Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideal.
Sir William Gladstone 

     Sunday, April 24th  was the fifth annual Spring Cleanup Day at the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery.  It was a bright, but cool afternoon.  The daffodils greeted all that came to participate. 

 I want to share photos of the day as a way of chronicling the continued efforts to preserve this small remnant of Portland's history.  In comparison to other ancient cemeteries in the city, this one suffered the most damage, and little remains of the gravestones that once memorialized those who were buried here by loving family members. 

     Throughout the graveyard were scattered bits of slate and field stones, some rather large with no markings, no inscribed names or eulogizing words.  None-the-less, these bits and pieces were once important monuments.  During the afternoon, in the process of raking up leaves, broken twigs and the never ending glass that seems to come to the surface every Spring, the remnants were placed in a pile to be buried and marked so that they will remain in the cemetery no longer scattered or tossed away.

     It was a good day!  It is to be noted  that the project begun by Samantha Allshouse and Kayla Theriault over six years ago continues whenever people gather to offer their care and support.  Portland Girl Scouts have continued this legacy and offer their service each Spring and Fall.  We are so grateful to them, their families and the Friends of the Grand Trunk Cemetery.  Many thanks to Robert McMann and the Portland Cemeteries for loaning us rakes, gloves and bags and for their continued encouragement over the years.


A new generation:  Kayla Theriault's little son Jacob checking out the chipmunk's hole.

Twenty bags of leaves were gathered, and additional piles were left for pickup.

Girl Scouts with their parents and Grandparents participated.

Picking up the never-ending glass shards.

Yes, that's me.

Norma Sawyer

My husband, Joel, tackles the right side of the cemetery.

The Grand Trunk Veterans' Memorial

Three generations of Girl Scouts.

Benjamin Sawyer, direct descendant of Anthony Sawyer who is interred here.

     It was a good day, with good people whose efforts are appreciated and a tribute to those interred at this cemetery.  For those of you who follow this blog from 'Away', if you are ever in Portland, we hope you will take a little time from your schedule to visit the cemetery behind the Presumpscot School in Portland.  It's a lovely place for a family walk or sitting on a bench and reflecting.  Hopefully, someday soon we will have the street signs installed so that people will more easily be able to know where the cemetery is located.