Mary Elizabeth Greenlee

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Mary Elizabeth Greenlee (McDowell)

Birthplace: Raloo Parish, Antrim, Northern Ireland
Death: Died in Natural Bridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Natural Bridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ephraim McDowell and Margaret McDowell
Wife of James Greenlee
Mother of Jane Snodgrass; James Greenlee and Grace Grizel McDowell
Sister of Lieut. James McDowell; Mary Simonton; Capt. John McDowell and Margaretta Mitchell

Occupation: Tavern keeper, witch
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Elizabeth Greenlee

Mary Elizabeth McDowell

  • Birth: Nov. 17, 1711 - Raloo Parish, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • Death: Mar. 15, 1809 - home of her son in Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA
  • Buried: Greenlee Farm, Natural Bridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, USA
  • Parents: Ephraim McDowell, Margaret Irvine
  • Married: James Greenlee

9 children

  1. Jane/abt 1735
  2. John/4 Oct 1738
  3. James/19 Oct 1740
  4. Samuel/4 Apr 1743
  5. Mary/5 May 1745
  6. Margaret/15 Jun 1748
  7. Grace/23 Jun 1750
  8. David/1 Nov 1752
  9. Samuel/17 Jan 1757

The McDowell party consisted of John, his father Ephriam, his brother James, his sister Mary, and her husband James Greenlee. There may have been others traveling with them, if so their names have not come down to the author. James and Mary Greenlee settled near what is now known as Timber Ridge. Here they ran a Tavern until James’ death in 1763.

Mary Greenlee was known far and wide as a crazy lady, or even sometimes referred to as a witch. Since the Indians regarded crazy people as untouchable, she was allowed to move easily in and out of their camps.

This proved to be a valuable asset to Mary. When Alice Lewis was captured and scalped by a band of Indians, all hope was lost by John Lewis and his wife Margaret. Mary Greenlee offered to go into the Indian camps and rescue her. Her price was a horse upon which to bring the girl back and which she could keep on return. The Lewis’ were elated, and Mary was able to perform the rescue.

Contradiction occurs when one tries to decide if Mary was actually crazy, or merely feisty. The author concurs on feisty and intelligent.

At age 97, the county courts called upon Mary Greenlee to give depositions regarding land ownership. They again requested her testimony three years later. Mary amazed the Justices of the Peace with her astonishing memory, giving many details of the early settlers. Her depositions left us much history which would have otherwise been lost to time.

Mary moved near Natural Bridge to live near her son in 1780, she died on his farm at age 102. Her grave is located on his farm and marked by a larger marker


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Mary Elizabeth Greenlee's Timeline

November 17, 1711
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Age 20
Age 24
Carlisle, PA, USA
October 19, 1740
Age 28
Rockbridge County, Virginia, Colonial America
June 23, 1750
Age 38
Rockbridge, Virginia, USA
March 15, 1809
Age 97
Natural Bridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Natural Bridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States