Welcome to our news and history blog!

Welcome to our news and history blog!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who Owned This (Mead?) House

We were contacted today by Pitts Yandell with the attached image to his e-mail. He wrote:

"My great grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. L. P. Yandell lived in a house that I believe was a Mead's house. The house was at the corner of Stanwich and Taconic in Greenwich. They moved in around 1917. Included is a painting of the house which was most accessible at the moment but I have more photos and historical documents archived. Anyway I was wondering it the place was familiar to you, if it still stands and which Mead resided there."

If you can answer his question please contact us at meadburyinggrounds@gmail.com.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bill Mead Oak Tree, by Whitman Bailey

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.

William H. Mead is interred in the family cemetery off Relay Place and the Cos Cob Mill Pond.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Removed Plots: Mead Burying Ground Lafayette Place, Greenwich

In Greenwich's Town Clerk Records there are additional records of further disinterments from isolated family plots to other localities. There is still such a plot for the Lewis Family, long associated with the Second Congregational Church (it's next to the offices of the Presbyterian Church off Lafayette Place).

Yet another small family plot associated with the Mead's was located near the corner of Lafayette Place and William Street, within sight of Greenwich Hospital and nearby condominiums. The graves were apparently removed from this location to Putnam Cemetery in 1936. Pictured is the sexton records and listing of those transferred.

When the graves were transferred to Putnam we were intrigued to discover that the remains were apparently combined and a single monument stone will all names listed in common.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Signed Document by Revolutionary War Patriot Dr. Amos Mead

Today’s mail brings news of a relic from the American Revolution involving Dr. Amos Mead. He is interred in the New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery next to the Second Congregational Church off East Putnam Avenue in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Scott Winslow, a dealer in historical documents in New Hampshire writes, “I am a dealer in historical documents from New Hampshire. I'm forwarding a scan of a document signed by Dr. Amos Mead during the American Revolution which I thought you might have an interest in. I recently sold an early Connecticut pay order issued to (not signed by) Dr. Amos Mead but frankly, can't remember who I sold it to and thought it might be someone in your family.” The document image is provided here.

Historian Spencer P. Mead provides some interesting information found in the family genealogy book. On page 59:

“Dr. Amos Mead, of Greenwich, Connecticut, who was ye Surgeon of ye 3rd Connecticut Regiment in the expedition against Crown Point and Ticonderoga in 1759, and also one of the committee of Safety, was so chased and hunted by these men as to be obliged to travel about back in the country for a whole winter. He retraced by night the tracks he had made by day, and then moving off a short distance in another direction, spent the night in the first sheltered place that could be found. In the early spring following the winter of 1780, he came down to look at a field of wheat growing some distance back of his house, but, on arriving at a certain point in the road, he turned back, for he was impressed with the idea that he must not go any farther, but how to account for the impression he knew not. A few days after a neighbor met him and told him that five men bent on taking his life were in that very wheat field with their loaded muskets aimed at a certain point in the road where he must have passed had he proceeded. Dr. Mead, wisely acting on this timely warning, retired again into the country.”

This text is also found on page 145 of Ye Historie of Ye Town of Greenwich, also authored by Spencer P. Mead, published in 1911. Both the town history and Mead family genealogy book feature more interesting background on Dr. Mead.

If you are interested in acquiring this wonderful piece of family history please contact Mr. Winslow at 800-225-6233, or e-mail him at Scott@scottwinslow.com.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nehemiah Mead House, Cos Cob

This is a picture of the Nehemiah Mead House. It stood where Cos Cob Elementary School is today. As mentioned in my previous blog post, Nehemiah Mead was one of those disinterred from the family cemetery off Relay Place and the Cos Cob Mill Pond. His remains and those of others were reinterred at Putnam Cemetery.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Whitman Bailey and the Cos Cob Mill Pond

Pictured here is a sketching by the late Whitman Bailey of the Cos Cob Mill Pond. It is dated 1933.

Look closely at the left side of the print where the two tall pine trees are featured. The stone wall of the family plot as well as the granite obelisk are visible.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Mystery Solved: Disinterments at the Cos Cob Family Plot

For as far back as anyone alive today can remember the family burying ground at Cos Cob has posed a mystery. 

Upon ascending up into the cemetery visitors notice a small downswing off to the right side closest to the Mill Pond. Why was it there? It certainly did not appear to conform to the rest of the landscape.

I was going through my collection of 35mm slides for donation to the Greenwich Historical Society’s archives. This collection mostly consists of research I conducted on the cemeteries in Greenwich, Connecticut during the 1980s and early 1990s. I had some of these professionally scanned. 

While going through them I noticed the image pictured above.

The area in question was the site of graves that were disinterred in the 1880s. The image is one taken of records kept at Greenwich’s Town Hall showing that a number of graves were disinterred from this cemetery and reinterred in Putnam Cemetery. 

The name ‘Thomas Young’ is the sexton who, by definition, is someone employed or perhaps a church officer whose responsibility is to care for church property, including the digging of graves.

This is where the graves are today in Putnam Cemetery off Parsonage Road:

The names and dates of those disinterred are:

Samuel H. Mead, son of Nehemiah and Ruth Mead, b. December 2, 1796, d. October 15, 1854:

Henry Richards, son of James and Ruth Richards of Norwalk, d. September 28, 1800, aged 17 years and 9 months:

Nehemiah Mead, Jr., d. March 21, 1826, aged 54 years, 3 months and 17 days:

Nehemiah Mead. Sr., d. August 16, 1791, aged 70 years:

Mrs. Ruth Mead, wife of Nehemiah Mead, b. April 25, 1770, d. February 13, 1854:

Mrs. Sarah Mead, d. August 20, 1808, aged 74 years, 3 months and 27 days:

Sarah Mead, daughter of Nehemiah and Ruth Mead, d. May 12, 1871, aged 72 years, 10 months and 9 days.

Aside from the list of names, the genealogical information was taken from Spencer P. Mead’s Abstract of Records of Tombstones of the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut, 1913. 

As to why the graves were disinterred, that remains a mystery. I suspect it always will be.

Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Back to Historical Blogging!

I am please to report that I have not fallen off the side of the Earth, as some have pondered recently. I just recently moved to a new home with a decidedly country air to it. My hope is that my career in condominium living is over.

I also had some 35mm slides scanned which relate to the family cemeteries. These will be posted with historical commentary in the days ahead.

It's nice to be back. Cheers!

Historically yours,

Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gravestone Motifs: Weeping Willows and Urns

In the 1980s I wrote a local history column that appeared in the Greenwich Time newspaper. I was a member of its Board of Contributors in those fun-filled days when I also served on the board of the Greenwich Historical Society.

Last night I was inspecting my files of old published articles from my column when I found one that focused on the motifs and iconography carved on gravestones. “The motifs found on a number of gravestones throughout the burying grounds of Greenwich have withstood most of the effects of the elements, leaving meanings and significance for us to ponder,” I quote from ‘Unlocking the Secrets of the Past.’

Perhaps the best-known proponent of analysis and study of New England’s ancient burying grounds was the late Harriette Merrifield Forbes. “To interpret them properly it is necessary to close our 20th century eyes and look at them with the eyes of the past. Thus we can appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of those designs and perhaps find a lesson for ourselves in a few of them at least.”

I think anyone walking through the cemeteries and burying grounds today would notice the carved weeping willow trees that appear on 19th century marble stones. This motif started to appear on gravestone markers in the early 1800s. Often the weeping willow tree stood alone or with an urn to its side. The Greeks and Romans to store cremated ashes utilized urns. Their appearance also reflected a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman architectural styles that also found their ways on to home and government buildings built in the early 19th century.

The most significant feature of live weeping willows we see on today’s landscapes and the carved examples on marble gravestones are the drooping branches. The image conveyed a sense of mourning and sadness felt by the living as a special loved one was laid to eternal rest.

Featured here are some examples of the weeping willow tree and urn motifs found on the gravestones of a few of our ancestors in Greenwich, Connecticut cemeteries.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bob Keeler, Mead descendant, Maintaining Cemeteries

We are very pleased to announce that Bob Keeler, a Mead descendant, as stepped to the Association's cause and is now maintaining the family cemeteries under our care. We are very grateful for such Bob's involvement in our continuous efforts to preserve these hallowed places. Thank you, Bob!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mead Burying Ground at Lot & Drake's Corner

The family burying ground featured today is the smallest of the three the Association preserves. It is located near the intersection of North Street and Taconic Road within sight of one of the family homesteads. In 1971 Edgar T. Mead, Jr., a direct descendant of those interred here, published a book entitled The House on Lot and Drake's Corner, that we highly recommend.

The three final pictures featured at the link below were taken during the last week of June, 2010 by my cousin Robert Keeler, who is maintaining the cemetery off Relay Place at Cos Cob's historic Mill Pond and the cemetery off Cliffdale Road in North Greenwich.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Silleck House, a Mead House, Built Circa 1827

As I sit writing from my home in Honolulu I have read that temperatures at Yankee Stadium in New York City stand at 110F. It seems that the horrid winter experienced by some many in the Northeast is to be followed by one equally hot. You have my sympathies! If we in Hawaii were experiencing some trade winds I'd gladly send them your way.

This news reminded me of how in any historical age people will do what they can to seek comfort. The above picture was taken by me on a ride to and from Island Beach off the Greenwich coast in Long Island Sound in 2008. The building is located adjacent to the Indian Harbor Yacht Club off Greenwich Harbor. For many years it was known as the Silleck House, one of the earliest shore hotels in the region. I've long wondered if any of our family ancestors built the place.

I contacted Anne Young, archivist of the Greenwich Historical Society with a request for some information. After inspection of the materials I received my curiosity appears justified.

From the Greenwich News & Graphic story dated March 14, 1919 entitled 'Silleck House To Be Sold' is the following excerpt (original spellings and typographic errors retained):

The Silleck house is the oldest hotel on either shore of Long Island Sound between Sands Point, which is located opposite City Island, New York, and Stonington, Conn. It was build by the late Jared Mead in 1827, the frame construction being erected on dirt cellars which had been on the property a number of years prior to that date. Mr. Mead was a great-grandfather of W.P. White of Field Point Road. During the first few years it was run by Mr. Mead as a boarding hotel under the name of 'The White House,' the project did not prove successful and in the spring of 1849 Mr. Mead sold the building and grounds to Mrs. Fannie Runyon and Mrs. Mary Dennis, who in turn resold it to Thomas Funston on February 9, 1850. Thaddeus Silleck, grandfather of Elbert A. Silleck, became the owner on May 25, 1855, and later it fell into the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Elbert A. Silleck and Edward T. Foote. Mr. Silleck for many years conducted a most successful fashionable summer hotel there.

Why was Jared Mead unsuccessful? Businesses thrive or fail for any number of reasons. I wondered about this. I found out why in one of my favorite Greenwich history books, 'Other Days in Greenwich,' by the late Judge Frederick Hubbard. On Page 262 Hubbard wrote:

"Situated near the shore with a dense forest on three sides, it was an ideal spot for a quiet summer retreat. The trouble with the "White House," as Mr. Mead called it, was due to the fact that table supplies were difficult to obtain. At that time there was no market in Greenwich. To supply the table with meat it was Jared Mead's custom to purchase lambs and calves of the farmers and butcher them on the premises. Vegetables were secured at market sloops. Butter was difficult to buy as the farmers preferred to send it to New York. The cows were pastured on Field Point, assuring a good supply of milk and cream. The water was brought from one of the Field Point springs, there being no well near the hotel. Apples were free to anyone who would gather them.

"Mr. Mead had a good class of boarders at what then thought to be remunerative prices, but he found it quite a struggle to maintain a satisfactory table. His fried fish, broiled lobsters, succulent oysters and scallops were considered most palatable, but there always came a time when the appetite demanded fresh meat."

The above-mentioned Greenwich News & Graphic story lists the names of some of the luminaries who stayed at the Silleck House. The include William B. Taylor, former postmaster of New York City; Horace Greeley, John Hoey, Robert M. Bruce, Charles A. Whitney, the New York banker; and a "Professor King" of Columbia University. Yet perhaps the most famous -or infamous- was none other than William M. Tweed, better known as "Boss Tweed" of New York.

"From a small building it was enlarged from time to time until it becamse one of the finest and most up-to-date hotels outside of New York and hundreds of prominent people from all parts of the country used to spend their summers at this popular hostelry, " continued the Greenwich News & Graphic. "In the early days boarding rates were $2.50 a week while of more recent date enormous prices have been charged not only at this but other similar hotels in Greenwich. Summer sojourners will now pay most any prices to get a breath of real country air and enjoy the many privileges afforded at these resorts."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Passing of Herbert Bingham Mead 1924-2010

(Note: I have established another blog about the book I am researching on my father's service in postwar China. Go here: MyDadtheUSChinaMarine.blogspot.com)

I have not been posting for some time due to the recent passing of my father, Herbert Bingham Mead.

Dad died in the closing moments of his 86th birthday at a nursing home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York on February 25. He is dearly missed. Dad enthusiastically supported the creation of our cemetery association in 1990. In his younger days he maintained the cemetery property off Relay Place near Cos Cob's Mill Pond. When he and my mother were first married they lived in a small cottage nearby that has since been demolished. Up until five years ago Dad would go down to the Cos Cob plot and two others the Association maintains and keep them in good order.

He was a World War II veteran serving as a radioman in the U.S. Marines 1
st and 4th Marine Division from 1943 to 1947, at Guadalcanal, Peleiu, the front lines in the Battle of Okinawa, and stationed for several years in Tianjin and Beijing, China after the Japanese surrender.

For many years he was employed in the Clairol’s research division of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut. After his retirement he started and operated a garden design and landscape business until six years ago.

My father was an active and passionate volunteer for over 40 years in Greenwich’s fire department services including serving as chief of the Round Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the Amogerone Volunteer Fire Company, contributing his time and energies. He was also a proud supporter of various US Marine Corps organizations.

I am very grateful for his guidance and support when the Association was first created and in the years since. Rest in peace, Dad. Thank you for all that you did -and for your example.

Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moonlight Marriages Barred in Greenwich: January 12, 1900

We found this article in the archives of the New York Times. Published on January 12, 1900, it features comments by then-Town Clerk James R. Mead. It seems New Yorkers were venturing to Greenwich in order to be married under the evening moonlight, spoiling many evenings for Mead, his assistant, Greenwich clergy and Justices of the Peace. Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

New York Times 1910: TELLS STRANGE TALE OF TWEED'S FLIGHT; Greenwich Man Says He Escaped on Train to Cos Cob, Where Couple Awaited Him

Special to The New York Times: December 7, 1910, Wednesday

GREENWICH, Conn., Dec. 6 -- After a silence of more than thirty years, Judge Frederick A. Hubbard of this town has published in a local paper a story which he believes explains the method by which Boss William M. Tweed got away from New York after his escape from Ludlow Street Jail on Dec. 4, 1875.

Click here and download the pdf file.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Deacon Abraham "Potter" Mead

Abraham Mead was born in 1742 who during the American Revolutionary War served as a Captain, assisting in the defense of New York.

But Abraham Mead is best known for the unique pottery he produced from his kiln. The following is reproduced from this link to the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich:

Deacon Potter Mead was a prominent citizen of Horseneck, the original name for central Greenwich. He was a commissioned captain in the Revolutionary War, town treasurer, real estate agent, deacon and treasurer of the Second Congregational Church, and one of the first Connecticut potters. As a teenager he was apprenticed to Adam Staats, a Dutchman considered Connecticut’s first stoneware potter. Staats kiln was located just south of the Davis gristmill. According to legend, Deacon Potter Mead, from close observation of Staats, discovered the secret of salt glazing. When Staats observed him throwing salt into the kiln, he is said to have exclaimed, “He’ got it! He’s got it!” True or not, Mead is known for his functional stoneware that was sold to the farmers and merchants of the Greenwich area and probably beyond to New York and New Jersey as well. The blue design is typical of his work.

Later in life he served as a deacon in the Second Congregational Church. He died in 1827 and is interred in the cemetery adjacent to the church known as the New Burial Grounds Association Cemetery.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Can you help? Dr. William Mead, Revolutionary War Surgeon, 1st New York Regiment

The Association has received an inquiry from Glenn Hunger of Burnt Hills New York. Can you help? He was referred to us by Anne Young, archivist of the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Glenn is conducting research on Doctor William Mead, Revolutionary War Surgeon, 1st New York Regiment. Dr. Mead was the son of Benjamin Mead and Martha Ferris, born in Greenwich on October 15, 1747 and died on February 1, 1829. Dr. Mead is buried in Charlton, N.Y. 

Benjamin Mead and Martha Ferris are buried in our family plot at the Mead farm in North Greenwich off Cliffdale Road.

*From Spencer P. Mead’s
History and Genealogy of the Mead Family, William Mead is mentioned on page 404, and as having married Phebe Farrant (b. October 30, 1741, d. October 21, 1776).

*From Daniel M. Mead’s A History of the Town of Greenwich, William Mead is mentioned on page 290 as having William, Abigail and Anne. (Daniel M. Mead continues with names of children not attributed elsewhere to Benjamin Mead.)

Dr. William Mead married Geertruyd Myndertse in Schenectady, N.Y. and had two children - Catarina b. March 7, 1780 and Benjamin b. November 25, 1783.

Glenn wrote,
"I have found two references to Anne Mead. The first reference is in a geneologist’s notes in the Saratoga County Clerk’s Office indicating Anne is the daughter of Dr. William Mead. The second reference is of Anne and Geertruyd Mead’s signatures on a request to the County Clerk in appointing an executor to probate Dr. Mead’s estate in 1829. I have no additional information on Dr. Mead’s other children - William, Abigail, Catarina or Benjamin."
"I’m seeking any information, insights, references, etc. with regard to:
  • Doctor William Mead’s childhood, education (primary, secondary and medical), friends, family, medical practice, etc.
  • the death of Phebe Farrant and the lives of their three children - William, Abigail and Anne,
  • the lives of Dr. Mead’s two children with Geertruyd - Catarina and Benjamin.
I appreciate any help you are able to offer."

If you can assist Glenn please contact him:

Glenn Hunger
PO Box 529
Burnt Hills, NY
Tel: 518-399-9079

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Deacons Silas Hervey Mead: Abolitionist

As this is Black History Month we share an excerpt from a letter dated November 8, 1842 by Deacon Silas Hervey Mead of North Greenwich to Amos Starr Cooke, a Danbury-born missionary to the Hawaiian Islands. The original letter is in the archives of the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society which maintains the Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu:

You speak about the Abolitonists. I will here just state that their enemies gave them the name of persons of one idea and I for one will respond to that name. I hope I never shall have any other idea only to do God's Will without distinguishing whether it is popular or not, and that I believe is true respecting the largest part of the Abolitionists that I am acquainted with.

You say you are afraid some of the Abolitionists zeal for that object blinds their eyes to other benevolent objects, we often hear that said with us, so often, that it would be impossible for us to sleep. The truth is because we do not go and spend all our strength pushing the car where the most are pushing, then we are slandered.

I tell you my friend in a general way show me an Abolitionist, and I will show you a strong Temperance man, and a strong man for keeping the sabbath, and a strong man for God anyway and everyway, a real go ahead Christian. There may be some exceptions, but I should think not many in proportion to the whole.

You say you are afraid I am a getting cold on that subject: no my dear friend, nor shall I ever so long as I have the Bible to read, and my powers of reason left me. I have made up my mind not to foul my fingers with it anyway. I'll not vote for it, but against it, nor will I use the products of slave labor as a general thing neither for eating, or wearing, at home or abroad.

I must say that (as I do by alcohol) that I am opposed to it at all times and places and for anything and everything. And I would say to you hold on against slavery, it does good.

Web Site Update in Progress

The Association's web site is in the process of updating and redevelopment. Some of the features will be simplified. Links to this news-blog and the YouTube channel will also be added. Some of the visuals have been updated. Our hope is that our descendants near and far will further enjoy the web site as our primary educational tool for family and public outreach.