Friday, April 8, 2011

Some Records for the William Seaver Family Members

On 15 March, I posted "A Horrid Murder" in Alexandria.  The newspaper article about his murder on 6 July 1821 was lurid, but what happened after that?  On 17 March, I wrote William Seaver's Murder in 1821 - a Reward Offered - by the President of the United States, and three mayors.  The William Seaver's Murder in 1821 - A Jailhouse Confession post on 18 March seemed to solve the case.  William Seaver's Murder in 1821 - Was it Ever Solved? posted on 21 March was an article from 1874 claiming that the murder was a "cold case," but mentioned a confession to a murder printed in the Alexandria Gazette newspaper in 1866.  William Seaver's Murder in 1821 - the 1866 Confession, posted on 30 March, provided the first part of the 1866 Confession of John Trust from the Alexandria Gazette newspaper, and Part 2 on 31 March provided more detail of the murder from the confession. 

In Clues for the Ancestry of murder victim, William Seaver, I summarized the information I have for William Seaver's ancestry.  It wasn't much, but seemed to point to him being the son of Ebenezer and Sarah (Coolidge) Seaver, born in 1782 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, who married Martha Davis in 1809.  The records I need to find for William Seaver's land and probate records cannot be done online, so I have that on my list for my next visit to the Family History Library or Washington DC area archives.

In the last post, I wondered what happened to the wife and children of William Seaver - his wife Martha, and children Martha, William and Sarah.  I did some more searching in city directory and census records, and found these bits of information:

1)  Washington DC City Directories on

a)  The 1822 Washington, D.C. City Directory (page 68) listed her as:

"Seaver, Martha, widow, fancy goods store, n side Penn av btw 9 and 10w"

b)  In the 1827 Washington DC City Directory (page 70) listed her as:

"Seaver, Mrs. now Mrs. M. Bowen, widow, milliner and ladies dress maker, n side Penn av btw 9 and 10w"

It's not clear if she is a widow of Mr. M. Bowen.

c)  The 1830 Washington D.C. City Directory (page 8), listed her as:

"Bowen, Mrs. M. ladies' dress maker and milliner, Varnum's Row, n. side Penn av. btw. 9 and 10w ent. by D st. n."

The next available Washington City Directory on footnote is 1834, and Martha Bowen was not listed, nor were the Seaver sisters.  I checked up to 1850 and concluded that they moved away from Washington DC.  My correspondent has them in Baltimore for many years.

2)  Census records on

a)  A search for Martha Bowen in the 1850 census did not find her or her daughters with surname Seaver.

b)  In the 1860 United States census, Martha and her two daughters reside in Baltimore Ward 18, Baltimore County, Maryland (Page 853 (penned), Dwelling #5345, Family #5541, accessed on, citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M653, Roll 465). The household included:

* Martha Bowen - age 60, female, born Massachusetts
* Martha Coolidge - age 40, female, $3000 in real property, $1000 in personal property, born Massachusetts
* Sarah Coolidge - age 30, female, born Maryland

c)  A search for Martha Bowen in the 1870 census did not find her. She may have died between 1860 and 1870.

In the 1870 United States Census, the daughters resided in Baltimore Ward 19, Baltimore County, Maryland ( (Page 353B, Dwelling #1408, Family #1700, accessed on, citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M593, Roll 580). The household included:

* Martha Seaver - age 40, female, white, keeping house, $7000 in real property, $400 in personal property, born Massachusetts
* Sarah Seaver - age 30, female, white, a milliner, born Maryland

e)  In the 1880 United States Census, the daughters resided in Baltimore Ward 19, Baltimore County, Maryland (Page 66B, Dwelling #137, Family #154, accessed on, citing National Archives Microfilm Publication T9, Roll 504). The household included (indexed on as "Leevers"):

* Martha C. Seevers - white, female, age 65, single, born Massachusetts, parents born Massachusetts/Massachusetts
* Sarah A. Seevers - white, female, age 57, sister, single, keeping house, born Maryland, parents born Massachusetts/Massachusetts

f)  I did not find Martha Seaver or Sarah Seaver in the 1900 U.S. Census records.

My conclusion is that these are the same persons throughout the census records found. 

In the 1860 census, we find the three women together, although I don't know why the daughter Martha was surnamed "Coolidge" (and Sarah's surname was a ditto mark under Martha's), but the birthplaces are consistent.  The ages aren't!  Their ages are about 10 to 20 years off, aren't they (I think Martha (Davis) Seaver) Bowen was born before 1790, daughter Martha was born in about 1810, and daughter Sarah was born in about 1815).  The "Coolidge?"  Recall that William Seaver's mother's name was Sarah Coolidge, and daughter Martha is Martha C. Seaver - perhaps she was using their grandmother's maiden name for some reason, or she answered "Martha Coolidge" when asked what her name was by the census enumerator.

In the 1870 census, we see that the sisters haven't aged a bit since 1860, and their ages are now 20 to 25 years off.  They may have discovered the "fountain of youth!" 

By the 1880 census, the ages are off by only 5 to 10 years.  It looks like the "fountain" dried up, doesn't it?

One of the most important clues in these census records are the real property values in the 1860 and 1870 census records.  It is likely that the daughter Martha, listed with significant real property, bought the home in Baltimore where she and her sister reside in 1860 through 1880.  Is there a probate record for the estate of William Seaver?  I think it is likely.  Why didn't the mother, Martha Bowen in the 1860, own the property?  I think it was because she married again, and gave up her "thirds" from the estate of William Seaver at the time of her marriage. 

I'm still looking for records of:

*  A marriage record, or announcement, of Martha Seaver to M. Bowen in the 1822-1827 time frame (likely in Washington DC).

*  A death record for Martha (Davis) (Seaver) Bowen (likely in Baltimore).

*  A death record for Martha C. Seaver (likely in Baltimore).

*  A death record for Sarah A. Seaver (likely in Baltimore).

*  What happened to the son, William Seaver?  Where did he live, did he marry and have children, where did he die?

Stay tuned - there are more bits of evidence in the available online records!  I'm having lots of Genealogy Fun with this genealogy hunt!

Updated 9:30 a.m. - every time I copy/paste something from RootsMagic it seems to mess up my blog formatting.  Sorry for the confusing information earlier - I think I have it fixed now.  Stay! darn blog.

1 comment:

grace said...

great detective work, I was wondering why they went by Coolidge. Fun to read. thanks grace