This Portland veteran’s belongings were sold after he was declared unsound of mind

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Congrats on making through the week. There are 24 days left until the election.

What we’re talking about

Troy Bennett’s ongoing “permanent Portlanders” series has been one of my favorite features. Today, he’s got a sad story:

William and Sarah Blake are buried somewhere in the Grand Trunk Cemetery. But nobody knows just where.

They’d been married for 33 years when Sarah died in 1843. Shortly thereafter, William Blake was declared “non compos mentis” — or of unsound mind. His property was sold off by a legal guardian appointed by the courts.

He spent the last decade of his life committed to Portland’s Alms House. It’s believed he died there in 1853 at the age of 79.

A couple weeks ago, the group that takes care of the once severely neglected graveyard where he rests, dedicated a new military marker for William. He’d served in a private militia during the War of 1812. The stone is situated in a group of memorials dedicated to veterans buried, somewhere, in the cemetery.

Sarah, his wife, had no such luck. Her bones remain unmarked.

Watch his full video here.

In other news

Fight over Airbnb comes to City Hall — The city is eyeing new rules that would regulate short-term rentals — like those provided through Airbnb. But some property owners pushed back at last night’s City Council housing subcommittee meeting.

Peter McGuire of the Press Herald reports:

Most described how they were able to pay their mortgage and bills by renting out their homes on the weekends or for a few months in the summer. Others said sites like Airbnb helped them afford improvements to the buildings they owned. Hosts said that their guests like staying in a neighborhood, and spend money on local restaurants and shops, instead of at a hotel downtown.

More: Read Jake Bleiberg’s summary of the regulations the city is considering.

You might want to RSVP to our debate-viewing/kitten-petting party — The Huffington Post found out about our debate-viewing party and interviewed me about it. The (free) tickets are going fast. Here’s the link to RSVP. Our Facebook event has all the details.

The ‘Greetings From Portland’ spray artist is doing a Westbrook mural — Andrew Rice from Current Publishing reports that the originator of the oft-photographed “Welcome to Portland” mural (the wall where it was painted has since been demolished) is painting a similar image for Westbrook.

Well-known aerosol artist Mike Rich, who is recognized for creating the “Greetings from Portland” mural in downtown Portland, has been commissioned by Westbrook Arts & Culture to create the Westbrook-themed mural. …

Rich said Tuesday that he’s still finishing up the design, but has tentative ideas for including Wessie (the snake) in the “W,” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the “T” (co-created by Westbrook native Kevin Eastman) and the Black Bridge in the “B.” He’ll also be putting together a letter for Westbrook musicians, as well as letters for other city landscapes.

Mike got started on the mural today, according to Westbrook Arts & Culture.

ICYMI: Renew your passport — Chris Burns recently reported:

[A] Maine driver’s license might no longer be an accepted form of identification to access federal facilities or board aircraft for domestic flights.

That’s because Maine isn’t in compliance with a law regulating state-issued IDs, passed in 2005 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the federal government this week rejected the state’s request for additional time to comply.

The Big Idea

Maine police, who witness gun violence up close, divided over background checks — Chris writes:

Maine law enforcement officers are on the front line of violent crime, but they are no less divided than the public they’re sworn to serve and protect when it comes to tightening the state’s gun laws.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.