Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chapter 51 - Our Mead Ancestors

First Generation: William Mead (1592-1663) and Philippa (?-1657): There seems to be a general consensus that my 10th great grandfather, William Mead, was born in the Parish of St. Mary in Watford, County Hertfordshire, England. It was here in this town where a baptismal record was uncovered for the first child born to a William and Philippa Mead, a daughter named Mary who was born in 1621. It is probably safe to assume that both William and Philippa were born in this area as well. Mary unfortunately died young, but at least three more children were born to William and Philippa including their youngest child and my 9th great grandfather, John Mead, who was born in 1634. Nothing is really known about the Mead family's life in England although it is probably safe to assume that William was fairly well-off financially and that he was a Puritan. Both of these conclusions are based on the simple fact that he and his family emigrated to America along with other Puritans in 1635 and he could afford the cost of the voyage. Watford, England in the early 1600s, was a small town located only 17 miles northwest of the center of London and it was not known to be a hotbed of Puritans as were so many other areas of southeast England. There has been some speculation that William Mead did not migrate to America because of strong religious reasons as did so many others, but more so because he was encouraged by the possibilities that might be available for his new family in this new and rapidly growing country of America. This speculation was certainly supported by the fact that once William arrived in the Boston area in 1635, he soon joined up with a group of local area colonists who were very unhappy with the harsh doctrines of the local Puritan church leaders and the church leaders' strong belief that church policies must control the actions of the government in Massachusetts.  Not surprisingly, William and the others soon departed the Massachusetts Bay Colony and moved southwest into the Connecticut colony. 

Stamford located just west of New Haven, CT
While there is no documentation as to where the Mead family first settled in Connecticut, it is likely that they first settled in Wethersfield. In 1641, William Mead and his family were part of a group of Puritan families who chose to leave Wethersfield and settle in a new community recently purchased from the local Indians that was soon to be named Stamford. Stamford was located at the very southwest corner of Connecticut just off the Long Island Sound and very close to the border line of the future State of New York. The first group of 28 families arrived in the summer of 1641 followed by other settlers including the Mead family in December of 1641. It would seem, at last, that William Mead had found his new home in America. He was soon granted five acres and a town lot upon which to build his new home. Until researching my Mead ancestors we had never focused on the early history of Stamford, Connecticut so it came as quite a surprise while reviewing a list of some of the earliest settlers in Stamford to discover than no less than nine of my great grandfathers were included in the list. We would have to assume that all of them would have known William Mead and his family.

Trial of Martha Mead
While William and Philippa lived in Stamford for the remainder of their lives until Philippa's death in 1657 and William's death in 1663 at the age of 71, almost nothing is know about their lives and William's involvement in their community. What is written is about their children and most of that is rather negative and reflects poorly on how they might have been raised by their parents. It all started when their then 22-year old daughter Martha became pregnant prior to her marriage to her future husband John Richardson in 1653. John married Martha shortly after learning of her pregnancy and they quickly moved away from Stamford to avoid a likely scandal. The baby was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts but died within its first month and John and Martha soon after returned to Stamford. Unfortunately, a scandal did eventually break out and in 1654 Martha was hauled before a court and despite her claim that she had been raped by someone other than her husband, she was found guilty of what was then a serious crime. She was then sentenced to a public flogging and a fine. As it turned out, she was again pregnant this time by her husband, so the flogging was suspended. Soon thereafter Martha and her husband moved out of Stamford, permanently.  Obviously this trial and the guilty finding would have brought great shame to her parents. As if this did not cause enough shame, their son John Mead, my great grandfather, was also hauled into a courtroom a few years later in 1656. John already had a reputation as a young man of being "very independent, headstrong, and often at odds with authority." In the case of his trial he was accused basically of strongly arguing with a law enforcement officer and since John would not admit any wrong doing he was sentenced "to prison till they (the Magistrates) may further consider the matter."  John eventually conceded, paid the fine, and was released from jail. In both Martha's and John's trials before the Court they were defended by their older brother Joseph who acted as their lawyer. Philippa died about the time her youngest son was released from jail, but their father William, then in his mid-60s, could not hide from the shame and the embarrassment caused by all of his children.

Second Generation: John Mead (1634-1699) and his wife Hannah Potter (1636-1700):  Despite John Mead's rather negative reputation in Stamford, he married my 9th great grandmother, Hannah Potter, in Stamford on the 10th day of July in the year 1657. He was only 23, Hannah was only 20 years old. John already had a reputation despite his young age, as a man who liked to make land purchase deals. This fact alone may have pleased John's new father-in-law, William Potter (1608-1684), who himself was a fairly wealthy man and a land speculator. William apparently was very generous to both John and his daughter both at the time of their marriage and again later in his last will and testament written in 1684. We suspect that John Mead's later success in life was due in large part to his father-in-law financial help perhaps even more so than his own father's help. William Potter is said by some family historians to be at one point the largest landowner in Stamford and of course, he was my 10th great grandfather.











John and Hannah Potter Mead along with John's brother Joseph and his wife Mary Brown Mead did not remain in Stamford for long considering John's and their sister's legal issues with the Court and in part the church, as well as their concerns about the strong Dutch claims over the Stamford area, and in 1658 they both sold all of their lands and homes in Connecticut and moved to Hempstead on Long Island. Hempstead had been founded back in 1644 by a large group of families from Stamford and other parts of western Connecticut. The land had been purchased (stolen?) from the local Indians following their almost total annulation during a massive attack on their villages only a few months earlier. Typical behavior on the part of the new English settlers. We are confident that the Mead families were welcomed new comers but their stay in Hempstead was short lived. In 1660 they moved back to Connecticut and with others they helped to establish a new community known as Greenwich located only 7 miles west of Stamford and at the time considered to be part of Stamford. In 1664 however, John Mead working with a group of six men, now known as "the Seven Proprietors," were able to separate their community from Stamford thus officially establishing Greenwich, Connecticut. Here again, of the seven men listed as the original founders of Greenwich, Connecticut, four of them were my great grandfathers and two were my great uncles.

John and Hannah Mead are believed to have had eleven children including my 8th great grandfather, John Mead (Jr) who was born in Stamford in August of 1658 shortly before his parents moved to Long Island. All of their children with the exception of John and possibly their second child, a son Joseph, who may have been born on Long Island, were born in Greenwich, Connecticut where their parents lived for the remainder of their lives. John apparently overcame the arrogant attitude of his youth for as one family historian proclaimed "John Mead was a prosperous and self-possessed man with a strong character." In 1670, he was put forth to be a freeman of Connecticut and later he was a representative in the Connecticut General Assembly in 1679, 1680, and 1681. John Mead died at the fairly young age of 65 on 5 February 1699. Hannah outlived her husband by less than a year dying on 13 November 1700. Both John and Hannah are buried in the Tomac Burying Ground in Greenwich although both of their headstones have long ago been lost. There is however, a monument within this cemetery that honors William Mead and his three children. The Mead family was obviously off to a good start.

Third Generation: John Mead (Jr) (1658-1693) and his wife Ruth Hardy (1660-1727): John Mead and Ruth Hardy were married in Greenwich, Connecticut on 27 October 1681 and according to some family historians, their marriage was the first recorded marriage in the new community of Greenwich although it would seem logical that some other none recorded marriages must have taken place following the communities founding 20 years earlier. Unfortunately, John Mead (Jr) died at the young age of only 34 years old but over the period of his short life he had four children, the oldest of whom was only 14 years old when his father died. Their second son, Jonathan Mead born in 1684 is my 7th great grandfather. John Mead was appointed in 1687 to the role of Constable in Greenwich which was quite an honor considering that at the time he was only 29 years old. He held the position up to the time of his death on the 12th day of May in 1693. We could find no documentation as to the cause of his death nor the location of his burial although it was undoubtedly in Greenwich. My great grandmother, Ruth Hardy Mead was only around 32 years old when her husband died so not surprisingly she remarried to a man named Joseph Finch although not until the year 1713 at which point all of her children had reached the age of twenty or older. Undoubtedly John Mead (Jr) was highly respected in his community and all would have been sadden by his early death. It is written that the town officers called a special meeting in Greenwich to honor John upon his death, an action that was quite unusual but showed what great respect that they must have had for John. We feel confident that both of John's parents along with his brothers and sisters attended the meeting to honor their son and their sibling.

Fourth Generation: Jonathan Mead (1684-1754) and his wife Esther Butler (1687-1731): Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut may have been an excellent place to live during this period in history. It was far enough west in New England to have avoided such things as the King Philip's War fought between 1675 and 1676 but it was close enough to the great port cities of New Haven, Connecticut and to New Amsterdam (New York City by 1664) to receive the benefits of trade. Its location on the Long Island Sound and its fertile land made it an excellent location for farmers which made up the majority of its population. The area was soon known for its growth and sales of potatoes, grains, and fruits. While the majority of its population especially in the mid to the latter part of the 1600s, were Puritans, the church did not control the government of the colony as was more common in the Boston area during this period. Finally, Connecticut during the latter part of the 1600s was the largest of the northeastern Colonies considering that it population extended onto Long Island and almost westward to the Hudson River. While we do not know much about the life of our 7th great grandparents, Jonathan and Esther, what we do know is that they lived during a fairly peaceful period of our country's history. Jonathan died the year that the French and Indian War began in America and as far as we know he was not engaged in any militia actions during his lifetime.

Jonathan Mead and Esther Butler married in Greenwich on 7 December 1713. Esther's father, Walter Butler, like Jonathan's father and grandfather had been among the original "proprietors" or settlers in Greenwich so it is likely that Jonathan and Esther had known each other since they were young children. Unfortunately both of their fathers had died in 1693 when they were both quite young. It was somewhat surprising to learn that Jonathan was as old as 29 when they married and Esther was 26. One would have expected that they would have married at a younger age. All that is really known about our great grandfather Jonathan is that he was a "Cooper" or a maker and repairer of wooden casks and barrels and considering that Greenwich at the time was known for growing potatoes, grains, and fruits we have to suspect that a cooper must have been a fairly profitable business. Jonathan and Esther had eight children including my 6th great grandfather Jonathan S. Mead who was born on the 10th day of November in 1715, their second child and first son. Esther was 44 years old when her last child was born in 1731 and while the historical records are lacking, she apparently died shortly following the birth of a daughter named Sarah. Considering that her life consisted of giving birth every two to three years plus caring for numerous children much of her adult life, it is not really surprising to learn that she may have died fairly young, possibly as a result of childbirth. That said, we could not find any confirmation of her death nor the site of her burial.

Early Map of Dutchess County
We know that sometime after Esther's death probably before 1740, Jonathan moved from Greenwich north around 70 miles into what is now Dutchess County, New York. Obviously most of his children moved with their father. The area they moved was part of the Great Nine Partners Patent which had been formed back in 1697 following the "partners" purchase of the land from the local Indians. Settlers started moving into the area beginning around 1734 so the Mead family were among the early settlers especially if they moved shortly after Esther's death. It is a total mystery however, what would have motivated Jonathan to move away from his long term home, especially since he had to give up a good business and move when still in his early 50s. What happened to his life in Dutchess County is totally unknown although it is reported that he died in 1754 at the age of 69 years old. There are some stories however, that report he may still have been alive as late as 1759 so obviously the end of the life of our great grandfather has been lost in history.

Fifth Generation: Jonathan S. Mead (1715-after 1790) and his wife Sarah Guernsey (abt 1724-abt 1800)  Jonathan S. Mead would probably have been in his late teens or early 20s when he moved to Dutchess County with his family and somewhere around five years later he met and married Sarah Guernsey in 1743. My 6th great grandmother, Sarah Guernsey, is somewhat of a mystery person. Many of the online websites are clear as to the names of her parents but as best we can determine, her parents never went to Dutchess County so how 19-year old Sarah Guernsey ended up meeting and marrying Jonathan in Dutchess at such a young age is a total unknown. One has to believe that we do not actually know the origins of Sarah. What we do know is that Sarah and Jonathan had a least five children including their third child, a son named Hezekiah who was born in 1748. As far as we could determine, there are little to no historical documents that have been uncovered that tell us much about the life of Jonathan S. Mead. He was probably a farmer for most of his life and he apparently was not engaged in any governmental or religious leadership functions. It is noted that in 1775 he was a signer of the Dutchess County Declaration of Independence although at the age of 60 when he signed the document, it is unlikely that he actually participated in the war itself. There are some family historians who write that he fought in the war alongside his son Nathaniel but no evidence is offered. On the other hand, Jonathan was around 40 years old at the onset of the French and Indian War which was fought between the years 1754 and 1763 and it is known that his brother Enos Mead was a participant in that war. Whether Jonathan participated or not is unknown although considering that whether one was a soldier under these conditions was not always a volunteer decision. Furthermore, the last child of Jonathan and Sarah, our great grandfather, Hezekiah, was born before the start of the French and Indian War which perhaps suggests that Jonathan was away from his wife for awhile.  Anyway, both Jonathan and Sarah are believed to have died in Dutchess County, New York sometime after 1790 although the dates of their deaths and the location of their burials is unknown.

Sixth Generation: Hezekiah Mead (1748-abt 1810) and his wife (name/dates unknown): Here again there is a lot of information about the life of my 5th great grandfather that is missing. The single biggest missing item is the name of his wife, my 5th great grandmother. Her name cannot be determined with any degree of certainty which is kind of strange considering the existence of church records that name Hezekiah. The Mead family lived in Warwick in Orange County, New York following the American Revolution and Hezekiah's name appears several times in the records of the Old School Baptist Church in Warwick showing that he was a member between 1790 and 1800 and then again between 1810 and 1820. The 1800 to 1810 records apparently are missing. The following female names also appear alongside his name: Elizabeth Mead 1790, Mary Mead 1790 to 1800 and then showing that she died in 1805, and finally an Ann Mead as a member between 1810 and 1820. As far as we know, none of these woman were his daughters or sisters. Hezekiah had a sister named Ann although by 1810 she would have married and not been using the surname of Mead. Family trees on Ancestry.com give us additional guesses like Charity or Charity Mercy Hyde and another woman named Hannah Paddock. In the case of Hannah Paddock there was even a Mead descendent who via a DNA test claimed to be genetically connected to both the Paddock family as well as to Hezekiah's mother's family tree, the Guernsey family, therein claiming absolute proof that Hannah Paddock was Hezekiah's wife. And finally, another family historian reported that Hezekiah married a woman named Sarah in Warwick. It is probably safe to say that we may never know my great grandmother's name. Perhaps an argument in support of his wife being Hannah Paddock is that Hezekiah and his wife named their first child Hannah, my 4th great grandmother, after her mother. Hannah was born in 1771 which is actually earlier than most family trees list the marriage date of Hezekiah and Hannah Paddock. Oh well. It is also possible we suppose, that Hezekiah may have had several wives and that records of their marriages and their deaths are simply missing.

Meads from Fairfield to Dutchess to Orange Counties
Hezekiah Mead grew up in Dutchess County, New York and there are clear records that he was a captain in the 7th Regiment in the Dutchess County Militia during the American Revolution. His career in the militia is described in detail in Chapter 22 of this blog and will be repeated below. What we know is that following the war, Hezekiah moved his then young family to Warwick in Orange County, New York a distance of around 50 miles. It was here that around eight more children were born to the Mead family. Unfortunately, other than a few church records, we could learn nothing about Hezekiah's life in Warwick. He was probably a farmer and having been a captain in the militia during the Revolution, we would have to believe that he was a respected citizen in his community. Another very strange thing is that there are no records as to when and where Hezekiah and his wife died and where they are buried. A number of his children in the early 1800s moved to the Elmira, New York area including his son Hezekiah who appears in a 1810 census record in Elmira. There are some historians who report that Hezekiah, the father, also moved to the same area with his children but there is no proof of this and it appears that they may be confusing Hezekiah the father with Hezekiah the son. Frankly we were unable to determine when and where my 5th great grandparents died although it probably occurred sometime after 1810 in Warwick based on the fact that he was still listed as a church member after 1810.

Battle of White Plains 1776
The following has been copied from Chapter 22 in this blog: "Hezekiah Mead, my 5th great grandfather, was a captain in the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia under the command of Col Henry Luddington.  We could not find whether he was ever accepted by the DAR or the SAR as a Revolutionary War soldier although there are enough records available to show convincingly that he was a Patriot. As a Captain, Hezekiah would have commanded around 85 to 100 men which would have been considered a "Company" and most of the men as militia soldiers were only part timers serving for a maximum period of 3 months and sometimes for only a matter of weeks. While Hezekiah may have volunteered earlier, the 7th Regiment was actually formed by July of 1776 and it is recorded that they were present at the Battle of White Plains fought on 28 October 1776. Following George Washington's retreat from the New York City area after the battle, the 7th Regiment was pretty much retired to serve principally in a "military police" role in Dutchess County by keeping the loyal British Tories under control. Perhaps the best known battle involving Capt Hezekiah Mead and the 7th Regiment took place in April of 1777 near Danbury, Connecticut. A British force of around 2,000 soldiers had departed ships in the Long Island Sound and then marched to Danbury where they then burned an American supply depot. They were soon attacked by American forces in Ridgefield, Connecticut as they were returning to their ships and while the American troops were hopelessly outnumbered, it is reported that their gunfire at the retreating British troops injured or killed up to 500 men. It is also reported that a group of 7th Regiment soldiers were later present at a skirmish at Fishkill, New York in June of 1779. Fishkill was also a major American supply depot during the war and it too was attacked by around 330 British soldiers. Whether our Hezekiah was present at the skirmish could not be determined and in any case from what we read, following the brief skirmish the militia soldiers soon marched home and disbanded so as "to tend to the summer farm chores." Such was the life of the part time militia soldiers during our American Revolution.

Subsequent Generations: The following is a listing of our Mead descendants down to the present time:

Hannah Mead (1771-1842) married Gersham Livesay (1771-1862)
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Joseph Livesay (1806-1882) married Sally Bennett (1814-1881)
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Ellen Livesay (1841-1917) married David DeGroff Reynolds (1836-1899)
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Ella McBlain Reynolds (1863-1935) married Henry Clinton Spaulding (1863-1889)
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Helen Mary Spaulding (1887-1937) married Charles Schenck Baker (1885-1952)
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Charles Asbury Baker (1916-2000) married Marian Coapman Patterson (1916-1973)
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Charles Asbury Baker Jr. (1942-  )
Anne Rappleye Baker (1943-  )
Joan Patterson Baker (1950-  )

The end (until the next chapter).

          



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