Our family heritage had its beginnings 1776 when Enoch Mead of Greenwich, with his bride, Jemima, discovered Long Pond, now called Waccabuc, on their horseback wedding trip. They fell in love with the rolling, wooded land, not long before an Indian hunting ground, and later acquired a large tract around the lake.
Enoch and Jemima had eight children. Enoch and his sons cleared the land and farmed it, initiating a way of life that continued through four generations. Enoch’s third son, Alphred, built the Mead Homestead, occupied by family descendents to this very day. Alphred and his wife, Polly, had seven children who, in time, took over the family farms.
Alphred Mead’s third son, George Washington Mead, soon forsook his nascent farming career to attend Yale University. He went on to study law and established a practice in Brooklyn in 1854. In 1858 he married Sarah Frances, only child of Elizabeth and John Jay Studwell, a Brooklyn banker.
By 1882, George and Sarah Frances had been blessed with six boys and six girls, many of whom were born in the little Lakeview Cottage on the edge of the woods, west of where the chapel now stands. Each winter the family moved to Brooklyn Heights where George Mead had his law office, and where the children could attend city schools and the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn.
In 1895, George and Sarah built Tarry-a-Bit, a home large enough to afford a separate bedroom for each of the children; its name reflects Mother Mead’s intent to encourage the family to remain together. In this, she seems to have been successful.
After George died in 1899, Sarah announced that she would like to commission a family chapel, a step that further reinforced family unity. Ground was broken in 1905 and the Chapel was dedicated in 1907 by Dr. Hall, the former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn.
Over the decades that followed, George and Sarah’s children were the predominant presence on Mead Street. These were the halcyon years for the family, a time of close and gracious family life. Mother Mead in Tarry-a-Bit rejoiced in having her children around her as they grew up, married, built their own Waccabuc homes and started families. It was a close community.
The Chapel’s fiftieth anniversary was celebrated in 1957. Even as the many friends and family assembled, it was becoming evident that the younger descendants were moving on to seek their fortunes elsewhere. With those changes came decreasing attendance at the Chapel and, in 1970, the Trustees elected to suspend regular vesper services. Since that time, the Chapel has continued as privately-owned, available to family, friends and members of the nearby community for christenings, weddings, memorial services and occasional secular events.
The Chapel stands today at the head of Mead Street, the artifact that brings us together, a testament to the faith of Grandmother Mead, and a lasting symbol of our shared heritage.