenger) writes, “I feel exceedingly desirous that you should be even more favorably known to the public than you are at present, and that this object should be accomplished thro’ the medium of the Messenger.”

The next picture shows the unmarked grave of Eliza White, daughter of Poe’s boss and owner of the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas White. Before his marriage to Virginia Clemm, Poe is said to have been a favorite dancing partner of Miss White’s. When Poe married Virginia, Eliza White was one of the few guests invited to the small ceremony. Over a decade later, she visited Poe and his wife at their cottage in Fordham, New York.

If you did not have a chance to join us for last weekend’s tour but still would like to visit historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery, you should come to the dedication on October 7 at 1 P.M. of a plaque honoring Poe’s first and last fiancee Elmira Royster Shelton.




Poe Museum Summer 2012 Newsletter


Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter featuring updates on the Museum’s fall events. Summer2012newsletter5




Join the Poe Museum for a Tour of Shockoe Hill Cemetery


As a way of thanking our members for all their support, we will be hosting a special members-only Poe-themed guided tour of Richmond’s historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery on Sunday, September 9 at 2 P.M. Our guide, Jeffry Burden of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery, will show participants the graves of those Poe knew best, including his first love, his first and last fiancée, his foster parents, and his childhood friends. Shockoe Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of several prominent historical figures in this very historical city, so you will also learn more about US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Revolutionary War Hero Peter Francisco, and more. The tour meets at the caretaker’s cabin at 1:45 P.M.

If you would like to join the tour, reserve your spot today by writing info@poemuseum.org or by calling 888-21-EAPOE. If you are not already a member, sign up today and get a free tote bag. You can’t beat $25* for a tour and tote bag. (*$15 for students and teachers, $35 for a couple, $50 for a family)




Students Encounter Poe at Young Writers’ Conference


From June 17 until June 23, the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference brought students from across the country to the Poe Museum for a week focused on the craft of writing. When not taking seminars from professional writers—including award-winning poet J. Ron Smith, editor Mary Flinn, and novelist David Lawrence—the group, which included only one Virginian, toured area Poe sites around the Commonwealth.

In the above photo, the students are visiting Fort Monroe, at which Poe was stationed from December 1828 until April 1829. It was there that Poe attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

Here the students are visiting the University of Virginia, where they will see Poe’s dorm room and some of the Poe artifacts housed in the school’s library.

In this photo, the conferees are standing atop the mountain featured in Poe’s short story “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.”

The conference director was Edgar Award-winning author and Poe Foundation President Dr. Harry Lee Poe, who is pictured here in the Ragged Mountains.

In the foreground is the grave of Elmira Royster Shelton, Poe’s first and last fiancée. It is just one of the important graves to be found in Shockoe HIll Cemetery. Following in Poe’s footsteps, the students also visited Elmira Shelton’s house, Poe’s mother’s grave, the birthplace of Jane Stanard (inspiration for “To Helen”) and more Richmond places familiar to Poe.

The students also visited a number of other Poe sites in Richmond as well as the Library of Virginia, where they saw some rare documents with the Director of Special Collections Tom Camden.

At the end of the week, each student read the works he or she wrote during the conference. Afterwards, they enjoyed refreshments at a reception held in their honor.

We would like to thank all those who made this year’s conference a success.

If you are interested in attending the 2013 conference, please let us know by emailing us at info@poemuseum.org or by calling us at 888-21-EAPOE. Information about next year’s conference will be posted on this website in the fall.




A Stroll Through Shockoe Hill Cemetery


One of Edgar Allan Poe’s favorite places for a stroll in Richmond was Shockoe Hill Cemtery. Located at 4th and Hospital Streets, the cemetery was a retreat from the noise and activity of the city. The cemetery was established in 1820 as Richmond, Virginia’s first city-owned cemetery, and the first burial took place there in 1822. Seven years later, Poe’s beloved foster mother was buried there. She would be only one of many important figures from his life to be interred there.

During a recent visit to the cemetery, I took some photos of a few of the graves of people Poe would have known.


These are the graves of Poe’s foster parents, the Allans. From left to right, the monuments are for Louisa Allan (Poe’s foster father’s second wife), John Allan (Poe’s foster father), Frances Valentine Allan (John Allan’s first wife and Poe’s foster mother), William Galt (John Allan’s uncle who left Allan a fortune), and Rosanna Galt. Although Allan inherited a fortune, he left Edgar Poe out of his will.


This is the grave of John Allan’s oldest son, John Allan, Jr., who died during the Civil War.


Here is the grave of Allan’s second son, William Galt Allan, who also served in the Civil War.


This is the grave of Allan’s third son, Patterson Allan. Like his brothers, Patterson died young. John Allan’s second wife outlived all three of her children.


Above is a photo of the grave of Anne Moore Valentine, Poe’s “Aunt Nancy.” Valentine was the unmarried sister of Poe’s foster mother Frances Valentine Allan, and she lived with the Allans even after Frances Allan’s death in 1829.


This is the grave of Poe’s first and last fiancee, Elmira Royster Shelton. The inscription on this monument is only barely legible, but you can still read the name of Elmira’s husband Alexander Barrett Shelton.


Poe’s boyhood friend Robert Craig Stanard is buried here with his wife.


Here is the grave of Poe’s first great love, Jane Stith Craig Stanard, the woman to whom he dedicated his poem “To Helen.” She died from “exhaustion from the mania” when Poe was fifteen, and he and her son are said to have paid frequent visits to her grave in the months after her death.

This plaque was placed at the base of Jane Stanard’s grave in 1923 by Poe Museum founder James H. Whitty and Poe Museum benefactor John W. Robertson. They dedicated the plaque on the first anniversary of the opening of the Poe Museum and considered the event so important that they invited the President of the United States, Warren G. Harding. He declined the invitation with the below letter.

Shockoe Hill Cemetery is also the final resting place to a number of historical figures including the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Revolutionary War hero Peter Francisco, and Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew.

If you will be visiting Virginia to see the Poe Museum and would like to learn about some other Poe-related sites in the area, here is a link to more information.




Unhappy Hour on the Night’s Plutonian Shore


Our September Unhappy Hour featured Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven”.

The evening was visited by a veritable flock of winged visitors thanks to some lovely Raven masks – some of which were made for the Poe Museum by a local craftsperson.

Ravens having fun at Unhappy Hour

The evening featured the U.S. debut of an art exhibit entitled “The Raven, Terror and Death” featuring works by U.S. and Mexican artists inspired by the famous poem.

People checking out the new Raven-inspired exhibitPeople checking out the new Raven-inspired exhibit

People checking out the new Raven exhibit

We also had several readings of the poem by people during the course of the evening. Here is a video sample featuring the actor Chris Patrick as Edgar Allan Poe:

(Chris Patrick is playing Poe this weekend in a Haunts of Richmond / Poe Museum co-production of Poe’s Haunted Homecoming Tour. We are grateful that Mr. Poe was able to give us a reading of “The Raven” at the Poe Museum before the show began at historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery. )

Excellent jazz accompaniment for the evening’s festivities was provided by Jack Winn Duo and Poe fans young and old (plus a stray bat or two) really got into the spirit of the event.

Fun at Unhappy HourThe Jack Winn Duo at Unhappy Hour Cute Kid getting into the Unhappy Hour spirit

Of course, this Unhappy Hour also served as the Poe Museum’s first event of our busy fall season. Make sure that you check our events calendar for information about all kinds of exciting things that will be happening in October.

First up on Sunday October 2nd from 2-4pm is the launch party for Richmond Macabre a horror anthology dedicated to Poe and featuring stories set right here in the River City. We hope to see folks at as many of our October events as possible. October is Poe’s month after all!




Poe Returns to Shockoe Hill Cemetery


If you missed last summer’s unique tour/performance of Richmond’s historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery, you’re not alone because every performance was sold out in advance, causing many people to miss this rare opportunity. That’s why Edgar Poe, the Allans, Elmira Shelton, Jane Stanard, and the rest of Poe’s Richmond family and friends are returning for five more performances this September 22-24. Don’t miss what could be the last opportunity to walk in Poe’s footsteps as he (portrayed by Chris Patrick) guides you through the historic final resting place of many of his closest friends while reliving pivotal moments from his life either in the places they occured or next to the graves of those involved.

For the event, the Poe Museum is teaming up again with the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery and Haunts of Richmond. The performances will be held at 8 P.M. on September 22 and at 6:30 and 8:00 P.M. on September 23 and 24. Admission is $18 for adults and $15 for children under 14. Each tour is limited to 25 people, so book now to reserve your spot. Purchase tickets at http://hauntsofrichmond.com/whatsnew.htm#homecoming or call 888-21-EAPOE for more information.

Here is a scene from a previous performance: