Parcel Post?

Aaron Benedict Mead

Union Soldier. Abolitionist. Entrepreneur. Industrialist.

Aaron Benedict Mead, my 3rd great uncle and sister of my 3rd great grandmother Lois Mead Treadwell, was born in 1838 in Franklinville, New York. His father Merlin (my 4th great grandfather) was a teacher and abolitionist whose house was used for the Underground Railroad. Aaron moved to Waterbury, Connecticut, to attend high school and later work as a clerk in a dry goods store. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery in May 1861. He served for almost a year in forts around Washington DC, when a bout of pneumonia sent him home.

Aaron moved to Chicago, where he began working in real estate. His first pay of $2 he donated to Fisk University, a new college founded to educate freed slaves after the war.

Fisk University, Nashville TN, founded in 1866

Aaron became a prominent real estate investor in the Chicago. He joined partner Albert Coe to start Mead & Coe in 1868.

Daily Inter Ocean, Jan. 1, 1886

Aaron was also active in civic affairs, served as a deacon in the First Congregational Church, and had five children with his wife Mary Packard Mead.

According to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Aaron invented the parcel post to deliver packages to soldiers at war. But other sources say that it was his father Merlin who sought to send packages to soldiers during the Civil War, which would make more sense chronologically. I’ll keep trying to pin this down.

Northwest Arkansas Times, Jan. 28, 1972
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Farm for Sale

Redding cattle farmer Aaron Treadwell (1828-1896)

After the death of my great great grandfather Aaron Treadwell on Jan. 8, 1896 at the age of 67, the following notice appeared in the Newtown Bee on March 6:

“FARM FOR SALE- The farm of the late Aaron Treadwell consisting of 125 acres of good and productive land; large house and convenient barns and other outbuildings, 1 1/2 miles north of Redding Center, very near to Putnam Park. Good markets in Bethel and Danbury. About 80 acres meadow, producing good crops of hay. This farm is considered one of the best in town. For sale with the above if desired or separate; 135 acres pasture land known as the Jarvis farm, lying about one mile from homestead; also 92 acres of woodland east of Couch Hill, adjacent to the Newtown road, 16 acres woodland near the residence of Theron E. Platt. This is an opportunity to get a very desireable home at a reasonable price.”

Newtown Bee, March 6, 1896, p. 1.
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Tennis Champ

J. Howard Gould in his backyard in Ridgewood, circa 1962

When I knew my grandfather, J. Howard Gould, MD, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was often working in his fruit and vegetable garden behind his house at 92 Monte Vista Avenue in Ridgewood NJ. He grew raspberries, corn, tomatoes, and other crops. As a family doctor, he still took care of a few patients, seeing them in the “library,” a room off the front hall of the house. And he loved ice cream, bringing home gallons of vanilla ice cream from Terwilligers & Wakefields.

More recently, I discovered that “Baba,” as his grandchildren called him, was a tennis champ as a young man.

J.Howard Gould (1887-1963)

 He was the college champion at Wesleyan University in CT, which he attended in the footsteps of his older brother Russell and his uncle Aaron. He stayed at Wesleyan for only one year before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania to study medicine.

Wesleyan University Yearbook 1905

As a young father starting his medical practice in Bayonne, Howard, as he was known to his family, found time to play tennis at the Bayonne Y.M.C.A. For at least three years he competed in the Tennis Finals. In 1913, he was the winner, as reported in the Jersey Journal.

Jersey Journal, 9-29-1913
Jersey Journal, 8-24-1914

Sadly, in 1915, the newspapers reported that he lost. “This match was long drawn out, rallies being the rule rather than the exception.”

Jersey Journal, 9-20-1915
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Winter on Birch Farm

Elnathan Black cutting ice at Birch Farm
Elnathan hauling a load of wood on Northfield Road
The old Brick House on Northfield Road, where Hattie and Elnathan Black raised their family

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Pet Alligator

Mary Hannah Black

Mary Hannah Black, aka Aunt Mary, was my grandmother Mabel Black Gould‘s favorite aunt. She was born on an unknown date around 1856 in Washington, CT, after her parents, James and Mary, emigrated from Ireland and then Montreal in the 1840s. She had three sisters and seven brothers, including Mabel’s father Elnathan M. Black.

Unlike her siblings, who went to work early and did not seek further education, Mary left home to become a nurse. She moved 40 miles south to Bridgeport, where she attended the Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing, the first school of nursing in Connecticut, and one of the oldest nursing schools in the United States. It was then called the Bridgeport Training School for Nurses. When it opened in 1884, circus entrepreneur P. T. Barnum was head of its board of directors. Mary was a member of the first graduating class in 1887. Perhaps she met Barnum!

Bridgeport Hospital

According to newspaper and census reports, Mary worked as a nurse in Bridgeport and Waterbury for many years. Independent and single, she supported herself.

Mary frequently visited her brother’s Birch Farm in Watertown. An item in the Waterbury Evening Democrat, published on March 3, 1903, stated that she took a late-winter vacation to Florida that year, returning with an unexpected gift. “Miss Black brought with her from Florida a young alligator, which she gave to the children of her brother as a pet,” the reporter wrote. Was it the first alligator to live in Watertown? We’ll never know.

Waterbury Evening Democrat, 3-3-1903

Mary remained active in the alumni organization at the nursing school, as mentioned in news reports. My grandmother Mabel also told me that Aunt Mary gave advice and support when she was pregnant with her first children, and was devastated when her favorite aunt passed away. Mary died on Oct. 23, 1922, at the age of sixty six, according to her tombstone, in Watertown, where she is buried.

Mary’s niece (Mabel’s older sister), Ida Mary Black, followed in her aunt’s footsteps and received her nursing diploma on May 28, 1913.

Bridgeport Evening Farmer, 5-28-1913

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Quilt for Amanda

A quilt made for Amanda Treadwell by family members, now held by the Daughters of the American Revolution

The 19th century memory quilt made by the family of Amanda Treadwell and donated to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, DC.

Amanda Treadwell (1836-1854) was the daughter of Walter Treadwell (1797-1870) a farmer who lived on Lyons Plains Road in Weston, CT, and was the brother of my 3rd great grandfather Ebenezer Nichols Treadwell.  (Walter and his neighbor Hanford Nichols donated the land and built the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Lyons Plains Road next to their houses).

After Amanda’s early death at age 18 in 1854,  over a dozen relatives contributed to a quilt in her memory. It possibly took them from 1854 to 1870, according to the quilt’s listing on the Quilt Index, a compilation of historical quilts.

The cotton hand-sewn quilt is red, green, and yellow, and is designed in the traditional “turkey tracks” pattern. Each relative contributed some of the squares and then signed their names on the back in indelible ink.  Her sister Louisa wrote, “And the dead for Christ shall rise first / In memory of Amanda Treadwell / who fell asleep March 11, 1854.”

The signatures of my 2nd great grandfather Aaron Treadwell and my great-grandmother Selina “Lina” Elida Treadwell Gould‘ (1852-1934), are among those preserved on the back of the quilt. The date 1864 is next to Lina’s name; she was 12-years-old at the time. (I recently received this photograph of Lina Treadwell at a young age from a distant relative on )

Selina Elida Treadwell Gould


The quilt, known as the Treadwell Family Quilt, was donated to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, DC.  The next time I’m in DC, I’ll try to see it.

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Red Cross Volunteer

My great-aunt Marjorie Gould joined Bayonne’s Red Cross Woman’s Motor Service Unit (see her photo, top right below)  in the spring of 1918 to help victims of the rampant flu epidemic.  After a busy summer with this and other activities,  she caught the flu, herself, and died within days on Oct. 22, just over a month after her 26th birthday. family-marjoriegould-bayonneredcross09142016


Marjorie Gould, age 25, Bayonne, NJ, 1918

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