I had originally intended a different story for today, but, a breaking news story caught my attention so, I wrote this instead. It means that I’m already storing up stories for next week. Yay!
The “Poe Toaster,” a mysterious gentleman who has annually visited the grave of writer Edgar Allen Poe to deliver a half-bottle of cognac and 3 roses, failed to make an appearance this year.
Perhaps the tradition died with the stories circulating that the whole thing was a hoax designed to bring attention to the derelict cemetery in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where Poe’s remains were laid to rest. Since the creation of the mysterious stranger, said to have been visiting since 1959, Poe fans have gathered to wait for the stranger’s arrival.
And, year after year, since the story was set into motion, a visitor has appeared. Until this year. No one is certain whether this means that last year was the final visit, or if someone will be taking up the tradition in years to come.
The tradition has been very valuable to the cemetery itself, bringing in preservation dollars and attention to the churchyard, which has been cleaned-up and made safer. None of this preservation activity would’ve been possible without the “Poe Toaster.”
Now cemeteries across the nation have been trying to create their own traditions, hopeful that the newly advertent visitors will bring money into their own preservation coffers.
Recently, at Ellsworth Cemetery, the last resting place of Francis Johnson, a story has started circulating that visitors have had twine disappear from their pockets as they visit Johnson’s grave. Johnson, who died in 1989, is the man who built Darwin’s only tourist attraction. It is the Biggest Ball of Twine Built by One Man. It is also said that Johnson himself appears on the anniversary of his death, and can be seen working those stolen bits of twine into a ball.
Other cemeteries are simply telling people that they are haunted to get people to visit on Halloween for their “haunted” tours. As soon as these tours began, visitors reported seeing strange lights, person-shaped misty blobs, and feeling ghostly fingers on the backs of their necks.
Some cemeteries that have long-documented paranormal occurrences are angry that others are now “inventing” tales to steal their visitors. They also feel it’s dishonest. “How is the average cemetery-visiting public going to separate the made-up stories from the real ones? This is simply going to lead to a distrust of all stories having to do with cemeteries. No one will be spending their money, and we’ll all pay for these types of deceptions. It’s going to set cemetery preservation back at least a year.”
The “Poe Toaster” has always reminded me a little of the story of John Cameron, a dashing bachelor who died in Central City on November 1, 1887. There are tales that the place is haunted. And that every year on the day of his death, a young woman, in Victorian garb, arrives and leaves flowers on his grave, and then disappears. He was well known as the area’s most eligible bachelor, and died young after a town social event. For more information on this cemetery, you can visit <a href=”http://www.colorado-cemeteries.com/CentralCityMasonic.html” target=”blank”>Colorado-Cemeteries.com.</a> In the interest of full disclosure, I am the proprietor of the site.
Also in the spirit of full disclosure, while there is an Ellsworth Cemetery in Darwin, Minnesota, I’ve no idea if Mr. Johnson is buried there. There is at least one other cemetery in the area, and for all I know, he could be buried in another state.
advertent \ add – VERT – ant \ giving attention; heedful