The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Cemetery Committee of Portsmouth, New Hampshire


Gravestones toppled

November 29, 2005, PORTSMOUTH - Police are investigating the possibility that a pair of North Cemetery gravestones were vandalized.

Police Capt. Lou Ferland said the department is asking the public for any information about the disturbance of two tombstones in the historic cemetery, though it is not certain if vandalism is a factor. Ferland said the stones were tipped over and suffered damage some time during the past month.

Portsmouth police officers John Lee, left, and Darrin Sargent investigate fallen gravestones at the North Cemetery on Maplewood Avenue in Portsmouth on Monday. Police say vandalism is possible. Roger Syphers, cemetery caretaker, said repairs will be made.
Photo by Deb Cram

"We’re not sure if it was an accident, natural causes, or vandalism," said the police spokesman.

Audrey Bierhans, chairwoman of the city’s cemetery committee, said police and the public need to pay greater attention to the city’s cemeteries, in addition to respecting them.

"We have to make more of an effort to pay attention to this," she said. "We have derelicts who go there and since these are very historic, you have to pay more respect."

The North Cemetery is located adjacent to B&M railroad tracks where police have made arrests for alcohol and trespassing. The burial ground, established in 1753, is the second oldest in the city and where historically significant residents are buried, including Revolutionary War General William Whipple and Governor John Langdon.

The cemetery has been listed on the National Register since 1978.

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