The Homestead, 36 Mead Street

Alphred and Mary “Polly” Brundige Mead, c. 1820

Alphred Mead

Alphred Mead

Alphred Mead (1781-1855), second son of Enoch and Jemima, was raised at Elmdon.  He married Mary “Polly” Brundige (1791-1878) in 1814.

Alphred first built a small house just to the south of Elmdon, but by 1820 he had built a larger home – known as the Homestead – across the way from Elmdon, on the southwest corner of Schoolhouse Road. 

Polly, a Quaker who wore the traditional white cap and and simple clothing, had little schooling but she kept a journal of the year 1849-50 which provides insight into their life.  She describes “Saturday and I baked and did some mending and cut some clothes.  Wensday (sic) cooked a turkey.  Mrs. Hunt came to tea.  Friday was very buisy (sic) making George overcoat and veast (sic).  Monday had washing and butchering.” She goes on to describe the myriad of tasks necessary to keep a farm, interspersed with many visits of neighbors to tea and often to stay overnight.  She often “retired at sunset.”  She used “thee” and “thou” for “you“ and “your” and never kissed or would be kissed even by her children when they were small.  She brought her children up in the fear of God and the birch rod.  She was a good mother and a kind neighbor.

Polly Brundige Mead

Polly Brundige Mead

Their daughter, Loretta, worked the Homestead farm until her death in 1901.

The farm was a large one and well kept. Alphred and his oldest son, Alfred, dealt in cattle.  The third child, George Washington (1826-1899), along with his brothers, worked the farm in the summer months and during the winter went to the District School – a little red school house that stood on the corner of Schoolhouse Road opposite the Homestead (no longer standing).

George W., born at the Homestead, attended the local school and worked on the farm where he, his father and brothers traded in cattle.  He would have continued in farming and stock-raising but after pursuing a college preparatory course at the North Salem Academy and graduating from Yale College in 1851, his life took a different course.

 During his years at Yale he speculated on real estate in New Haven, conducted a milk business and traded in cattle.  He also lectured at the New Haven Collegiate and Commercial Institute on botany and other sciences of great interest to him.

Joseph and Loretta Smith Brundige, parents of Polly Brundige.  The Brundige house stands at #100 Waccabuc Road (Rt. 138)

Joseph and Loretta Smith Brundige, parents of Polly Brundige.  The Brundige house stands at #100 Waccabuc Road (Rt. 138)

He continued at Yale, graduating from law school in 1853.  He and a fellow law student, Enos N. Taft, decided to set up a law firm, Mead and Taft, in New York City.  With the practice of law, George W. Mead became keenly interested in finance and business.

In 1864 he undertook the promotion and financing of the New York, Housatonic and Northern Railroad which was to run form White Plains to Brookfield, Connecticut through North Salem.  He issued stock in this venture which eventually failed.

An ardent Whig until the Republican Party was organized in 1856, he became president of the first Republican organization of the First Ward in Brooklyn where he had a winter residence.  During the Civil War, he was a Unionist.

George W Mead (in tophat), his mother, Polly Brundige Mead, in white cap, her daughter, Loretta Mead. In front of the Homestead, c. 1870

George W Mead (in tophat), his mother, Polly Brundige Mead, in white cap, her daughter, Loretta Mead. In front of the Homestead, c. 1870

He was a strong public speaker and writer.  He was of “a religious mind,” a bible reader who often quoted passages and conducted morning and evening prayers for his family.  They were members of the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn.

George was acquainted with Sarah Frances Studwell, a distant cousin, the sheltered only child of John Jay and Elizabeth Studwell, of Brooklyn. They were married in 1858 and set up housekeeping first in Brooklyn (Heights) at 24 Monroe Place and in the summer in a small cottage on Chapel Road.

“Polly” Brundige (1791-1878) was a direct descendant of John Brundige, one of the original proprietors of Rye, NY (then 1634 – Connecticut).  He is designated in history of the early times as “Honest John Brondej” and he represented Rye in the General Assembly. In 1759, Joseph purchased land from one of the heirs of Stephanus Van Cortlandt – a farm on the Great South Lot #9, lying south of the highway between Long Pond and the present Increase Miller Road.

Cottage and barn on the Homestead property, 2010

Cottage and barn on the Homestead property, 2010

The living room with the Franklin stove

The living room with the Franklin stove

Sarah Frances and George W. Mead, c. 1859 (one year after marriage)

Sarah Frances and George W. Mead, c. 1859 (one year after marriage)

The lower entrance to the Homestead

The lower entrance to the Homestead

Interior view of the main room in the basement level of the Homestead, with the bread oven in the wall and the main cooking fireplace.

Interior view of the main room in the basement level of the Homestead, with the bread oven in the wall and the main cooking fireplace.

 

The wind blows chill
Over lake and hill
The Homestead’s hid in snow
But its snug and warm
Whatever the storm
By the Franklin’s cheerful glow
The crackling flame
And merry sparks
Give out the Christmas cheer
And that is the message
We send to you
Friend whom we both hold dear

The Neergaards
1916