The Marsh Family: 175 Years in Greenville (final installment)

By Bruce Marsh

Following is a continuation of the Marsh Family story, which began in the July issue of Insight. Dr. Marsh is professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University. His family heritage was a 2018 season feature of our tour in the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Historical House.     

The other, much more widely known, “Marsh Farm” and Marsh Farm Road just south of Town on Rte. 15, where the Woodbury family lives today, was the farm of Stephen and Hannah’s son William Henry (1847-1919) and his wife Etta Margaret (Hilton, 1855-1945); it was here that Stephen lived out his final years dying near 90 in 1901. In addition to farming Stephen was in charge of extensive lumbering operations in the region.

Stephen and Hannah had eight children, six of whom raised families in Greenville with the others in nearby towns. Although far too numerous to mention in much detail it is of interest to mention the main connections to other well-known local families.

Martin Van Buren (1836): Married Pauline Foss and was father to Alphonso (1861), Ralph (1863), and Stanley (1875). Ralph and Stanley were both medical doctors serving Guilford, and Alphonso was the druggist in Sangerville. Ralph was born at Capen’s Hotel on Deer Island in the dead of winter 3 February, and Marsha Hansen living here today is a descendant.

Stephen Dudley III (1840): Married Martha Jackson of Monson and called “Uncle Dud”, this is the man in the long beard featured on the well-known postcard with the water wagon and henceforth connected with the Genest and Gordon families.

Lydia Ann (1843): Married Osgood Mansell and had two children: Frank who married his cousin Lucy (dau. of James Franklin below), with daughters Mabel (Vaughn) and Ruth, and Flora who married Ambrose MacEachern and had Leslie, Paul, Joseph, Lena (Pelkie), Bennett, Frank and Howard; also a well known Greenville family.

Helen (1845): married John Amazine and lived in Exeter and Dexter areas.

William Henry (1847): Married Etta Margaret Hilton—see below.

Mercy (1850-1851);

James Franklin (1854): Married Mary Isabel (“Kate”) Hamilton and lived in Parkman.

George (1858): Married Mary Brawn and had children Eva and Edna (Eldridge).

Isa (1860): Married Stephen Holman Hubbard and had sons Leo, who married Nellie Brett (with children Leo, Harold (‘Pat’ who married Etta Marsh), Helen, John and Ida) and Harry, who married Laura Candice (with children Ruth, Harry, and Alice).

William Henry Marsh (1847-1919) married Etta Margaret Hilton from Old Town and her mother was Hannah McCausland who was half Native American. Her brother Will Hilton had a major blacksmith shop in Town for many years. William and Etta also had a large family and all descendants of today in and around Greenville of the Marsh surname stem from them. Their children were: Frank Albert (1873) who married Elva Clyde Calder; Myrcilla who married Burt Smith; John Fermer (1878) who married Florence Colby; Mercedes (1879 -1930) who first married Omar Littlefield and had a daughter Florence (more below); Leander (1884, m. Alice M?); William Dudley (1888—see below); Florence (died young); Virgil (1890-1919); Lyman (1893-1901); Roland (1896-1994) who married Gertrud Dinsmore and had children Thomas, Charlotte, Hilda, Virgil, Louise, Myrcilla, and Roland (Buddy).

More about Mercedes Marsh: Within one month of his marriage to Mercedes, while hunting with his father-in-law in the dead of winter near the Coffee House stream, Omar Littlefield suffered what may have been a cerebral hemorrhage and died of “exhaustion and exposure”. Their daughter, Florence, was raised by her grandparents William and Etta and went on to marry ‘Old’ Bill McIver and had children William (1921, m. Ethel Cole), Julia (1922, m. Charles Luce), Omar (1924, m. Annie Rose Deveaux), James (1933, m. Sheila O’Brien), Mercedes (b.1936, m. 1st George Irvine, then Harold ‘Doc’ Blanchard; her daughter Julia Lavigne lives in Town). The McIver family and descendants are widely distributed throughout the area. Mercedes went on to have three more marriages, but no more children, outliving all but her last husband who was Bae Powers. Mercedes by all reports and measures was a remarkable woman; hardworking, resourceful, good at business, and kind and modest. She purchased and ran the sporting camps on the south end of Sugar Island, Camp Greenleaf, which was a well-known and highly desirable spot.

My family stems from William Dudley Marsh (1888-1949) who was the father of Etta (Marsh) Hubbard (1919-2016) and also of Florence (1917, m. Wilber Carter, later moved to Sandpoint, Idaho), William (my father, 1918-2009), and Virginia (1922-1989). William D. married Elizabeth Jane McGown Wood (‘Bessie’, 1882-1960) who was the widow of Carl Roberts (1876-1915). With Carl she had six children, and it is through this marriage of William and Bessie that the Marsh and Roberts families have ever since been closely related. These Roberts offspring—Clair, Norm, Martha, Coburn, Carl, and Lee – and the Marsh offspring—Florence, William, Etta, and Virginia — were raised as one continuous, close knit family with never the words of half-brother or sister ever entering any conversation.

Martha married Bae Powers, widower of Mercedes Marsh, parents of Libby Collins in Town; Coburn married Eula Perry of Onawa, parents of Bob (railroad) Roberts in Monson; Carl married Mildred Dean, parents of Mary Holmes living here today, Etta married Pat Hubbard, parents of Donna (1946-1963), Linda McBrierty in Town, and Patty Brown in Elliotsville; and William Roland went to Northern Michigan to manage timber, married Audrey Jane Steinhoff, and had children: William, James, Bruce, and Kay.

The family has always gathered at and around William and Bessie’s farm on Rte. 15 across from the Marsh Farm Road where Lee Roberts, a bachelor, last ran the farm for many years until his death in 1983. Linda McBrierty now owns the farm. Although the Roberts family originally built the farm, it had been sold and was purchased by William D. Marsh in 1928. William was a well-known fly-fishing guide in the Allagash and St. Johns River regions and in the winter he ran his own logging business, with operations on Prong Pond Mountain and at Rainbow Lake as well as at other locations. He was unusually talented as a fisherman, canoeist, hunter, and camp cook with sports returning year after year to have him guide them on canoe trips lasting sometimes over a month and covering over 200 miles of territory. His daughter, Etta (Marsh) Hubbard devoted herself to all aspects of the furthering of historical learning and encouragement of education and exploration in the Greenville area. She for many years gave unstinting dedicated service to the Shaw Library and the Historical Society.

People sometimes ask our family: ”What is so special about Greenville, Maine to the Marsh Family?” Our common answer is: “It is the Jerusalem of the Marsh Family.”