Guided tour of Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery as part of town’s bicentennial

PORTLAND – As part of the Town of Portland’s 200th birthday, a guided tour of Evergreen Cemetery will be given on Saturday, July 13 at 11 a.m.

Many people are under the impression that cemeteries are simply places where the departed are laid to rest, which is only partially true. Aside from preserving the memory of loved ones, cemeteries are also art galleries, horticultural gardens, history museums, and puzzles to be solved by family researchers. And there is no better place to experience local heritage than in nearby cemeteries such as Evergreen.

With its origins in the early 19th century (Betsey Clemons Fay 1807), Evergreen is in many ways a time capsule of the town’s history. From monuments commemorating Portland’s founders’ families to Portland’s connection with state and national figures, heroes and artists, and entrepreneurs and industrialists who also gained wide recognition, each turn in the cemetery’s pathways uncovers stories which should not remain secrets.

For example, why is the Union Jack (British flag) on a grave here? What explains the presence of a Confederate flag? How did a member of the U.S. House of Representatives make his grave here? Is it possible that Brocton-born George Pullman brought down the presidency of Grover Cleveland? Who was James Dunn, Portland’s first citizen, and why should we remember him?

The tour begins promptly at 11 a.m. at the corner of Webster Road and Cemetery Avenue, the very location where Captain James Dunn decided to become our first permanent settler. The guide will be Jim Boltz, the present town historian. Participants should expect to walk on some uneven surfaces during the one-hour stroll, wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather. An additional Bicentennial cemetery tour will be given in August, at a time to be announced.