Welcome to our news and history blog!

Welcome to our news and history blog!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

UPDATE: Caroline Mills Smith Mead Memorial Garden/Mead Cemetery, Cos Cob Mill Pond

 


We are delighted to provide the following update. It concerns the creation of the Caroline Mills Smith Mead Memorial Garden at the Mead Cemetery located on the banks of the Cos Cob Mill Pond in Greenwich. 

Please click this link to our original announcement. 

Over the last seven months a number of improvements were initiated and completed. 

Parallel flower beds were laid out with a grassy path retained between them from the entrance of the access way to the cemetery and back. Sod was hand-cleared and fresh mulch deposited and spread.

At various places perennial pollinating plants transplanted from elsewhere along the Mill Pond embankment or grown from seeds were planted. 

Two white, wooden posts have been erected at the entrance with a black wire connecting them.

All sod from the upper tier of the cemetery was removed. The ground was regraded and a depression in the northwestern corner eliminated. A path has been laid out. 

Mulch and pachysandra ground-covering plants have been planted on the graves, along with ferns and perennial flowers. Eventually, additional pachysandra will cover the upper tier of the cemetery and the areas of the lower, ground-level section of the cemetery will also be covered.

We are making arrangements for shrubs and perennials to be planted in front of the neighboring property owner's white fence and gate to screen these off from view. 

While this is a major milestone in the development and re-landscaping of the cemetery site, there is much more to be done. 

Additional perennial flowers will be planted throughout the flower beds. Perhaps most importantly -and challenging, tree trimming work will be performed. Most of the smaller trees in and around the cemetery will be removed, excepting the two large oak trees. Trees along and in the access way will be trimmed or removed. 

One of the final tasks will be the installation of an arbor gate at the entrance, supplemented with small, flowering shrubs and plantings with proper signage. 

Though we had hoped to re-dedicate the site this past Spring, 2021, we have decided to embrace patience, finish the work started and postpone our celebration until Spring, 2022. 

We again remind all that the memorial garden and cemetery are not open to public visitation except by appointment and escorted. We also remind visitors to not disturb our neighbors -who we have fond relations and who wish their privacy to be respected. Thank you. 

Requests are taken at meadburyinggrounds@gmail.com

The following photos were captured yesterday, Saturday, July 24, 2021.

















Thursday, May 27, 2021

"Loaded hay wagon pulled by two cows with horns and lead by an African American laborer" (Solomon S. Mead Farm)

 


Loaded hay wagon pulled by two cows with horns and lead by an African American laborer. A second African American laborer stands on top of the hay. The Benjamin Mead II House circa 1728 is located behind.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Preservationists sees "imaginative" future for 300-year-old Mead family farm (Greenwich Time. Saturday, April 3, 2021)


 

By Robert Marchant  rmarchant@greenwichtime.com


GREENWICH- A descendent of one of Greenwich's oldest families is hoping a grass roots campaign will help to preserve the old Mead homestead in the backcountry and give the 300-year-old property a new life. 

The Benjamin Mead II House at 23 Cliffdale Road was built sometime around 1728 is now listed for sale. Jeffrey Bingham Mead, an author and historian, is attempting to put together a buyer and a nonprofit organization to create an educational and agricultural center there. 

"We have a seller and listing Realtor who are very interested in parting with the property, and its preservation in perpetuity," said Mead. "The farm is truly one of the town's most breathtaking and beautiful."

Mead, who divides his time between Hawaii and Greenwich, said he hoped the old farmstead could be repurposed for the 21st-century. 

"I'd like to see the old house dating from 1728 turned into a learning center, providing an immersive, hands-on experiences focusing on Greenwich's agricultural history. We'd like to see the restored farmstead as a setting for public events," he said.




The farmstead, which sits on 9 acres of land, also includes an ancestral Mead family cemetery. The last member of the Mead family resided on the property through the 1910s. 

A large main house built on the property around 1808 was demolished in the early 2000s.


Mead said the seller personally contacted him to advance the concept of preserving the property, which is off Riverside Road near the Griffith E. Harris Golf Course.

"I am working with and adding others interested in serving on a working group. We are presently searching for a nonprofit to partner with and then form one for this property," Mead said.

The proposal for the property is somewhat unorthodox, he acknowledged.

"Is this a viable method to preserve history? I certainly hope so," he said. "There is no single way to do this. Or circumstances often require us to be flexible and imaginative." 

Jo Conboy, chairwoman of the Greenwich Preservation Trust, said the project for the Mead property sounded like a novel one. The best way to ensure an older building's preservation is through a legal restriction, she said, and hoped that might be the case when the Cliffdale Road property is sold. 

"A legal protection, that's the best way to go," she said.

She said she hoped the old Mead farmstead we'll find an owner who will preserve it. "Not many of the old homes are left," Conboy said. 

The Preservation Trust isworking to preserve and restore the Thomas Lyon House  which was built around 1695, and is located on West Putnam Avenue.

A recent survey by Historic Properties of Greenwich, a local preservation group, found that there are only about 100 homes left in the community that date to the 18th century or before.

The Mead property is not open to the public. It can be seen by appointment only through Houlihan Lawrence. The property is listed for sale with an asking price of $3.99 million. 

For information on preserving the property Jeffrey Bingham Mead can be contacted at JeffreyBinghamMead@gmail.com. 


Sunday, February 7, 2021

SPENCER MEAD ISSUES NEW HISTORY OF TOWN: Valuable and Interesting Work-Product of Years' Study (1912)

Source: Greenwich Press. Friday, February 2, 1912. Pages 1 and 5.



SPENCER MEAD'S
NEW HISTORY
Valuable and Interesting
Work--Product of
Years' Study

A STORY OF OTHER DAYS

The Community's Rapid 
Development

AS WELL AS CLEARS UP MANY 
DEBATED POINTS OF COLONIAL 
AND REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY

This week was issued Spencer Mead's History of Greenwich, the most important book, as far as Greenwich is concerned, that has been published in the last score of years, and one that Greenwichites will welcome and will peruse with an interest that can be given to few books.

The history is the product of years of painstaking toil on the part of Mr. Mead, whose fame as an antiquarian and historian has reached far outside of Greenwich. There is almost no limit to the amount that Mr. Mead sets forth in the history. Mooted points in the Colonial and Revolutionary history of the town are discussed and cleared up once and for all. Scores of interesting anecdotes are told. The genealogies of the towns oldest families are set forth. The recent history of the town is gone into detail, and a good idea of the present industrial development of the town is given.

No Greenwichite should be without it. It is being sold in two editions, one in cloth at $5 a copy and one in morocco at $10 a copy.



Following are particularly interested excerpts of the history which Mr. Mead has kindly permitted us to reprint:


Indian Massacre
Governor Keift thereupon despatched Captain Underhill to Stamford to get some information in regard to the Indians in this vicinity. He reported verbally to the governor that the Indians were again gathering about Greenwich and that there were five hundred warriors at Petuquapaen. Accordingly, in February, 1644, an expedition of one hundred and thirty men, consisting of Dutch and English under the command of Captain Underhill and Ensign Hendrick Van Dyck, was embarked at Fort Amsterdam for Greenwich. It landed at Greenwich, Old Town (now Sound Beach), where it was obliged to pass the night by reason of a great snow-storm. In the morning the troops marched in a northwesterly direction over stony hills, and in the evening, about eight o'clock, came within a mile of the Indian village, after having crossed two rivers, one two hundred feet wide and three feet deep. Inasmuch as it was too early to make an attack, it was determined to remain there until about ten o'clock. The order was given as to the mode to be observed in making the attack. The hour having arrived they marched forward toward the village, which consisted of three rows of huts set up in street fashion, each eighty paces long, situated in a low recess of the mountain, affording complete shelter from the northwest wind. This village was located on the west side of Strickland Brook, a short distance north of the mill pond at Cos Cob, and the road to North Cos Cob now runs through its site. The moon was then at the full and threw a strong light against the mountain so that many a winter's day was not brighter than that night was. 

The Indians were on the alert and prepared to meet their  assailants, so the troops determined to charge and surround the village sword in hand. They deployed and advanced rapidly and in a short time one Dutchman was killed and twelve wounded. The Indians were also so hard pressed that it was impossible for one to escape, and in a brief space of time there were counted one hundred and eighty dead outside of the huts. Presently, none dare come forth, but kept within the huts discharging arrows through the holes. Captain Underhill, therefore, resolved to set the huts on fire, and the casting of a firebrand upon the row of dry bark huts and wigwams was but the work of a moment, and the whole village was soon in a blaze. 

Whereupon the Indians tried every means to escape, but not succeeding they cast themselves into the flames, preferring to perish by fire rather than by the sword, and among the mass of men, women, and children none were heard to cry out or scream. 

According to the reports of the Indians themselves the number then destroyed exceeded five hundred; some say, fully seven hundred, among whom were twenty-five Wappingers, all gathered together to celebrate one of their festivals, from which escaped no more than eight men in all, three of whom were severely wounded. After the fight was finished several fires were built in consequence of the great cold; the wounded, fifteen in number, cared for; and sentinels having 
been posted the troops bivouacked for the night. 

On the next day the troops started out much refreshed and in good 
order, arrived in Stamford in the evening, where they were received in a friendly manner and every comfort extended to them. In two days they reached Fort Amsterdam and a thanksgiving was proclaimed on their arrival for the extermination of the Siwanoys. 

Those killed were buried in a large mound on the easterly side of the present road, which was leveled off only a few years ago. The Indians in this part of the country never  recovered from the blow. It is true that a few desperate ones hung about the settlements seeking revenge; but they soon went away, and the remainder lived peaceably with the settlers and continued to trade with them.

Old Mead House
Captain Abraham Mead was the eleventh son, each of whom had a sister of Deacon Ebenezer Mead, and was born on the fourteenth day of December 1742. At an early age he was apprenticed to a Dutchman, who was a potter, to learn the potter's trade. This pottery was situated on the westerly side of the Indian Harbor about where the Field House now stands. He was an ingenious by, determined to learn the trade, so he watched his master when he thought himself alone saw the salt thrown into the kiln just before the baking of the clay was completed and the finished articles taken therefrom perfectly glazed, and kept his discoveries to himself. One day the potter, after extinguishing the fires, with his boat and men set sail for New Jersey to obtain a load of clay, leaving the boy in charge. The later spent his time in experimenting, and when they rounded the point on their return they discovered the pottery in full blast. It is said the potter prefaced his exclamation, "He's got it, he's got it," meaning the boy knew the business, with some strong language. The potter, however, did not intend to lose so valuable a man, and after the expiration of the term of his apprenticeship took him in as a partner and later on Captain Abraham Mead succeeded the Dutchman in his business. 

He received his early military training in the militia, and at the May Session of the Legislature, 1774, he was commissioned captain of the middle company or train band in the Town of Greenwich.

Immediately after the Lexington Alarm April, 1775, troops were raised for the defense of New York, and Captain Abraham Meads of Horseneck, 9th Regiment, with part of his company, was ordered to march to New York to assist in the defense of that important point. The returns show the time of service to have been eleven days.

In the reorganization of the troops in the year 1776, he was detailed to command the 4th Company of the 1st Battalion, Wadsworth Brigade, raised to reinforce General Washington in New Yorkserved on the Brooklyn front a few days before and during the Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776; was in the Retreat from New York and was among the four thousand men under General Putnam, who were left as a rear-guard, while the main army under General Washington took a position on Harlem Heights. When Clinton landed in New York September 15, 1777, General Washington sent hurried orders to General Putnam to evacuate the city and join him. Lossing states that General Putnam was ignorant of the routes leading from the city, and that Aaron Burr, one of his aids, led the division through the woods west of Broadway (Bloomingdale Road) to Harlem Heights.

After landing, Howe, Clinton, Tryon and others went to the house of Robert Murray, on Murray Hill, for a short rest and refreshments, as they supposed they had General Putnam hemmed in. The hostess, and unsuspected whig, and a woman of great charm, entertained the officers so graciously, serving them cake, and wine, that she detained them for more than two hours, long enough for the greater part of the forces to escape. They were discovered, however, and a detachment of High infantry was sent in pursuit, which overtook the rear of the American forces in a path extending from the Bloomingdale Road to Harlem Lane, and a warm skirmish took place at the intersection of One Hundredth Street and Eighth Avenue, and Captain Mead and his company came very near being cut off from the main division and captured. He was then posted on Harlem and Washington Heights until the Battle of White Plains, October 28, 1776 in which he and his company were engaged and suffered some loss. After this battle he as in the 9th Regiment, and remained on duty guarding t__ Westchester assumed command of his own company border until January, 1777.

He was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety on the eighth da of December, 1777, and served until the end of the war. He, while acting in this capacity that a price was put on his head, and he was in danger not ____ from recognized foes, but also from the false friends, who might betray him for the reward. One ___ night he went from his home on Held's Point to confer with General John Mead, who was then stationed at Fort Nonsense, which was a short distance above the bridge at Dumpling Pond (now North Mianus). It was unsafe to go by the road, so he took the path along the East Brother Brook. The conference over, he started back, and something strongly impelled him to go some of a different route, so he boldly chose the road. After the close of the war two men, whom he knew, came to him and told him that on that night they were watching for him that on the night they were watching for him on the path, and intended to capture him and deliver him up the the British. He, however, had evaded their evil designs by taking another route home.

On another occasion the commander of the post here warning that a further attempt would be made to take his life, detained four soldiers of the Continental army to serve as his guard; but while on their way to his house on Held's Point, they fell into the ambush designed for Captain Abraham Mead and were all killed and were buried on the point, which place is still marked by a stone.

After the Revolutionary War, he resumed the business of a potter, and made a boat load of pottery and sold it, and used the proceeds to pay off the note on the Second Congregational Church, of which he was a deacon and treasurer for many years. He was chosen town treasurer at the annual town meeting held on the seventeenth day of December 1787, and held the office for ten consecutive years.

T.A. Residence
Revolutionary Period

The author's great-grandfather, Deliverance Mead, heard the firing at Horseneck and climbed on top of his house at Indian Field to see what the trouble was, and he saw the horseman ride down the hill and the smoke from the guns of the tories as they fired at him.

This historic spot is now marked by a monument erected by Putnam Hill Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and unveiled on the sixteenth day of June, 1900. 

Colonel Holdridge, who was in command of the Continental soldiers, retreated in an unsoldierly manner to Stanch, while General Putnam only intended that he should retire a short distance. From the account given of this officer (who was a Hartford man) by the Americans, he was totally unfit to be a soldier at all and much less an officer.

The citizens hung about the village as near as they dared, hiding in the swamps and by places during the whole day, taking advantage of every opportunity by some daring feat to _____ _______ and even meantime, separating themselves to squares and pillaged every house in the neighborhood; a large body of them visited Cos Cob where they destroyed the salt works, which were on Bush's Point (now the shipyard), a small sloop and a storehouse.

A party of them also entered the house of Daniel and Joshua Smith, which was situated on the westerly side of North Street near the Second Congregational Church. They found this house deserted by all its inhabitants, excepting a deaf old lady, the mother-in-law of Joshua Smith. As they entered they saw her standing at the head of the stairs. She not being able to hear, disobeyed their orders t come down, which so enraged the soldiers that one of them sprang up the stairs, and cut her down with his sword. After their murder the house was set on fire and burned to the ground. This is said to have been the old house wholly burned by the British during the raid.

The following houses were within the present limits of the Borough of Greenwich at that time.

Colonel Jabez Fitch at the top of Put's Hill.
Captain Israel Knapp, opposite the present Episcopal Church (Knapp Tavern).
An old building near the Soldier's Monument (probably the town hall). 
Angell Husted, just west of the Second Congregational Church.
Jared Mead near the corner of Milbank and Putnam Avenues.
Captain John Hobby opposite Sherwood Place.
Colonel Thomas Hobby about opposite Mason Street.
Henry Mead on the corner of Putnam Avenue and Lafayette lace (Mead Tavern).
An old house a little further west.
Captain Matthew Mead next.
Dr. Amos Mead on the brow of the hill opposite the Field Point Road. 












Saturday, January 30, 2021

ANNOUNCEMENT: Debut Podcast of The Greenwich, A Town For All Seasons Show with Jeffrey Bingham Mead


Please click the link to SoundCloud and to Podcasts.com.

On the Tuesday, January 26, 2021 debut podcast of The Greenwich, A Town For All Seasons Show with Jeffrey Bingham Mead:

-You’ll hear about one result that manifested itself in November, 1920: the election for the first time in history of women Justices of the Peace in Greenwich.

-It’s made of bronze, standing over seven feet tall, and it was installed just over a century ago. You’ve no doubt passed by this imposing figure at least once in your lifetime if you’ve driven or walked along Greenwich Avenue in front of the Havemeyer Building, headquarters of the Greenwich Public Schools and Board of Education. We are referring, of course, to the illustrious statue memorializing Col. Raynal C. Bolling of Greenwich, who was killed during the First World War.

-Greenwich’s renowned Bruce Museum was originally built as a private home in 1853. Robert Moffat Bruce -a wealthy textile merchant and member of the New York Cotton Exchange- bought the house and property in 1858. In succeeding years it was the scene of many high society events. You’ll hear about one such party that was held in 1890.

-In November 1920, two thousand people gathered in the Chickahominy neighborhood of Greenwich to witness the laying of a cornerstone for a then-new Catholic church we know today as St. Roch near Hamilton Avenue Elementary School.

-We pause to remember the death a century ago of one of Greenwich’s most famous citizens -Commodore E.C. Benedict. His mansion, Indian Harbor, still stands, plainly visible from the pier at the terminus of Steamboat Road. You'll learn details of his extraordinary life and how he was remembered.

-You'll learn of an intimate focus exhibition you’re invited to attend. This one celebrates the Greenwich Historical Society’s recent acquisition of a luminous 1896 canvas by American impressionist artist Childe Hassam, titled The Red Mill, Cos Cob. The Historical Society’s exhibit offers a view into Cos Cob at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and the role this town played in the development of American Art. Lost Landscape Revealed explores how Hassam, one of America’s foremost Impressionists, and fellow artists, including Elmer MacRae and Kerr Eby, captured the appearance of the waterfront community known as Cos Cob’s Lower Landing.

Protect Historic Properties and Enjoy the Economic and Environmental Benefits for Greenwich Homeowners and Realtors is a Zoom-based online panel discussion scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, 2021 starting 6:00 p.m. With the escalation in homes being demolished for more contemporary structures, the need for saving Greenwich’s classic New England heritage is greater than ever. The permanent protection of our historic homes is the driver of a strategic alliance between Greenwich Historical Society and the recently formed Historic Properties of Greenwich. 

Join the discussion with preservation leaders Jane Montanaro, Executive Director, Connecticut Preservation, Elise Hillman Green, Russell S. Reynolds and Anne Young, Co-Founders, Historic Properties of Greenwich as they share research on the economic and environmental benefits of local property historic designation and outline practical steps homeowners can take to save our community history. 

Co-sponsored by Greenwich Historical Society, Historic Properties of Greenwich, Preservation Connecticut and Greenwich Association of Realtors. ONLINE HERE.
Show Host Jeffrey Bingham Mead -a descendant of the 17th-century founders of Greenwich, Connecticut- will share news of events, happenings and more as today’s debut excursion into Greenwich's history unfolds.
-
The Greenwich, A Town For All Seasons Show

Jeffrey Bingham Mead, Host
P.O. Box 184

Greenwich CT 06836 Email: GreenwichATownForAllSeasons@gmail.com

ANNOUNCEMENT: Caroline Mills Smith Mead Memorial Garden and Mead Family Cemetery at Cos Cob

 

Caroline Mills Smith Mead (Mrs. William H. Mead)

The Historic Mead Family Burying Grounds Association, Inc., announces the establishment of the Caroline Mills Smith Mead Memorial Garden at the Mead Family Cemetery in Cos Cob. 

The Caroline Mills Smith Mead Memorial Garden was established in conjunction with the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote in elections. 

"While Mrs. Mead was not known to be a suffragist, the garden pays respects to a woman whose business acumen, foresight and philanthropy were well-known throughout Greenwich," said Jeffrey Bingham Mead, historian and founder of The Historic Mead Family Burying Grounds Association.

From the Greenwich News, June 10, 1910, page 7, column 5: "Mrs. Mead was a prominent woman in Greenwich, a woman of strong character in mind and one highly respected in town. She was born in 1826 in Stamford, the daughter of Ebenezer and Rhoda Smith. On her marriage to Mr. Mead she came to Greenwich to live in the old homestead which is now occupied by Mr. Young. Thirty-seven years ago her husband died and upon her then devolved the task of looking out after his large land holdings. In recent years she has done much to improve the property. She had four streets laid out, Mead Circle, Suburban avenue, Glendale street, and Randolph place, all of which are well built up. She showed remarkable business ability in all of her dealings, and much to build up Cos Cob. Mrs. Mead was one of the oldest members of Christ Church and was active in church work. She was a member of the New Canaan chapter of the D.A.R."


Caroline Mills Smith Mead's 'Mead Circle' real estate development in Cos Cob. Map dated 1906.

In 1906, Mrs. Mead laid out streets and developed real estate from her late-husband's lands she inherited upon his death. The area was at one time known as Mead Circle. It included Suburban Avenue, Tremont Street, Randolph Place, Glendale Street and some housing plots along the east side of Sinawoy Road. 

From Greenwich Graphic, June 11, 1910 after she died: "Mrs. Mead owned a large acreage of Cos Cob property, and although advanced in years was deeply interested in building up that part of the town, opening up her land into desirable building lots, handsome cottages having been built on many, Mrs. Mead's wish being that only a good class of houses be constructed, and the attractive section known as Mead Circle, which has so rapidly built up the past few years, was a part of her holdings." 

For example: 10 Tremont Street (circa 1900)19 Tremont Street (circa 1910), , 23 Tremont Street, was built circa 1906, as well as 25 Tremont Street. 


The memorial garden consists of a strip of land ("Right of Way to Cemetery") connecting the Mead Cemetery on the east side of the Cos Cob Mill Pond to the terminus of Relay Place. "This is the same path to and from the cemetery that she would have traversed when visiting the graves of her father, Ebenezer Smith, and her husband, William H. Mead," said Association president, Jeffrey Bingham Mead.

"She died in the home she built and gave to her caretaker, Mary Frances Peck, at 7 Relay Place," Mead continued. "Caroline's funeral was held in the home. Her final journey was from the house to the end of Relay Place, along the path to the cemetery where she was interred in June, 1910. In her recorded last will and testament she hand drew the property lines as they are still today in the 21st century." 

The land -including the cemetery, which was established circa 1791- has been in the family's possession since the late 17th century. It measures approximating one-third of an acre. 

Work on the memorial garden and cemetery was originally scheduled to begin in March, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and government-instituted lockdowns at that time delayed the initial start of the project. 

Starting in October, 2020 work resumed and is continuing throughout the winter into Spring, 2021. The Association's goal is to complete most work by May 15, 2021. 

This will include the creation of flower beds along the property lines and shoreline along the Cos Cob Mill Pond; the trimming and removal of some trees, planting of perennial and annual ornamental flowers and the installation of either an arbor or gate at the entrance. 


  



At the same time, work is being performed on the cemetery. This includes the replacement of sod and invasive vines, removal and trimming of trees, the planting of ground-covers and the cleaning of grave markers. 

Ebenezer Smith, father of Caroline Mills Smith Mead, is interred in the cemetery. 


A long time ago a massive oak tree once graced the landscape in front of the Mead home located where Cos Cob Elementary School is today. 

The drawing featured here is by Whitman Bailey of the "Bill Mead Oak." No one recalls when the tree came down, though it reputedly happened during a hurricane. The tree was so large that a large section of the trunk was hollow, allowing people to actually go inside. 

The date of this drawing, allegedly from a photograph, is 1930.


The William H. Mead House (left), now the site of  Cos Cob Elementary School (right)


The Caroline Mills Smith Mead House, circa 1904, at 391 East Putnam Avenue, Cos Cob.
Today it is the home of Greenwich Dentistry.  

The Caroline Mills Smith Mead Memorial Garden and the Mead Family Cemetery at Cos Cob are not open to the public

Escorted visits must be arranged by appointment-only through the Association. 

An application is in the process of submission to have the property listed on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places. 

The Mead Family Cemetery at Cos Cob is a private family plot with burials restricted to Mead family descendants. 

Contact meadburyinggrounds@gmail.com for further information.