Thursday, April 2, 2015

Poe's Tavern, Historic Fake, Worthy Of Obscurity

While wandering around the southeast corner of Tennessee I have seen references to a local historical site called Poe's Tavern.  Naturally my mind went to Edgar Allen Poe and I wondered what connection this area had to the famous writer.  I imagined that Poe was traveling through the area and stopped and wrote one of his famous works or something.  

The other days while driving through Soddy-Daisy, I saw a sign that directed travelers to Poe's Tavern.  I stopped trying to figure out how a place could get a name like Soddy-Daisy and turned to check out Poe's Tavern.  I must confess some disappointment.  Poe's Tavern has absolutely nothing to do with Edgar Allen Poe.  And its not actually the real Poe's Tavern.

As the story goes, sometime in the early 1800's a guy name Hasten Poe came to this part of the country.  The previous owners of the land, the Cherokee Nation, had been run off by the government and Poe got a land grant of some 600 acres.  He prospered and became the largest slave owner in the area.  Hasten's tavern became the county seat for Hamilton County when it was formed.  It was also the first court house.

The problem is that Poe's Tavern was torn down in 1911 and it was located somewhere else.  The current Poe's Tavern is a reproduction based on a best guess of what it might have looked like.  Poe's Tavern was disappointing on many levels.  Some guy who was given land stolen from the Cherokee, made a bunch of money on the backs of slave labor gets his name etched in history?  Really.  We can't do better than this.  The only thing that Poe merits is to be forgotten.