Illustration from “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” by Edgar Allan Poe (Source: Wikicommons)
This Sunday January 19th is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. While we previously rounded up 10 places to memorialize Poe on the anniversary of his death in October, today we’re bringing you a more “untapped” Poe story that takes us to New Jersey.
Sybil’s Cave, is Hoboken’s oldest man-made structure. It was created in 1832 by the Stevens Family as a folly in Elysian Fields, a private park that was located on their property. The cave went through many lives, from being a popular recreational destination to being a dumping ground for building debris. However, it became infamous for its association with the murder of Mary Rogers.
On July 25, 1841, Mary Rogers, a New York City cigar girl known for her beauty disappeared. Three days later, her corpse was discovered floating in the Hudson River, near Sybil’s Cave in Hoboken. Theories ranging from gang violence to a botched abortion abound, but the actual cause of death was never determined and the case was never officially solved. Additionally, Rogers’ fiancée was found dead, near Sybil’s Cave, with a bottle of poison a few months after her death. The mysteries abound.
In 1842, Edgar Allan Poe wrote “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” a sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the first detective story. The Mystery of Marie Rogêt has Poe’s detective C. Auguste Dupin solving the murder of the titular calendar, which in Law & Order parlance was ripped from the headlines. Poe potentially learned about the murder while visiting John Jacob Astor’s Villa, located in Hoboken.
Poe attempted to get his story published by framing his story as entering “into a very rigorous analysis of the real tragedy in New York.” while simultaneously transporting the setting to Paris. The first installment of “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” was published in November 1842. By the end of the month, new theories surrounding the real murder emerged. As a result, Poe changed his story to mirror the new found facts. In 2007, the City of Hoboken cleaned up and restored Sybil’s Cave and visitors are once again greeted by the cave’s stone arch entry.
Read more about where to find Poe in NYC .