Welcome to our news and history blog!

Welcome to our news and history blog!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Obituary: Benjamin P. Mead (1913)

Source: Greenwich Graphic
March 28, 1913


Benjamin P. Mead. whose death occurred at his home in New Canaan last week, after a prolonged illness, was the brother of Attorney James R. Mead, and was a native of Bridgeport, but spent his early life in Greenwich and was educated at Greenwich Academy.

He was a state senator two terms, also member of the Assembly, state comptroller one term, town clerk and selectman of New Canaan a number of years, and for a time was one of the firm of Burtis & Co., later Burtis & Mead.

He was a genial nature and made warm friends in all his associations, and was one of the influential men in Fairfield county and prominent in the state.

He is survived by his wife, daughter Miss Florence, sons Benjamin H., Harold H., and Stanley P. 

Treasures of the Bruce: a pot from Deacon Potter by Cynthia Ehlinger (Greenwich Time)

This story originally appeared in the Sunday, August 30, 2015 print-edition of Greenwich Time. Click here for the online link. 

With the festivities surrounding the 375th anniversary of the founding of Greenwich coming to a crescendo with the parade on Sept. 27, the search was on to find a historic object from the Bruce Museum collection that would speak to our local roots.
Researching the digital archives, I discovered a photograph of a salt-glazed stoneware flask prominently dated 1789. It seemed like the perfect candidate, but I was surprised to discover the piece is not hidden away in museum storage. The small bottle is displayed in plain sight in the museum’s permanent gallery highlighting the region’s colonial and agricultural history and, fortuitously, is available for all to see. 
A gift of Winfield S. Mills in 1956, the flask is thought to be one of the oldest intact pieces of pottery made in Greenwich. Its creator, Abraham “Deacon Potter” Mead, was an important figure in shaping the town.
Before the Revolutionary War, most fine ceramic items were imported due to British trade restrictions, and colonial potters only were permitted to make the more utilitarian pieces for the kitchen and pantry that were not economical to ship from Europe. 
One of the first stoneware potters in Connecticut, the Dutchman Adam Staats, took on a teenaged Abraham Mead as apprentice at his kiln located just south of the Davis gristmill near the headwaters of Indian Harbor in what is now Bruce Park.

We'd also draw your attention to this clip from YouTube. Click here for the details, and enjoy! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Jonah Mead House (1796) and Cemetery at Lot & Drake's Corner

While out and about today I stopped by to capture these images of the Jonah Mead House (1796) at North Street and Taconic Road, along with the small family cemetery located nearby. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Funeral of Mrs. Caroline M. Mead (1910)

Source: Greenwich Graphic
June 11, 1910. Page 4, column 4.

An Early Portrait of Caroline Mills Smith, circa 1850. 

The funeral services of Mrs. Caroline M. Mead, widow of William H. Mead, whose death took place last Friday, were held Monday afternoon, at the home of her niece, Mrs. Henry V. Peck, in Cos Cob. 

Rev. M. George Thompson, of Christ Church, officiated, and a quartet composed of Mrs. Lillian Rees, Mrs. Carl Martin, Arthur H. Dorland and Dr. Carl Martin sang several hymns. 

The granite obelisk marks the burial site of Caroline Mills Smith Mead. The grave of her father, Ebenezer Smith, is marked nearby with the flag. 

The internment was in the family cemetery, in Relay Place.

Mrs. Mead was the sister of Benjamin Smith, for many years Town Clerk, and a prominent and influential citizen. She leaves two nieces, Mrs. Peck, above mentioned, Miss Elizabeth Smith, a nephew, Benjamin Smith, all of Cos Cob, besides a number of relatives in Stamford and elsewhere.

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. 

Firemen and Farmers at Quaker Ridge Fire (1910)

Source: Greenwich Graphic
August 6, 1910. Page 5.
See also this piece from Greenwich News the day before.

The fire of last Friday afternoon, at Quaker Ridge Farm, of Miss Sarah C. Mead, the old Solomon Mead farm, consumed a section of the barn containing ten box stalls all occupied by horses, in which seven horses were also burned, it being impossible to rescue more than three, the flames involving the whole so rapidly. Six of the horses were valuable animals owned by Greenwich residents, and were there for care and attention, such as is not afforded in town, and three were saved with the greatest difficulty. 

There were also burned some eighteen to twenty tons of hay, and the immediate building, the other adjacent buildings being saved through the prompt attention given with water, the big tank supped by wind power being fortunately full, and the early response of the auto chemicals from Greenwich and Port Chester. The loss in great part, but not including the horses, is covered by insurance.

Manager Mortensen says the fire was set by children playing with matches. Matches and fire are interdicted and this rule has been rigidly followed. But in this instance they were hauling in hay, the mows being full, with the exception of a partial load, for which they had gone to the field before cleaning up the hay that had scattered on the ground. Meantime a Greenwich peddler drove up, and some children climbing onto his wagon, got some matches, and while unobserved set fire to the hay lying about. In an instant there was a blaze, and it encompassed the entire front of the stalls. Being in the field at the opposite side, those gathering the hay were not aware of the fire until they saw the rising smoke, when they hastened to the rescue. All effort was expended to save the horses first, and the water from the tank was husbanded to this use, and that of preventing the spread to other buildings until the chemical machines came, and it was this foresight that prevented greater loss.

The adjacent farms also sent help, all the men engaged in building pertains at the Redfield place turning out, and in recognition the Graphic has been asked to insert the annexed:

"The management of Quaker Ridge Farm, at North Greenwich, takes this opportunity of expressing their grateful appreciation of the generous and efficient services rendered by the Greenwich and Port Chester fire departments, and friends and neighbors, who so readily responded to the call for assistance at the fire which took place on the afternoon of July 29th."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Proposed: An American Revolution Memorial Stone for Obadiah Mead of North Greenwich

This family home at 23 Cliffdale Road was built circa 1728. It was here that a major tragedy took place during the American revolutionary war conflict in which a Mead ancestor was killed. 

One of the most famous stories associated with this Mead family home in North Greenwich was written by Historian Spencer P. Mead in the family genealogy book:

“The old house was raided by a party of British and Tories. Obadiah, a son of Benjamin III, was then quite a lad. His sisters, Anna and Phebe, who were younger, hid with their mother in the cellar of the old house as the Redcoats marched up the road, and their father and the older girls, Mary and Theodosia, barricaded the doors and windows, while Obadiah, the only son, solicitous for the cattle without, drove them into the yard, then beat a hasty retreat to a neighbor’s barn. 

“An unfriendly Tory, Knowing the fact, informed the British soldiers, who surrounded the barn, threatened to set fire to it unless he came out. He, too brave to surrender, jumped from the barn and ran across the orchard towards the rocks above Dyspepsia Lane (Cliffdale) but the British followed. 

“Seeing that escape was impossible, Obadiah surrendered, only to be immediately fired at and instantly killed. The ball passed through his left arm and entered his side. After killing the son, the Redcoats forced their way into the house, but unable to find the father, they departed, taking with them the horse and the geese.”

The family cemetery at 23 Cliffdale Road is where Obadiah Mead is buried. There is no formal monument stone. His grave is marked by one of the anonymous fieldstones that dot this site. 

It has been long known that young Obadiah Mead is among those interred at this family plot on what was the Mead Farm in North Greenwich. Many graves are marked with plain fieldstone markers. Which one is his? We do not know.

A proper memorial stone for this young casualty of the American Revolutionary War conflict is long overdue. That needs to change. 

We will be planning on placing a stone in his honor. If you wish to be a part of this contact us at our email address here

Portrait: Caroline Mills Smith (died 1910)

This is Caroline Mills Smith Mead. A native of Stamford and second wife of William H. Mead, Caroline was a very accomplished woman. In so many ways she was ahead of her time.

Re-introducing Ebenezer Smith (died 1873) and his wife, Rhoda Page and Charles E. Smith

"I was just thinking about you the other day," said Karen Fredericks, the collections manager of the Greenwich Historical Society said to me. I laughed and replied, "Good thoughts, I hope!" We enjoyed a good laugh over that one. 

The reason? This was news that made my day. 

Many years ago our grand-aunt, Miss Mildred Mead, gave the Greenwich Historical Society four small portraits on permanent loan. 

They are names very familiar to me and to those associated with the family cemetery plot off Relay Place and on the eastern shore of the Cos Cob Mill Pond.

The gravestone of Ebenezer Smith 1791-1873. Picture taken September 18, 2008.

Ebenezer Smith was the father of Caroline Mills Smith Mead, the second wife of William H. Mead whose home was where Cos Cob Elementary School is today. Smith was also the father of Greenwich Town Clerk George Jackson Smith. He was the owner of the Bush Holley House, operating it with his wife as a boarding house for railroad workers. That was in the pre-Art Colony days. 

Ebenezer Smith Portrait. Greenwich Historical Society Archives. 

Pictured above is the portrait of Ebenezer Smith. No date is marked anywhere on the front or back of the portrait. My unscientific estimate dates this to his middle-aged years, perhaps in the 1830s or 1840s. 

Though she is not interred in the Cos Cob plot, Karen showed me a similar portrait of Ebenezer's wife, Rhoda Page: 

Portrait of Rhoda Page, wife of Ebenezer Smith. Greenwich Historical Society Archives.  

Finally, we saw this portrait of Charles E. Smith. He is also not interred in the Mead plot at Cos Cob:

Portrait of Charles E. Smith. Greenwich Historical Society Archives. 

Last -but certainly not least- I saw for the first time a portrait of of Caroline Mills Smith, the second wife of William H. Mead, who made her own remarkable imprint on the history of the Mead family and the village of Cos Cob. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

As In Old Colonial Days: Costumes, Furniture and All Friends and Neighbors Meet at Old Mead Homestead on Mrs. Meads 83rd Birthday. (1911)

Source: Greenwich Graphic. Saturday, April 8, 1911. Page 1
(House picture included. Caption: Built in 1793).

The old colonial house at Quaker Ridge, built during Revolutionary days, called back old times Tuesday night.

For around the old fashioned fire place filled with logs, there gathered a company of people who if not connected by personal contact with the early days of Greenwich, were in every other way linked with 100 years of the past in the aged building.

It was the birthday of Mrs. Mary E. Mead, widow of the late Solomon S. Mead. For 83 years she lived in that locality.

And so her many friends sought to give her a surprise party to congratulate her on attaining that age, and to wish her every good, and that is why the old house and its fire places were besieged by neighbors and friends on that night.

And it was a scene that would have delighted the heart of an antiquarian, for the setting was perfect, everything was real, it belonged to the house and the friends who came.

The ladies wore costumes of a hundred years ago, the real thing, taken from old chests, high boys and closets, perfumed with herbs, having been worn by the mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers of those who were gowned in them.

Silks and satins, gingham and linen, homespun some of them, all as they appeared years ago. The hair of the ladies matched their gowns, done in the old style, parted in the middle and over their ears. Big beads or something of that kind were at the side of the head. 

The furniture in the old house was rare, consisting of mahogany tables, chairs and beds, and matched it all.

And to complete the picture the table where the dainty and bountiful collation was served was decorated with cut glass bowls, and candlesticks and silver in antique designs, that came, some from Holland and others from England, all old, very old, and genuine.

A profusion of flowers gave grace, fragrance to it all. It was indeed an unusual affair, rare indeed in this day of the automobile.

And it was a joy to be there. 

Mrs. Mead is a daughter of the late John Sands, who was a wealthy and influential Quaker of North King Street.

Mr. Sands’ lime kilns which were located near there, were widely known, the lime being carried for miles around in wagons drawn by four horses.

Mrs. Mead leaves the old house and Quaker Ridge in the Spring and goes to Sharon to live, and so this is a welcome and a parting as well, the old homestead having come into the possession of Babbitt Hyde, a relative of Solomon S. Mead, who intends to keep the old home as it is, and in the family.

A Partition Suit William Mead Homestead (1911)

Source: Greenwich Graphic. Saturday, January 7, 1911. Page 1

A partition suit has been brought in the Superior Court for the sale of the 28 acre plot of land and homestead known as the William Mead homestead on Old Church Road. 

Sarah Mead, his widow, had a life estate in the property, and she recently died. 

The property was then divided into twelve shares, that being the number of heirs of William Henry Mead. 

Those who will inherit under the will are Miss Cornelia A. Mead, Miss Lucien Mead of Geneva, N.Y., Miss Emma W. Mead, Miss Mary E. Mead, Miss Adelaide Mead, Miss Louisa Mead, Miss Belle Mead, George E. Mead of New York, Mrs. Elizabeth H. Sutton of Chappaqua, N.Y.; Mrs. Gheirstein Forshay of Port Chester, John J. Mead of Brooklyn, James. J. Mead, Mrs. Mary Speer, Miss Beulah Mead, Miss Belle Mead of Pittsburg, Pa.; Miss Nellie Shaw of New York, Mrs. Sarah H. Knapp, Miss Ella Judd of Greenwich, Mrs. Cordelia Scofield of Stamford, William M. White of Stamford, John E. White of Greenwich, Miss Fanny E. Mead, John A. Mead, Charles H. Mead, Augusta, Ill.; Mrs. Fred A. Waldrick of Los Angeles, Mrs. William E. Pettit, Ralph E. Mead of Akron, Ohio; Marry Mead, John A. Mead, Charles H. Mead, Mrs. J.L. Mead of Augusta, Ill.; Miss Maria E. Mead, Mrs. Maria E. Thompkins, Mrs. Andrew J. Dickson of St. Louis, Miss Olive Green of Cos Cob, Clarence R. Green of Dobbs Ferry, Miss Florence Forshay of Port Chester, Miss Mabel S. Tompkins of White Plains. 

Laurence Timmons, real estate broker, and Mr. Measury, who lived at Rock Ridge during last summer, purchased a considerable number of these interests, with the intention of buying them all, but being unable to secure them, they have now brought the partition suit above mentioned, returnable to the general term of the Superior Court. 

Partition Sale Sarah Mead Homestead
Source: Greenwich Graphic. Friday, June 23, 1911. Page 1

The Sarah Mead homestead, on Old Church Road, as will be seen by advertisement elsewhere in the Graphic, is to be sold at public auction, by order of the Superior Court, under partition sale. 

The property consists of the dwelling house and 28 acres of land splendidly situated for residential purposes. It was the home of the late William Mead, one of the prominent men of the the town a number of years ago.

At his death a life estate in the property was left to his wife. She continued to live there for many years, but shortly before her death she went to make her home with Mrs. Forshay, in Port Chester. After her decease, the heirs of William Mead, her husband, began to negotiate for the sale of the property. There are twelve undivided interests, among those in this immediate vicinity who were beneficiaries were John White, William White, Mrs. Sarah Louise Knapp, Mrs. William Scofield, Mrs. E.N. Judd, and Mrs. Benjamin Forshay of Port Chester. 

Messrs. Laurence Timmons and J. W. Masury succeeded in purchasing and number of interests on the basis of a $40,000 valuation for the whole tract. Some of the heirs refused to sell out their interests at that figure, and therefore a partition suit was brought for the sale of the property, which the court has now ordered done.

Wm Mead Homestead Sells For $47,000
Source: Greenwich Graphic. Friday, July 14, 1911. Page 1.

What is known as the William Mead homestead, on Old Church Road, was sold at auction last Saturday, under order of court for a partition sale, by Auctioneer N. A. Knapp.

The homestead consists of the residence and some twenty-eight acres of land, 24 on one side of the street and 4 directly opposite. There are twelve undivided interests in the estate, about two-thirds of which were purchased some time ago by John W. Masury and Laurence Timmons, on the basis of $40,000.

Several interests they were unable to purchase, and these were joined with George L. Slawson to make up a syndicate to purchase, Mr. Slawson bidding the property in at $47,000. What the syndicate will do with the property is not disclosed, but presumably it will be disposed of either as a whole or in parcels.