Town History

Greenbush is located about 23 miles north of Bangor along the east side of the Penobscot River. We are a rural residential community with a scattering of small businesses throughout Town. The Town Office ,located off Main Road (U.S. Rte #2) is open Monday through Friday. Our local school system, Helen S. Dunn Shool, provides our children education from pre K – 8th grade with the opportunity to choose which area high school they would like to attend. Our Fire Department consists of two up-to-date pumper trucks (one purchased new in 2007) with one housed in each end of Town and a crew of dedicated volunteers who take their training seriously. The local Post Office is located on Main Road (U.S. Rte #2). We presently have a convenience store in each end of town.

Oftentimes local residents refer to the southern end of Town as Cardville named for the Card family who once lived in that section of Greenbush. The northern end of Town where is referred to as Olamon for the Stream that runs through the village and meets up with the Penobscot River. The Olamon is from the Native American language meaning vermillion or red paint. The red paint was actually red ochre found further upstream from the village of Olamon and used by the Native Americans. Greenbush is said to have derived its name from the abundence of rich forests that supported the primary source of industry – logging from its inception. The woods industry continued to pay a major role in the livelihood of Greenbush citizens even into the 21st Century.

Greenbush was incorporated as a town by the State of Maine February 26, 1834. Members of an organizational meeting at the home of John Ballard on April 14, 1834 elected the first town officals as follows: Henry Campbell – moderator; Adam Elliot – town clerk; Charles Campbell – 1ST selectmean; Edward Oakes – 2ND selectman; Gowen Riggs – 3RD selectman; William Oakes constable. The first offical Town Meeting was held April 28, 1834. At this meeting men were selected to represent the Town for the following positions: assessors, town treasurer, superintending school committee – consisting of five school districts within the town, highway surveyors, fence viewers, field drivers, pound keeper & tax collector. Monies raised: $120 for support of schools; $500 to repair highways – to be paid in labor at nine pence per hour for men and for oxen the same.

Town meetings were a major event for many years with the actual meeting taking place during the day on a Saturday in March. The Town Meeting was followed by a supper and then a dance. It was a time when the entire town came together not only to take part in electing local officials and making important decisions as to how tax dollars were spent but to visit and enjoy the company of others. It has been said that people who were great friends the rest of the year would often dispute each other bitterly over town issues.

As you may well imagine early transportation consisted of trails rather than roads with much reliance on traveling the waterways. In the mid 1800’s Greenbush like many towns along the Penobscot River were serviced by a steam boat line for both passengers and shipments of freight. These boats were described as small flat bottomed stern wheelers which were ideally suited for their purposes. One official steamboat landing in Greenbush was in the vicinity of the northern end of Lower River Road and the old southern end of the Middle River Road across from the Greenbush Cemetery. This landing was noted as the Greenbush Trip on the 1859 map of Greenbush. When business demanded stops were also made at Bailey’s Landing, Sugar Island and Olamon or anywhere along the way when signaled to pick up passengers. Mail was also carried on the steamers when they were running but in the winter it was carried by stage. There was likely more than one or two stagecoach stops in Greenbush. One known one was at the home of James C. Scott (Scott/Smart Farm) on East Ridge Road. The old barn used at that time is still standing albeit with some restoration done to it in the 1990’s. Its main structure and many of the original boards are still visible today.

Industry in Greenbush has been varied and a lot of it involved with the forests of Maine – logging, river drives in their hay day, hauling when it in turm became more convenient, saw mills from lumber to shingle mills. Farming as might be expected was also prevelant both as a means to put food on the table and for market. Moses Weld made axes but it isn’t clear if he employed others. His axes were highly regarded by the woodsmen of Greenbush for many years. There were coopers, a grist mill, blacksmiths, snowshoe manufacturing, paddle & axe handle makers, small shops or homes where people made moccasins, others who made canoes, boarding homes, Ellingwood Hotel by Greenbush Trip, Merrill Inn in Olamon, general stores and likely many other what some may consider ordinary businessis in their time that aren’t mentioned.

Many in Greenbush have answered the call of Military Service many voluntarily possibly others by draft. Although numbers vary from different sources, it is safe to say that close to one hundred or more men served their country during the Civil War. Out of this number, thirty-two died some from disease, starvation and measles other in prison camps. A few deserted. During World War I seventeen men from Town served in the armed forces. Joseph Fowler died in England ans his brother, Almon died on the battlefield in France. Forty-four men and women served our country during World War II. Many of them returned to Greenbush to once again reside and raise their families in Greenbush. There are many veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War and now even the War in the Middle East as well as those who served in times of peace. We owe each of you a debt of gratitude and thank all of you for your service.

For further information on the Town’s History seek out Greenbush, Maine a Historical Sketch by James V. Rollins; History of Penobscot County; The History and Genealogy of Greenbush Maine by Crouch & Sanborn and many other books on Maine history.