Spirits Alive at the Eastern Cemetery
Happy 2018
Happy New Year from Spirits Alive!

2017 by the Numbers

Looking forward to our 350th anniversary this year

Our year was filled with achievements for Spirits Alive, not just in numbers, but in how we are conserving this historic landscape as a place for generations to come to enjoy and learn.

  • Our winter lectures attracted over 175 attendees.
  • We held a 3-day conservation workshop with Joe Ferranini where we conserved 5 large monuments.
  • Our core conservation crew of 8 worked more than 30 days on 64 markers—spending more than 500 hours cleaning, resetting, repairing.
  • 5 photographers added over 600 images to the stone image archive which now encompasses over 6,700 images.
  • Walk Among the Shadows or Uncanny Tales on the Hill: Historical Shivers in Eastern Cemetery, included 5 storytellers relaying eerie Maine tales to over 560 attendees on 7 nights.
  • We conducted 3 group gardening days, 2 days in conjunction with United Way's Day of Caring.
  • Our tours attracted more than 860 people and we were named 1 of 5 of the best cemetery tours in New England by Yankee Magazine!
  • In July, we co-hosted the Maine Old Cemetery Association meeting with over 60 in attendance.
  • Our board member and tour coordinator Ron Romano's 2nd book, Portland's Historic Eastern Cemetery was launched!

Thanks to your support, in 2018, we are celebrating the 350th year of Eastern Cemetery with conservation, education, tours, lectures, new cemetery signage, and special events. We could not do this without your help and support from the city of Portland, Maine. THANK YOU! We are an all-volunteer group, and we'd love to have you join us!

Eastern Cemetery book cover
“The Way they Go to California.” N. Currier, 1849. From Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Your Father Still Fears That New England Will Be Depopulated:

Mainers and the Rush for California Gold

Saturday, January 27
1:30pm to 2:30pm

Wishcamper Center, USM
Bedford Street, Portland, ME

Spirits Alive continues its traditional winter lecture series! These illustrated talks will teach us how the history of early New England helped shape the Portland and Maine we know today.

The first in the series is historian Jan Eakins who will explain how news of California gold changed the lives of 19th century Mainers—those who left and those who stayed. Drawing on diaries and letters of 300 Mainers, she explains how families coped while their loved ones were gone, who stayed in the West and who returned, and the effects on the state itself.

  • Lectures are free, though donations are gratefully accepted.
  • The events are co-sponsored by the Department of History and Political Science at the University of Southern Maine (USM).
  • Free parking is available in the USM Bedford Street parking garage.

Find out more about our winter lecture series and who will be presenting the next 2 talks.

Dr. Aaron Kinsman headdstone
Dr. Aaron Kinsman's headstone, detail of the art (clamped), and lettering detail

Subterranean Celebrity: Dr. Aaron Kinsman

Died May 11, 1808

The son of a war hero, Dr. Aaron Kinsman was only 41 years old when he died. He became a physician and started a practice in Portland after having graduated from Dartmouth College in 1787. After a short marriage to Hannah Crane, he remarried Ann Willis in Portland in June 1802. They lived in a house at Elm and Congress Streets with their 3 young children. Henry was 6, Benjamin was 4, and Ann was not even born until after Aaron's death in 1808.

His substantial slate stone was part of a special conservation of large monuments workshop with Joe Ferrannini in August 2017 (read the September 2017 eNews for more). It had cleaved almost in half, but was re-adhered and filled in.* Once again, this hulking monument with the dainty bunting borders (the carver was most definitely from Bartlett Adams’ shop) stands again.

to the memory of
Who died May 11, 1808:
AEt. 41.
Life makes the soul dependent on the dust;
Death gives her wings to mount above the spheres.

*We’re still hoping to find the missing piece of the stone and do a bit more infill.

Eastern Cemetery book cover
Portland's Historic Eastern Cemetery, A Field of Ancient Graves by Ron Romano

Eastern Cemetery Book!

Ron Romano has published a follow up to his first book, Early Gravestones in Southern Maine — The Genius of Bartlett Adams and it focuses on the Eastern Cemetery itself: Portland's Historic Eastern Cemetery—A Field of Ancient Graves. This book:

  • Describes the history of the cemetery's evolution
  • Includes information on special cemetery sections: African American, Quaker, Catholic, and "Strangers"
  • Discusses the history of Portland, Maine, in relation to this historic landscape
  • Provides vignettes of the men and women memorialized in this special place
A must-read for any cemetery aficionado, the book is filled with photographs and sketches to illustrate the text. Our website has more about how to purchase this new publication.

Ask Amazon to Donate to Spirits Alive

If you're an Amazon shopper, here's an easy way to support your favorite historic Maine cemetery:

  • Go to smile.amazon.com
  • Enter "Spirits Alive" in the box
  • Choose the non-profit in Portland, Maine from the list

Voila! A portion of all of your purchases through smile.amazon.com will go to our efforts to support, conserve and promote this historic outdoor museum. Thank you!

Help the Eastern Cemetery

Support the work of Spirits Alive with your giving

You can help Spirits Alive keep the Eastern Cemetery alive for generations to come. Through your support, you can help us, an ALL-VOLUNTEER organization, to continue to:

  • Keep the gates open – encouraging the community to explore its open and safe green space
  • Offer education about the cemetery and its residents to the public – through tours, lectures, and events
  • Encourage and support the city in keeping the site clean and safe for visitors of all ages
  • Preserve this incredible outdoor museum and sacred historic landscape
We are a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Portland, Maine’s historic Eastern Cemetery through a range of activities including promotion and education.