Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More Information on the Family of William Seaver (1783-1821)

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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.  Some Records for the William Seaver Family Members described some records found in online census and city directories for the widow and children.  In Is this William R. Seaver, son of the murdered William Seaver? I thought that I had found the son of William and Martha (Davis) Seaver. 

While searching in the BYU Family History Archive yesterday, I searched the keywords [william seaver murder] and was rewarded with eight books containing those terms.  One of the books was:

Gilbert A. Davis, History of Reading, Windsor County, Vermont, Volume II, Windsor, Vermont, by the author, 1903. 

This work has the following information about the William Seaver/Martha Davis family:

Page 151:

"(d) Martha [Davis]  b March 1 1793, m Wm. Seaver of Roxbury Mass., a grocer.  They had three children living.
William, a tea broker, in Philadelphia.
Martha and Sarah, daughters, unmarried, resided in Baltimore, Md.

"Wm. Seaver, Sr., went to Baltimore, and went into the grocery business.  Then went to Washington, and became a member of the firm of Seaver & Bulfinch, Grocers, Wines, &c., on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Mr. Seaver was a great judge of liquors, teas, &c.  In 1q820 he was murdered between Washington and Alexandria.  He had been to Alexandria to buy goods from foreign vessels, and, missing the stage and boat, was found near the bridge crossing the Potomac.  The murder was thought to have been for the purpose of robbery.  His widow subsequently kept a millinery establishment, including dress and mantau making, employing some 25 girls.  She had the patronage of the best families in Washington.  Her store was on Penna Avenue, and she amassed quite a property.  She d at her home in Baltimore, Md."

Pages 155 and 156:

"Children of Wm. Seaver and Martha Davis (6) --
The son, Wm. R. Seaver, removed to New York City, and was successful in business.  He never married.  He was a devoted, generous and self-sacrificing brother.  His sisters loved him and had entire confidence in his judgment.  At the time of his death, intestate, in 1896, he resided at Newark, N.J.

"Sarah A.C. Seaver was his sole heir, Martha Seaver having died in 1889.

"Sarah died at Baltimore, Md., June 27, 1900, unmarried, in the 84th year of her age.  She owned, and at the time of her death, resided at No. 13 No. Calhoun st.

"A controversy arose over an instrument purporting to be her last will and testament, written and executed Dec. 5, 1898, in which she had entirely ignored and disinherited her heirs-at-law, and cousins, Charles L. Davis, Gilbert A. Davis, Samuel S. Davis, Sarah A. Gordon, and Martha T. Miller, and these cousins filed a caveat, and contested the allowance of said instrument.  Miss Seaver had made three wills previous to this, in each of which she had recognized her cousins and devised to them the balance of her estate.  The last of these wills was executed on May 27, 1898.  The Orphans' Court of Baltimore city, after a protracted hearing Aug. 30, 1891[sic? probably 1901], by a majority decision sustained the instrument of Dec. 5, 1898 as her last will.  The cousins at once appealed to the Court of Errors and appeals, and that Court by unanimous opinion of the Judges reversed the order of the Orphans' Court, set aside the instrument of Dec. 5, 1898, and established the will of May 27, 1898.  O.Brien, J., in giving the dissenting opinion in the Orphans' Court, used this language:--

"'Miss Seaver had all through her life been recognized by her friends and acquaintances as a woman of culture and refinement, and in her later years as a bright, intelligent, and courteous person, affable and kind to her friends, and very capable in transacting business affairs.' 

"The Seaver family are interred in lot 129, in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Md."

In Have you checked the FamilySearch.org collections recently? You should!, I found the will of the daughter, Martha C. Seaver in 1888 in the Maryland Register of Will Books.  I also found, but did not list, the will of daughter Sarah A.C. Seaver, mentioned above, in the 1900 volume of the Will Books.

So far, everything I've posted about this family has been very consistent (with one exception - it was claimed that the murdered William Seaver was killed in the War of 1812). 

Why is the useful and fascinating information printed in the Reading, Vermont history book?  There's a really good reason - the author of the book, Gilbert A. Davis, is related to Martha (Davis) Seaver, the wife of the murdered William Seaver.  I will post more about the Davis family in a subsequent post in this series.  There are some interesting sketches of some of these people, and the accounts provided by this book demonstrate very nicely how complicated family relationships can be.

1 comment:

Susan (Nolichucky Roots) said...

Fascinating that all your work was confirmed in one book entry! Now I'm off to look at the MD Calendar of Wills.