Born January 10th, 1807, Hester Mead was the last of eight enslaved children born in the Bush household, now the Bush-Holley House Museum. Hester’s mother was Candice Bush, who had been enslaved by the Bushes since she was a child. Her father is unknown.
As a young girl Hester was indentured to a member of the Mead family. Under this arrangement Hester worked at the Mead household while the Bushes, her enslavers, were paid for her labor. She spent most of her childhood away from her mother and brother, who remained at the Bush household. It is likely during this time that Hester took the last name Mead as her own.
Connecticut’s Gradual Abolition Act of 1784 dictated that Hester be freed upon her 21st birthday in 1828. Her mother Candice had been freed the year before, at the age of 45, and her brother Jack had been freed three years prior. While Jack’s whereabouts after being granted his freedom are unknown, Hester and her mother Candice lived together in freedom. They are listed together in the 1850 census along with Hester’s son, William Mead. By 1860 William had established a household of his own, with a wife and two daughters. Candice passed away in 1859 and was buried in Greenwich’s Union Cemetery.