Sarah Frances Studwell was born on February 6th 1838 to John Jay Studwell and Elizabeth LaFarge Moore, who were married on September 18, 1836. She was named for her father's only sister, Sarah, but was called by her full name of Sarah Frances by her parents.
At age 4 she moved with her parents to 40 Prospect Street, Brooklyn, NY. Though Brooklyn was young and growing fast, there were still grassy areas and wooded patches along the waterfront. Sarah Frances's father, John Jay Studwell became one of the City Fathers and eventually became President of the National Bank, an office he held for the rest of his life.
As a young woman Sarah Frances attended Packer Collegiate Institute and Brooklyn Heights Seminary, and then Dr. Grey’s where she graduated in 1856. Through social circles she met a young man named George Washington Mead, a Lawyer in a partnership with Enos Taft. There practice was located at 237 Broadway in Manhattan. Young George Mead came calling at Sarah's house in Brooklyn, where he was welcomed by Sarah and her parents. They were married on June 25th, 1858, by Reverend Williams Adams of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.
When they were first married, summers were spent up at the family farm in Waccabuc, while the rest of the year, they lived in Brooklyn. However, when George retired from his practice in Manhattan, they resolved to move to Waccabuc full time.
They built a family home, which they called Tarry-a-bit, so named because they actually planned to build a house on a different site. However, Tarry-a-bit became the place that the whole family revolved around.
Mead Street flourished, as Sarah and George's eleven surviving children grew up, built homes and lived in the immediate area.
On February 13th, 1899 on day after his 73 birthday, George W. Mead died. Sarah continued to live in Tarry-a-bit until her death, some twenty years later. In 1905 construction started on the Mead Memorial Chapel, a place where Meads could gather and worship. Sarah dedicated it to her late husband, his forefathers, and all his descendants.