Sunday, August 28, 2011

Serendipity strikes again...and genealogy fun ensues

One of the little pleasures in my genealogy life, when I'm tired of blogging and organizing papers and want some genealogy fun, is I go to Find-a-Grave, search for a surname in my database, and see what there is available.  I think that Find-a-Grave is a site that will never stop giving me information about my ancestral families.  Of course, I then add the information to my genealogy database for a birth date, death date, burial location, relationships, etc., including the source and some source detail.  These searches are often pretty random, I go off on tangents and find all kinds of good stuff.  From small bits of information are sourced databases made!

I finished my two Source Lists (see How do I catch up to 13 years of genealogy sloth?) on Saturday afternoon, and after dinner and watching the baseball game (I completely forgot about the Chargers game!), I came back to the computer and wanted some genea-fun, so I went to Find-a-Grave and entered "Seaver" in the search field. 

Whoa, 1,321 matches.  Okay, that will take more than one hour to do.  At the top of the list are two entries without given names, but they do have birth and death dates, and are in Colusa County, California.  Okay...I recalled that I have a Seaver family in Colusa County back in the 1800s, but I need their given names.  I couldn't find a way to do that in RootsMagic, although I tried.  I could go to and search the 1880 census for Seavers in Colusa County but I'll just skip it for now. 

I moved on to the next entries on the Find-a-Grave list, and happily entered data from many towns in Worcester County, Massachusetts (only 59 matches).  I was having fun!

After an hour or so, I checked Facebook and saw I had a message from genea-blogger Craig Manson (who write the excellent Geneablogie blog).  Craig's message said:

"Randy, I spent today roaming around Sutter and Colusa Counties north of Sacramento. Came across the name "Seaver" in two cemeteries in Colusa. Are these some of your people?

"In the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery:
Josephine T. Seaver 30 May 1918-19 July 1996
Emma Ruth Seaver 7 June 1981-24 November 1989
"Mother" Seaver 4 June 1834-10 June 1903
"Father" Seaver 30 July 1826-7 October 1887

"In the publicly owned Colusa Cemetery:
William Seaver 22 October 1884-25 November 1884
George Seavers (with "s" on end--in same plot as William above)
Also in same plot:
Eliza J. Sorrels 20 January 1862-25 January 1948
Newton G. Sorrels 8 September 1869-30 November 1932 [with inscription "Camp #136 WOW" beneath dates]"

Lookee there - Craig found "Mother" and "Father": Seaver too, along with several other Seaver folks.  That gave me several good leads - I quickly looked in my database for Eliza J. Seaver born in 1862 and found her, the daughter of Charles and Annie (--?--) Seaver.  The birth date I had for Charles Seaver matched exactly the Find-a-Grave date, so he is "Father" Seaver and Annie, his wife, must be "Mother" Seaver.  Cool - now I have death dates and burial places for them.  Plus I now know Eliza's death date, burial place and her husband's name and dates and burial location.  What a gold mine!  Looking on the California Death Index, 1940-1997, on Rootsweb, I found several death records also for this family, and one of them indicates that "Timothy" was Annie's maiden surname, a second says "Timoney" and a third says "Timony."  I checked in the 1860 census and didn't see a likely candidate for Annie in California (Charles was born  in MA, but is a single man in Colusa County, California. in the 1860 census, and their first child was born in January 1862). 

However, I still don't know who the parents or spouses of Josephine T. Seaver (1918-1996) and Emma Ruth Seaver (1981-1989), or William Seaver (1884-1884) are.  I don't know George Seavers death date, only his burial place (he is alive in the 1880 census). 

That was so much fun, I decided to mine the California Death Indexes for Seaver deaths (and birth dates, and perhaps mother's maiden names) on the Rootsweb database (only 166 of them).  I went county by county and found quite a few that I didn't have in my database, or that I had not sourced previously.

It was a very productive three hours, and I had a lot of genealogy fun thanks to Craig Manson and Ancestry and Find-a-Grave.   Now, if I could only remember where I left off in Find-a-Grave...oh well, I'll just go search a random name and go from there!  I'm sure to find something.

I think this fits into my Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogy Research, don't you?  Even my genea-blogging colleagues are giving me "boxes of chocolates."  It wasn't quite genea-gasmic, though.


Celia Lewis said...

So glad I'm not the only one who trolls through FindAGrave with no pattern... Love your great results, too! Thanks for sharing your 'style'. Cheers - Celia

Cherie Cayemberg said...

What fun and what serendipity! What are the chances!?!

gophergenealogy said...

That is very interesting. I also found a mother and father situation this week and have a good idea who they are. is a wonderful site. Just be careful about putting pictures on your database if you have one. I just put them into a word document and file them. Copyright issues were brought to our attention this week.

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

What a great treasure you got! I tend to work in census records, inputting all the information, and then realizing I don't have burial information. Then I troll specifically for these people. Of course once you're in find-a-grave, you can't get out--you always seem to find more stuff you didn't have! Then you try to remember where you were in census records....

Sharon said...


Emma Ruth Seaver's mother's maiden name was Bruhn. Emma was born in Yolo County. (Calif. Birth Index). Emma died of leukemia in 1989. She was the inspiration for a group called Hiking for the Cure. Google Emma Seaver Colusa and you should find an article about the group.

Josephine Seaver's SSDI record gives her middle initial as E, not T. and her birth date as 30 May 1914 -- not 1918. This might help you identify her.

Sharon Meeker

Greta Koehl said...

I think of that game as "Findagrave Bingo." I pull up my index of people in Reunion, start scrolling with my eyes closed, then stop and look at the name of the person at the top, and input that name, first without any other info, and then with location info. It may be good research practice to be systematic, but sometimes being "random" is a lot more fun!