Anecdotes: John Mead

First published on August 27, 2015.

Because my last post was so long and took me the entire weekend to research, here’s a small little bit of my family history. Following my Husted ancestry back, I encountered John Mead, who is my nine-times-great-grandfather. He lived in the middle of the 17th century, as far as I know his birthday is unknown, but he died in 1699. John was one of the early settlers of Greenwich, Connecticut. While researching Greenwich, I came across a book called Ye Historie of Ye Town of Greenwich by Samuel Mead. The title sounds like it was written in the middle ages, but it was written in 1863. Not only does it have a good history of the early town, it also includes a genealogy of many families in Greenwich.

John Mead is a character in this book, part of a chapter is dedicated to him. There’s also an anecdote which “shows” his character. I’ve linked to the page it is on here, but I will also transcribe it below:

One day when he was quite an old man, as he was going for his grist on horseback to the mill at Dumpling Pond, before he reached the Mianus River he overtook an old Quaker jogging slowly along loaded with a heavy budget. In a real spirit of kindness he offered to take the Quaker’s load upon his horse, and thus give him a lift on his journey. “No,” replied the Quaker, “thee don’t get my bundle, for I can read men’s thoughts. Thee wants to get my bundle, and then thee’ll run off. Thee don’t get my bundle.” “Very well,” was the simple reply, and so they went slowly on together. At last they came to the brink of the Mianus River. Here the Quaker was really in trouble. How to cross a river, two or three feet deep, dry shot, was quite a puzzle. But he gladly accepted a second offer of assistance from the horseman. The bundle was mounted in front, John in the middle and the Quaker behind. Arriving at the centre of the river, in pretending to adjust his stirrup, John caught the Quaker by the heal and gave him a gratuitous bath. Such treatment was too much, even for Quaker forbearance, and the victim, with his hands full of pebbles, would have taken summary vengeance, had not the other party threatened to put the bundle under a similar course of treatment. This threat, and the lecture following it, gradually cooled off the Quaker’s anger. John informed him that all had been done for his good, to teach him a lesson, and the lecturer said he hoped the stranger would never again profess to read men’s thoughts. “For,” said he, “I asked you to ride, kindly in the first place, when you refused; but at the second time of asking, I really intended to do as I have just done.” So saying, and tossing the bundle back, he rode on, leaving his companion to apply the moral as he thought best.

I’m not sure how I feel about that story. It makes it seem like Quakers were the worst, especially Quakers who thought they were telepaths. On the other hand, John did dunk the Quaker into the river, but he didn’t end up stealing the Quaker’s bundle. This story does makes John seem like a really cool guy.

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