O. Henry

Birth Name:
William Sydney Porter
Birth Date:
September 11, 1862
Birth Place:
Greensboro, North Carolina
Death Date:
June 5, 1910
Place of Death:
New York Polyclinic Hospital, New York, New York
Cause of Death:
Cirrhosis of the liver with complications of diabetes and an enlarged heart
Cemetery Name:
Riverside Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Writers and Poets
William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American short story writer. Porter was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. He moved to Texas in 1882, where he met his wife, Athol Estes, with whom he had two children. In 1902, after the death of his wife, Porter moved to New York, where he soon remarried. Will Porter's most prolific writing period started in New York City where he wrote 381 short stories including "The Gift of the Magi", "The Duplicity of Hargraves", and "The Ransom of Red Chief". His stories are known for their surprise endings and witty narration. He wrote a story a week for over a year for the New York World Sunday Magazine. His wit, characterization, and plot twists were adored by his readers but often panned by critics. Porter was a heavy drinker, and by 1908, his markedly deteriorating health affected his writing. In 1909, Sarah left him, and he died on June 5, 1910, of cirrhosis of the liver, complications of diabetes, and an enlarged heart. Porter's legacy includes the O. Henry Award, an annual prize awarded to outstanding short stories.

Fun Facts

O. Henry’s final home was at the Caledonia at 28 West Twenty-sixth Street in New York City.

Nestled away on 18th St. near Gramercy Park, just a couple blocks from the bustling Union Square holiday markets, Pete’s Tavern welcomes tipplers with an awning reading “The Tavern O. Henry Made Famous.” The writer lived across the street at 55 Irving Place in a first floor apartment featuring three large windows where he could look out at his second home across the street, which was then named Healy’s Cafe. (First opened in 1864, the bar would be renamed Pete’s in 1922 after Peter Belles purchased the establishment, which today claims itself as the longest continuous tavern in New York City. During Prohibition, the flower shop in front led to the booze in the back, likely protected from police raids by its nearby proximity to Tammany Hall.)

The hard-drinking Henry became a regular at Healy’s and was said to consider it an extension of his office at the New York World, who hired him for $100 a week for a single story. Now called Pete’s Tavern, it is probably most famous for its significance in literary history, though. Not only did legendary author O. Henry set his short story “The Lost Blend” at the bar, which he called “Kenealy’s” in the tale, but in 1904 he wrote the “The Gift of the Magi” while sitting in one of the eatery’s booths.  That very booth is still in existence to this day and even boasts a plaque commemorating the occasion.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Riverside Cemetery

53 Birch Street

Ashville, North Carolina, 28801


North America


Cemetery map of Riverside Cemetery in Ashville North Carolina

Grave Location:

Section B, Plot 5, Grave 2

Grave Location Description

As you enter the cemetery keep to the right and make your way to the office which will be on your right. Section A is directly across from the office so continue straight to Section B. Drive around the perimeter of Section B until you see the stone staircase and the sign that points the way to the grave of William “O. Henry” Porter. It’s just a couple spaces to the right of the staircase and 30 feet off the narrow road.

Grave Location GPS

35.6006300, -82.5700200



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