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.