Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Grand Trunk Cemetery Update - October 2017

     For the last seven years,  since Samantha (Allshouse) Lopez and Kayla Theriault initiated their project, "Unearthing the Roots of the Back Cove and East Deering Communities", a project to recover the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery, we have attempted to map out the graves of the early settlers by placing steel numbered pins where we have found evidence of the burial sites. By evidence, I mean the partial remnants of monuments made of slate or field stones, most with no engravings.

     To date, we have marked 121 graves.  However, scattered bits of slate and field stones have been located throughout the cemetery. These are the remains of headstones, some, probably worn-out by age and weather, most were destroyed by vandals who smashed them  with glass bottles; a sad testament to the drinking parties that took place in the 70's and 80's.   Never-the-less, we do what we can to preserve the little that remains.

      The  1936 WPA survey listed 197 marked graves.  Unfortunately, the 347 grave forms which could provide vital information as to who was interred  and the actual locations of the graves are still missing.  Now that the city has hired an expert archivist and re-activated a committee to investigate old records and artifacts in the vaults at City Hall,  I am hopeful that these grave forms will be found in the future.

     One of the mysteries of the ancient graveyard has been the area on the little berm where four 12x12 inch granite corner stones are located.  The 1936 chart indicated that there was once an ornamental iron fence with a gate which opened on the side which measured 60 inches.  This was a prominent enclosure for two graves.

The square on the left shows the ornamental enclosure and the two graves.
      Who is buried here is a mystery.  We might imagine that the two souls  may have been husband and wife, probably with some degree of wealth and prominence for that area.  I couldn't help wonder if this might be the final resting place for Joseph Lunt and his wife Jane?  Apparently, Joseph was a highly respected and regarded gentleman, whose death at a relatively young age, devastated his wife Jane (Noyes) Lunt.  The only record that still exists indicated they were buried in section I of the cemetery; wherever that may be is unknown.

Two examples of Victorian Enclosures

      For those of you who might visit the cemetery,  or participate this Sunday in our annual Daffodil Planting Party, you'll notice that the Cemetery Crew has moved the kiosk, which houses the extant names of those interred and a graphic depiction of the cemetery.  Until recently, the kiosk was positioned on this berm.  It's now located at the front of the entrance to the cemetery from the soccer field. 

     Once the kiosk was removed, Joel and I did probe the gravesite hopeful of finding remnants of a monument. No such luck!  What we did find, at about two feet down, were the corner pieces of a rather good sized granite base.  Each piece has tooled markings  where there were probably iron bolts which attached to the actual headstone.  There were a few slate spacers and an oval stone with a drilled out circle; probably to hold another iron pin.  Beneath these, were broken, smaller pieces of the base and an elongated slab.  A small hole of about 3 inches opened up revealing a deep chamber.  Not wishing to disturb what is inevitably the burial chamber, we filled in what we had uncovered, leaving only the larger corner pieces.  The mystery prevails.

The tooled corner pieces. 
 Two steel numbered plates have been placed to indicate the two burials.

     Sunday, October 22nd is our sixth annual Daffodil Planting Party.  It promises to be a lovely, warm October day.  The three small gardens have been turned over and are ready for planting.

     There will be cider and donuts for the workers.  It is always fun, and the company is delightful.  I hope those of you who live in the Portland area will join us in our effort to continue to beautify this sacred and unique historic space.