Friday, July 18, 2014

Seavers in the News - Post 6: Almost Finding James T. Seaver's Parents

While searching for interesting tidbits in databases about Seaver persons, I ran across an article concerning James T. Seaver, Acting Master of the U.S. Steamer Philippi in the Civil War.  There were two reports - the first is the letter to the Secretary of War by Rear Admiral D.G. Farragut, which is transcribed in Seavers in the News - James T. Seaver, Master of a Civil War Vessel - Post 1, and the second was the report of James T. Seaver about this incident, shown in Post 2.  I found an article in a book about the court-martial of James and wrote about it in Seavers in the News -- James T. Seaver, Master of a Civil War Vessel - Post 3.  

The court-martial ended the Naval career of James T. Seaver.  Then I wondered if he had a family, and who his parents were.  The answers first came in the U.S. Census - see Seavers in the News - Post 4: Finding James T. Seaver in the U.S. Census.  There were more answers in Vital Records - see Seavers in the News - Post 5: Finding James T. Seaver in Massachusetts Vital Records.  Finally, I wondered who his parents were.  I had a clue in the previous post from James T. Seaver's marriage and death records.  Can I find birth, marriage and death records, and census records, and parent's names for his parents?

1)  My first search for James H. Seaver (or James N. Seaver?) and/or wife Rachel (or Racheal) B. Seaver was in the 1850 U.S. Census.  I found who I think is Rachael B. Seaver in the 1850 U.S. Census living in Gloucester, Massachusetts:

Rachael B. Seaver is residing with the Samuel Sayward family.  She is age 43, born in Massachusetts.  She may be boarding with this family, or may be related to either Samuel Sayward or his wife Caroline C. Sayward, age 41.  

Note that there is no spouse listed for Rachael B.  Seaver. Had he died by 1850?  Was he a mariner not in the United States at this time?  Were they separated or divorced?  A search for many possible names using first name, middle initials, and Seaver surname variants showed no candidates that I did not already have in my database with a family in another location.

2)  At least I knew that Rachael B. Seaver was alive in 1850, so there may be a death record in Massachusetts vital records for her.  There were "Suggested Hints" on for these records.  I easily found what I think is the correct record:

The extracted information from this record for Rachel B. Seaver in Boston vital records is:

*  Rachel B. Seaver, died 8 July 1857, age 50 years, 4 months.  She was a widow, and died of cancer.  Her parents were Adna and Rachel Bates.

The age at death implies a birth in March 1807.  I searched for a birth record, but did not find one.  A search on resulted in a baptism in the Cohasset Vital Records book for Rachel Briggs Bates on 14 June 1807, daughter of Adna Bates Jr.

4)  I looked in the two "External Databases" on for matches with both Rachel and James Seaver, and found a genealogy gem in the 19th Century U.S. Newspapers collection - an obituary:

Note that it says that she was the widow of James N. Seaver, so N. is probably the correct middle initial for her husband.

I did not find any article in these two newspaper databases for James N. Seaver in Boston or Massachusetts. 

5)  I struggled to find a birth, marriage or death record for the father of James T. Seaver - James N. Seaver.  I estimated that the father James N. Seaver was born in the 1790 to 1810 time period (based on James T. Seaver's birth in 1832, and Rachel's birth in about 1807), perhaps in Boston, Massachusetts.  I found none.

6)  I looked in my database for James Seaver/Sever candidates, and found one - a James Seaver, born about 1804, probably in Boston, to Nathaniel and Hannah (Loker) Seaver.  I had no spouse for this James Seaver, and no death date.  The William Blake Trask article in NEHGR Volume 26, and the Jesse Montgomery Seaver typescript, names him as their oldest son, and notes that he died unmarried.  The book says this about the father, Nathaniel Seaver (1753-1827):

"...resided in Boston and was in shipping business for many years; merchant; joined First Church at Roxbury, 9/19/1799, owner of pew No. 74, lower floor, Fifth Meeting House."

I found three baptism records for children of Nathaniel and Hannah (Loker) Seaver in the Boston Church Records book, available on, but James was not included. 

One of the sons of Nathaniel and Hannah (Loker) Seaver was Horace Seaver (1810-1889), who was the longtime editor of The Investigator newspaper in Boston (the Rachel Seaver obituary noted above was in The Investigator).  If James N. Seaver was the son of Nathaniel and Hannah (Loker) Seaver, and the brother of Horace Seaver, then the obituary is for Horace's sister-in-law.  That's pretty thin evidence, isn't it?

7)  There are many resources that I have not investigated yet, but most of them are inaccessible to me, being either in manuscript form in Boston or another repository, or on Family History Library microfilm.  

In summary, I have not conclusively identified parents of James N. Seaver, husband of Rachael B. (Bates) Seaver and father of James Thomas Seaver, the former acting Master of the U.S.S. Philippi. I do have this one lead...

I think that I will keep James N. Seaver, the husband of Rachel Bates and father of James T. Seaver, separate from James Seaver, the son of Nathaniel and Hannah (Loker) Seaver, for the time being.  

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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