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).
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…
…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…
…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…
…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…
… 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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
It has been a while since I last posted as I have taken a break for a bit since our mom passed away August 28th. So to start, just a few pictures of my mom and dad.
The first two pictures are from a yearbook called the “The 1950 Crucible” which is from my mom and dad’s freshmen year at Bay City Junior College. They got married in February of 1951 so it is probable they knew each other at this time, although I did not see where mom signed the yearbook (the yearbook was my dad’s copy based on the comments from his friends). I note the name of Lawrence Gordon in the Vet’s Club photo, whose family became lifelong friends of our family. At least I assume that it is the same family.
And 51 years later here are a few pictures taken for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 2001.
Great grandmother on our mom’s side.
Mary Matilda Matney was born on August 6, 1875 in Appanoose, Iowa, her father, William, was 40 and her mother Mary (Van Dyke) was 34. She married John Magill in 1892 (when she was 17 years old) and they had 10 children in 19 years. She died on May 9, 1936, in Hoisington, Kansas, at the age of 60. Her husband John Magill passed away in 1954 at the age of 89. I vaguely remember meeting him in Saginaw at Grandpa and Grandma’s house and I would have been 3 years old at the most.
After giving birth to five sons, her first daughter was Mary Esther Magill, who was to marry Hudson Dexter Mead II. The fruit of their loins is our mother Gloria Jane Mead.
Mary grew up in Kansas, married and started raising her family in Kansas, but sometime before 1913 the family moved to Falls City, Nebraska where the last three of her children were born. Around 1923 it appears the family moved to South Dakota and sometime before 1930 she would move back to Kansas where she lived out her remaining days.
Hudson Mead II and her daughter Mary Esther were married in 1927 in Chadron, Nebraska, which is near South Dakota. Don’t know how they met, but maybe she went to see a band called the “Revelers” and fell in love with him at first sight!
I would guess that the picture shown here was probably taken around the time she was married and she indeed was a beautiful looking woman.
Good hiking trail especially with the great weather today. Only about 30 minutes from Bay City just west of Sanford Lake. The Salt River is one boundary and the Mud Creek runs through the area also, which gives it some elevation changes. Lots of standing water in some areas with mosquito’s out in deadly force already.
I saw two pileated wood peckers and a large eastern garter snake. Only ran into one other person on my approximate 4 mile hike. There were three levels of trails marked out and I took the most difficult of course. But this is Michigan and not the Appalachian mountains. Some of the trails were designed more for mountain bikes than for walking, which I think is it’s main attraction.
Here’s a few pics of the trail.
Born in December 1862 in Niles, Michigan. His dad was John Groot Mead and mother was Delia Louise Corell. Delia passed away in 1866. John Groot Mead married Mary Eliza Dexter (nicknamed “Dan”) in Connecticut in 1867 and they had one child, Hudson Dexter Mead who is my great grand-father.
So, Arthur J. Mead would be a step brother to Hudson Sr. My mom, Gloria, who is a granddaughter of Hudson Mead Sr. has no recollection of hearing of Arthur. But, my mom also has a couple letters, signed by Arthur addressed to his mom and his brother Hud. Through ancestry also found a document by a great granddaughter of Arthur (Laura Squires) referring to Arthur and his possible suicide in 1910.
Arthur married Laura Belle Bryant on 15 Feb 1892 in Uintah, Utah. She was quite young at the time being only 17 years old while Arthur would have been 29. They had 4 children, Delia, Nila, Hudson S. and Gertrude. Sometime after 1903 when Gertrude was born and 1910, it appears that Laura ran off with another man to California leaving Arthur with the children.
Below are scanned copies of the letters from 1910 which are hard to read. I have also attached my transcription of the letters along with a copy of the document from Laura Squires.
Transcript of Arthur letter to Hud:
Chadron, Nebraska Dec 29, 1910
You’re a Prince and I realize to the full the difference between you and I. No doubt I have about the same natural ability as you, but you have used yours while I have wasted mine. I remember a remark Grandma Mead made to me when I was a little boy “Hell is paved with good intentions”. If I could have fully realized then what this meant my life’s story might have been different. I have intended to do things. You have done them. Results speak for themselves. I have been figuring out why a black hen laid a white egg while you have been getting the egg. That explains the whole situation. Sentiment is a good thing when under proper control, but instead of keeping it under control I have allowed it to control me and the result is wreck and ruin. No man ever lived who loved his wife and children and home more devotedly than I did, but I did not seem to know how to mix the business in and make it combine. So I lost my wife and when I lost her I lost everything that made life worth living for me, because I had allowed sentiment instead of judgement, to rule. To say that I have suffered the fortunes of the damned during the past 15 months is putting it mildly. No words can express what I have suffered. This suffering has rendered me worthless to the world, my family, my friends and myself, so I am getting out of the way to make room for someone more worthy. I fully appreciate what you have done for me, but the prospect of repaying you seems utterly hopeless, so I want to get out of the way before the debt grows larger.
Transcript of Arthur letter to his mom:
Chadron, Nebraska Dec 29, 1910
I am so sorry that you don’t think I appreciate what you have done for me and mine. I appreciate it in my heart. I guess my acts do not show it, but that’s my misfortune more than my fault. I have no recollection whatever of the remark you mention concerning Grandma Mead. I may have uttered the words you quote, but if I did, they were said without reference to you. You were always entirely welcome at our house both by Laura and myself and the only fault we ever found with you was that you would not rest and take life easy while you were with us, instead of being the first one up in the morning and digging into the work as though you were getting paid by the hour. We have both made our mistakes but neither of us ever had any unkind remarks to make about you while you were present nor while you were absent. I did not try to answer you when you were talking to me because I am unable to control my emotions and I was too much choked up to talk. I appreciate fully what you have done for us and the fact that I have been unable to do my share in return is one of the things which has made life so miserable for me. I’m sorry you have misunderstood me but I can’t help it now. It’s too late. If I had been the fortunate possessor of a spirit like yours things would, no doubt, have been different with me.
Information in letter by Laura Squires:
Laura B. MacLean’s Marriages
Posted 09 Nov 2015 by Laura Squires
My great grandmother, born Laura Belle Bryant, married Arthur J. Mead in 1892. They had four children, Delia, Nila (my grandmother), Hudson and Gertrude. Arthur was a train master in Cedar City, Utah and sometime between 1903 when Gertrude was born and the 1910 Census, Walter MacLean happened through Cedar City and met my great grandmother. She left her husband and children and ran off with Walter MacLean to San Jose, California. The 1920 census shows them living in San Jose and that my grandmother and my dad (Robert P. Squires) were living with them at that time. My dad would have been less than one year old (he was born on December 1, 1919).
The 1910 Census shows that Arthur Mead took the four children (Delia, Nila, Hudson and Gertrude) and moved back to Dawes, Nebraska where he lived with his parents at that time. According to the story told by my grandmother Nila, Arthur Mead committed suicide, but I’m not certain when that happened.
Hudson Dexter Mead Sr. (my great grandfather) was born on August 26, 1868 in Niles, Michigan. He died sometime in May 1950 in Chadron, Nebraska.
His dad’s name was John Groot Mead and his mother’s maiden was Mary Eliza Dexter, affectionately called “Dan”.
On Sept 16, 1902 he married Nora O’Melia Blake in Carbon, Utah.
They had four children:
Hudson Dexter Mead II (Gloria’s dad) – b. 11 Sep 1906, d. 18 Mar 1985
Mary Elizabeth Catherine Mead (Denny) – b. 18 Nov 1910, d. Oct 1984
Kate Jean Mead (Bristow) – b. 7 Nov 1913, d. 1979
John Mead (died when 18 months old)
In the 1880 census he was living in Bon Homme, Dakota Territories and in 1900 lived in Dry Creek, Dawes County, Nebraska. Somewhere along the way he lived in Utah where he met our great Grandma Nora, got married and then ended up in Chadron a few years later where he lived out his days and passed away in 1950, one year before I was born in Chadron. He is buried in Chadron, Nebraska at the Greenwood cemetery.
According to mom (Gloria) he was an only child, but according to my research on Ancestry he had a brother name Arthur J. who was born (also in Niles, Michigan) in 1862. Arthur did get married and had some children, and I did find a handwritten letter from Arthur to his mom and to Hudson. (more on this to come)
His occupation according to the census information was as a civil engineer in Chadron. At one point, he was the water commissioner of Chadron.
First, a story mom wrote while a junior at Saginaw High. I think you’ll like it. Maybe she should have written more. I transcribed it from her long hand copy rather than just scanning the original.
And a few pictures of mom while much younger.