Spirits Alive at the Eastern Cemetery
Enterprise and Tripoli battle on the sea
The Enterprise battles the Tripoli by Capt. Wm. Bainbridge Hoff, 1878

2017 Winter Lecture Series

Herb Adams

1:30pm to 2:30pm
Wishcamper Center, USM
Bedford Street, Portland, ME

Spirits Alive continues the lecture series tradition this year. These illustrated talks will teach us how the history of early New England helped shape the Portland of today.

In this lecture, Herb Adams addresses the question, “What does it take to be a hero?” Lafayette was the hero of 2 nations and 2 revolutions. Toasts, tree climbing, and a thundering cannon were all part of his Maine saga. Commodore Edward Preble was a hero of the next generation. Portland-born, the Commander of “Old Ironsides” besieged Tripoli for President Jefferson. Swordplay, sea serpents, and the USS Constitution were all part of his grand career.

  • 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 talk in March.

grassy area in the Eastern Cemetery
John Burbank and his arm were separately buried in this spot. Photo by R. Romano

Subterranean Celebrity: John H. Burbank

Died: October 1860

Young John H. Burbank was buried at Eastern Cemetery in October of 1860. He was just 16 years old when his life was cut short by consumption (today called tuberculosis). No stone is found for him, but the records indicate that he was “buried at the foot of Thomas Bolton’s grave.”

A couple of other curiosities are linked to John Burbank. His burial record indicated only that he was the “son of Ann Burbank,” omitting the name of his father. Ann died 2 years later (1862), and her gravesite at Eastern Cemetery is also unadorned.

His father, John M.C. Burbank, was originally from New Hampshire, but he is found in the 1850 census in Augusta, Maine, working as a farmer. The year he died of dysentery (1857), he was employed as a painter in Boston. Perhaps John and his mother moved back to Maine in order to be closer to relatives, but we may never know why his father isn't listed on his burial record.

Another curiosity is also related to his burial record: “His arm interred in June.” Poor John! He lost his father in 1857, one of his arms in the summer of 1860, and his life the next fall. Though no stone marks his grave, we are lucky to know from records where he (and presumably his arm) rest in peace.

Thanks to Ron Romano for gathering and providing information about John. 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.

Early Gravestones in Southern Maine book cover

Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams

A book by Ron Romano, Spirits Alive volunteer and Bartlett Adams expert

If you're interested in learning more about the life and times of Bartlett Adams, the Eastern Cemetery's most prolific gravestone cutter, we've got your book! In addition to learning about Adams and his fellow stonecutters, you will discover so much about the Eastern Cemetery, its history, and the history of those interred within it. 

Find copies of the book at local Portland, Maine, bookstores or order from your favorite online retailer.

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.