Stephen & Zilpha Longfellow, Missing parents of the poet
Died 1849 and 1851
Happy October, folks. The air is crisp, the skies are blue and it’s time for stories that open the door between this world and the next. I’m posting a video each day, telling the tale of one, interesting “permanent Portlander.”
Today, it’s a tale of two missing bodies. Stephen and Zilpha Longfellow were the parents of Maine’s most famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. They lived in what’s known as the Longfellow House on Congress Street.
On a side note, Stephen was originally engaged to her sister, Elizabeth, but she died before they could get hitched. So, he married Zilpha instead.
Anyway, they had a long happy life together and raised six children. Stephen died in 1849 and Zilpha followed in 1851. They were both laid to rest in the granite family tomb in Portland’s Western Cemetery.
But, in 1986, city workers entered the tomb while replacing the old iron gate and preparing to brick-up the door. The tomb was empty. There was no sign of vandalism and the lock was intact.
So, where did they go? Nobody knows.
Disclaimer: I’m not a historian. I owe everything I know to the dedicated research of those who have come before me. These character sketches are assembled from multiple (often antique) sources and sprinkled with my own conjecture.