By Carol McCracken (Post # 805)
Just before noon today a new headstone was unveiled at Eastern Cemetery on the Hill in memory of Joseph Coffin Boyd. Boyd served in the War of 1812 and was the first Treasurer for the State of Maine. He died in office serving his third term as Treasurer of the State of Maine. He was born in 1760 and died in 1823.
During the War of 1812, Boyd served as paymaster during his three year stint. There was at least one instance when Boyd came up with over $1,000. to pay American troops after the government paychecks got lost. In todays currency, that would amount to about $68,000. Joseph was a merchant in Portland with a store at the corner of Middle and Exchange Streets. His home on Spring Street was torn down for Urban Renewal in the 1970’s. A Holiday Inn is now located there.
At todays ceremony historian and former state legislature Herb Adams related that Larry Glazt, who is researching the War of 1812 and Maine veterns who served therein for a book, asked him where at Eastern Cemetery Boyd was buried. Adams knews it was at Eastern Cemetery and spent some snowy and rainy days this winter looking for the exact location. His family’s tomb was located and a marker provided by the Veteran’s Administration was set in place last Friday – before the ceremony.
Barbara Hager, president, of Spirits Alive, said that between 1632 and 1829, Eastern Cemetery was the only cemetery in Portland. In 1829, Western Cemetery came into being with Evergreen Cemetery following in 1853. Beginning in 1795, the city council gave permission to start constructing and selling tombs to the public.
One of the military dignataries at today’s ceremony was Dominic Distasio who lived on the Hill. He attended the former North School on Congress Street and once used the Cemetery as a cut short home on Munjoy Street. Following Porland High School he went into the Army and served in Vietnam in 1967-68. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze star with Valor and an Oakleaf Cluster while serving in the 196 Lib Americal Division. “I was shocked at how people treated us when I got home from Vietnam. People called us baby killers,” he said because of the famous massacre of 400 at Mei Lai. (sp?) “We used to help the Villagers by giving them chocolate and medical assistance.” Distasio retired from the Post Office.