Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Appendix 03,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 727-729


[page 727:]

III. Edgar Poe's Birthplace

According to Walter K. Watkins — an antiquarian of Boston — Henry Haviland, a stucco worker, bought a tract of land on Carver, then Haskins Street, and built a brick house there and some wooden structures. Watkins found this information in the Suffolk Registry of Deeds, where he also discovered that the only land owned by Haviland was on Carver Street and no one of the name of Haviland owned land on Hollis Street. I found Henry Haviland in the City Directory for 1809 as living on Carver Street. In the Tax Records of 1808 I found the entry (shown on page 728) in the Ward 12 Street Book (which does not give streets or numbers). This was known as the “Taking Book.”

This list seems to agree with Watkins’ statement that the men lived in the house belonging to Henry Haviland. A similar entry in 1809 does not give David Poe's name. Since these lists were apparently made up in May, he may have been at the same residence in January, 1809, as in 1808.

The claim for 33 Hollis Street is based on the alphabetical index in the “Transfer Book” of 1808, made up from the above Occupational list in the “Taking Book.” I was unable to check the alphabetical list for 1808 or 1809 in the Assessor's Office in Boston, since owing to the work then being done by the Works Projects Administration, they were not available. Assuming, however, that the facsimile of the “Transfer Book” given in the Boston Herald article on January 14, 1909, is correct there is an apparent error in the argument for Hollis Street. The entry reads:

Excerpt from entry book

Those who believe in the Hollis Street house have concluded that “33” means the house number, and that the blank opposite David Poe's [page 729:] name under the column “Street” means “ditto.” But the “33” refers not to the house number but to the page of the original “Taking Book” from which the extract has been made (see p. 728). The blank is not equivalent to a ditto mark. I examined records of other years, and repetitions of the names of streets are indicated by ditto marks and not by blanks. The omission of the name of the street was due to the fact that Carver Street was then unnamed, and was known unofficially as Haskins Street, from John Haskins, who had owned the land(1), The evidence is not conclusive as to either house, but there seems less support for the Hollis Street number than for the other.

[The following table appears on page 728:]


  Real Estate   
  To Whom   
H.P.      David Pow Poo [sic]   actor     1          800       600   H. Haviland     H     A
G.H.   Daniel Grover   actor     1          600       600    “       ··     A
B.H.   Joshua Barrett   rope maker     1          600       600    “       ··     A
A.H   Moses Arden   rope maker     1          600       600    “       ··     A
  H.   Henry Haviland   stucco worker     1        1800     2000   H     H    



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 729:]

(1)  See Walter K. Watkins’ “Where Was Poe Born,” Boston Transcript, January 13, 1909. Anonymous article, “Poe's Father Lived in Hollis Street,” Boston Herald, January 14, 1909. The best summary is given by W. K. Watkins in the Boston Transcript, January 30, 1924, in which he replies to Joseph E. Chamberlin's article in the Transcript of January 26, 1924.



In the original, the section title is given in all capitals. For the sake of conformity, it has been rendered here in upper and lower case.

In the original, in the table on page 728, what seems to be an extraneous “1” appears at the top of the column headed “Polls,” but before any of the lines with names. This mark has been omitted in the text above as superfluous.


[S:1 - EAP:ACB, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn) (Appendix 03)