The most famous poet who lived for any length of time on Staten Island has to be Edwin Markham. He lived the last 38 years of his life in Westerleigh.Here is an excerpt from the 1980 publication of the Westerleigh Improvement Society"Westerleigh Today and Yesterday:"
"(Markham)was a familiar figure as he walked the streets of the neighborhood, easily recognized by his flowing white hair and beard, broad -brimmed hat,cutaway coat and most especially, his piercing bright eyes.
"He had been a man of vigorous good health until his last few years, having been a shepherd at the age of 10,a hard riding cowboy in his early teens and a blacksmith in 1876 while attending Christian College in Santa Rosa, Calif.
"In 1886, while superintendent of schools in Placerville, Calif.he first saw a copy of Millet's painting "The Man With The Hoe".Stirred to his depths of feeling, he wrote the first verse of his poem by the same name..." Markham didn't finish until 13 years later.
Markham and later his wife and son came east around the turn of the century,moving first to Brooklyn. They moved to a house at the corner of Livermore and Waters avenues, Westerleigh, in 1901 and later to their permanent home at 92 Waters Ave.
The son Virgil, would become a professor at Wagner College.
The Markhams apparently were friendly neighbors. Another excerpt from "Westerleigh Today and Yesterday:"
"As soon as the Markhams moved into the house on Waters Avenue, they went from house to house calling on all the neighbors and inviting them to tea," recalled the late Mrs. Elsa Ericson, a long-time Westerleigh resident in an article by her grandson, Eric Devli, in the Staten Island Advance of Oct. 3, 1976."
Markham died in 1940.
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