Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia

View the most complete collection of artifacts from this famous author’s life at the oldest house in Richmond.

Click to expand photos.

Though nineteenth-century author Edgar Allan Poe never lived here, this small museum complex in downtown Richmond, Virginia has become more than a record of his life and writing—it is a tribute to both the man and his fans. There is even a garden shrine to the Dark Romantic poet.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is best known for poems like “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee” and short stories like “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. His birth parents were actors who died when he was a child. He was raised by foster parents in Richmond before moving to Baltimore as a young man, where he met his future wife, the young Virginia Eliza Clemm. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.

The newlyweds returned to Richmond, where Poe got a job at the Southern Literary Messenger. His tragic life has been recounted elsewhere, but to make a long story short, he died nearly penniless in a delirium at the age of 40. In 1906, Poe fans formed the Poe Memorial Association. They salvaged bricks from the demolished Southern Literary Messenger building to erect a shrine to Poe behind Richmond’s oldest house, which was then a museum dedicated to colonial history. The shrine opened in 1922.

Continue reading “Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia”
Advertisements

Corner Lunch Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts

Corner Lunch Diner, at 133 Lamartine Street in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a 1955 DeRaffele model. Originally located in Babylon, New York, it moved to Worcester in 1968, where it was owned by Demetrious Efstathiou and re-assembled by the Musi Dining Car Company. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

Diner Resources

“Traitors and Secessionists”

How Republican reaction to wartime dissent stoked tensions and almost led to violent revolution in Illinois.

During the American Civil War, intense disagreement over the conduct of the war erupted in Illinois. Republicans, members of the party that elected President Abraham Lincoln, supported the war, while members of the Democratic Party split between pro-war and pro-peace factions. In 1862, two issues inflamed the peace faction: the military draft and emancipation of slaves. Republicans conflated opposition to these issues with disloyalty and sympathy for the Southern Confederacy.

Though Illinois was a free state, many Illinoisans opposed political equality for African Americans and didn’t want freed black slaves moving north. After President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, Illinoisans let their opposition known when they returned a Democratic dominated legislature in the midterm elections that November.

Republicans in Illinois did not lie prostrate as the Democratic-controlled legislature attempted to pass resolutions calling for an armistice, legislation that hindered use of the state militia, and obstructed the draft. On the last day the legislature sat in session before its spring recess, in February 1863, a Senator and farmer from McLean County in central Illinois, Isaac Funk, delivered a widely published speech condemning the Democrats for their obstructionism.

“I say that there are traitors and secessionists at heart in this Senate!” he shouted. “Their actions prove it. Their speeches prove it… I can sit here no longer and not tell these traitors what I think of them… I am willing to pay my whole fortune, and then give my life, to save my country from these traitors that are seeking to destroy it.”

Continue reading ““Traitors and Secessionists””

Jamestown Settlement in Virginia’s Historic Triangle

Experience England’s first permanent colony in North America come to life at this living history museum.

It’s a place of legend. John Smith and Pocahontas are household names, and they lived and walked near this ground. Jamestown Settlement is an attempt to reconstruct these historic places just over a mile from their actual location. (To see the archeological remains of the original site, you’ll have to visit nearby Historic Jamestowne.)

In 1607, the Virginia Company of London established a settlement in swampy tidewater along the James River. The colony quickly ran into trouble, and a majority of colonists died of sickness and starvation within the first few years. Relations with the indigenous population were troubled, and in 1622, the Powhatan Indians massacred a quarter of the colonists. More misfortune followed when Jamestown was burned during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676.

Jamestown Settlement got its start in 1957 and is run by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, it consists of the re-created James Fort and Powhatan town, replicas of the settlers’ original wooden sailing ships the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, and a large visitor center and museum. The Visitor Center was built for a cost of $7.4 million and opened in 2006.

Continue reading “Jamestown Settlement in Virginia’s Historic Triangle”

Red Line Diner in Fishkill, New York

Red Line Diner, at 588 U.S. Route 9 (off I-84) in Fishkill, New York, is a DeRaffele model owned by the Vanikiotis Group. It’s become a local favorite since opening in 2012 and is marketed as a healthier alternative to typical diner fare. Its doors are open 24/7 and the red and stainless steel exterior is sharp.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

Diner Resources

“There Goes the Old Witch”

Decatur, Illinois’ 1885 witch scare shows how immigrants brought belief in witchcraft to urban areas.

Founded in 1823, Decatur is an industrial city straddling the Sangamon River in central Illinois. It was an important juncture of the Wabash, Illinois Central, and Baltimore & Ohio railroads. In 1885, its population had grown to roughly 13,000. Recent Eastern European immigrants, particularly from Poland, crowded into Decatur’s Fifth Ward, located on the city’s far northeast side along the Illinois Central Railroad. That year, a controversy erupted over a 50-year-old woman who neighbors suspected of being a witch.

In October 1885, the woman, who lived at the east end of Condit Street, appeared at an attorney’s office downtown and inquired about bringing a lawsuit against her neighbors, who were harassing her and accusing her of witchcraft. Soon after moving to Decatur, she alleged, a neighborhood boy named Starbati died, followed by the son of a man named Nalefski (or Nowleski).

Another child recently became sick, and neighbors accused her of giving the child a bewitched drink. Rumors quickly spread through the tight-knit Polish settlement. According to The Decatur Herald, neighbors ostracized the woman, and when she passed by, pointed their fingers at her and said, “Da geht die alte Hexe,” a German phrase meaning, “There goes the old witch.”

When a reporter visited the neighborhood, its residents were eager to share their stories of encounters with “the witch,” whose identity remained anonymous. “I went to a neighbor’s well and got water,” one woman said. “The old witch was there and talked to me. She bewitched me and I went into the house and fell down in a faint.” According to another, “She shuffles cards and decides who of us are to die, who are to be sick, and who are to be afflicted with sores. She decides also by coffee grounds.”[1]

Continue reading ““There Goes the Old Witch””