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Welcome to our news and history blog!

Friday, December 18, 2015

It Was Well Known in '76. The Old House at Indian Field Road. (1898)

Source: Greenwich Graphic. June 11, 1898. Page 1.

Hessians, British, Tories and Continental Soldiers, Occupied it at Various Times-The property Has Always Been in the Same Family.

It looks old, dilapidated, deserted and forgotten; but hardly forgotten, for every old resident of Greenwich knows the house, and has heard the tales of how it stood there during the Revolutionary War. To-day it connects the old with the new; the past with the present; the early struggles of the colonies and the founders of the Union with the civilization of our times. Most forcibly does this old dwelling illustrate, standing there alone, with beautiful mansions nearby, filled wit every comfort that money can suggest, the growth and prosperity of the country covering a period of over 200 years.

Where does the house stand? Everybody in town knows that is on the what is now called Charles Mead's Point or what was known in the days of the Revolution...

...from the "red face" is still in possession of the family. The children of Judge Whitman S. Mead, who now reside there, are rthe seventh generation who have been born on the property.

A log cabin was first erected on this site, but about 150 years ago this dwelling house was erected. About 50 years ago it was vacated, and the homestead just east of it and near the water was built.

This property passed from John Mead, who owned it in 1686, to Ebenezer, to Ebenezer, 2d, to Jonas, to Jonas, 2d, to Charles Mead, who died, at an advanced age, a few years ago. At present the house is occupied by his children.

The old house belonged to anybody and everybody almost, during the Revolutionary War.

At that period is was the home of Jonas Mead. The times here hard, and he was so annoyed by the Tories and British that he was obliged to vacate it. It was raided by Hessians, Tories, Cowboysd and Continentals, and had been used as headquarters at various times by the solders of both armies. It was so situated as to be an object of contention. It was stripped of pretty much everything it contained except what was in one room, which was afterward known as the second secret chamber.

This room was not the result of design on the part of the builders, but developed by the swinging of a door. It was off the kitchen, but access was contained to it through a doorway at the foot of the stairs. The kitchen door swung in such a way as to conceal the door leading to this little room, sand the marauders never suspected the existence of such a chamber.

When the family returned after the war they found everything in this part of the house just as they left it. 

It was built of big beams, as was the custom in those days. One of the braces was too long and was chopped off with an ax. This ragged end always remained sticking out beyond the others and was conspicuous. The original siding was split from a log and shaved with a drawing knife.

This plot of land on which the old house is situated was considered one of the finest along the shore, and a favorite place for Indians to gather. It was called Indian Field to designate it from Horseneck Field, which is the part of land where Belle Haven is now located.

When Greenwich was deeded to the white settlers by the Indians, they reserved 125 acres on the shore for themselves and Indian Field was the spot bordering the shore. 

The Indians had seen the white people make stone walls to divide their property and so they thought they would separate their land from the settlers by such a barrier.

The had neither horses or oxen to work with, and the knew as much about making a stone wall as a cow does about handling a musket. They rolled stones for awhile and piled them up for a short distance, but they soon became very tired and gave up stone-wall building. This boundary mark they intended to stretch across from Indian Harbor to the Mianus river. The point where they commenced to build is nearly opposite the Held House, and the stones are still there, piled up Indian fashion, and remain a monument to this day to their engineering skills in wall constructing.

In conversation with the late Charles Mead one day not long ago before he died, he said that while there have been many things raised on the farm, it had never raised a mortgage. This is perhaps the most remarkable things that can be said in connection with this famous spot.

Near where the present residence now stands, the home of Judge Whitman S. Mead, is a field which has always been known to the family as the Wigwam. 

It is said that this hose was built of brick so that it could not be bombarded and set on fire, for in the War of 1812 houses along the shore of the Sound got a raking once or twice, and we are told that this one dwelling we have described was the target of a British frigate in those days.

So the old house has its history, which like the ivy and Virginia Creeper clings about it, and makes it picturesque and interesting, but not forgotten, even though old and crumbling. The moss is thick under its eaves, and on its weather-stained shingles, and the swallows have taken undisputed possession of it, but while apparently neglected it is still in the public eye. 

Mr. Mead's Embalming Fluid: In a Famous Case in Court (1892)

Source: Greenwich Graphic. Saturday, January 30, 1892. Page 3.

Undertaker I.L. Mead's embalming fluid played an important part at the trial of Carlyle W. Harris on Wednesday last, charged with killing his wife Helen N. Potts, now occupying the attention of the Court of General Session New York.

The defense set up a claim that the fluid contained morphine and that the poison found in the body of Mr. Harris was that from the embalming fluid.

Professor Witthaus, the most noted chemist of the day testified that he made an analysis of Mr. Mead's fluid and found no morphine of quinine, that the ingredients were harmless in themselves and in no way should it be charged that the morphine found came from the fluid. 

Professor Witthaus testified that he made an analysis of a quantity of Mead's embalming fluid, which he received from undertaker Vannett, and which the latter told him was taken from the same bottle as contained that used in embalming Mrs. Pott's body. In answer to Assistant District Attorney Wellman, Dr. Witthaus stated that in his examination of the fluid he found no morphine or quinine. 

Counsel for the defense objected to the introduction of the testimony on the grounds that it was not proved that the portion of the fluid which the witness analyzed was the same as that used in embalming Miss Potts's body. The objection was overruled. 

Mr. Jerome in his cross examination of Dr. Witthaus, quoted largely from Professor Wormley's work on "Micro-Chemistry of Poisons." Dr. Wittlaus agreed largely with Professor Wormley.