Hudson Dexter Mead I Memories

I have attached here two memories of my great-grandfather, Hudson Dexter Mead I. Thanks again to Beth Denny for sending me these documents which are quite readable and included as PDF files. One is a transcribed copy of notes made by Hudson himself on a trip he took to Yellowstone in 1893. The other document is a written memory of Hudson by his daughter Kate Jean (my great aunt).

Mary Dexter Memory

The following is transcribed from a typewritten memory of Mary Dexter who married John Mead. They are my great-great grandparents, the parents of Hudson Mead I. I am so grateful to Beth Denny (the granddaughter of William Denny who married my great Aunt Mary, sister of Husdon Mead II) for sending me the original typewritten pages, along with a number of other memorabilia from Chadron in the early 1900’s. More information will follow in subsequent posts, hopefully sooner than every six months. The “Mary Mead Richardson” in the text is my great Aunt, who first married Frank Richardson, then later married William Denny (the grandfather of Beth).

I will just post the text below verbatim:

Mary Dexter Mead

Mary Mead Richardson

            A little girl of sixteen, with long, brown curls, a hoop skirt and pantalettes, makes a different picture from our school teacher of to-day, but, nevertheless, in 1856, near the town of Niles, Michigan, just such a school-teacher, named Mary Dexter, could have been seen, seriously talking to a group of children, many of whom were as old as herself.

            Mary was born in Argyle, New York, but, because her parents had both died when she was eighteen months old, she was sent to Niles where a kind aunt, who was already struggling with nine children, offered to take her and rear her as on of her own children.  So here she had grown to maidenhood, had received a tenth grade education and immediately started teaching a school in the country, a few miles from Niles.

            It was not long before John Mead, the son of the woman at whose home Mary boarded, found himself in love with the brown-eyed, fair-haired girl; but they had a foolish lovers’ quarrel and parted.  John was soon married to someone else and Mary became engaged to a young captain.

            Seven years later we see Mary in Connecticut.  During this time John’s little wife had died and the Civil War had claimed Mary’s lover.  Once again the old love flamed, and John and Mary were married in North Hartford, New York, in 1867. Sickness and the war had taken John’s money so, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity offered him by a brother, George Mead, who had…

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…already settled in Bonhomme, South Dakota.  Two years after their marriage, while their only child, Hudson, was still a mere infant, and set out at once to make their home in the new West.

            There was not a foot of railroad in Dakota at this time, and the settlements were few and set far apart.  The Sioux Indians roamed at will over the prairies, and the buffalo grazed in herds, unmolested by the white man’s greed.

            Mary and John left the train behind at Sioux City, Iowa, and boarded a steamboat, “The Miner”, which leisurely puffed its way up the muddy Missouri.  The rolling hills on both sides of the river impressed Mary deeply.  She had never seen anything like them before, and their vastness and monotony made her feel depressed and lonesome.

            The typical pioneer hospitality was shown to Mary and her husband upon their arrival at Bonhomme.  A widowed woman, having heard, through George Mead, that they were coming, immediately gave to them, three rooms of her four-roomed log cabin.  She had white-washed the walls and, with coffee sacks sewn together, had covered the earthen floor.  Merchandise boxes were soon deftly transposed into a table and chairs, and the whole place had the air of a comfortable home within a weeks time.

            The little town consisted of twelve buildings situated on a bluff overlooking the turbid Missouri.  Life was never quiet here for Mary, for, being ambitious and hospitable, she willingly entertained the missionaries as they stopped at this isolated place to preach the gospel to the unwilling Sante (Santee?) Indian.  When her work was done she often took long horseback rides with her sister-in-law through the waving grass along the banks of the Missouri.

            The following spring Mary’s husband decided to move his merchandise stock to Choteau Creek, a stage relay station.  Business…

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…was more prosperous here, so John, immediately built a small rooming house.  They prospered well, and Mary was happy in her new work.

            The next winter was very severe, and the Indians and white settlers alike lost heavily in cattle and horses.  Spring finally came, bringing General Custer and his command from the Southland.  Knowing that they were coming, Mary, with the help of her cook, baked fifty pies, forty loaves of bread, and six gallon jars of doughnuts.  It was evident that she had never before attempted to cook for an army.  Mary’s three sisters-in-law at Springfield, South Dakota, were sent for, and the three, with the help of several cooks, baked and cooked from five in the morning until midnight during the three days Custer’s army was required to stay at Choteau Creek, because of high water.

            The night before Custer’s army left, they invited Mary and her husband to their camp for the evening.  Everything was beautiful – the mellow moonlight, the flicker of shadows from the playful campfire, and the soldiers quartet singing softly that beautiful old tune, “Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming”.  The next morning the army marched away in great joy.  The band, mounted on white horses and playing, “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, led the procession as it made its way slowly into the prairie.  Little did they dream of the awful tragedy that awaited them at the little Big Horn.

            Thus far, Mary’s pioneer life had lacked the hardships of utter poverty; but, in the following summer, the grass hoppers came in such hordes as to darken the sun.  Everything in the fields was ruined, and the people were helpless.  Mary and John Choteau Creek and went to Springfield to take charge of a hotel belonging to Johns brother.  Their business did not prosper, and for this reason they moved to Pine Ridge Indian Agency where John had secured a tradeship.  This part of the country was even wilder and more desolate.  There…

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…were many roaming tribes of hostile Indians, and the little town of Pine Ridge was stockaded to protect the white people from the Red mans treachery.

            One day Mary heard that the biggest event of the Indians life, the Sun-dance, was going to take place just outside the Pine Ridge stockade.  Of course, Mary stubbornly insisted upon seeing it, much against the will of John.  She saw the eight-five hundred Indians walk solemnly on to the grounds prepared for their dance.  She saw the virgins cut the pole, drag it to the center of the place, and set it up, with a buffalos head on the top.  She saw the roses attached to the pole and the Indian braves bound to the roses by tying a rope on a stick which was passed through two deep, torturous slits in the breast.  She saw one of the braves run backward, tearing the flesh from his breast, then run to the pole in the center and throw his arms around it, as he sobbed and prayed.  Mary had seen all that she cared to of this dance.  She returned to her home, only to be reminded of the terrible scene by the constant crys and yells of the savages.

            After this affair all was quiet until about 1890 when the Indians waged war on the Seventh Cavalry because of the false promises a “White Messiah” had made to them.  This battle, called the Battle of Wounded Knee, brought on the disastrous Indian wars.  The settlers became alarmed and moved their families to Chadron, where they were lodged in the Court House.  Mary, either because of courage or her typical stubbornness, refused to leave when the rest of the people did.  The next day she drove to a place where she was supposed to meet a man who had come back after his furniture.  However, Mary was late, and the man had gone on, so Mary drove on to Chadron alone in the wagon.  About this time seven troops of the…

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… ninth cavalry were posted in and near the Agency, and the last Indian scare was over.

            For the next eighteen years Mary lived on a ranch on White River.  She enjoyed her life there, although she had to work hard, and money was often scarce.  She made pets of a deer, an antelope, and several magpies which were her only company except her husband and son.  When Mary left the ranch to come to Chadron, she was sixty-eight years old.  The rest of her life is of little real interest, although it was always active.  She refused to live with her only son, even when she had become very old, deaf, and nearly blind.  She lived in her own house amidst her relics of the past, happy in the memory each recalled.  She never gave up and fought with great courage the infirmities of old age to which she could not reconcile herself.

            Finally, in her eighty-seventh year, she was brought to our house, much against her will; but we knew too well the danger of leaving her alone in a house.  From that time on, she never saw a lonely day.  Nevertheless, she was unhappy because she “had to give up”, to use her expression, and to give up, meant to her, the end of her life.  Perhaps it was her courage that had kept her alive, for she had been at our house no more than six months when she died, on the thirteenth of January, 1927.

            Her life was long and useful, an unusual life but a life typical of the pioneer wife and mother.  Prosperity usually hung on the slender thread of chance, and happiness depended on a courage and willingness to endure and sacrifice.

Mead Family Additions

My next project is to put together a bibliography of my Grandparents Hudson Dexter Mead II and Mary Esther (Magill) Mead. In my gathering of information I have discovered two new people to add the the family tree that I am sure my mom had no knowledge of, and perhaps even her dad Hudson had no knowledge of. We will never know, but now we know. We meaning whoever reads this and myself.

The information came from a search of the Greenwood Cemetery online database which uncovered the result shown directly below:

7 burial spaces all purchased by H D Mead on January 1, 1895
Greenwood Cemetery, Chadron, Nebraska

H D Mead would be my great grandfather Hudson Dexter Mead, born 26 Aug 1868 in Niles, Michigan and died 19 Feb 1950 in Chadron, Nebraska. His wife was our great grandmother Nora (Blake) Mead. Both are shown above in spaces 2 and 3.

What first caught my interest was that the list included two John G Mead’s. Hudson’s father (by great great grandfather) is John Groot Mead born 7 Apr 1838 in New York and buried 4 May 1920 in Chadron. His wife Mary Eliza (Dexter) Mead was born 5 May 1840 in New York and buried 15 Jan 1928 in Chadron. Both are shown above in spaces 10 and 12.

The other John G Mead record in space 1 is shown below:

John G (likely Groot) Mead, born Feb 1903 and died May 1904

My great grandparents Hudson and Nora Mead were married in 1902 and my grandfather Hudson Mead was born in 1906 and as far as we knew he had two sisters, Mary and Kate. Now we know he was preceded by a brother John who passed away before Grandpa was born. I have no other pictures or information that he even existed, but he did and would have been a great uncle to me if the Lord hadn’t taken him home as an infant.

The second thing that caught my attention was the listing of Arthur J Mead and A J Mead. I have posted previously about Arthur J Mead who is a half brother of my great grandfather Hudson who was born in 1862 in Michigan and died at his own hand in 1910 in Chadron, a sad story. Along with a wife who left him with four children sometime before 1910, and a previous wife who died about a year after they were married in 1885, now I discover a child who died as a baby 6 days old.

A (likely Arthur) J Mead, born and died in April 1895

This is not really surprising information as many of us have similar events in our lives that many that come after us would know nothing about. These events don’t really affect us, at least not directly from our perspective. But the Lord has plans for each of us. Some events are sad and some are joyful, but all are meant to grab our attention and get us to focus on Him.

It was no mere coincidence that I was also born in Chadron, Nebraska. Small world after all.

Mary – Wife of James Speed

A genealogy rabbit trail that was fun to go down. After dinner tonight (lobster roll, mmmm good) we took a quick trip up to Bradford, Maine where my genealogy records had some history of the Blake family. Our plan was to just get a picture of the sign for the city (which was hard to find as there is really not a city to speak of) and as we drove past the one intersection in the town we came to the “Corner Cemetery”. So we stopped to look at the headstones to see what we could see.

We did not find any Blakes, but we did find one headstone with the inscription of “Mary wife of James Speed”. Those names definitely rang a bell, so I took a few pictures and I checked out what I had on those names. It turns out that this Mary is my 4th great grandmother. First, the headstone.

Mary headstone – Picture taken 8-30-2019

The death date matches exactly with the death date in my records. I also had her birth date as November 19th, 1799 which agrees exactly with the information on the headstone with her age as 81 yrs. 11 mos. & 8 ds. This headstone is probably the source of the information as I did not have a good source for this date, just information from some other persons tree.

Her headstone was way in the back of the cemetery with none others nearby.

From Ancestry I was also able to get pictures of Mary and her husband James Speed, which I show below.

The family connection is as follows:

James Speed (b. 1803, d. 1892) and Mary Elizabeth Reeves (b. 1799, d. 1881) (married 6 Feb. 1823 in Bradford, Penobscot County, Maine, USA)
Parents of:
3rd Gr. Grandmother – Harriet (Hattie) Speed (b. 1828, d. 1897)
Hattie married Alonzo Blake (b. 1835, d. 1902) in 1855 in Bradford.
Parents of:
2nd Gr. Grandfather – Wesley A. Blake (b. 1856, d. 1885)
Wesley married Kate (Catherine) Jean O’Melia (b. 1859, d. 1911)
Parents of:
Gr. Grandmother – Nora O’Melia Blake (b. 1883, d. 1979)
Nora married Hudson Dexter Mead (b. 1868, d. 1950)
Parents of Hudson Dexter Mead II (m. Mary Esther Magill)
Parents of Gloria Jane Mead (m. Frank Davenport II)

And voila, the parents of me. Do you see the resemblance?

Amazing Family Discovery

I think I just discovered that my great grandfather Louis Thomas and great grandmother May (Fultz) Thomas were the inspiration for the painting “American Gothic”. The painting was done in 1930 and the picture shown below of my great grandparents was taken in 1942. I guess I will let you be the judge. Now I know that the painting was done in Iowa, and supposedly the woman is the daughter in the picture even though we normally assume she is his wife. But maybe the artist took a vacation to Halifax Nova Scotia and was inspired there, took a picture of my grandparents, and then did the painting back in Iowa.

My Great Grandparents look quite jovial in comparison

Colorado Road Trip – Day 12

Day 12 saw us off to Nebraska. Our first stop was in Kimball Nebraska, where my mother, Gloria Jane Mead, was born on March 12, 1931. Kimball is about 50 miles east of Cheyenne or a couple hours northeast of Denver.

Once in Kimball we were able to take a few pictures of the house where my Grandpa (Hudson Dexter Mead II) and Grandma (Mary Esther) lived when our mom was born. The address was from a 1930 census. They were married in 1927 in Chadron, Nebraska but later moved to Kimball. Sometime before 1936 they moved to Oklahoma where my mom’s brother Hudson Dexter Mead III was born.

We also stopped at the offices of the Western Nebraska Observer, a paper that has been around since 1885. They were kind enough to bring up all the archived editions of the paper for the year 1931 and allowed us to look through them. We found a birth announcement and an announcement of a trip they made to Chadron after the birth. The coolest thing I learned is that my mom was born at home!

314 High School Street

Then off to Chadron, with a stop to see Chimney Rock on the way there. Chimney Rock was used as a sign post for the travelers heading across country in the 1800’s.

Once in Chadron, Nebraska, (where I was born) we went house hunting. I had the house number of 601 Ann Street which was listed on my birth certificate, and 259 Chapin Street from the 1920 census listing where Grandpa Mead lived (14 years old) and also just a street, Shelton, from the 1910 census when Grandpa was 4 years old.

I was born in Chadron during the time my dad went to college there, at least for the fall semester in 1951. He went to what was called Chadron State Teachers College, but is now called Chadron State College. They are a division II school (go Eagles!) and they compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Formerly called Chadron State Teachers College in 1951

Colorado Road Trip – Day 4

Today was all about our visit to Bismarck North Dakota. But our first encounter of the day was a visit to Frontier Village in Jamestown ND to see the worlds largest Buffalo.

What did you say was behind us?

Then on to Bismarck where we were very fortunate to meet up with Tom and Sharon Tudor who are members of and local historians of the St. George Episcopal church in Bismarck. We met them at St. George’s and got a tour of their current building. It is a beautiful church and designated as a memorial church for various reasons, but the main reason is all the stain glass windows, each of which include a border of stain glass pieces from various churches in England that were destroyed during WWII.

The current St. George’s Church built in 1948
Typical example of the stain glass windows
Frank H. Davenport 1924-1928

Fortunately for us, the original church now stands on the historical Camp Hancock site in downtown Bismarck. We may have missed this fact all together if it wasn’t for Tom and Sharon. They drove us to the location and provided a guided tour for us. All in all we spent about 3 hours with them and had a great time viewing this preserved church, as well as some sight seeing in Bismarck.

Grandpa Frank served from 1924 to 1928 according to the plaque on their wall. My records document that aunts Barb (b. 1922) and Marion (b. 1925) were born in North Dakota, so I am not sure what he was doing for the first couple of years he was in North Dakota. Perhaps he was an assistant to the current pastor at that time.

Bread of Life church (later renamed to St. George)
Two stain glass windows from the original church

Last but not least, as we left Bismarck for our stay in Dickenson North Dakota, we had a view of “Salem Sue”. North Dakota has more than it’s share of oversize animals and sculptures. To see what I am talking about, just google “the enchanted highway”.

Salem Sue

Colorado Road Trip – Day 3

Today was a day spent in White Bear Lake Minnesota. Dad was born here in 1929 and he lived here until he went into the Navy in 1945.
His dad lived here from 1928 until his death in 1945. He served all of those years until 1944 as the Minister of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal church. This church is located about two blocks from the actual White Bear lake, the source of all of my dad’s big fish and adventure tales.

White Bear Lake

We had an address for the family of 708 1st Street from the 1940 census information. But that address could not be found, until we went to the City Hall of White Bear Lake. They had a hand written book listing the old 1st street numbers and the current numbers. 708 1st street is now 2168 1st street. And 2168 1st is the rectory for the church (or parsonage as I would call it) today, as it must have been when my dad was growing up.

2168 1st Street, White Bear Lake, Minnesota

We were able to pay a visit into the church and were directed to a wall with pictures of most of their past Ministers, including Grandpa Frank.

After the visit to the church, we went around to the other side of the lake and found the church cemetery and the gravestones for Grandpa Frank, Grandma Muriel (Gaga) and also for Uncle Don and Olive McArdell.