Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The 1858 Murder Trial of Mortimer Seaver - Post 6: More Testimony of Sarah Seaver

I am transcribing a series of newspaper articles concerning the 1858 murder trial of Mortimer Seaver published in the Flint, Michigan Wolverine Citizen newspaper.  The series to date:

*  The 1858 Trial of Mortimer Seaver - Post 1: Benjamin Phillips Testimony (10 June 2014)
*  The 1858 Murder Trial of Mortimer Seaver - Post 2: Jeremiah Slack's Testimony (11 June 2014)
*  The 1858 Murder Trial of Mortimer Seaver - Post 3: Testimony of 4 More Witnesses (12 June 2014)

*  The 1858 Murder Trial of Mortimer Seaver - Post 4: Testimony of 10 More Witnesses (13 June 2014)

*  The 1858 Murder Trial of Mortimer Seaver - Post 5: Testimony of the Victim's Wife (16 June 2014)

The article starts in the right-hand column of Page 1 above, continues on to most of Page 2, and then finishes in the 30 January 1858 edition of the newspaper on pages 1 and 2.  The first page of the 23 January 1858 issue is at http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=9AjqDp0R1qcC.

I am transcribing the articles in a series of blog posts - who knows how long this will take.  I hope my readers enjoy it.  Note that this is a reporter's summary of the trial, not the trial court transcript.


[from page 2, columns 4-5, 23 January 1858, Wolverine Citizen [Flint, Mich.] newspaper]

Cross-examined by Mr. Davis -- There was a pistol in the house, which belonged to young Mr. Chapin; Mortimer kept it.  Mortimer was the youngest son; the baby of her and his father; he was indulged more than the rest of the children;  they regarded him as the baby always - let him have his own way pretty much.  Talked this matter over to Mr. A.C. Johnson; he came of his own accord to learn the facts; he came a number of times.  Witness did not say in the presence of Kennedy and Tupper, that she had been knitting a half hour, or any length of time, before the news of his death.  Remembers Mr. Tupper being at the house on Friday evening.  Did not tell him that the guns stood in the wood-house till after her son reported his father 

[page 2, column 5]

shot, and then Mortimer took the rifle and hung it up.  

Mortimer brought Charles over to Grand Blanc, with his team, on Thursday evening.  The east door of the wood-house was open in the forenoon of Friday; there is a door to the shop on the east side; don't recollect whether that door was open that forenoon.

Witness understood that her husband borrowed some money of Nelson Maine, as Mortimer took all the money, almost, when he went to N.Y.  Her husband was concerned about Mortimer keeping company with Kate Steele; he was dissatisfied at the idea of Mortimer marrying her; was worried at it.  He was rather put about it, a short time before he went away to N.Y.  There was some talk at Maine's about it -- witness does not know what.  There was a young man at Maine's called Bill Smith, that Mr. Seaver did not want Mortimer to associate with.

does not know what the objections to him were, but thinks Mr. Seaver was more put about on account of Mortimer associating with him, than about the girl.  Mortimer was very intimate with him.

The first time Mr. Johnson came to them, was soon after Mortimer's arrest.  Thinks Mr. Johnson expressed a desire to have her state the facts to which she could testify, so as he might note them down.  On one occasion there was something put in the water in a stone jug, that her husband was accustomed to carry to his work.  It had a bitter taste.  A week or two before his death, as Mortimer and her husband sat under a tree he thought he was shot at.  They heard like the nap of a cap close by, but could not see any person around.  On the Sunday before his death, her husband went to a little fallow in his land, and told that while he was there, a ball whistled past his head.  He remarked that he thought a ball passed closer to him than he liked.  Mortimer had a borrowed pistol, which had been taken home, and afterwards borrowed again.  Witness did not know till after her husband's death, that the pistol was about the house.

To Mr. Wisner -- What her husband said when he came home was, that he was near being killed, that a ball passed by his head, nearer than he liked.  Mortimer went to meeting that afternoon.  The water spoken of had made her husband and Mortimer both very sick.  One of the neighbors had some difficulty with Mr. Seaver, and on one occasion told him he had better repent soon.  They had some difficulty and argument about a School House.  What the neighbor said to him was "I think you had better repent."

In reference to what the the witness said to Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Tupper, she thought they had embarrassed Mortimer by the questions they put to him on the examination at the inquest; and also therefore followed Mr. Tupper out doors and told him all she knew.  She told him Mortimer made a mistake in saying he had not a gun in his hand in any shape or manner; and told Mr. Tupper of his having taken the loaded gun and hung it up out of the way of the children around.  Mortimer is very easily embarrassed.  

To Mr. Davis -- The neighbor's name she referred to is Addison Armstrong.  Mortimer never went much to school.  He did notl ike going to school as the School House was at a distance, and there was a bad way to it.  Heard Mr. Seaver talk of how mad Mr. Armstrong was with him on another occasion about a road.

(To be Continued)


Well - we have a murder (?) of a respected man, Aaron Seaver,  in Grand Blanc, Genesee County, Michigan.

This finishes the direct testimony of the widow, Sarah Seaver.  In this segment, we learned more about Mortimer's purported wife, Kate Steele, and a farm hand Bill Smith.  We also learn that Aaron Seaver had some close calls in the weeks before his death, may have been poisoned, and had an argument with a neighbor.  

Aaron Seaver (1793-1857) is a second cousin, six times removed to me.  Our common ancestors are my 7th great-grandparents, Joseph Seaver (1672-1754) and Mary Read (1680-????).

Stay tuned!!  There is more testimony of other witnesses, and some witnesses are recalled.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/06/the-1858-murder-trial-of-mortimer_17.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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