Samuel B. Mead was the eldest of four
sons and three daughters born to Jonathan Mead (1769-1851) and Martha Barnum
Mead (d. 1812). The Mead family moved
to Augusta, Illinois in June, 1837.2
“Dr. Samuel B. Mead lived on his father’s
farm until about 15 years of age, receiving, during this time, a common school
education. He then received a
collegiate course and graduated at Yale College, New Haven, Conn., in
1820. He studied medicine a received
his diploma to practice from the same college, February 25, 1824. He emigrated to Illinois in the spring of 1833,
living for a short time at Rushville; the following August he came to Hancock
County and located at Augusta, then called “Oliver’s Settlement,” and
commenced the practice of his profession, which he continued until 1860,
commanding extensive practice. He was next to the first regular physician
practice medicine in this county. In 1833 Dr. Isaac Galland
was said to be the only practicing physician in the county, and probably was
the first. In 1834 Dr. John F. Charles settled in Carthage. On Dr. Mead’s arrival
at “Oliver’s Settlement,” now Augusta, he immediately selected a site for a
dwelling; first had a well dug and engaged a hewed log-cabin built; this was
in July. It was finished in August, and he moved into it, with his family. It
was the first cabin built on the site of Augusta. In February, 1836, the town
was laid out by the proprietors, William D Abernathy, Joel Catlin and Dr. S.
B. Mead. October 1, 1834, Dr. Mead was appointed “Surgeon Mate” in the
Regiment of militia for Hancock County, by Dr. Isaac Galland,
Colonel; September 12, 1840, he was appointed Postmaster at Augusta; November
14, 1840 he took charge of the same and continued as Postmaster until
February 2, 1857. He received the
first mail carried by railroad into Augusta, February 6, 1856. He has kept meteorological observations for
the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D. C., nearly since its beginning
-- till it turned them over to the War Department, and he still keeps them.
He has many years devoted much time to the study of botany, and has
discovered several interesting plants. As a botanist he has a worldwide
reputation, frequently receiving letters from Europe and other distant
places, asking for information in matters pertaining to plants etc. Several
plants are named after him.
Dr. Mead was married to Arietta Purdy [b.
27 July 1804] January 9, 1822…They had six children. Only one is now living, Mrs. Velia Bredett, of Augusta.
Mrs. Mead died May 7, 1865.
April 18, 1866, the Doctor married his present wife, whose name was Martha
Putnam, of Putnam, Ohio… They had one child, Ora Mead, born August 23,
1868. The Doctor is still living at
Augusta, very pleasantly and comfortably situated, and is respected and
honored by all. Although now nearly 81
years of age, he is still active, with his mental faculties unimpaired, and
is prepared to enjoy life for many years to come; that it may be so is the
wish of many friends.”2
photo by Mike Redmer
Mead’s Milkweed, Asclepias meadii Torr.
ex A. Gray, named in Samuel Mead’s honor, is native
to tallgrass prairies and rhyolite glades of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,
Missouri and Wisconsin. It has been on
the United States list of Threatened Species since 1988 due to habitat
destruction, haying, grazing and fire suppression.3,4
Historical Society. “Dr. Samuel Barnum Mead, Physician and Botanist.” Image
ID 47415. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:4294963828-4294955414&dsRecordDetails=R:IM47415 accessed on 9 August, 2016.
2. “Dr. Samuel B.
Mead.” In: 1889 History of Hancock
County, Illinois by T. H. Gregg.
Published by Charles C. Chapman & Co. pp. 522-523. Transcribed by Marcia Siegfried Redding for
Hancock County IL Genweb. http://hancock.illinoisgenweb.org/biographies/dr-samuel-b-mead-bio.html accessed on 9 August, 2016.
milkweed.” U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service Endangered Species, Midwest Region.
accessed on 9 August, 2016.
4. “Mead’s milkweed.” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Chicago
Ecological Services Field Office. https://www.fws.gov/midwest/Chicago/endangered/meads/index.html
accessed on 9 August, 2016.