Welcome to our news and history blog!

Welcome to our news and history blog!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Year 2009 Concludes...

The Year 2009 is concluding. Time flies, as those of us immersed in history know well. May 2010 bring all of you hope, happiness, good health and prosperity.

Historically yours,

Jeffrey Bingham Mead

(Pictured: The Benjamin Mead II House, off Riversville
Road in Greenwich, Connecticut. Built circa 1728)

Internet Archive: Spencer P. Mead's Abstracts of records and tombstones of the town of Greenwich (1913)

As a follow-up to yesterday's posting of the Internet Archive's access to an electronic version of Spencer P. Mead's 'History and genealogy of the Mead family' visitors may also access and download Mead's 'Abstracts of Records and Tombstones of the Town of Greenwich (1913). This was the first comprehensive inventory of gravestone records and inscriptions in Greenwich's history. The book is divided into a listing individual cemetery sites with alphabetized inventories of those interred in Greenwich cemeteries as of 1913.

The box on the left side of the page provides visitors with various options. You may download the text as a pdf-file, for example, or you may also read the text online. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Internet Archive: Spencer P. Mead's History and Genealogy

For those who do not own or have access to a printed version of Spencer P. Mead's 'History and genealogy of the Mead family of Fairfield county, Connecticut, eastern New York, western Vermont, and western Pennsylvania from A.D. 1180 to 1900 (1901)' it is possible to go to the Internet Archive and find online and scanned editions there. Go to this link. Visitors have a number of choices including downloading a pdf file and reading the text online. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Come Christmas!

(Pictured: Second Congregational Church of Greenwich, Connecticut, started by our ancestors in 1705)

On behalf of the Historic Mead Family Burying Grounds Association I extend to all Mead family descendants near and far best wishes for a festive, safe and very Merry Christmas. May the light and peace of the Christmas season keep you and guide you well.

Sincerely yours,

Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Friday, December 18, 2009

Removed Plots: Mead Plot at Byram Shore

It comes as a surprise to many that the hills and valleys of the Town of Greenwich once featured an even larger number of small family plots than there are today. In addition to the three Mead family plots under the care of the Association there were three others.

One of these is identified in Spencer P. Mead’s Abstract of Greenwich Tombstones published in 1913 as the ‘Mead Plot on Byram Shore.’ Dated March, 1908 its location is given as “Near the Trolley Line a short distance east of Grigg Avenue.”

Charles Hale authored the ‘Index of Greenwich Graves,’ compiled as a WPA Project in the early 1930’s. The Hale Map Index on page 471 shows a cemetery in the vicinity, called the "Mead Plot on Byram Shore”, described in Mead's survey on Page 140 as “Near the Trolley Line a short distance east of Grigg Avenue”, which avenue is now known as St. Roch’s Avenue. The actual distance straight line is 0.07 miles. The area is described as “a driveway,” with graves apparently removed.

A survey by Aidan McCann, PLS, Soundview Engineering dated January 26, 2004 indicated that this long-removed plot was located off Charles Street between Josephine Evaristo Avenue and Hamilton Avenue.

Spencer P. Mead’s survey lists 12 persons buried there, the earliest being Jabez Hobby in 1823, who was joined by Abigail Hobby in 1847. Between 1839 and 1859 eight Meads were buried there, along with Sarah L. Martin 1849 and Mary E. Oliver, 1851.

The late Greenwich Town Historian William E. Finch stated that the graves were relocated to Union Cemetery. The following is a listing of 19th century ancestors who were interred at this site:

Abigail Hobby, died June 16, 1847, aged 84 years, 4 months and 26 days.

Jabez M. Hobby, died December 23, 1823, aged 66 years, 11 months and 11 days.

Sarah L. Martin, wife of Jacob Martin, died May 30, 1849 aged 38 years, 3 months and 26 days.

Henry H. Mead, son of Jabez H. and Harriet Mead, died March 9, 1849, aged 2 years and 8 days.

Jabez H. Mead, son of Nehemiah and Mary Mead, died June 26, 1850, aged 46 years, 5 months and 15 days.

Mary, Widow of Nehemiah Mead, died March 15, 1859, aged 74 years and 4 days.

Mary Lucretia Mead, daughter of Jabez H. and Harriet Mead, born January 26, 1839, died May 29, 1839.

Nehemiah Mead, died December 4, 1833, aged 54 years, 3 months and 13 days.

Oscar Hobby Mead, son of Jabez H. and harriet Mead, born February 26, 1842, died December 18, 1845.

Sarah Ann Mead, daughter of Jabez H. and Harriet Mead, born November 11, 1844, died August 4, 1845.

William A. Mead, son of Nehemiah and Mary Mead, died February 20, 1849, aged 35 years, 7 months and 10 days.

Mary E. Oliver, daughter of William H. Oliver, died January 29, 1851 aged 16 years, 11 months and 10 days.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obituary (New York Times) Spencer P. Mead, Lawyer and Historian

Spencer P. Mead (Buried in Putnam Cemetery, Greenwich, Connecticut)

New York Times Death Notice and Obituary: January 8, 1935

MEAD-On January 7, 1935. Spencer p. Mead in his seventy-second year. Funeral service at the home of his brother, Ephriam Mead, 240 Milbank Av., Greenwich, Conn., on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2 P.M.


New York Lawyer Wrote ‘Ye Historie of Greenwich’

Spencer P. Mead, descendant of one of the oldest and most prominent families in Greenwich, Conn., died yesterday at the Fifth Avenue Hospital of a gall bladder ailment after a short illness. Mr. Mead, who lived at 828 Union Street, Brooklyn, was 71 years old.

Mr. Mead was an examiner of real estate titles for the law department of the Lawyers Title Corporation, 160 Broadway, having been with the company since 1903, at which time it was called the Lawyers Title Insurance Company of New York.

Born in the old Mead homestead at Mead’s Point, Greenwich, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Howe Mead and was descended from William Mead, who came from England to Connecticut in the seventeenth century. He was the author of a book on the genealogy of the Mead family and of ‘Ye Historie of Greenwich.’ He was graduated from New York Law School.

Mr. Mead belonged to the Sons of the American Revolution and Society of Colonial Wars. Surviving are three brothers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Should Have Good Roads" by Solomon S. Mead, July 4, 1903

The following is a letter-to-the-editor of the Greenwich Graphic dated July 4, 1903. It was written by Solomon Stoddard Mead. He lived on the family farm at the corner of Riversville and Cliffdale roads in North Greenwich. Mead died June 7, 1906, and he is buried in the North Greenwich Congregational Church Cemetery at the corner of Riversville Road and John Street.

His death notice in the New York Times was printed as follows: MEAD- At Quaker Ridge, Greenwich, Conn., June 7, 1906, Solomon S. Mead, aged 80 years. Funeral services at his late residence June 9, at 4 P.M. Carriages will be waiting at Greenwich Station for train arriving from the East at 1:40 P.M. and train leaving Grand Central Depot 2 o'clock P.M.

Should Have Good Roads: Greenwich Graphic: July 4, 1903

Mr. Solomon S. Mead Gives Some Suggestions-Thinks There is No Place Like Greenwich

Editor of the Graphic:

I am an advocate of good roads to Travel over for the few remaining days that I will be among you, and I know that good roads are everything to any country or town. There is nothing whatever that will boom a place like good roads.

But to have them you must have them worked and graded by a person who is competent to do the job. If you want your gold watch repaired when out of order you must employ a man who understands his business of the job will be worse after a poor workman has had it in charge than when you left it in his care, and so you must have a man to work a road who has some knowledge of what is needed.

If for the past one hundred years the roads had been properly worked they would now be in number one condition and there would be no cause to complain. But they are worked just as they have been for years; if there is a wall in the gutter, instead of blasting it a huge break is placed across the road to carry the water from one side to the other.

And the roads are made up so narrow that one horse has to travel on the ridge and the other in the gutter, and no matter how much space there is between the fences the roads are worked to a single track and only occasionally a place where one can pass a loaded team in front of him or where one can pass a loaded team coming toward you.

The roads are all too narrow and I can show roads that have been narrowed up in the past two years from three to four feet. To me this is all wrong and no road should be worked less than twenty-five feet across and in no instance a break should be permitted on any road. If it is necessary for the water to pass from one side of the road to the other let it be done with a pipe; iron is best, earthen would do.

I know it is very hard for persons who have schooled themselves to work a road in the old way to change, but the change must come and will come if the present road makers will insist on the old way, give the roads to someone who will.

My idea of working roads would be to first draw a line on each side as far as it could be done conveniently and make the place straight if the distance was long or short, and where a rock interferes with the gutter blast it out. Have the road as wide as twenty or twenty-five feet and not round it up too much, but enough so all the surface water would run off its sides, not follow the wheel track. And above all never go into a road-bank or a lot of dirt or gravel when there are hundreds of hillocks all along the roadway that should first be removed, by ploughing and carting where it may be needed. I see hundreds of these knolls all along the roads I travel about Greenwich.

I feel very proud of the town that gave me birth and I hope to see it still improved and everyone that belongs in Greenwich should take an interest in its welfare. I never felt one half so proud of my native town as I do today, because I have seen more of good, and bad, that has been presented to my view.

Now let every body go for good wide and well-graded roads and if one will not do it get someone that will. Let the old foggies go.

I am truly disappointed in the working of the highways this season. That the roads are very rough and uneven and so narrow up from four to six feet that it is very dangerous for driving when one meets say half a dozen automobiles one after another, and the autos are bound to keep the road and on a one track road it is very dangerous driving, and the roads are so uneven and they seem to me worse then I have known them for years by and gone.

I will say here that the auto drivers are generally a class of hogs. An exception is Richard Carpenter, of the Upper King Street Road. He always gives all he can to the driving horse class and stops his auto if he sees any horse afraid.

I must say that I do not think I have miscalled or mis-classed the auto drivers. I find they in general do not pay any attention to raising the hand when coming, but on the contrary will keep as near the middle of the road as possible and often they will turn their machine right in front of the horse. I hope someone will put the law in force and bring the autos to know their place, and if they frighten a horse and upset the carriage they will run on the faster to avoid being known I wish every driver of a horse would see the law is complied with.


Hester Bush Mead: Resident's Contribution was Timeless (Greenwich Time 1993)

The following text was published in Greenwich Time's 'Looking Back' local history column authored by Jeffrey Bingham Mead. It was published on September 19, 1993.

For an audio-visual presentation go to this link on the Association's YouTube channel. Featured photos include Hester Bush Mead's gravestone in Union Cemetery, the watercolor work attributed to her, and a photo of the Jabez Mead House that once stood on the southwestern corner of East Putnam Avenue and Indian Field Road. The Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich acquired this work in February 2006.

Resident's Contribution was Timeless
Looking Back: by Jeffrey Bingham Mead
Greenwich Time, September 19, 1993

In a quiet corner of Union Cemetery off Milbank Avenue sits a small, worn marble gravestone. It marks the final resting place of Hester Bush Mead, daughter of Candice Bush.

Hester's name does not appear in the roster of famous persons in Greenwich history; her life is obscured by the passage of time.

Hester Mead in reality is not a descendant of the original ancestors at all-she is the direct descendant of slaves who were emancipated when Connecticut, with her sister New England states, mandated the abolition of slavery in the late 18th century.

Candice Bush, her mother, was a servant in the David Bush household. Mr. Bush owned what we preserve today as the Bush-Holley House, headquarters of The Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich. Candice's name appears in the David Bush estate in 1797, and Hester was born there the next year. We believe Hester married a freed back man who was emancipated from service to the Mead's in Greenwich.

My interest in Hester centers on a mysterious but beautiful watercolor of one of our ancestral houses. I'm told by a relative that this fine example of early American folk art on woven paper was created by a black woman employed by our forebears; it dates from 1840-1860.

The Jabez Mead House, circa 1840, stood at east Putnam Avenue and Indian Field Road. The farm encompassed all of Milbrook and the lands up to the base of Put's Hill. The house was demolished when East Putnam Avenue was widened many years ago.

Could Hester be the mystery artist? It's possible, but we may never know since the work is unsigned and no written documentation to confirm this has been uncovered.

Hester died March 2, 1864. Her will in the Greenwich Probate Court leaves her few belongings to her granddaughters, Martha and Julia, and ordered good tombstones to be put up for herself and her mother. The austere appearance of her marker may be deceiving if it is true that Hester was the mystery artist of the old homestead built long ago.

Jeffrey B. Mead is a free-lance writer and direct descendant of one of the town's founding families. He grew up in backcountry Greenwich and is a member of the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Charles N. Mead Presents New Bell to Commemorate Deacon Ancestors (1919)

Six Generations of Meads, Deacons

Greenwich News and Graphic: February 14, 1919

Charles N. Mead Presents New Bell to Commemorate Deacon Ancestors

Announcement was made at the morning service of the Second Congregational Church last Sunday, that Charles N. Mead had presented a bell for the new spire, in memory of six successive generations of deacons in his family, serving this church for nearly 200 years.

It will be a victory and peace bell, bearing the inscription “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men.” It will be cast at the Meneely Works in Troy, and probably will be installed by Easter Sunday.

The old bell, which was taken down and placed in one of the horse-sheds at the rear of the church, while the spire was being rebuilt, had become cracked from being overheated in a fire which broke out in the sheds some time ago, and instead of the former clear tones of the bell, which were most pleasing to the ear, it had sounded muffled of late.

For many years the spire of this church has been a guide for seafaring men on Long Island Sound. The church itself stands on the highest point of and along the Sound between New York and New London.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obituary: Isaac L. Mead 1913

Source: Greenwich Graphic: March 14, 1913.

Isaac L. Mead died at his home on Lafayette Place on Saturday morning, in his 79th year.

Mr. Mead had recently suffered from shock, and early last week submitted to a serious piece of surgery performed by Drs. Griswold, Brooks and Clarke, designed to afford relief, and as he rallied readily it seemed to have proved successful. But relapse followed later, and he passed away finally as above stated.

Mr. Mead was one of the first organizers of Lombard Post and had been its commander. He was a Connecticut veteran, serving in the Civil War in Company I, Seventeenth Regiment 3 years. He was attached to the invalid corps as a member of the Sixth Veteran Reserves, and served until 1865, when he mustered out at Cincinnati. He was a member of the Congregational Church and Acacia Masonic Lodge.

This is an old image of the Isaac Lewis Mead Building at the top of Greenwich Avenue. The building is still there. 

Mr. Mead was a public spirited man and took great interest in whatever concerned the town and the borough.

For a number of years he was a member of the Board of Burgesses and a very active member of that body, suggesting and putting through a number of important measures.

As a member of the Board of School Visitors for many years, or until his blindness interfered, he was an indefatigable worker, being intensely interested in the work of putting the schools on as high a plane as possible, and what’s more he spent much time and was at some trouble in doing his duty, for which he took no pay, although entitled to remuneration for every visit he made to the schools. He believed in good schools, good teachers and good school houses. His ideals were high, and so far as he could he tried to bring the schools up to a higher plane, and did much for their betterment.
Putnam Cemetery, said to be one of the most picturesque, best laid out and attractive places of its kind along the shore, came about through Mr. Mead’s suggestion, planning and general work. He started the company that brought the plot and was superintendent of the cemetery for a number of years. In everything he did he stood for the best.

He was of the old school of New Englanders, sturdy, honest and kind hearted, patriotic, loyal and true, and was of the kind of men that are alluded to as having so much to do with having made America what it is today.

He was a prominent member of the Connecticut Undertakers Association, the president and secretary coming down from Hartford to attend the funeral services.

Mr. Mead was married in 1855 to Esther A. Mead, daughter of Daniel Seton Mead, and is survived by his wife, sons Willis T. and S. Warren, and daughter Miss Lucy A., and a sister Mrs. George H. Mills. He had been married for 57 years.

He was engaged as an undertaker in Greenwich for a quarter century, or more but during his latter years became blind and had become more or less of a recluse because of this defect, occupying his mind largely in an improvised shop where his spare time was spent in making gifts for his friends which included wood making into cabinets and such things.

Mr. Mead was greatly esteemed by a large circle of relatives and friends, and his business and social dealings were of the highest type. He was of most generous and sympathetic nature, his benefactions being many although only known to himself and his beneficiaries. For years he was a central figure in the business life, upbuilding and enterprising in his efforts to promote the general interests of Greenwich. He erected the first brick business building in Greenwich village, at Greenwich and Putnam avenues, which never passed from his possession.

The funeral services were held at his Lafayette Place home and were attended by a large assemblage of relatives and mourning friends, Rev. Mr. Taylor of the Congregational Church officiating, interment being in Putnam Cemetery.

Monday, December 7, 2009

YouTube Channel in Development

The Historic Mead Family Burying Grounds Association, Inc., is developing a channel on YouTube. To view the channel go to this link.

Future content of the channel will include audio and visual images of ancestral grave sites with material based on historical research from various sources.

The Association encourages descendants to participate in the development of this channel. This include narratives about individual grave sites relying on obituaries, publish histories, land records, probate records, letters and correspondences.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Obituary: Col. Thomas A. Mead: Leading Citizen (1932)

Early Owner of ‘Dearfields’ Prominently Identified With Town

Source: Greenwich News: Thursday, March 17, 1932.

Colonel Thomas A. Mead, an early owner of “Dearfields” where today stands the new Franklin Simon & Co. store building, occupied a prominent place in the early history of Greenwich, serving the community with distinction in many capacities.

Born in 1799, the son of Richard Mead, a revolutionary figure long connected with Greenwich history, Colonel Mead spent almost his entire life in Greenwich, growing up to till the fertile acres of “Dearfields” as had his father before him. He died in 1892 after an active life which carried over a span of 91 years.

While Colonel Mead was primarily a farmer, shipping large quantities of milk to the New York markets and also producing grain and farm produce as well as raising large flocks of sheep, his interest in civic affairs was a keen one, his name appearing with frequency in accounts of early days as an advocate of progress and civic betterment.

Many interested in the early citizens of the town have often wondered as to the title of “Colonel” borne by Thomas A. Mead and some have even been of the belief that the title was an honorary one. However, such is not the case, he having served as lieutenant-colonel of the 9th Regiment from 1831 to 1833. The regiment had served with distinction in the Revolutionary War.

Colonel Mead served upon the school and town committees and at one time represented this section in the General Assembly. He was a member of a committee, with Silas Davis and William Timpany, which on October 5, 1835 was appointed to arrange for the construction of the first town hall in Greenwich. This building was later erected on the present site of the Soldier’s Monument, near the Second Congregational Church. In May, 1841, he served on a committee which went before the General Assembly to attempt to have the court house and jail moved from Fairfield to Norwalk. In October, 1854 he was one of a committee which secured prices upon property as a site for a town poor farm. This farm was finally located upon Pecksland Road and remained there until 1905. In 1855 he acted as one of the incorporators of the Greenwich Mutual Fire Insurance Company and as early as 1827 his interest in education was revealed when he was named among the founders of the Greenwich Academy.

That Colonel Mead was a wealthy man in his day is revealed by the account of an ancient transaction in which he loaned the sum of $10,000 to a relative. That he was progressive is also indicated through his association with real estate transactions of his day. He was one of the stockholders of the Rocky Neck Company, one of the first efforts of land speculators in Greenwich. This concern purchased a tract of land near Indian Harbor Point and subdivided it into approximately 58 lots which were sold by a form of public auction on March 23, 1837.

Colonel Mead and his nephew, Amos M. Brush, were also recorded as the owners of the old Congregational Church, which they purchased upon the erection of the new church, moving the building in 1860 to the northeast corner of Putnam Avenue and Sherwood Place where it stood for many long years.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Obituary: Jabez Mead 1886

Obituary: Jabez Mead

The Greenwich Graphic: April 17, 1886, page 3, col. 3

Another Old Resident Gone

Another one of the old citizens passed away this week, - Mr. Jabez Mead.

His death was not unexpected, for he has been an invalid for two years, though able to be about, often driving to the village himself from his home on the Post Road. For a year and a half Mr. Mead has been unable to lie down, and his sleep and rest were obtained sitting in a chair. Of late it was seen that he was failing and that his end was near. He died Monday night; his age was 77 years.

Jabez Mead was born, Dec. 21st 1808, on the farm, on the Post Road, where he has just died; his father lived there before him, and his grand-father, who was Gen. Mead, of Revolutionary fame, resided only a short distance away, on the farm now occupied by Mr. Tracy, the artist.

Mr. Mead married Marry Hobby, a daughter of Jabez Hobby, and four of their children are now living, -Mrs. Abram Reynolds, Mr. Lyman Mead, Mr. Herman H. Mead, and Mr. Arthur D. Mead; a large number of grand-children, and several great-grand-children.

During his life Mr. Mead held many prominent positions in this community, twice representing his town in the General Assembly; he was for many years town treasurer; he has also been selectman, school visitor and assessor.

He was a man universally liked and respected. Of genial disposition, he held a place in the hearts of the people and all mourn his death. He was a man of broad views, and exceedingly found of travel, and until ill health caused him to remain at home, was accustomed with his wife to take an extended trip almost every year, and being a careful observer, he had a wide knowledge of the country.

His funeral took place from the 2nd Congregational Church, Thursday afternoon, Rev. Mr. Porter officiating. There was a large attendance. The pall bearers were Messrs. Alfred Bell, Isaac H. Mead, Jos. G. Mead, Eliphelet Husted, Alex. Mead and Stephen Peck. The remains were interred in the 2nd Congregational church cemetery. Requiescat in pace.

Obituary: Seaman Mead 1915

Obituary: Seaman Mead

The Greenwich News & Graphic: Friday, July 2, 1915.

Hon. Seaman Mead Died Last Wednesday

Has Been Identified with Greenwich Business and Social Affairs for Many Years--Funeral To-Morrow

Death claimed one of the old residents of Greenwich on Wednesday when Seaman, son of the late Thomas A. and Hannah Seaman Mead, died at his home on West Putnam Avenue, following an illness of a short duration.

The deceased was born in the old Mead homestead in the year 1837. He was a descendant of John Mead, who came to the United States from England in 1635. Amos Mead, the great-grandfather of the deceased, was a surgeon in the French and Indian War and his grandfather, Richard Mead, served in the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Mead's life in Greenwich has been associated with public affairs. He was sent to the General Assembly four times; he served twelve years on the State Board of Agriculture at the St. Louis, Pan-American, Buffalo and Jamestown Expositions; he served on the board of assessors of the Town of Greenwich for twenty-two years; he was a borough assessor for twelve years; chairman of the Republican Town Committee for twelve years; a director of the Greenwich Trust Company and of the Rippowam Manufacturing Company.

The following children survive the deceased: Susan H., Louisa M., Amelia W., Thomas and Seaman M. Mead.

The deceased was born on the Mead homestead which included what is now Edgewood Park, Brookside drive, running down Greenwich Avenue to the point where the St. Mary's Catholic Church now stands. He was reared on that farm and attended schools in the neighborhood, his first teacher being Mr. Loundsberry. Subsequently the deceased attended the Greenwich Academy from which he graduated.

Two years of his life after graduation was spent on the large farm in Stanwich owned by his family. In his agricultural pursuits Mr. Mead was always successful. He ever took deep interest in Agriculture and aided in its advancement throughout the state.

Mr. Mead inherited many of the traits which brought his ancestors into prominence and gave them the distinction they merited. He was of the same religious faith and political complexion as his forefathers. Ever an ardent Republican, he cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hester Bush Mead: An Uncommon Artist?

Originally published Spring/Summer 2001, by Jeffrey Bingham Mead
The southeastern section of Greenwich's Union Cemetery was set aside for the burial of free blacks or African-Americans.
Robert W. Mead deeded the land for the use forever as a burying ground, "The Southern part of Said Lot twenty three is to be Set apart by said Committee for the interment of people of color, and such portion as Said Committee may deem advisable to Sell in burial lots to people of color at a rate not exceeding one cent the Square foot. Lots numbers twelve and thirteen are to be reserved for free ground if required."

One of the worn marble gravestones marks the final resting place of Hester Bush Mead, the daughter of Candice Bush.

Hester's name does not appear in the roster of famous persons in Greenwich history, nor is she listed in Spencer P. Mead's family genealogy book. Hester is the direct descendant of slaves who were emancipated and made free when Connecticut, with her sister New England states, established for all time the abolition of slavery in the late eighteenth century.

Candice Bush, her mother, was a servant in the David Bush household. Mr. Bush, no relation to President Bush or his family, owned what we preserve today as Bush-Holley House, headquarters of the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich. Candice's name appears in David Bush's estate in 1797, and Hester was born there the following year. We believe Hester married a freed black man who was emancipated from the Mead's in Greenwich.

Our primary interest in Hester centers on a mysterious but beautiful watercolor of one of the family ancestral houses. A relative in Massachusetts, who owns the painting, said that this fine example of early American folk art on woven paper was created by a black woman who was employed by the Jabez Mead family and dates from 1840-1860.

The Jabez Mead House, circa 1840, stood at the corner of East Putnam Avenue and Indian Field Road. The farm encompassed all of Milbrook and the lands up to the base of Put's Hill. The house was demolished when East Putnam Avenue was widened in the 1950's.

Could Hester Mead be the mystery artist? It's very possible. We may never know since the work is unsigned, and no written documentation to confirm this has been uncovered.

Hester died on March 2, 1864. Her will in the Greenwich Probate Court leaves her few belongings to her granddaughters Martha and Julia and ordered "good Tomb stones to be put up for herself and her mother."

The austere appearance of her marker may be deceiving if it is true that Hester was the mystery artist of the old homestead built long ago.

The will of Hester Mead, daughter of Candice Bush
Book A, Pages 410-411, Probate Court, Greenwich, CT
March 7, 1864

I, Hester Mead of the Town of Greenwich, County of Fairfield and State of Connecticut do now make this my last Will & Testament.
I direct my Executor hereafter named to Collect all my Just dues and pay all my just debts- to cause to be erected a good tomb stone over the grave of my Mother and also one for myself.
I give and bequeath to my granddaughter Martha Mead all my wearing apparrel and bedding and I direct my Executor to deliver them to her at such time or times as he may think best.
I give and bequeath the residue of my Estate after paying my funeral expenses and the cost of the Tomb Stones above named to my two granddaughters Martha Mead & Julia Mead, to them their heirs & assigns forever to be divided between them in the ratio of 2/3 for Martha and 1/3 for Julia and to be paid to them when they shall respectively become of Lawful age. If either of them Shall die before receiving her share then the whole amount Shall be given to the other.
I now constitute and appoint Philander Button Executor of this my Last Will & Testament.
In witnefs whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and seal this 1st day of March AD 1864.
Signed sealed and delivered by the Testatrix to be her last Will and testament in the presence of us who at her request hereunto Subscribe our names as witnefses in her presence and in the presence of each other
March 7, 1864
Clarissa Mead
Julia Button
Lydia M. Button
Hester X Mead
her mark
I hereby Certify that the N.S. Internal revenue Stamp to the amount of 50 ct was affixed to the foregoing instrument & was duly cancelled.
James H. Brush, Judge

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Milo Mead's Will… “with papers pinned on”

by Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Every family, no matter how large or small, has its share of eccentric souls. Milo Mead was no exception. The Greenwich native lived all of his life in the Byram section of town.

His eccentric ways made him something of an enigma in Greenwich. He never married, but died with a substantial amount of land in his name. Over the course of his adult life he deeded plots in the area he named 'New Lebanon.'

Milo Mead’s gravestone is located in the New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery next to the Second Congregational Church, Greenwich.

The piece below comes from the Greenwich News-Graphic shortly after his passing:

The will of Milo Mead of New Lebanon has been placed on Probate at the Probate Court. It has some peculiar features beside that of giving practically the whole property to two mission societies. Several clauses in the original were scratched out, and papers with Milo Mead's signature were pinned over them.

The value of the property is not accurately known, but is supposed to amount to more than $100,000 in real estate bonds and mortgages.

The original will was made on September 4, 1888, and in it Mr. William M. Ritch was named as executor. The will, which is on probate, reads as follows:

I, Milo Mead, of the Town of Greenwich, County of Fairfield, and State of Connecticut, do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following.

1st: I will that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid by the executor hereinafter mentioned.

2nd: I give, devise and bequeath to my brother Charles money sufficient to pay half his claim to his father's estate with interest.

3rd: I give, devise and bequeath to my sister Hannah five hundred dollars.

4th: I give, devise, and bequeath to my brother Mark five hundred dollars.

5th: I give, devise, and bequeath to Agnes S. Smith five hundred dollars.

6th: I give, devise, and bequeath to Agnes Wright, daughter of George Wright, dec'd, two hundred and fifty dollars.

7th: I direct that all of my property be sold by my executor hereinafter named within two years after my death.

8th: I give, devise, and bequeath the remainder after paying my bequests and legacies above mentioned to the American Missionary Association and the American Home Missionary Society, both located in the city of New York, to be divided equally.

9th: I hereby constitute and appoint William M. Ritch executor of this my last will and testament.

In witness whereof I have set my hand and seal this fourth day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight-hundred and eighty-eight. Signed and declared and sealed by me the said Milo Mead as his last will.

Milo Mead L.S.

And testament in presence of us, who in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names

Sylvester D. Hill

William Talbot

Willis M. Ritch, Jr.

A paper was pinned on clause 3 containing the following: As I have outlived my sister Hannah, I cross off her name as one of the heirs. Milo Mead. The clause was run through with a pen.

Over clause 4 was pinned a paper as follows: As I have outlived my brother Mark I cross off his name as one of the heirs. Milo Mead. The clause was also struck out by the pen.

Over the fifth clause the following was pinned on: Jan. 17, 1900. As I have outlived Agnes S. Smith I this day cross off her name from my will, not from any disregard to her. Milo Mead. The clause was struck out.

Over the witness clause another paper containing the following was pinned: New Lebanon, Sept. 22, 1894. As Agnes Wright is about to be married to Edward C. Fischer I cross her name off my will. Milo Mead.

Still another paper and evidently the latest one was pinned over the attest clause, which read as follows: It is my wish in case of my death, that the Danish Independent Club and Societies of New Lebanon should have plenty of time to pay the mortgage on their building, notwithstanding the limit of two years for the settlement of my estate, in my will, let it run indefinitely according to circumstances by paying the interest. Milo Mead.

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions

Originally published Spring/Summer 2001 by Jeffrey Bingham Mead
America's Second Great Awakening started in the 1790's and went well into the nineteenth century. The cause of foreign missions that sought to spread Christianity worldwide began at this time. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) coordinated mission activities across North America, Polynesia, Asia, and beyond.
Religious enthusiasm was widespread throughout New England, including Greenwich. Religious leaders were at the forefront of communication and culture. Greenwich's nineteenth century citizens were enthusiastic participants and supporters of those causes. They included foreign and domestic missions, abolitionism, temperance, improvements in medical care, women's rights, and education.

Records show that a number of our nineteenth century Mead ancestors were made honorary members of the ABCFM. Their names appear in original editions of The Missionary Herald, a monthly magazine published by the ABCFM itself. Though not all individuals listed were residents of the town, all were made honorary members of the ABCFM by parishes and congregations located in Greenwich, Connecticut. The minimum donation required was $50.

The first to be listed was Obadiah Mead in January, 1834. The people of the North Greenwich Congregational Church held a "monthly concert" and raised $100. In June, 1841, Deacon Silas Hervey Mead of North Greenwich (pictured) was made an honorary ABCFM member. The Missionary Herald lists "Miss S. Mead" as contributing $100.

Marcus Mead was next to be listed in the May, 1842 issue of The Missionary Herald. A contribution from "a friend" for $100 is mentioned, though no name is given. In December, 1843, Augustus Mead was constituted an honorary ABCFM member by Miss S. Mead again for another contribution of $100.

In 1817 the women of Greenwich's Second Congregational Church started a "Heathen School Society" which helped to underwrite the costs of missionary-run schools.

Hannah Mead is listed as the "First Directress," and in January, 1845 the School Society gave $100 to constitute her an honorary ABCFM member, according to the Missionary Herald.
The "West Society Ladies," referring to the women of the Second Church, gave $50 to make Rev. Ebenezer Mead an honorary member as stated in the January, 1848 issue. In that same year, Miss Hannah Mead was constituted by "a friend" in May, 1848.
Though not living in town, Luther Mead of Fitchburg, Ohio was made an honorary ABCFM member by Miss S. Mead again. The June, 1848 issue of The Missionary Herald reports a contribution of $100 for this.

The Second Congregational Church gave $139.77 to the ABCFM for Miss Mary Mead to be added to its roster of honorary members in August, 1848. A year later, Miss Mary H. Mead is listed in December, 1849 for a donation of $50, too.

A monthly concert was held in North Greenwich, and Alla, wife of Deacon Obadiah Mead, was constituted an honorary member. The December, 1851 edition of The Missionary Herald states that $226.35 was raised for the ABCFM.

The last four Mead descendants were all members of the North Greenwich Congregational Church. A monthly concert helped make Miss Huldah Mead an ABCFM member in December, 1852. The church contributed $123.25 for Mrs. Harriet S. Mead in January, 1856. 

Civil War Veteran Silas Deliverance Mead was made an ABCFM member in February, 1872, after the church gave $159.33. 

 The last was Hattie A. Mead, who is listed in the February, 1882 edition as being made an ABCFM member for a contribution of $100.33.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Epitaphs on the Gravestones of the Mead Family in Greenwich, Connecticut

Originally published Spring/Summer 2001 by Jeffrey Bingham Mead

If there is any place where time stands still, and where history lies unruffled by the passage of time, it's in a burying ground or cemetery. Calmness, stillness, placidity, and serenity characterize these hallowed settings.

History stands poised by changing trends; the weather-worn stones stand in defiant indifference. Strolling among the graves of our Mead ancestors is a fascinating experience. That's especially true for those seeking to unlock the dim mysteries of our heritage.

Many Mead ancestors are buried in other cemeteries in the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut. A number of these stones are carved with epitaphs. They tell us many things, ranging from particulars about faith in God, tributes to departed loved ones, records of military valor, and much, much more. These have been transcribed from the tombstones, and a few are reproduced here for the enrichment of our family descendants and friends. The name, date of death, and burial site is listed.

Whether the intent is to reinforce moral standards, or record achievements and legacies, epitaphs continue to elicit curiosity. The most expressive and informative inscriptions on Greenwich gravestones voice lament, outline lifetime achievements, teach lessons to the living reader, and offer timely and bewitching warnings from times past.

Lucy, wife of Titus Mead

died April 11, 1804

aged 78 years.

New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery, next to the Second Congregational Church

Here lies a mother kind

A wife most dear;

In her manners mild

Friendship sincere.

Catherine, wife of Jonathan Mead

died May 1, 1841

aged 55 years & 15 days.

Round Hill Cemetery

Dearest Mother thou hast left us

And thy loss we deeply feel

But tis God that hath bereft us

He can all our sorrows heal.

Lewis Mead

died May 7, 1830

aged 30 years, 9 months & 25 days

The Old Burying Ground at North Greenwich

The scene was tranquil and serene

No pain in his look was seen

The Savior smil'd and dispel'd the gloom

And sooth'd his paings to the tomb.

Charity Mead, wife of Joshua Knapp

died November 16, 1842

Knapp Burying Ground, Round Hill

By her integrity, disinterested benevolence, faith and charity, she exemplified the Christian Religion. The death came suddenly she was entirely resigned. Her mind clear and serene, filled with the presence of God, she anticipated meeting her departed friends to enjoy with them the presence of God.

Devoid of envy, selfishness and guile

Resting on Christ with every calm delight

Thro' death's dark vale she passed

without a tear

And faith & hope exchanged for

blissful sight.

Hannah, wife of Darius Mead

died May 5, 1836

aged 65 years, 10 months & 28 days

The North Greenwich Congregational Church Cemetery

Blessed are the dead which die in

the Lord from henceforth.

Be ye also ready for in such an hour

we think not, they Son of man cometh.

Deliverance Mead

died May 3, 1785

67 years

Putnam Cemetery, Greenwich

Oh death! how sudden was thy wait paid

No time allow'd to take a last adieu

This hour in health the next a corpse

was torn from this world his friends

no more to view.

Whitman Mead

Mead Burying Ground, North Greenwich

Died January 29, 1795,aged 29 years.

The body must ascend to earth above

it came by the spirit to God who gave it.

Jared Mead

who perished on the Hudson River

in the sinking of his Schooner the JONATHAN BORAM

by the steamer FRANCIS R. SKIDDY.

Died October 14, 1852, aged 36 years & 3 months

New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery, next to the Second Congregational Church

Husband thou art gone to rest

Thy toils and cares are o'er

And sorrow pain and suffering now

Shall ne'er distress thee more.

Mrs. Keziah Mead, wife of Deacon Abraham Mead

Died April 12, 1826

New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery next to the Second Congregational Church

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord

From henceforth yea saith the Spirit

That they may rest from their labors

And their works do follow them.

Two infant sons of Daniel S. & Huldah Mead

One born April 29, 1838 and died April 30, 1838

The other born January 6, 1842 and died January 9, 1842

New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery next to the Second Congregational Church

Suffer little children to come

Unto me for of such is the

Kingdom of Heaven.

Henry H. Mead

Son of Sanford & Cynthia F. Mead

A member of CO. 1 10th Regt. C.V.,

Having passed through the Battles of Roanoke & New Bern, N.C.

Died of Typhoid Fever at New Bern, N.C. on

April 20, 1862

Aged 21 years, 5 months, 3 days.

New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery next to the Second Congregational Church

Die on the field of battle

Tis noble thus to die

God smiles on valiant soldiers

Their record is on high.

Rise from the field of battle

The Saviours gone before

Who puts his trust in Jesus

Is safe evermore.

Alice, wife of Amos Mead

Died February 17, 1815

Aged 29 years, 11 months, and 7 days

Union Cemetery of the Second Congregational Church

The kindness of her disposition

Endeared her to all her acquaintances

She filled up her life with usefulness and

Duty. Supported her last sickness

With Christian fortitude and had left

In her friends a well grounded hope.