Monday, October 14, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Post 190: Luke Bigelow Deposition Concerning Job Seaver Land in Westmnster, Mass.

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started his own 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 a deposition in Worcester County, Massachusetts dated 12 March 1859, taken of Luke Bigelow, concerning land in Westminster presently owned by Job Seaver (a third great-granduncle, son of Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816)).  My second great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver 3rd (son of Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825), nephew of Job Seaver, and grandson of Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816)), is mentioned in this deposition.  

There are three parts to this document - I have numbered them below for clarity:

1)  Job Seaver's deposition

To Nathaniel Wood, and Goldsmith F. Bailey, two Justices of the Peace, within and for the County of Worcester, residing in Fitchburg in said County and each Counsellor at Law, …

I, Job Seaver of Westminster, in said County, hereby set forth that I now hold a deed of conveyance of a certain tract of land, lying in the northeasterly part of said Westminster, bounded northerly by land of Nathan Howard; Easterly by land of Aretas Raymond; Southerly by land of Susannah W. Seaver, & my other land, & westerly by a County Road leading to the house of Sewall Barnes, conveyed to me by Mary J. Seaver, by deed, dated December 21st 1833 & recorded in said County Registry of Deeds, Book 299, Page 113, the title to which I contend, was formerly in Benjamin Seaver, the father of said Susannah W. Seaver, & that a certain tract of land (of which the above described tract is a part), was conveyed by Gillman Thurston & Moses Thurston to Abner Whitney & the said Benjamin Seaver, sometime between 1803 & 1806, which deed has been lost never having been recorded.  And I am desirous of perpetuating the evidence that said deed was made and delivered by the said Gillman & Moses Thurston to said Whitney & Seaver, and this I think I can do, by Mr. Luke Bigelow of Westminster aforesaid, and I request that he may be summoned before you to give evidence of what he knows respecting the said subject matter, to be preserved in perpetual remembrance of the thing.  And all the persons interested, or supposed to be interested,in the title, claim or interest, in the tract of land first above described other than myself about which I am desirous of perpetuating the evidence of said Bigelow, are Samuel Munroe & Abigail Munroe, his wife, of Gardner in said county, James Bruce and Lucinda Bruce his wife, Isaac Seaver the third, and Isaac Seaver the first, & Abigail Seaver his wife, all of said Westminster.

March 14th 1859                                        Job Seaver (by mark)

Attest: Edmund A. Proctor    

2)  Notice to Seaver relatives:

Worcester ss: To Samuel Munroe and Abigail Munroe, his wife, both of Gardner in said County, James Bruce and Lucinda Bruce his wife of Westminster in said county, Isaac Seaver and Abigail Seaver his wife of said Westminster, and Isaac Seaver the third, of Westminster.

Whereas Job Seaver, of said Westminster, has requested us to take the deposition of Luke Bigelow of said Westminster, yeoman, respecting the title & conveyance of a certain tract of land, lying in the northeasterly part of Westminster aforesaid, bounded northerly by land of Nathan Howard; Easterly by land of Aretas Raymond; Southerly by land of Susannah M. Seaver, & other land of said Job Seaver, and westerly by a road leading by the dwelling house of Sewall Barnes, from one Gillman and Moses Thurston, to Abner Whitney and Benjamin Seaver, the father of said Susannah W. Seaver, to be preserved in perpetual remembrance of the thing.  And Saturday the 12th of day of March instant at one of the clock in the afternoon, at our Office in Fitchburg in said County, are appointed the time and place for the said deponent to testify what he knows upon the subject matter aforesaid.  You are hereby notified that you may then and there present, and put such interrogatories as you may think fit.  Given under our hands and seals at Fitchburg aforesaid, on the first day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine.              Nath^l Wood {seal}
                                                            Goldsmith F. Bailey {seal}
                                                            Justices of the Peace, & Counsellors at Law.

Worcester ss; March 5th 1859.  I this day served the within notice upon the within named Samuel Munroe, Abigail Munroe, James Bruce, Lucinda Bruce, Isaac Seaver, Abigail seaver and Isaac Seaver the third, by leaving at the last and usual place of abode of each of them a true & attested copy of the within notice.     

                                          Alpheus P. Kimball; Deputy Sheriff

Fees; Service    2.10

7 Copies            3.50
20 miles travel    .80

3)  Deposition of Luke Bigelow

I, Luke Bigelow of Westminster, in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, testify & say that I am eighty-four years of age the 26th day of April now last past, and now reside in said Westminster and was born there and that place has always been my residence.  I was acquainted with Benjamin Seaver who died somewhere about forty years ago; also with Abner Whitney both of said Westminster, also with Moses Thurston & Gillman Thurston, and am acquainted with a certain tract of land in said Westminster the boundaries of which are now as follows: It is bounded northerly by land of Nathan Howard, Easterly by land of Aretas Raymond; Southerly by land of Susannah W. Seaver & land of Job Seaver, and westerly by a County Road leading by the house of Sewall Barnes.  I once made a bargain for the purchase of the aforesaid tract of land, together with another piece of land lying northerly thereof with Moses Thurston aforesaid, who then with his brother Gillman Thurston owned the same.  This was I think sometime between the year 1801 & 1807.  The said Abner Whitney being desirous of owning said lands agreed with me for a consideration to give up my bargain, and let him have said lands, and then the said Abner Whitney took said Benjamin Seaver into company with him, as I understood, and it was agreed that said Moses and Gillman Thurston should deed both tracts of land, which were then all one piece of land, to said Abner Whitney & Benjamin Seaver, and then (which was between 1801 & 1807, according to the best of my recollection) we all to wit; Moses Thurston, Gillman Thurston, Abner Whitney, Benjamin Seaver & myself went to the store of Rufus Dodd in said Westminster and he made out a deed embracing the two pieces of land aforesaid, then all in one piece, from said Moses & Gillman Thurston, running to said Abner Whitney & Benjamin Seaver, which deed was signed & sealed by said Moses Thurston & Gillman Thurston in my presence, and I think I witnessed their signatures, to said deed, as also did said Dodd.  Dodd not being a Justice of the Peace, took the deed and carried it down to Abner Holdens, who was then a Justice of the Peace, and said Moses Thurston & Gillman Thurston, Abner Whitney & Benjamin Seaver went with him, and the deed was there acknowledged by the said Thurstons before said Holden I think, and then said Abner Whitney & Benjamin Seaver took the deed & left it in said Dodds hands to keep until they could make a decision thereof between themselves, & give cross quitclaims.  At the same time said Whitney & Seaver, I think, gave their note for the pay for said land at all events they secured the said Thurstons for the consideration given for said land.  The said Abner Whitney & Benjamin Seaver took possession of said land forthwith, & continued to occupy & improve the same.  How they divided between themselves, I do not personally know.  Some years afterwards & after the death of said Dodd, I understood the deed aforesaid was lost & could not be found among Dodds papers, but I never made search for it.

                                                    Luke Bigelow

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Worcester ss:  On this twelfth day of March in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred & fifty-nine, at Fitchburg in the County of Worcester aforesaid, the aforesaid Deponent Luke Bigelow personally appeared before us Nathaniel Wood & Goldsmith F. Bailey, both Justices of the Peace, in & for said county & Counsellors at Law and was duly sworn by us to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, relating to the subject matter, for which this deposition is taken, and was then examined, and his testimony was taken in writing by us, as above written, and carefully read by us to the said deponent, and subscribed by him in our presence.  This deposition was taken at the request of Job Seaver of Westminster, in said County, in perpetual remembrance of the thing.  And Samuel Munroe & Abigail Munroe his wife of Gardner in said County, James Bruce & Lucinda Bruce his wife of Westminster in said County, Isaac Seaver & Abigail Seaver his wife of said Westminster & Isaac Seaver the third of Westminster were all notified, as appears by the annexed notice & return, but did not attend the taking of this deposition.

                                                        Nath^l Wood
                                                        Goldsmith F. Bailey
                                               Justices of the Peace & Counsellors at Law

Rec^d March 22d 1859 at 9^h 15^m A.M. Ent^d & Ex^d By Alex. H. Wilder, Reg^r

Are you as confused as I am by all of this information?  You really have to read it several times.  I had to read it all again today in order to write about it here.  I'm not sure that I completely understand it.

I think the facts are these, based on what I know about the overall Seaver family in Westminster:

*  Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816), along with Abner Whitney, acquired the land in question by deed from Gillman Thurston and Moses Thurston in the 1803-1806 time period.  The deed was never recorded and was subsequently lost.

*  Mary J. Seaver, a sister of Job Seaver, acquired the land as part of her inheritance from Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) and Martha (Whitney) Seaver (1764-1832).  She sold it, by recorded deed, to Job Seaver.

*  Job Seaver thought that Luke Bigelow, being a long-time neighbor of Job Seaver, could testify as to the missing deed and thereby confirm the ownership claim of Job Seaver to the land.

*  Other interested parties named in Job's deposition were Job's siblings, and his nephew, Isaac Seaver 3rd (son of Job's deceased brother, Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825)).  

*  In the second part, the Court gave notice about Luke Bigelow's deposition date and invited the interested parties to attend the deposition.

*  In the third part, Luke Bigelow's deposition is memorialized.  He described how he had made a bargain for the land with the brothers Thurston, but Abner Whitney and Benjamin Seaver desired to buy the two tracts of the Thurston's land, and he agreed and witnessed the transaction in Rufus Dodd's store sometime between 1801 and 1807.

Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) bought several tracts of land in the northern part of Westminster in the 1790 to 1810 time frame, but this particular tract of land was never listed in the Worcester County Deeds.  I have not been able to determine exactly how this tract of land was bequeathed in the probate records of Benjamin and Martha (Whitney) Seaver.  As part of the distribution of Martha (Whitney) Seaver's estate in 1833, she bequeathed land that she had received, in Benjamin's probate distribution, to her unmarried daughters, including Mary Jane Seaver.  

The description of the land, and the names of the neighbors, may enable me to find the location of the land on maps of Westminster dating from the 1850 to 1870 time period.  I need to follow up on this task.  I know the general area, but not the exact location.

As you can see, trying to unravel this "ball of string" which has been mouldering in the Worcester County Deeds for over 150 years is not straight-forward!  I should capture all of the deeds of the persons in this Seaver family, not just those for my ancestors.  

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver  


Geolover said...

One great element of Luke Bigelow's narrative is description of how the deed was made: the granting parties went to the local storekeeper to have him write the instrument, then the storekeeper and the parties went to the nearest Justice of the Peace to have him authenticate the document as their respective acts and deeds. This is a gem in the rather small inventory of such back-stories.

Anonymous said...

There is a great deal more information is this record than just the 'facts' you have extracted about your Seaver ancestors. Land records are fabulous for thier richness, but as you said, not entirely straight forward.

I am working through an English example at, and will extract all the infomation in my next post. Can I challenge you to do the same for this document?