Monday, May 9, 2011

The Family of Martha (Davis) Seaver (1793-1868)

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.  Last week, I found a book by Gilbert A. Davis in the BYU Family History Archive that shed more light on this family - see More Information on the Family of William Seaver (1783-1821).

One of the unknowns when we started this investigation was the origins of Martha Davis, who married William Seaver.  The book:

Gilbert A. Davis, History of Reading, Windsor County, Vermont, Volume II, Windsor, Vermont, by the author, 1903. 
sheds some light on her parents and siblings, and nieces and nephews.  Here is what I've learned:

Stephen Davis was born 20 March 1765, the son of Jacob Davis (1742-1809) and Dorothy Baker.  Stephen married 1 July 1787 Martha Tileston of Dorchester, Mass., daughter of Nathaniel Tileston; she died 14 November 1825.  Stephen Davis was a leather dresser, and had his place of business on what is now Washington Street in Roxbury, Mass.  Neither Stephen Davis nor his wife was a church member, but they attended the Congregational church, of which Rev. Dr. Porter was pastor.  He was one of the founders of Washington Lodge, F. & A. Masons, instituted at Roxbury, 14 March 1796, and was for many years Master of this lodge.  He was commissioned Adjutant of the Battalion of Artillery in the 1st Regiment, 1st Division of Massachusetts Militia, by Moses Gill, Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-Chief.   His commission bears date 12 June 1799, "to take rank from 27 April 1799, when elected."  He held the position until 1 March 1804, when, on resignation, he was honorably discharged.  He was a tall slim man, light complection, and of moderate circumstances as to property.  He died 22 March 1821, at age 56 years, of pulmonary consumption, and is buried in the old cemetery at Roxbury.

The children of Stephen and Martha (Tileston) Davis were (all born in Roxbury, Mass.):

i.  Stephen Davis, born 22 December 1787, died in Portland, Maine;  he married a Blanchard in Portland, and had a daughter.  He was a circus rider.

ii.  Asa Davis, born 22 August, 1789, married 12 October 1815 Mary Hosmer at Chester, Vermont.  He died 13 January 1873 in Reading, Vermont.  They had children Charles L. Davis (1833-????); Gilbert A. Davis (1835-????).

iii.  Artemas Davis, born 26 October 1791, married Sarah Gardner Tuck on 8 March 1822, and resided on the island of Nantucket, Mass.  They had children Sarah Elizabeth (1822-1826); Mary Susan Davis (1824-1829); Samuel Stephen Davis (1835-????), married Avis Swift.

iv.  Martha Davis, born 1 March 1893, married William Seaver of Roxbury (see More Information on the Family of William Seaver (1783-1821).

v.  Ebenezer Davis, born 11 June 1794, died 5 June 1810.

vi.  Jacob Davis, born 13 March 1796, died 7 September 1832 in Charleston, S.C.  He married, and had children Jacob Davis, Mary Davis, and others.

vii.  Cecilia Davis, born 22 Devcember 1798, married Stephen A. Dix, and they had children Stephen A. Dix, Sarah Anna Dix, and Francis Henry Dix.

viii. Nathaniel Tileston Davis, born 11 October 1802.  He went to sea in 1820 on the ship "Independence," and was working in the store of William Seaver in Washington when Mr. Seaver was murdered.  He worked at the store that succeeded Seaver & Bulfinch in Washington, then returned to Boston, and settled in Wellfleet, Mass. where he married Mrs. Hannah Kemp.  She had three small children: Hannah Kemp, Robert Kemp, and Henry Kemp who died young.

ix.  Sally Davis, born 2 April 1804, married Charles Lowrey and they settled in Washington, D.C.  They had one son who was in the Union Army.

x.  Abigail Davis, born 8 May 1806, died 5 September 1806.

xi.  Elizabeth Dorothy Davis, born 15 April 1809, died 14 February 1818.

The Gilbert A. Davis book has much more information about some of these families, especially for his own line. 

In More Information on the Family of William Seaver (1783-1821), the will of Sarah A.C. Seaver (daughter of William and Martha (Davis) Seaver) was contested by five cousins - Charles L. Davis, Gilbert A. Davis, Samuel S. Davis, Sarah A. Gordon and Martha T. Miller.  I believe that these persons are:

*  Charles L. Davis, son of Asa and Mary (Hosmer) Davis, a nephew of Martha (Davis) Seaver, and a first cousin of Sarah Seaver.
*  Gilbert A. Davis, son of Asa and Mary (Hosmer) Davis, a nephew of Martha (Davis) Seaver, and a first cousin of Sarah Seaver.
*  Samuel S. Davis, son of Artemas and Sarah (Tuck) Davis, a nephew of Martha (Davis) Seaver, and a first cousin of Sarah Seaver.
*  Sarah A. Gordon, probably daughter of Stephen and Cecilia (Davis) Dix, a niece of Martha (Davis) Seaver, and a first cousin of Sarah Seaver.
*  Martha T. Miller, probably a daughter of one of the other children, perhaps Stephen Davis or  Jacob Davis, a niece of Martha (Davis) Seaver, and a first cousin of Sarah Seaver.

Why did the cousins contest the will?  Recall that all three children of William and Martha (Davis) Seaver had not married, and had no children.  If Sarah had died intestate, her estate would have gone to descendants of her parents siblings, and I believe that the five named in the will contest are nieces and nephews of Martha (Davis) Seaver.  What about the siblings of William Seaver?  William died in 1821, 79 years before Sarah Seaver's death in 1900.  It is very probable that the children of William Seaver lost contact in the Boston area with their Seaver aunts and uncles. 

Another lingering mystery is why the marriage of William Seaver and Martha Davis in 1809 in Providence, Rhode Island was reported in a Maine newspaper?  The reason is most likely that one of Martha's uncles, Jacob Davis, resided in Gardiner, Maine at the time,

I think that this is the end of the William Seaver murder saga.  I didn't know where it was going when I started, but it has been challenging and interesting and fun.  I've done this research in online historical record collections and newspapers, and there are probably many more records in brick-and-mortar repositories like the National Archives, state archives, local and regional historical societies, county vital records offices, county probate courts, etc.

No comments: