Edgar Allan Poe, Baltimore's favorite, though macabre, ancestor

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January 19th is Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, a day celebrated in Boston, Richmond and Baltimore. Boston is Poe’s birthplace; he spent his adolescence in Richmond; he lived and died in Baltimore.

Poe's education, like his life, is fragmented, with time spent in a London, England boarding school, as well as the University of Virginia and West Point Military Academy. He did not complete his studies at the University of Virginia and West Point due to lack of money and health issues.

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Edgar Allan Poe had an extraordinary talent in his literary abilities. He was a poet and developed the short story, using mysterious and sometimes macabre themes. His works remain classics today. The Raven, Annabel Lea, and The Tell-Tale Heart are among the many favorite Poe works.

Poe’s death could have been one of his best mysteries. At the age of 40 he was found delirious in a Baltimore gutter. He was not supposed to be in Baltimore at that time and was dressed in secondhand clothing that was not his own. He was sent to a hospital, where he lived another four days, lapsing in and out of consciousness. Throughout his last illness, he often called out the name "Reynolds," a name unfamiliar to his acquaintances. It is reported that his last words were, “Lord, help my poor soul.”

The cause of his death has been a mystery for over 150 years. Theories range from alcoholism to rabies. Each year researchers and speculators offer different ideas to explain the death of this remarkable man.

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Edgar Allan Poe is buried at the Westminster Burying Ground in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1875, his remains were moved from an unmarked grave to a more prominent location near the front of the cemetery. A monument on the grave features a medallion showing a likeness of Poe.   

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Each year hundreds of people come to the burying grounds to celebrate Poe's birthday. The highlight is the appearance of a mysterious man placing a rose and a bottle of Cognac on Poe’s grave.

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