Monday, October 6, 2014

Milestone Reached for the 'Remnant' that is The Grand Trunk Cemetery: Dedication of Settlers' Memorial

Five of Anthony Sawyer's Descendants Participate In the Dedication.
Robert Sawyer, Jane Jordan, Susan Szewczyk, Theresa Sawyer Cobb, Benjamin Sawyer.

 Honoring the Memory of the Early Settlers of East Deering Village

     The day was made to order; crisp and comfortable.  Some sixty or so people from Portland, Falmouth, South Portland, Lisbon, Florida and New York attended the ceremony greeted by two young ladies, Miss Emma Brackett, dressed in Colonial garb, and Miss Megan Cunningham, in a Victorian style dress.  The two Girl Scouts chose to carry on the legacy of their now, adult Girl Scout sisters, Samantha Allshouse and Kayla Theriault by continuing to bring honor and beauty to the ancient cemetery with their own Bronze Award project of planting gardens and spear-heading two service projects with Portland Girl Scouts during the fall and spring each year.

     The City of Portland's Cemeteries Division spent several days preparing the grounds, installing the new stone, touching up the rail fence and the enclosures, painting the kiosk, clearing out brush behind the wire fence which will eventually be replaced.  The finishing touch was the addition of lovely fall mums.

     The VFW Deering Memorial Post 6859 provided the Honor Guard, Rev. Carolyn Lambert, Pastor of Woodfords Congregational Church gave the Invocation and Benediction, 'Greetings from The City of Portland was delivered by Michael Bobinsky, Director of Public Services, and the speeches were inspiring delivered by two noted Maine historians:  William David Barry and Herb Adams.

     There were several touching moments for me, and I'm sure for those in attendance at the ceremony.  Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts, carrying baskets of flower petals,  sprinkled petals over the graves in a symbolic gesture of honor where once there was debris and disregard, while the surviving forty-seven names of settlers were recited.

     The plaque for Zoe's bench which had been keyed by mischief-makers was replaced with a brass, far nicer plaque, donated by Benjamin Sawyer and will be embedded in a granite marker to place beside the bench.  Zoe Sarnacki was a student at Presumpscot School in David Millard's class engaged in an earlier service learning grant project to recover the cemetery.  David, now retired, became Samantha Allshouse's mentor, and provided valuable historic material and direction.  David always hoped to place something in Zoe's memory at the cemetery since she had died a tragic death. When she was a student, Zoe  had been so interested and involved in the cemetery, along with her Dad.  It seemed appropriate that the final gesture for Sam and Kayla's Girl Scout Troop before graduation was to honor David's wish by purchasing and installing Zoe's bench.

  Finally, one of the most amazing outcomes of this reclamation project has been connecting with living relatives and in some cases, introducing them to one another for the first time.  This was certainly true at the ceremony when Jane A, Jordan revealed she was also a descendant of Anthony Sawyer and met the other Sawyers, two of whom traveled from Florida and New York to be present.

     I'm sure I could go on, but I'll save more of my comments for later.  In today's Portland Press Herald,  there is a great article by staff writer, Beth Quimby with wonderful photographs by Carl D. Walsh that I'm sure you will enjoy.

I hope you enjoy the Dedication photographs taken by LingLing Oum.