Complied by Mary Slack Maynard, Mmayn93990@aol.com (Updated 5/1/03)
Thomas Mead was born in Westford, Massachusetts in 1742. Information from Middlesex, Washington Co., Vermont indicates that he was the Thomas Mead who settled in that area, then later moved on and became one of the first settlers of Moriah, Essex Co, New York. Thomas was the son of Dr. Thomas Mead and Ruth Parlin who is buried in Middlesex. Thomas married Sarah Foster–records show her as Sally.
So far there is no information as to when Thomas left Vermont for New York, however his daughter Arnida/Almeda Mead Fish was born in Vermont in 1800.
Both Thomas and his wife appear to have been the epitome of the term "hardy pioneer stock."
Information from the Gazetteer of Washington County, VT. 1783 - 1889 First Part. Edited by William Davis, compiled and published by Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY, April 1889. Pages 306 through 380 details Thomas' journey to, and settlement at, Middlesex, VT. The narrative states that Thomas Mead was the first settler in the town, and the first within the limits of Washington County. It states that the sketch of Thomas is from Deming's Vermont Officers, and says that this sketch is vouched for by the tradition of the town. Unfortunately there is no such narrative of his later travels and settlement in Moriah.
Thomas Mead "… purchased a right of land in Middlesex. He came as far as Royalton, with his wife and two or three children. Here he shouldered his gun, knapsack, and axe, and set forward, alone, to find Middlesex on the Winooski river. He went from Brookfield through the woods to the head of Dog River, following that down to its junction with the Winooski, and over that river to Middlesex, having informed his wife that in a given time he should return, unless he sent her word to the contrary. On his arrival he found Mr. Jonah Harrington had made a pitch and commenced chopping about two miles below Montpelier village, where he tarried til morning, when he went down the river about three miles to the farm now owned by Thomas Stowell, where was formerly a tavern. Here he made his pitch, and a good one too, for a farmer; but had he continued down to the village of Middlesex it might have been much better around the fall in that place. He was also pleased while swinging his axe among the trees on his own land, subsisting on such game as he took with a wooden trap and his gun, that his promise to his wife to return was not fulfilled.
"His wife became alarmed about him, procured a horse, loaded it with provisions, and set forth to find her husband. She followed up White River to its source in Granville, thence down Mad River, through Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown, to its junction with the Winooski about half a mile below the village of Middlesex, crossed that river and traveled up it to one mile, where, to her joy and his surprise, she found her husband in the afternoon of the third day, doing a good business among the maples, elms, and butternuts. From Royalton to Rochester she had a bridle path, then to Middlesex were only marked or spotted trees; was often under the necessity of unloading her horse to get him past fallen timber, and often had to lead him some distance. Mr. Mead and family soon after moved into the town.
"Some time in June, 1785, Mr. Mead was gone from home, and on a very cloudy afternoon Mrs. Mead had to look for her cows, which run in the woods at large. She started in good season, leaving three small children, one a nursing infant five months old, alone in the house; not hearing the bell on the cows, she took their track and followed down the river about one mile and a half, found where they had apparently fed most of the day, but no bell to be heard. She then sought their tracks, and found they had gone down the river in lieu of up, to their homes. She found they had gone over Hogback Mountain to Waterbury, one of the roughest places in all creation, almost. The cows must be found, or the children must go to bed supperless. In this dilemma she made up her mind to "go ahead," and crossing the almost impassable mountain and following on, found her cows near the present railroad depot in Waterbury, six or seven miles from home. By this time it had become dark, and backed up by a tremendous thunder shower rendered it so dark that returning over that mountain in the night was out of the question. It this unpleasant situation she found her way to Mr. Marsh's, the only hut in that village, and stayed until the first appearance of daylight, then started her cows for home on a double-quick time, where she safely arrived before any of her children had completed their morning nap. She concluded that her children had so long a crying spell before going to sleep that they did not awake as early as usual."
Tradition says further that "Mr. Mead, in 1795, kept the only flock of sheep in town, and to keep them from falling a prey to the bears was obliged to keep a close watch of them and yard them nights. One morning he found his fold empty, and following them a short distance he found a sheep that had been killed. He returned to the house for his gun and started in pursuit, and had not gone far into the woods when he saw a bear that was on a retreat. He followed bruin cautiously, and kept to the windward, and up the hill near the top when he again came in sight of his game, and was skulking along to get a better chance to shoot, when his wife came in sight and halloed to him. The sound of her voice started the bear, but a quick and accurate shot rolled this sheep thief over on the ground, dead. This courageous woman told Mr. Mead that she had seen another bear while searching for him. She led off in the direction and had not proceeded but a short distance when they discovered bear number two, which a single shot from the trusty gun in the hands of the unerring gunner also laid lifeless. The successful pioneers then took up the march towards home, and by the way of the place where the sheep had been killed. When they came in sight of the spot bear number three was there taking breakfast. Mr. Mead at once settled his accounts as he had the other two."
Page 308 again gives additional information "After a long life spent among some of those who remembered Mr. Mead, I fail to recall a single word said against this first man of the town. He chose a good farm and lived there long enough to see his children's children around him. Late in life he removed to Northern New York (as I am told) and died there. Mrs. Mead came to Middlesex in the summer of 1783, by way of White River to Granville, thence down the Mad River to Middlesex. Their third son, Joel, born January 18, 1785, would have been the first child born in the town only that his mother went to Lebanon, N.H. for better care at his birth.
Page 309 "Some interesting stories are told of this family in Deminng's Vermont
Officers, written by the late Horace Holden, Esq. And in the Vermont Historical
Gazetteer, by the late V. V. Vaughn, Esq. "At the organization of the town, March 29, 1790, Mr. Mead was chosen the first selectman, and for the next thirty years was almost continuously in some of the important town offices, often holding several in the same year. The town meetings were frequently held at his house. The descendants of this family are so numerous that it would be impossible to name them in this short biography; they are scattered all over the county, especially in Middlesex and the adjoining town. Some of the grandsons of Thomas Mead are still living,--tall, stalwart, gray headed men; some of them have died at a good old age. Some of the later generations do not retain the strict orthodox faith and Puritan habits of their grand old progenitor. Still the name is a respected and respectable one in Washington County."
Addison Co. Vt. Marriages, Births Deaths, copied by Clark Stowe, DAR Records Indexed (LDS film 850111) page 30, Some Vt. Veterans of the Revolution (Section 2): Mead-Moriah, NY. Mr. Thomas Mead, formerly of Middlesex, VT. First settler of town, about 43 years ago. For 3 years but one resident with in 30 miles of him. Went 33 miles to mill, guided by marked trees. Revolutionary soldier. Suffered severely by Continental Money, loosing $3,000 by its failure (Boston Patriot 28 Mar. 1826). The same entry is included in Some Vermont Veterans Of the American Revloution by John Elliot Bowman, 1931, New Ipswich, NH, DAR Project 1983 and in From Soldiers, Sailors & Patriots of the Revolutionalr War, VT by Major General Carlton Edward Fisher and Sue Gray Fisher, 1992, Picton Press, Camden, ME, page 351.
Vermont, A Guide to the Green Mountain State, 1937, page 337 Middlesex- states that "First Settler Thomas Mead tramped up the wilderness valley to this spot in 1783. Mead's later feat of shooting three bears in one forenoon gave him the reputation of a master hunter."
There is a Thomas Mead in the 1800 census for Middlesex, VT showing shows 1 male under 10, 3 males 10 to 16, 2 males 16 to 26 and 1 male 45 and up, 1 female under 10, 1 female 10 to 16, one female 45 and up, and one other free person. Thomas Mead Jr. is also listed with 1 male 16 to 26, 1 female under 10 and 1 female age 16 to 26.
The following children are attributed to Thomas Mead. So far, there is no positive proof that he was the father. Additionally, the 1800 census seems to indicate eight children at home.
1 Thomas MEAD Jr, born between 1774 and 1782/83, based on census and listing of three children when Thomas Sr. settled in Middlesex, VT--presuming that the Thomas Mead Jr. listed in the 1800 census was this son.
2 son MEAD, born between 1774 and 1782/83 based on census and listing of three children when Thomas Sr. settled in Middlesex, VT
3 Joel MEAD born Jan 18 1785 in Lebanon, NH 4 Silas MEAD born 1789. : His daughter Juliaette, born Middlesex, Oct 13, 1824, was an ancestor of Skip Flanders.
5 William E MEAD
6 Arnida/Almeda MEAD born 1800 in VT, died Jan 1 1886 in Port Henry, Essex, NY of dysentery, old age. She is buried in the Stevenson Cemetery, Essex Co. NY. Her name is seen in various entries as Almeda and Armida as well as Arnida. She married Isaac Fish about 1816 and had 16 children, 14 of whom grew to maturity according to LaCrosse, WI Bio. History.
The 1850 Essex County Census lists Armina Fish, born VT, age 49 in the household of James Fish, 28, and she did have a son James. The 1860 census shows Almida Fish, born Vt, age 59 listed in household of John Bigelow, her son-in-law. In 1870 Almida Fish, age 69, was also listed in the household of John Bigelow. The 1875 state census shows Almida, age 74 in the household of John Bigelow and also as a boarder in household of Thankful Acom. Arnida had a daughter Thankful and I can only presume that she was visiting her daughter at the time of the census. In 1880 Almida Fish, age 79, was listed in the household of John Bigelow.
One source (Fish family) says she was born Berkshire Co, MA Death(3):
Arnida's obituary in "Essex County Republican" states that she died in Port Henry, NY at the home of home of her daughter Mrs. J. Bigelow on Jan 1, 1886, "This death has taken an old and honored resident, loved and respected by all. She was one of the pioneers of the town of Moriah, her father being one of the first settlers of that place. For more than fifty hears she was a consistent member of the M.E. church, and died in the hope of a blessed immortality."
The death certificate for Arnida Fish states she died Jan 2, 1886 in the Town of Moriah, Essex Co., father Mr. Mead, mother Mrs. Mead.
Vital Records card shows Book 4, Reg #256, says born MA, Arnida, died Jan 2, 1886, age 85, died in Moriah of Dysentery-old age. The Biographical History says died age 83, NY
The Certification of Death, District Number 1558, Registration Number 256 Arnida
Fish died January 2, 1886, Town of Moriah, Essex Co, NY, father Mr. Mead, mother
Prepared February 17, 2002 by:
Mary Slack Maynard
P. O. Box 265
Palm Harbor, FL 34682
With special thanks to research and information from Ira Smith Jr. and Skip Flanders
. Gazeteer of VT. Gazetteer of Washington County, VT. 1783 - 1889 First Part. Edited by William Davis, compiled and published by Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY, April 1889.
. Biographical History, LaCrosse, Monroe, Juneau Co. WI 1892.
. Information from Dan Goetz
Copyright, Mary Slack Maynard
Mary Slack Maynard
Thank you St. Jude and St. Theresa for your powerful intercession.
Researching Slack, Gregory, Hopper, Bigalow, Nichols, Dunning, Mead, Fish in NY & NE, Perry/ CT, Nash, Maginn/McGinn, Donahue, Vokes in NY & Ire, Aird & Crombie/ NY & Scot