Eastern Cemetery History Well Told in Romano Book and on Tour


“Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery,” by Ron Romano, is on Sale at the Maine Historical Society, Congress Street, for $21.99.  It’s Also Available as an E Book. The History Press is the Publisher.

The Grandparents of Portland Poet Henry W. Longfellow are Buried Here, Although the Poet is Buried in Cambridge, MA.

A Well Preserved Gravestone of Stephen Larrabee’s Dated 1718.

Anne Payson, Volunteer Tour Guide for Spirits Alive, Uses a Mirror to See One of the Stones Better.

“I had no intention to kill Wilson with the blow that unhappily proved to be his death,” said Solomon Goodwin on November 12, 1772, just before he was hung on the west end of Portland for the death of David Wilson, while on a trapping expedition on the Kennebec River.

Ron Romano, told this story and others at the launch party of his latest book, “Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery, to a gathering of seventy people at the Maine Historical Society on Friday, October 13, 2017.  Ron acknowledged that this chapter 6, “Five Men Hanged for Murder,” was his favorite to work on.  Goodwin was the first of five men buried in unmarked graves at Eastern Cemetery.

Ron’s first book was on Portland’s first stone cutter, Bartlett Adams.  So important was his impact in the area that he has devoted a brief chapter to the story of Adams Bartlett and his arrival in Portland in 1800 at the age of 24  from Massachusetts in this latest book.  Up until his arrival in Portland, there was no one to turn to for stonecutting for the deceased.

Families who could afford to often turned to Boston for stone work or those who could not were forced to use crude stone or wood markers – until Adams arrival.

Romano’s survey of more than 300 cemeteries in the region resulted in his attribution of 1,800 gravestones over a 28 year period to Bartlett.  Bartlett is buried at Eastern Cemetery.  The cemetery is located at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Congress Street at the bottom of Munjoy Hill.

There is so much more to enjoy in this second book of Ron’s.  But not having read his first book, this blogger found the story of Adams compelling.  There is a lot to digest, so it’s  highly recommended that readers of Portland history get down to the Gift Shop at the Maine Historical Society, Congress Street, and pick up a copy!

Guided tours by Spirits Alive volunteers ended for this season on Sunday, October 15, 2017.  But, this blogger was fortunate enough to squeeze into a tour conducted a week ago today by Anne Payson.  It was fascinating.

For example, the grandchildren of John  Proctor are buried here.  He was the first man to be accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, MA.

On her tour Anne showed  the burial sites of the two captains of the Enterprise and Boxer, the ships that fought off Pemaquid Point in September of 1813. The two captains Blyth & Burrows were the inspiration for a bar in the Old Port of Portland by the same name.  The bar is owned by Josh Mirando, who grew up on Munjoy Hill and spent many hours around the Eastern Cemetery as a boy.   Anne’s tour was full of fascinating information that warrants additional reading and research.   And another Romano book!  Currently a part-time east end resident and former owner of the Blue Hill Book Store, Mairah Hughs, was another member of Anne’s tour last week.

All admission proceeds go toward the restoration of the stones at Eastern Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Portland.

At his book launch on Friday, October 13, 2017, Maine native Ron Romano said he became interested in cemeteries because he researched the genealogy of his own family.  “I was born on Friday the 13th as well.  So this works for me,” said a genial Romano.  But he didn’t say what year!

The annual –  Walk Among the Shadows Uncanny Tales on the Hill –  is the next event at the Eastern Cemetery, 224 Congress Street.  The event takes place on October 19-21 & 26-28 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm and on Sunday, October 22 & 29 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Admission is $10. for adults and $5. for those 12 & under. For more information on the Eastern Cemetery and its upcoming fall events,  please visit spiritsalive.org.