Known as “Georgia’s Lost Poet,” Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers is best remembered for his association with fellow Southern writer Edgar Allan Poe.  The two experimented with meter and sound in their poems with such similar results that supporters of each accused the other of plagiarism.

Though he graduated from Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, with an M.D. degree in 1830, Chivers seldom practiced medicine. A painter and inventor as well as a poet of considerable originality, he (like his fellow physician poet Thomas Dunn English) has a reputation mostly for his accusations that Edgar Allen Poe stole ideas from him (and vice versa).

In the mid-1830s, Chivers contributed some poems to the Southern Literary Messenger, which Poe was editing. It was Poe's apology after penning a negative review of Chivers' verses in another journal that launched a friendship between the two poets. However, that friendship was short-lived, and Chivers accused Poe of plagiarism after the publication of "The Raven" three weeks after "To Florence Allegra," a eulogy to his dead daughter, saw print. Poe denied the charges, saying that his concept of "The Raven" had evolved over a few years, but the feud between the two poets continued until Chivers' death in 1860.

But Chivers' odd story does not end there. According to Decatur legend, he was deeply concerned that his beautiful younger wife, Hariette, might be unfaithful to him after his death. In order to prevent this, he placed in his will a request that he be buried underneath the front steps of his gothic mansion, Villa Allegra. It is said that this macabre request was followed, but that his skeleton was later reburied in the old Decatur cemetery, where his tombstone stands today. Unfortunately, Villa Allegra has been replaced by the Decatur Public Library, though a historic placard still mark's the house's former location.