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