This Weekend In History…

The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

October 7, 1849

The 40-year-old American poet and horror writer Edgar Allan Poe dies mysteriously in a Baltimore hospital. His cause of death is still a mystery. He was found delirious wandering the streets of Baltimore, Maryland wearing someone else’s clothes and was taken to a hospital where he died four days later on October 7, without having recovered his senses. There has been much speculation as to the cause of death. Some believe he may have been a victim of cooping, the practice of kidnapping people and forcing them to wear disguises in order to vote multiple times. He was found delirious on election day outside a pub that also served as a polling place. It was also the practice of the day to give the voter a drink after voting. Poe and his sister were known to have a very low tolerance to alcohol, with even a single glass of wine leaving them stumbling. This would explain his delirium and the clothes he was wearing.
Other physicians diagnosed his symptoms as typical of rabies. Speculation about his death also includes a brain tumor or even having been beaten delirious by his wealthy fiancé’s brothers.

Great Chicago Fire – Not Started by a Cow

October 8, 1871

3.3 square miles (9 km2) of Chicago is destroyed, more than 250 people are killed, and 100,000 of the 300,000 residents were left homeless. Adding to the problem, Chicago had been in a drought, having received only 1 inch (2.5 cm) of rain since July 4.
It was not Mrs. O’Leary’s cow that started the fire, even though this was reported in the Chicago Tribune‘s first post-fire issue. Twenty-two years later, the author of the story retracted it, stating it was fabricated. The fire started at about 9:00 p.m. near a barn belonging to the O’Leary family. The O’Learys claim they were already asleep and not milking the cow as the article claimed. City officials never determined the exact cause of the fire, but it’s possible that a group of men who were gambling inside the barn knocked over a lantern.

Washington Monument

October 9, 1888

The Washington Monument is opened to the public. It was the first national monument to honor George Washington.