Poe Places: An historical East Coast journey in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe: Baltimore

It’s taken me over three years thus far to travel up and down the East Coast in search of the places entwined with the history of poet and writer, Edgar Allan Poe. His works have been such an inspiration to my own pen muse and he birthed my love of poetry. And since I’m OCD about everything, it makes perfect sense to divulge in every place Mr. Poe once lived, visited or has some historical tie to. Right? Right.

Edgar was born in Boston, Massachusetts to David and Elizabeth Poe. He had two siblings, older brother Henry and sister Rosalie. The children at a young age found themselves parentless as their father abandoned them and at the age of three, Edgar’s mother, a then actress in Richmond, Virginia, died of tuberculosis. The children were then separated. Henry was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Boston, Rosalie to the McKenzie’s of Richmond and Edgar was adopted by John and Frances Allan, also of Richmond, Virginia.

While the places I have visited thus far are all of importance and have their own individual connection to Poe, they are not in historical order and notably the states of New York and Massachusetts I have yet to be visited which I hope to do in the future.

This stop brings me to the home of the Ravens…Baltimore, Maryland. Poe left quite a legacy to this bustling city so much so they honor his memory by naming their NFL team after one of his most popular poems. Poe spent a lot of his life here and fate it seemed was deemed the place for him to die.

My first stop had to be the most notable place that Baltimore offers. His grave.

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What more fitting a place for Poe’s final resting place than that of Westminster Hall, a converted gothic style church built above Westminster Burying Ground, creating catacombs. Upon discovering them I was disappointed that time wasn’t allowing me the opportunity to take one of the tours that the church offers.

Not only is Poe buried here but his wife Virginia and her mother Maria Clemm as well. Historically however Poe originally was buried in the back of the church grounds in an unmarked grave that today has a stone memorializing his original resting place. However just like all things Poe, rumors grew of the accuracy of the move. To read more about it, check out http://www.eapoe.org.

Because I’m a geek when it comes to Poe, I already knew this upon entering the church yard and knew exactly where to go hunting for the original memorial. Some other fans that happened to be there at the same time as myself, clearly weren’t as obsessed….errrr prepared as I was and didn’t have this little tid bit of information so naturally I offered to show them. My daughter took a picture of me guiding the tourists so as to memorialize my Poe geek status reaching its all time high. And no, I will not share it. Grrrrr. But I will show you where I took them.

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Because I have a natural love for cemeteries, not only was I snapping multiple pictures of the grounds but I found words brewing and wrote this as I came upon this corner with the broken stones.

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The church and the grounds were quite lovely and offered a moment of solitude amidst the extremely busy streets of downtown Baltimore that pretty much nearly swallow it.

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Located on the same street as the church just a short drive up the road is what is left of the home that Edgar lived in along with his Aunt and wife while in Baltimore.

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Operating now as a museum by the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, the home was built around 1830 and was originally rented by Edgar’s aunt, Maria Clemm along with her mother, her daughter Virginia and Edgar. Poe left his family here however around August of 1835 moving to Richmond, Virginia where he’d been taken on as editor for the Southern Literary Messenger. Around this same time Ms. Clemm’s mother died resulting in a shortage of money and the family was faced with being unable to cover rent. Another family member having heard of their circumstances offered to take her and Virginia in but Edgar hearing the news and perhaps fearing he would lose his family, wrote a heartfelt letter proposing to Virginia at which she accepted and the family was rejoined in Richmond. Check out the emotional letters here. Good stuff. You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.eapoe.org/works/letters/p3508290.htm

The tour of the house includes poems and short stories that Poe wrote while in Baltimore, facts about his life and death and features Poe’s chair, lap desk and telescope. The room in which the items are set up is thought to be the room that he would have slept in so yeah of course, I was needing my salts. To think I was in the same room as the macabre master had once laid his head and no doubt dreamt up who knows how many of his short stories humbled me. It was surreal. Well, for me. And yeah, I stood there for a bit soaking the moment in.

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Upon leaving his home I went next to the Edgar Allan Poe Room at The Enoch Pratt Free Library and to say I was blown away by the appearance of the library itself is an understatement. The architecture geek in me was bleeding a smile. But I’ll refrain from getting sidetracked and sharing the gazillion pictures I took once inside.

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Dedicated to Poe on the 125th anniversary of his birth, The Edgar Allan Poe Room is in essence an exhibit of letters, memorabilia, and a copy of a daguerreotype of Poe by Thomas Corner. It is used as a meeting room and this is where my OCD kicked in when upon arriving I discovered it remained locked unless it was being used and was not typically open to the public. Obviously that wasn’t acceptable. I mean hello. So the determined five foot three inches Poe fiend went searching until I found the biggest security guard I’d ever seen. I smiled and told him without using said words such as geek or stalking or obsessed that I would like to see inside the Poe Room. He gave me a look over, grinned and said “for a just few minutes, follow me.” Ahhhhh and the rebel wins again!

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After snapping pictures like a bat out of hell and speed rushing through my oooooh’s and ahhhhh’s I thanked the very kind giant and continued my journey. I couldn’t help but think he was probably saying “another crazy white girl.” under his breath. I giggled. Yep. No doubt I fit that bill.

Although Poe lived quite some time in Baltimore, many of the places that had a connection with him have over the years been demolished, so those places I skipped this trip as their quite a few. But I got them written down in my trusty notebook aka Poe app. Yes. Poe app. Nevermind that. So lots of pictures of what now might be Taco Bell’s and laundry mats is in my future next trip.

I saved the saddest for last. The site where he died. Such a shame I didn’t have any of my paranormal investigation tools back then. Just saying. At his time this was the location of Washington College Hospital where he was brought after being found near dead on a street nearby. Four days later he was dead. Many stories surround the hospital including kidnapping and body snatching. Of course. You can read an in-depth article about it here. http://www.eapoe.org/balt/poechh.htm

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Thanks so much for reading and please make sure to check out my other write ups as I journey up and down the East Coast to feed my need. The struggle is real…

J

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Haunted Littleton

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Just south of me in the state of North Carolina rests the town of Littleton. Located in Halifax County and once known as Little People Town, it historically has a population just under one thousand. Well that is, living.

This quaint little southern has become known more so as “Haunted Littleton” as many places within the town have had reports of paranormal activity. Of course me and the crew were already packing our equipment….

Founded some time before the Revolutionary War by William Little, Littleton spans just at a mile. The townsfolk survive mostly on lumber manufacturing and farming.

Upon arriving we were greeted by our host, Stephen Barcelo, who owns and operates the Cryptozoology and Paranormal Museum within the 1895 Alston House. More on it in a moment….

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Stephen was gracious enough to take us on a tour of the town offering a history lesson on what little is known about the town and directing us to the reported “hot spots” where townsfolk and visitors have reported possible paranormal activity.

Our first stop was that of Person’s Ordinary, as it’s simply called and was built in 1739 and owned by Thomas Person, known for his anti-federalist leadership.  One of the last surviving Colonial-era inns in North Carolina, Person’s Ordinary operated as a tavern, servicing weary travelers along the stage-coach line where they could get a meal and a night’s rest. It remained a tavern until the 1830’s at which time it was converted as the town’s first post office.

Today it owns a spot on the list of historical landmarks and has been returned to look as it did during its tavern days.

Many reports of activity have come from the tavern including flickering lights and faces peering from windows but the most telling was that of a murder. As the story goes, two travelers whom were staying on the second floor, began to brawl resulting in one killing the other. Remnants of this act remain decades later with traces of blood still on the original floor within the tavern. Easily seen under a UV light, the adrenaline was quickly pumping in here. And even though it wasn’t what we came for, we wanted in. And we’d get our chance….

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Stephen then told us about Lakeland Theatre, the once working school that was closed in 1977 and later converted into the towns only theatre for performing arts. Multiple apparitions have been reported here as well as members within the audience seemingly being pushed by “ghost hands” as when they turned around to complain, no one was there. Unfortunately the building has demolition plans in its future to make way for new construction and can no longer be toured or investigated.

Continuing on our tour, Stephen led us to the house that we came to investigate. The Dollhouse. A two-story home filled to the brim with antique and modern-day dolls and collectibles. Are the wheels already churning. Antiques? Creepy dolls? You got it. We were thinking the same thing and even cooler we had the honor of being the first paranormal group allowed inside to investigate.

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After getting a proper tour of the home and stumbling upon childhood dolls, we were led outside and directed down a dirt path along the property that led to a cemetery. In the middle of the woods. Oh yeah.

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The extraordinary fact about this cemetery however  is that it dates back to 1637. Unfortunately most of the headstones have been reduced to rubble.  Walking along as Tom and I took pictures and video, the air was heavy and the moment was surreal. I was undoubtedly in my element, albeit the bugs were sharing it with me but I in no way shape or form rushed this part of the tour.

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Reluctantly we left, returning back to the museum where Stephen began to tell us more about the items he had on display. The most intriguing would be the two dolls he had locked up in glass cases. He told us the story of how they were surrendered by families suspecting they were haunted.

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Stephen continued and told us of how he’d discovered antique children’s toys in the attic of the museum. He also told us of how he and his family had experienced several unexplained occurences within the museum which doubles as their home. He described the smell of cigarette smoke, things disappearing and reappearing at random, convincing them spirits were about.

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Upon meeting up with the rest of the members of the team, we made our way back to the dollhouse to set up our equipment and get started investigating. It can’t go unsaid that the night was off to a great start as a fury of thunderstorms met us during the tour and remnants remained. Storms are often thought to enable spirits to obtain energy, increasing their chances of making contact.

And so it began….


We separated into teams, one taking the upstairs, one the downstairs and one outside. Our group took the upstairs first and I armed with my new toy, an IR light that enabled me to capture pics in the dark, settled down amongst the creepy doll faces staring back at us. To our dismay, the rooms on the second floor proved to be quiet for us and as we rotated downstairs for the most part it remained quiet. It wasn’t until we had rotated outside that I had my first experience of the night.

Walking along the gravel driveway that leads back to the graveyard, we were busy taking pictures and truly admiring the peaceful night. I had lingered off a bit from the pack and was busy snapping pictures when I heard most clearly the sound of a man’s voice next to my ear and whisper “hey” in a quick fashion, jolting my attention. I knew no one was around me but by instinct I turned to yell at whichever team member it was. But of course, there was no one there and when I yelled across the yard to my team members if they had heard anything, they all shook their heads confirming they hadn’t.

That unfortunately I’m learning happens a lot with ghost hunting. We often have group experiences but more often than not we each have our own individual experiences that we are left trying to evaluate as to whether it really happened or simply a figment of a tired mind after countless hours of experiencing nothing. It’s not easy. And let me tell you, ghost hunting offers so much opportunity for scrutiny. So a good investigator, is a skeptical investigator.

That incident outside was unfortunately my only experience this night at the dollhouse but I did however hear something with the group as a whole. We always carry walkie talkies in part for safety and simply because well they are big kid toys we never get enough of. This night however they decided to take on a mind of their own. Another thing I’ve learned is that it is thought that spirits, entities, ghosts, whatever you fashion calling them, have the power to manipulate electronic equipment. Throughout the night the walkie talkies were going off on their own. At one point a child’s laughter came through the tiny speakers which made all of us question as to where the child was. Alas, no child was on the property. Just us.

Now the Person’s Ordinary. That was a bit of a different story, at least for me. This is where in the night Je nay nay as my team members call me, got a little brave. I convinced two other female team members to go along with me to investigate the tavern. Initially we were joined by Stephen’s daughter who much like her father was very knowledgeable about not only the tavern but the town as well.

We settled initially in the upstairs room where the alleged murder took place and within ten minutes of the session starting I saw from my peripheral view a cast of white light floating across the room across the hall. Naturally my camera was positioned on the room that we were in and instinctively I adjusted it but was disappointed when the disturbance did not occur again. I only bring this up even without documented proof because the next morning I walked in on a team member describing the same exact experience upon his session with other team members prior to mine. One of those things that’s frustrating as hell because you know what you saw but  you don’t have a damn thing to show the world. Just your voice. And boy is that small.

We decided to move over obviously to that room continuing the session and within minutes again to my dismay I saw movement but my camera was facing the opposite side of the room so again..I got nothing. It’s discouraging to say the least to have nothing to show but it certainly keeps me eager to continue investigating.

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Not much else happened after that so within twenty minutes or so we decided to finish the night downstairs in what would have been the dining area at the time of its tavern days. We unfortunately did not experience anything here either that is until I tried to turn off the recording device I was using that I had borrowed from a team member simply because it was shinier than mine. It seemingly went haywire on me, as when I’d shut it off it would immediately turn back on again or the buttons would freeze all together. I went back and forth a few times fighting with it until I gave up, deciding to just leave it recording until I got outside. The minute I walked outside, down the steps and away from the building, I attempted to turn it off again and much to my surprise I had no problems. Just as the walkie talkies had done earlier, it was as if something or someone had manipulated it to malfuncting.

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Aside from that, this lovely town proved to be quiet for us this night. It was fun to get the tour, visit the museum and learn of the history of this little country paradise. But sadly we walked away with no solid evidence of a haunting. We were honored to have the pleasure of investigating the dollhouse and perhaps have the opportunity to do it again. If you decide to go for a visit, find Stephen and tell him CVP sent ya!

Please check out the video footage of the town we captured as well as a short interview I did with Stephen and lastly our flight footage of the dollhouse. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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just a rant

It is sometimes, no scratch that, most times hard for me to come to terms with the sincerity of a cold mind. The inability to have a conscious that has the power to strike you at any given time into a vulnerable coma.

I’ll never understand the capability of one such soul perhaps because of the way I see the world. The way my heart starts and stops again at all the beauty of what in truth God or science has given us. The way my heart bleeds at another’s misfortune. The way I smile at another’s triumphant battles. The way I feel when I hear a baby cry. The way my heart warms when I see an old couple hold hands. The compassion I have for an addict. The need to advocate for the mentally ill. The desire to adopt every single stray animal. The moment I capture the most breathtaking image.

I’m no angel. Far from it. I’ve made some fucked up choices. Many things I regret, resent and still haunt me. But you see I have the ability to recognize my own faults, to own them, to learn from them and most importantly to be apologetic when I should be and unapologetic for simply being me. The remorse I carry for poor decisions. The weight that burdens me from a broken spirit over and over again. Those are things I cannot push away. They own me. Every waking, breathing dirty broken moment. So how is it that others can go numb to any semblance of humanity?

Is it possible that somewhere even in those darkest of souls there lives good? Could it be possible that for every dark soul there is an equal darkness that covets enough light for the other to see? That somewhere, somehow goodness overcomes evil? Or does evil make everyone its whore? The older I get my hope is fading. I see now why my Grams had such hard lines upon her face yet did the best she could rearing me and my sister. She struggled with the same reality of humanity. I think there comes a time when all of us have to grow up out of the perfect world we paint it to be. Yet still, its hard to stomach. Even with every roadblock life has given me, it always will be. For those of us holding on to the pretty side of this fucked up world.

end of rant-

J