Famous Exhumations American Author Edgar Allan Poe

About the American author Edgar Allan Poe and history of his exhumation.


EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849), U.S. author

Poe died in a delirium and was buried on a cold and forbidding October day in the Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, Baltimore, Md. His wooden coffin was purchased by his attending physician, and he was buried next to his grandfather, Maj. David Poe. A headstone that had been ordered was destroyed in a train accident, so his only epitaph was on a lot marker, ëëNo. 80.''

Poe's reputation grew posthumously, and by 1875 some Baltimore residents had raised enough money to give the now famous author a fitting monument. In November his body was exhumed for reburial nearby. Participating in the exhumation and reburial was George Spence, gravedigger and caretaker, who had known Poe and had buried him the first time. He was now privileged to do it again.

Among those present at the exhumation was Dr. Henry Shepherd, who took a piece of the writer's rotten coffin for a souvenir. He reported that Poe's "skull was in excellent condition--the shape of the forehead, one of Poe's striking features, was easily discerned. The teeth were perfect and white as pear." Poe was transferred to a sturdy casket and buried, and his monument was dedicated on Nov. 17. Among those attending the ceremony was Walt Whitman.

At the time of Poe's reburial, his deceased aunt, Mrs. William Clemm, was laid nearby. Her daughter, Poe's teenage wife, Virginia, joined them in 1885. She had been exhumed years earlier when her graveyard had been disturbed by developers. Her bones had been placed in a box and kept under the bed of William Fearing Gill, an early admirer of Poe.

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