Eastern Cemetery - Portland, ME
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 43° 39.756 W 070° 15.098
19T E 399084 N 4835160
Quick Description: One of the oldest cemeteries in the country.
Location: Maine, United States
Date Posted: 11/7/2008 6:49:14 AM
Waymark Code: WM53YD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 40

Long Description:

Marker Erected by: Portland Freedom Trail.
Date Marker Erected: November 9, 2006.
Location of Marker: Montgomery St. & Congress St., Portland.

Marker Text:

Eastern Cemetery

The Eastern Cemetery is the resting place of some of Portland's noted abolitionist, who campaigned against slavery, provided safe-houses and assisted runaways on the journey to freedom.

Charlotte Thomas (1822-1920)
Sophia Ruby Manuel (1802-1875)
Elias Thomas ((1772-1872)
Elizabeth Widgery Thomas (1779-1861)
Margaret P. Driver (1769-1853)
Christopher Christian Manuel (1781-1845)
George Ropes (1809-1842)
Jannett C. Pear Ruby (1805-1827)

Some interesting facts about the Eastern Cemetery:
Why is the Eastern Cemetery so important? The incredible Eastern Cemetery, Portland’s oldest historic landscape, was officially founded almost several hundred years ago and offers a deep connection to our shared past. Within its six acres are buried over 4,000 citizens including many of the area’s first English settlers, renowned military heroes, politicians, and even Portland’s first bank robber. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1973).

Who is Barry Hosmer? Mr. Hosmer is a landscape architect who has been an advocate (and tree-planter!!) at the Eastern Cemetery for over 15 years. Creating a landscape plan for the site which was approved by the City's Historic Preservation Board, Mr. Hosmer can be credited for having over 100 trees planted in the Eastern Cemetery so far.

Is anyone famous buried in the Eastern Cemetery? Yes! Just to name a few: Civil War Union Naval Officer James Alden 1810-1877; US Congressman George Bradbury 1770-1823; War of 1812 Naval Officer William Ward Burrows Jr. 1785-1813; US Congressman Mark Harris 1779-1843; US Congressman John Holmes 1773-1843; US Congressman Daniel Ilsey 1740-1813; Commodore Edward Preble 1761-1807; and US Congressman William Widgery 1753-1822.

What's this about the graves of the sea captains? During the War of 1812, a battle between the USS Enterprise and the HMS Boxer ensued off the coast near Monhegan Island. Although the British ship was defeated, both young captains perished in the fight; William Burrows and Samuel Blythe were interred next to each other in the Eastern Cemetery on September 9, 1813. One of the 10 American sailors injured in the fight, Kervin Waters, was buried next to them 2 years later. In 1873, John Mussey tried to get the graves moved to Evergreen Cemetery. Luckily 185 citizens came out to city hall and protested.

Who owns the Eastern Cemetery? The city of Portland owns the cemetery. Originally it was owned by the Reverend Thomas Smith who refused to sell it to the town until days before his death in 1795. He had previously established a right of way through the cemetery: an L-shaped road that runs from Congress Street to Mountfort Street called “ Funeral Lane.”

Can I be buried in the Eastern Cemetery? The cemetery was enlarged for the last time in 1821. Thirty years later, because the cemetery was reaching capacity, burials in the cemetery were no longer allowed unless there was room in a family plot. In 1858, the city decided to stop all burials in the cemetery for good.

What is the monument at the corner of Congress and Mountfort? At the Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, Sergeant Alonso P. Stinson was mortally wounded by a cannonball. He was the first Portland soldier killed in the Civil War and only 19 years old. As he was a member of Company H of the Fifth Maine Volunteer Regiment, the group dedicated this memorial to him in 1908.

Is there evidence of grave robbing in the cemetery? In 1853, Evergreen Cemetery was established in the new style of the Rural Cemetery Movement. To entice new clients, they offered a grave-for-a-grave deal. Keep the family together! For example, Commodore Edward Preble’s relatives were moved except one of his wives and an infant child. This is not exactly grave robbing, but grave swapping.

Are there unmarked graves in the cemetery? Yes, most of the original Portland settlers’ grave locations were lost, but we do know that the oldest section of the area is the southwest corner. The cemetery was later divided into sections including: the Friends’ section for Quakers, two sections for colored people and a Strangers section—for the “friendless and poor.” In 1838 the city allowed the burial of two bodies per grave in the Strangers section—no doubt these were not marked.

Is there something odd about the Federal Street retaining wall? What is now the back of the cemetery did not always abut Federal Street. The street was extended through the cemetery to Mountfort in 1868. To do this, a 12-foot wide swath of the cemetery had to be cut away. In his book, Bill Jordan put it this way: “…bones and stones were simply carted away with the rubble….” Rumor has it that the earth was used as fill for other areas of town.

More interesting information can be found here:
Portland Freedom Trail
Abolitionist Movement

Address and /or location:
Montgomery St. & Congress St., @ the Eastern Cemetery fence, Portland

Who put it there (Sponsor): Portland Freedom Trail

Date (Erected or Dediated): November 9, 2006

Visit Instructions:
1) A new photo taken by you. Make it a quality one. You do not have to be in it, nor your hand held.
2) Some new insight to the history, and/or your personal experience finding the site.
Search for...
Geocaching.com Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Maine Historical Markers
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log  
Duodenfer_ visited Eastern Cemetery - Portland, ME 9/27/2018 Duodenfer_ visited it
petendot visited Eastern Cemetery - Portland, ME 9/13/2013 petendot visited it
mTn_biKer65 visited Eastern Cemetery - Portland, ME 8/13/2013 mTn_biKer65 visited it
Rowdy Bunch visited Eastern Cemetery - Portland, ME 8/4/2009 Rowdy Bunch visited it

View all visits/logs