Reverend William Reese, Founder of the Widow’s Wood Society
Died 1834 at age 35
All this month, I’m resurrecting the memory of folks who’ve crossed over to the other side. I’m posting a video each day, telling the tale of one, interesting “permanent Portlander.”
A large white obelisk looms over Funeral Lane, by the flag pole, in Portland’s Eastern Cemetery. It marks the final resting place of Rev. William Reese.
Reese is remembered founding the Widow’s Wood Society, a charity organized to provide fuel to widows during the cold Maine winters. He was also the third pastor of the Universalist Society in Portland.
The marker indicates that he was a “friend of mankind.” That must have been true. Just before he died, he turned up in Buffalo, New York, caring for cholera patients. That’s where he shuffled off to meet his maker at the age of 35 in 1834.
He was still remembered in Portland 25 years later, when his impressive, marble spire appeared in the cemetery. It was commissioned by Francis O.J. Smith, a former U.S. Congressman and apparent fan of the good reverend.
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.