On this day in 1811, when little Edgar Poe was only a month shy of three years old, his mother, an English immigrant named Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins, died in Richmond. Poe’s father had been a traveling actor who had abandoned the family a year earlier and died of unknown circumstances. All of which left Edgar, his older brother William, and his little sister Rosalie orphans. Eventually Edgar became the foster son of John and Frances Allan and took from them his famous middle name.
Eighty years later on this day the abundantly, if less famously, named Anna Maria Campbell Hickman Otis Mead Chalmers died in Albemarle County and was later buried in Richmond’s Shockoe Cemetery. Ms. Campbell Hickman Otis Mead Chalmers was a thrice-married, thrice-widowed writer and educator who contributed to Mr. Poe’s Southern Literary Messenger and ran a day school for girls.
A version of this post was originally published on December 8, 2011.