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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Over in the Meadow: The Grave of Major-General Ebenezer Mead (1907)

Greenwich Graphic: Saturday, January 26, 1907. Page 1.

Was found by J. R. Mead of Kansas City, a Great Grandson – the Tombstone was Lying on its Face Down, and Was Broken – Who This Colonial Patriot Was. 

Copyrighted 1901, by Erwin Edwards.

Over in the meadow, just at the foot of Put's Hill, in a little hillock, the waters of Ten Acres almost reaching it, is the grave of Major-General Ebenezer Mead– a soldier of the Revolution.

Just above it, on the top of the hill is a handsome boulder in memory of General Putnam, which tells to the hurrying passer-by in his automobile, or in the trolley car, that was the spot where Putnam started on his perilous ride over the precipice, and made his "plunge into history."

Forgotten, neglected and unmarked, is the little grave in the meadow, near where the busy world of flies by, just below the handsome boulder. But General Mead played his part in the war for liberty, as well as "Old Put," and now that his grave has been found, it will be marked with a fitting monument.

There came to Greenwich, last summer a man from Wichita, Kansas, J. A. Mead, and with him his wife and two children.

It was the home of his boyhood, and he returned to his native town to find the grave of Maj-General Ebenezer Mead, and also to see the old place in which he was born, in which he left a half century ago, to seek his fortune in the west, and he wanted as well to look up his kinsman.

He was here but a day or two, he found old Greenwich so different from what he expected, in many ways, he tarried but a short time.

But his real purpose he accomplished, the finding of the grave of his patriotic ancestor, and he went away as quietly and on ostentatiously as he came.

He had become a very successful businessman in the west, had made money and was rich, but now as he was beginning to go down the sense that side of life, although a vigorous and healthy man still, his mind reverted to the scenes of his boyhood, and he often thought he would like to visit the old town, find a grave of General Ebenezer Mead, and put a granite monument over it.

It was with such intention that he came to Greenwich, and after trying to get in touch with his relatives, went to the house now occupied by John Maher, and accompanied by Mr. Maher and accompanied by Mrs. Maher finally located what he believed to be the grave.

With Thomas Egan, whom he met in a cemetery, he arranged for further investigation. On his return home he wrote Mr. Egan as follows:

"We visited the grave and noticed a marble slab sunk level with the surface at the north end, and it occurred to me that there might be an inscription on the stone underground. I will be pleased if you will visit the spot and dig down and examine the stone very carefully, wash it if necessary and write me exactly what is on it then replace as before."

Mr. Egan at one started on his search. At the house he was met by Mrs. Maher, who pointed out the spot. Carefully he removed the undergrowth, moss and earth that had almost entirely destroyed the ordinary outlines indicating the grave. Soon he uncovered a marble slab, finding a broken near the center. Deftly he brushed away the clinging dirt and was soon enabled to trace the marks of an inscription. Still more carefully cleaning off the discolorations his efforts were at last rewarded and he could read: 

"Major-General Ebenezer Mead, died February 7, 1818, aged 70 years."

His task was accomplished. The long neglected and almost obliterated resting place of the Connecticut soldier whose fame was notable in the strife for Independence, was definitely disclosed. He replaced the stone, leaving the grave as nearly as was possible as he found it, and then duly advised Mr. Mead in accordance with instructions. In response the annexed was received: 

"The information, yours of the 26th, contained, is very gratifying. It confirms the statement I made while in Greenwich as to that being the grave of Gen. Mead, my great-grandfather. My grandfather, Col. Ebenezer Mead, my father Rev. E. Mead, and my uncles Ebenezer and Theodore all pointed out the spot to me, with at that time a picket fence around it, as the grave of General Mead. It was was customary in colonial days in later to bury the proprietor of an estate upon the premises. Now that the identity of Gen. Mead is established beyond question it is a matter of historical interest that the spot should be suitably made prominent by monument or otherwise."

Mr. Mead in a later letter said: "Gen. Mead was shot through the lungs by a musket ball early in the war for Independence, and in dressing the wound the surgeon drew a silk handkerchief through his body. I was told this in 1846 by old men who were there at the time, also by my grandfather and grandmother, otherwise he might have taken an active part in the war as the rest of them."

It was not fully understood that there were two Meads in the Revolutionary war. Ebenezer Mead, the Gen. Mead here referred to, served as a private in Capt. Joseph Hobby's Company, Lt. Col. John Mead's 9th Regiment, from Nov. 11th, 1776, to Jan. 11th, 1777. The regiment was ordered to Westchester County and employed in guarding its borders. As the latter take fixes the time when he seems to have dropped out of the service, the wound, referred to above by J. R. Mead, may have been suffered about this time, and the resulting sickness was doubtless the cause.

He stood in the doorway of the house where John Maher now resides and saw Gen. Putnam ride down the hill when surprised by six dragoons. He saw General Putnam come tearing down the hill, saw him turn in his saddle as he reached the bottom and gained the turnpike, and heard him holler "damn ye" to the tories, who were firing at him from the hilltop.

After the war Ebenezer Mead came again into notice and gained distinction as a training master in the militia. He was Major in the Connecticut Militia in the War of 1812, under Colonel Samuel Dean, and at the same time of the scare, caused by the appearance  of a British fleet under Commodore Hardy, off the eastern end of Long Island Sound, which had almost complete control to Throgg's Neck, he was detailed to guard the coast against invasion. He stationed his forces at several strategic points, prevented the enemy from landing, and finally compelled withdrawal of its forces from the waters of the Sound. He ultimately rose to the rank of Major General.

John Mead at the commencement of the Revolutionary war entered the American army as a Major. King George had previously sent him a Captain's commission, which he declined.

Within a month he was promoted to be Lieutenant Colonel, and three years before the end of the war was commissioned a Brigadier General, and had command of the American lines at Horseneck.

Ebenezer Mead, his cousin, was a private an Captain Hobby's company, John Mead's regiment, and it lessens in no degree the credit due to Ebenezer Mead to explain and correct the impression that he then served as officer instead of private. The meagre record shows that his service temporarily ended in November, 1777, probably from the serious wound described above by J. R. Mead as told him by his grandfather. For he figures later as a training master of militia, taking part in the war of 1812 was a Major to which he advanced meantime. And his promotion thus started continued as the result of meritorious service in connection with the Connecticut militia until reaching the major generalship, under which he served with distinction through the later years of his military career.

John Mead's military record before the Revolution was as a lieutenant of the West Company of Greenwich in October, 1757, promoted to captain in October, 1767, and in May, 1773, receiving commission as Major in the 9th Regiment, Connecticut Militia, advancing therefrom to Lieutenant Colonel as the record shows, within a month after the beginning of his service in the Revolution. He saw much active service on the Brooklyn front before and during the Battle of Long Island in August, 1776, and in the retreat from New York was in command of the last attachment that left the city. He was in the Battle of White Plains in October, 1776, and was afterward posted at Horseneck, where he remained during the greater part of the war, joining in many other engagements.

A character he was firm, decided, perhaps severe, but like all Meads exceedingly just. He spent the whole of his life in Horseneck, where he had a large farm, and his house was almost the first in the village of Greenwich at the west. He was a member of the Connecticut Legislature for eight years before, eight years during an eight years after the Revolution until 1797, twenty consecutive years; was also justice of the peace for Fairfield County from 1769 until 1774.

He died in December, 1790, in his sixty-fifth year, and was buried in the old graveyard Put's Hill, the exact spot having become unknown long before the removal of bodies there from to Putnam cemetery.

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