Spirits Alive at the Eastern Cemetery
Gardener at mulch pile in Eastern Cemetery
Mulching is fun! 2009 workday photo by Leana Good-Simpson

Gardening Day, 10 Years of Service

Saturday, May 7, 2016
8:30am to 12:00pm

On Friday, May 12, 2006, a group of cemetery, history, and plant lovers gathered to help fulfill the landscape plan of Barry Hosmer. Christina White, who was giving tours of the cemetery for Greater Portland Landmarks, organized the crew and went on to form Spirits Alive. 

Help us continue 10 years of caring for the Eastern Cemetery at our first gardening day of the season. We'll clean up trash and tend to the plant life inside the gates. We are happy to train newbies and provide gardening tools. In case of absolutely horrendous weather, we'll reschedule for Saturday, May 14.

We are also forming a core group of gardeners who will meet several days through the summer and fall to make sure the cemetery continues to look great for visitors. If you are interested in joining, email volunteer coordinator Matthew Mueller

Read the May 2006 newspaper article that recorded that momentous first day of gardening.

May Events

Let the 2016 cemetery season begin!

MOCA Spring 2016 Program & Member Meeting

Saturday, May 14, 2016
8:30am to 2:00pm
Sweden, ME

This meeting of the Maine Old Cemeteries Association is hosted by the Sweden Historical Society and will feature exhibits, a business meeting and a presentation on a history of Sweden, Maine. Lunch is provided for $7 and reservations are requested by May 6. FMI: Visit MOCA Spring Meeting

AGS NENE Spring Meeting

Sunday, May 15, 2016
1:00pm to 4:00pm
Lowell, MA

Join us at the Northeast New England Association for Gravestone Studies meeting in Lowell, MA where our own Ron Romano will speak on stone cutter Elias Washburn as 1 of 5 presenters in the afternoon. A tour of the Lowell Cemetery will be from 10:30am to noon. FMI: Email Kim Zunino

Memorial Flag Decoration

Monday, May 23, 2016
12:00pm to 12:30pm
Eastern Cemetery

Meet at the Dead House inside the Congress Street gates at noon where we will hand out flags and a list of veteran grave locations. With a nice little group, this only takes about 1/2 hour, and all of our veterans will have American flags for Memorial Day. Rain date TBD. Just show up, or FMI: Email Spirits Alive

Thankful Bootman slate headstone
Thankful Bootman headstone photo by Diane Brakeley

Subterranean Celebrity: Thankful Bootman

Died August 21, 1834

Thankful Parker Sawyer Bootman had a long life. Residing in Cape Elizabeth, she first married Barnabas Sawyer in 1775, but he died soon after in the Revolutionary War. Their children, Rueben and Barnabas, were in their 20s when she married Bradstreet Bootman at the age of 41.

Though he lived in Cape Elizabeth, Bradstreet and his widowed mother had been "warned out of" New Gloucester (now Gray) in 1775. That meant the town didn't want to take care of them financially (either they had no money or they were a risk for welfare), and officially asked them to leave. Thankful's son, Rueben, wound up living in Gray and died there in 1862.

Thankful has a pretty slate headstone complete with corner fans, a border, an urn set in a palladian window (thanks to Ron Romano for the description), and a weeping willow. It's curious that there is no epitaph below her date of death which is the norm.

In memory of
who died
Aug. 21, 1834,
AEt. 83.

You can suggest a subterranean celebrity! Just send an email—it doesn't take much to make a nice little story. An index of all of our Subterranean Celebrities is available.

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.