Cognac & Cooping

The Poe Toaster by EzekielCrowe
The Poe Toaster by EzekielCrowe

Raven Café has a variety of games upstairs in the library for you to enjoy while you drink and dine, but read further and try to solve a real mystery!

At birth, there is only potential; at death, any attempt the last. Mysterious visits, perhaps a tandem succession of a father and son, celebrated a writer’s birth, rather than the anniversary of his death for over 60 years.

Dating back to at least the 1940s, a mysterious man dressed in black with a white scarf and wide-brimmed hat had left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the writer’s grave, but after the mysterious “Toaster” failed to appear two years in a row, fans planned one last vigil in 2012.

The deceased writer had been abandoned by his birth father, orphaned when his mother died of tuberculosis, separated from his siblings, expelled from West Point, disowned by his foster father, haunted by debt and, after writing timeless pieces of mystery and macabre for years, was found incoherent on the street. He spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. The night before his death the attending physician reported he repeatedly called out “Reynolds”— a figure who, to this day, also remains a mystery.

Edgar Allan Poe is thought by some to have been a victim of cooping. Cooping was a form of 19th century voter fraud in the United States. Individuals were grabbed off the street by ‘cooping gangs’ working for a particular political candidate, kept in a room called the “coop” and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. When Poe was discovered  incoherent on the street he was not in his own clothes. Sometimes cooping gangs would force them to wear disguises to prevent them from being recognized by election officials, forcing them to vote multiple times. If they refused to cooperate they would be beaten or even killed.

(Alternate theories speculate alcohol, beating, murder, flu, and even rabies.*)

Story by SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist

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