Welcome to our news and history blog!

Welcome to our news and history blog!

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.