Monday, October 31, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Petition of Abigail Seaver

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started a Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the Petition of the widow Abigail Seaver (1797-1867) filed before the Worcester County, Massachusetts Probate Court on 6 June 1825 (Case A-52866), after the death of her husband, Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825).  Here is the page from the transcribed Probate Court records (original in Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 205:460, accessed on FHL Microfilm 0,860,639):

The petition reads:

Case A-52866      ................................. Benjamin Seaver ............................. Assent.

To the Honble. Nathaniel Paine Esquire Judge of Probate of Wills &c and for
granting letters of administration & within and for the County of
Worcester.  The Petition of the Widow Abagail Seaver of Westminster
in said County, humbley represents that her late Husband Benjamin Seaver
of said Westminster is dead and that she is altogether unacquainted with
doing business and besides she is left with four young children to take
care of and that it will be impossible for her to administer upon said Estate.
She therefore relinquishes her right of being appointed administratrix upon
her late Husband's Estate and she therefore prays that your Honor would ap-
point Mr. John Jackson of said Westminster administrator upon said Estate
as in duty bound shall ever pray.
Westminster June 6, 1825
.......................................................................... Abigail Seaver

A true record.
Attest  ............................................... George H. Harlow

Benjamin Seaver died on 25 May 1825 in Westminster. 

What happened after this petition was filed by the widow, Abigail Seaver?  Here are my abstracts of the other papers in the Probate Packet:

1)  Bond of $10,000 was posted by Merari Spaulding and Daniel Howe, sureties (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 173:475, on FHL Microfilm 0,860,624). 

2)  An inventory was taken by Edward Kendall, Zebina Spaulding and Daniel Howe on 5 July 1825, showing Real estate of $1000 (the Home Farm with the buildings thereon) and Personal estate of $996.10 [Worcester County Probate Records, 60.473, LDS Microfilm 0,856,333]. 

3)  A warrant was issued to Daniel Howe, Zebina Spaulding and Benjamin F. Wood to set out the widow's dower rights, and they were granted to Abigail Seaver on 4 October 1825 (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 59:198, on FHL Microfilm 0,856,332).

4)  On 23 March 1826, the estate was represented as insolvent, and a commission of Edward Kendall and Simeon Sanderson was formed.  A petition to sell the real estate to pay the debts was formed [Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 263:275, on FHL Microfilm 0,864,002). 

5)  Upon the bond of John Jackson, an affidavit was filed for the sale (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 202:249, on FHL Microfilm 0,860,638). 

6)  An advertisement for the sale of the personal estate was printed 17 May 1827.  A list of bills and the account of Abigail Seaver of the articles she took at the appraisal and what were sold at private sale was presented (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 263:339, on FHL Microfilm 0,864,002). 

7)  John Jackson presented his account of the estate, which was allowed 17 May 1827.  He charged himself with the personal estate (1204.79), had sold part of the real estate ($346), paid off all of the debts ($1519.66), took a $2 fee for his work, which left a balance of $29.13 to be paid "to the Widow of said deceased to enable her to uphold life." (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 62:362, on FHL  Microfilm 0,856,334).

*)  Abigail Seaver was appointed guardian of her four minor children on 1 April 1826 with Isaac Seaver, Nathan Wetherbee and Henry Collidge, Jr posting $5000 bond as sureties (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 194:33, on FHL Microfilm 0,860,634). 

9)  An inventory of the property belonging to the four children included 13 and a half acres of pasture and woodland and a cider mill and house, amounting to $30, filed 6 October 1827 (Worcester County (MA) Probate Records, 63:427, on FHL Microfilm 0,856,334).

As you can see, when someone dies intestate (without a will), all kinds of papers are filed in a probate court if they owned property, or had young children that needed guardians.  For these Probate Court records, they are in several different Record Books because of the time lapse (they were entered at the time of the Court proceeding, or soon after, by the Clerk) and some record types are entered into a special Court Record book (e.g., petitions, bonds, guardianships, etc.).

Abigail (Gates) Seaver, a widow with four children (Abigail in 1819, Lucinda in 1821, Isaac in 1823,and Benjamin in 1825) by Benjamin Seaver, married Isaac Seaver, (1802-1870, Benjamin's younger brother) on 29 November 1832 in Westminster, Massachusetts.  They had two sons, Lyman Seaver in 1834 and Loring Seaver in 1837.

Benjamin and Abigail (Gates) Seaver are my third great-grandparents, parents of Isaac Seaver (1823-1901). 

Needless to say, I find probate records fascinating...

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