Seven watch through the night to tell tale of a man in black and roses for Poe
BALTIMORE (AP) Jan. 20, 1985 — Seven Edgar Allan Poe enthusiasts hid in the catacombs of the Westminster Church early Saturday to watch a mysterious stranger place roses and cognac at the author's grave on his 176th birthday.
"This is the first year I can say I saw the guy. I saw his tribute," said Jeff Jerome, curator of Baltimore's Poe House. "It's like history unfolding before your eyes. It was just a fantastic sight."
Poe was born in Boston on Jan. 19, 1809, and died in Baltimore 40 years later. He began his fiction writing career in Baltimore at his uncle's house near the Westminster cemetery.
Jerome said he and six others stayed awake telling ghost stories until the mysterious stranger appeared at 3:40 a.m. Dressed in a black coat and top hat, the stranger kneeled, gently placed three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the grave, ran his hand across the tombstone and then departed.
The curator has spent the past few years trying to learn more about the shadowy visitor who has left three roses and a half-empty bottle of fine cognac on Poe's grave since 1949. "My theory is that this person is, in his own way, paying tribute to Poe. It could be a writer or a poet—or maybe just somebody who suffered like Poe did," he said.