A Westport Island Birthday Remembrance

Remembering Verlie Greenleaf

a young Verlie GreenleafIf she was still alive, Verlie Greenleaf would have been 124 years old today. When she celebrated her 100th birthday in 1991, there were probably some who thought she might live to celebrate her 124th. Verlie lived to be 101. She served as Westport’s Treasurer and Tax Collector for 45 years, retiring at age 87. She played piano at Island dances for years and years, first at Camp Molly on the North End and later at the Town Hall — Verlie even played for her own 100th birthday celebration.

Verlie was interviewed by Louise and John Swanton in 1987 about growing up on Westport Island. And, she wrote her own notes to pass on. Here are a few of those captured remembrances…

My mother said I was born in a snowstorm, a good snowstorm, the 19th of February, 1891, and she said it really was a snowstorm. They used to get the doctor. The women had their babies at home. The doctor came from Wiscasset, and then you had to row him across because we didn’t have any ferry. You had to meet him across the river. He would come down to Bailey’s land, they’d row across and pick him up and bring him over…

…[We] didn’t have any ferry. When I was first growing up, they had rowboats at the shores. Everybody had rowboats. …years ago when there was nothing but oxen and there were two horses, the south end was just as far away as Boston would be for us. …There was the north end and the south end. Everybody walked…

There was a Post Office of course, down at the Center but it was easier for my father to row to Wiscasset to get his groceries and he had a post office box up in Wiscasset, and that’s where his mail came in. Sometimes if he was busy my mother would row up and get the mail. She wouldn’t be going there in the middle of winter…

They didn’t plow [then]. When I was a kid I can see them now. Nehemiah Colby had a yoke of oxen and they had something looked like a long sled…and in front of it they’d tied on — I don’t know whether it was a plank or whether it was a log right in front, and the oxen — I can see them going down by the house now — used to go down by the house, those oxen, and just push the snow down. That’s all we had…

Up on Uncle Jake’s hill there, we used to go up there and slide down the hill, come way down where I lived, way down to the farmhouse… Many years we’ve gone sleighing Thanksgiving… We had horses. But there were several yoke of oxen on the island, and then they used to break the road with the horses. We used to call them heaters, with that log in front.

I was in my teens when the first car came on the island. It was owned by Arthur B. Fels of Yarmouth who married Josie Fowle of Fowle’s Point.

Verlie Greenleaf at her 100th birthday celebrationVerlie (1891-1992) lives on in the words, deeds and photographic record she left behind. Her granddaughters, Dedee Greenleaf-Hodgdon and Senie Morton, have donated a large collection of her photographs and memorabilia to the Westport Island History Committee. Verlie’s written remembrances, as well as the care put into identifying the people and places in this collection, make it a very valuable addition to the Island’s historical record. Thank you.

Posted on February 19, 2015, in History, People and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Asenath Greenleaf Morton

    A very nice remembrance of our grandmother.
    A wonderful person everyone misses very much.

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