Friday, February 17, 2023

Famous Maine cartographer’s work has unique Raymond connections

By Ernest H. Knight

Moses Greenleaf had a unique talent for cartography and his work included maps of Maine before and after it became a state by separation from Massachusetts in 1820. Among his finest works is a wall map which hung for years at Raymond Town Hall before its transfer to the Maine State Museum in Augusta.

Maine's first mapmaker, Moses Greenleaf, lived in New
Gloucester and surveyed much of Raymond and the
surrounding area for his definitive 1829 book
'A Survey of the State of Maine' in which he included
chapters about the land, rivers, mountains, climate,
and people of the state. COURTESY PHOTO 
Greenleaf was born in Newbury, Massachusetts in 1777 but moved to the District of Maine, then still part of Massachusetts, as a boy with his family and grew up a farmer. When a young man, he struck off on his own to become a storekeeper with interests in the Maine wilderness and devoted the rest of his life to Maine promotion and statistics.

His surveying and map-making, writings and gathering of information, and his belief in the future of his state both as Massachusetts and Maine, while an active promoter of the change, belied his meager formal education in the schools of New Gloucester.

In 1829, Greenleaf published “A Survey of the State of Maine” in which there are chapters on such subjects as the land, the rivers, the mountains, the climate, the natural resources, commerce, agriculture, manufacturing, education, and population. His writing showed that in 1820, the relative wealth or taxable property for Raymond at $43, compared to Portland’s $281.

Another of his tabulations, the value per acre of wood and improved land shows Portland’s at $5 per acre, while Raymond’s at just 50-cents. These statistics and the details of his maps are remarkably complete for the times and makes one wonder how he could carry out this work over such a vast expanse of wilderness without the help of telephones, vehicles, libraries, ballpoint pens and other technology we now take for granted.

Greenleaf was heavily involved in surveying land in the remote townships across the state including many of the first properties in Raymondtown and the surrounding area.

The name of Moses Greenleaf is not completely unknown locally even to this day. It is memorialized by the “Greenleaf Subdivision” off Route 302 a short distance east of the Bridgton Road Church in Casco.

There at the entrance, a large-polished granite monument has the name “GREENLEAF” and nearby a boulder has a bronze plaque to “Maine’s First Map Maker – October 17, 1777 to March 20, 1834” and his prophecy of 1815 that “Settlers may soon enjoy many advantages, pecuniary, civil, moral, and religious which flow from a residence in a well settled community.”

As Maine’s pioneer mapmaker, he also is credited with producing the first significant drawings of the many lakes and waterways surrounding the entire Raymond area, including Sebago Lake, Crescent Lake and Little Sebago Lake. <

This article was written by the late Ernest H. Knight, one of the founders of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and contained in his book “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” It was submitted by the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and articles about Raymond history from the historical society will appear regularly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. To find out more about the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, call Frank McDermott at 207-655-4646.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Schools encouraged to participate in Chamber’s ‘Polar Dip’

By Lorraine Glowczak

In its third year, the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (SLRCC) will host its annual Sebago Lake Polar Dip at Sebago Lake’s Raymond Beach on Saturday, Feb 18.

Plunge time begins promptly at noon and spectators are welcome to cheer the brave souls who will be diving in the icy waters along the shores of Route 302.

Participants in previous Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of
Commerce Polar Dip events jump into the freezing lake
waters to help raise funds for Lakes Region food pantries.
This year's Polar Dip will be conducted at Raymond Beach
at noon on Saturday, Feb. 18 and school teams are 
encouraged to sign up. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE    
Right now, there are 10 teams who will participate in the Polar Dip to raise funds to benefit Lakes Region food pantries, all of which are a part of the Chamber’s business connections. The food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish, and Windham will be the recipients of the funds raised again this year.

But what makes this year’s polar dip extra special is the invitation by Melissa Dubois, Windham High School’s (WHS) Health/PE Teacher and advisor for the Mental Health Advocacy Committee (also referred to as the Kindness Crew) to other Lake Region area schools for a fun little competitive spirit.

“The goal is to help raise awareness about food insecurity right here in the Lakes Region area,” Dubois said. “Right now, WHS has approximately six teams from various clubs who are going to participate in the polar dip. The students are excited to not only try something they haven’t done before but also to do something important that helps others in valuable ways, which also includes the fact this is one of many ways to spread kindness throughout the community.”

Robin Mullins, the President & CEO of the SLRCC, is very grateful for Dubois’ encouragement to the Lakes Region schools. She said that the chamber has promoted participation from all eight towns the chamber supports.

“We always have many teams from the Windham area who participate in the polar dip, but we hope to increase participation from other area towns,” Mullins said. “All eight towns are the recipients of the funds raised so when Melissa approached me with the idea of WHS competing with Gray-New Gloucester, Bonny Eagle, and Lake Region High Schools I was super excited. I thought, ‘Wow. She is a genius.’”

Both Mullins and Dubois contacted the other area high schools and there was interest in participation.

“They were excited about the possibility but weren’t quite sure they could pull it off this year,” Mullins said.

As a result, Dubois and Mullins are collaborating with the high schools to continue conversations about other friendly competitions to raise funds and spread kindness.

“It’s all in the beginning stages but we hope by next year’s polar dip, there will be a big group of students from all the Lake Region high schools who will compete to raise the most funds,” Dubois said.

Of course, safety is of the upmost importance when it comes to jumping into the icy waters of Sebago Lake. Mullins encourages all team members to consider the advice from the American Red Cross.

“Before jumping in the water, stand on a blanket or towel and only remove your clothes right before you enter the water. Wear socks, aqua boots, neoprene surf boots, or running shoes to stop your feet from sticking to the snowy, icy shore or the mucky lake bottom to prevent cuts and scrapes from the frozen ground. If you wear glasses, secure them with a strap or bathing cap.”

Mullins said that spotters will be available with towels to help participants out of the icy waters. There will be two heated trailers to change out of wet clothes and hot chocolate for all participants.

SLRCC is still accepting more teams and jumpers.

“We are looking for more jumpers (student clubs/sports teams, faculty, co-workers, families). They must register online at Jumpers under the age of 18 must have their parent's permission to jump. There is a link for anyone who wants to donate but doesn’t want to get wet.”

For more information about the Polar Dip, contact Robin Mullins at or 207-892-8265. To donate,

Mullins also encourages those who enjoy ice fishing to participate in the Sebago Lakes Rotary’s 21st annual Ice Fishing Derby that is taking place on Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19. You can register online by going to: or forms are available at Sebago Bait Shop in Windham and at Jordan’s Store in Sebago.<

Friday, February 3, 2023

Before the memory fades: Unoccupied Windham farmhouse on Route 302 has long, rich history

By Walter Lunt

Travelers along the stretch of Route 302 two miles east of Foster’s Corner (rotary) have likely wondered about the long-unoccupied farmhouse sitting close to the roadway in serious decline.

Retrieved from the farmhouse, a painting of
Little Orchard Farm from the mid-20th century.
The back reads "To my good friends Mr. and 
Mrs. Brackett," signed Emily B...
Turns out, in the mid-20th century, it was a sprawling, prosperous farm. “I get nostalgic thinking about the place,” says Betty Rideout, who spent decades at the residence. Speaking recently from her home in Michigan, she explained that the 62-acre farm was purchased in 1933 by her grandparents, Carl and Edith Brackett, and became known as Little Orchard Farm.

Posted above its mailbox along Roosevelt Trail (Route 302) were signs advertising the sale of apples, cider and asparagus. “The farmhouse,” says Rideout, “had been renovated in the 1920s to a Greek Revival style and the house, ell and barn were in good shape; “I remember a big, beautiful window over the barn doors which dated back to the 1800s. They had cows and chickens, and out back there were 124 apple trees. Granddad made cider from an 1800s vintage cider press he found in the barn when he bought the place.”

Rideout recalls with great fondness the interior of the farmhouse. “The woodshed was located right next to the kitchen, which had a big, beautiful old woodstove with a copper storage tank for water.” Most of the rooms, she said, were quite large including the living room that had a large pot-belly stove. My grandfather was a plumber so one of the first upgrades was an inside bathroom to replace the outhouse. My grandmother insisted on that.”

Upstairs, in her grandparent’s spacious bedroom, Rideout remembers the “…tall 4-post bed. It had a cover, but my grandfather took it off. They called it a Washington bed because its design was supposedly like George Washington’s bed at Mount Vernon.”

Grandmother Edith played the piano. In the early ‘40s, “… my playpen was located right beside the piano. I would reach up and pluck the keys. One day, Grammie lifted me up and showed me how to play a simple tune.” It would turn out to be a momentous event in her life.

Betty, her parents and brother Robert lived at the farm with her father’s parents from 1943 to 1946. “I was just a little kid, but my grandfather decided I could do anything. He showed me how to cut asparagus stalks from his big garden across the road. He also taught me to drive his 1916 Fordson tractor; I would drag the harrow over the asparagus garden. It’s all woods now.”

Does Betty remember the nearby Ledgeland Market? “Oh yes. My grandmother would give me a list of things to buy, and I would walk down there and do the shopping for her.”

Betty’s family moved to Westbrook in 1946, then to Brunswick, but through the early 1950s she spent summers at Little Orchard Farm, enjoying life “in the country,” and helping out with the farm chores. Grandmother Edith died in 1963, and Grandfather Carl in 1972, whereupon Betty’s brother, Robert, took over living at the farm. He would live there but cease to carry on the farming activities.

In 2018, the floorboards around the old pot belly stove, weakened by a roof leak, gave way and Robert fell into the basement. A neighbor had alerted the police that Robert had not emerged from the house in nearly four days. “When they got to my brother, he was within six hours of kidney failure.” Today, according to Betty, he is doing well living in a special care facility.

Since being abandoned and cleaned out in 2018, at least two local historians have estimated that the farmhouse dates back to the late 1700s. Little is known about the place before 1933. “I’ve been told,” said Betty, “that the original (dwelling) was nothing more than a two-story house, one room built on top of the other.”

The property was sold in 2021, and according to Betty, “The last I heard the barn and ell will be removed and the house restored to its original features, and it may become a business location.”

What would her grandfather say if he could see the severe deterioration of his beloved farmstead? “Heartbroken! He loved that place and I’m sure couldn’t imagine how it could ever look the way it does today.”

Asked about her life today in Michigan, Betty says she is retired and, along with her daughter, composes music, plays piano and records albums – and all the while frequently recalling the day, long ago, when Grammie Edith taught her that simple tune on the piano at Little Orchard Farm. <