Monday, July 10, 2017

Finding the Place Where Shubael Seaver (1640-1730) Lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts

I finished my five-post series on the land records for Shubael Seaver (1640-1730) in Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.  I wondered the area in which he resided during his life.  He was the son of Robert Seaver (1608-1683), the earliest Seaver immigrant to the Boston area in 1634.

Robert Seaver's biography in an NEHGS monograph (William Blake Trask, The Seaver family : a genealogy of Robert Seaver of Roxbury,Massachusetts, and some of his descendants (Boston, Mass. : David Clapp & Son, 1872)) notes that  "Robert Seaver's homestead was located in Roxbury at what is now (approximately) the intersection of Center and Amory Streets. "  He granted all of his land to his children after his wife died or remarried, but there is no probate or land record available that defines what Shubael Seaver received from his father.

The land distribution for Shubael Seaver's real property provides some indication as to where Shubael's homestead may have been:

"...A Certain Wooden House or Tenement with all the Land thereto belonging Situate Lying and being in Roxbury aforesaid being Butted and Bounded as follows Viz^t SouthEasterly by the Highway or Road there measuring on a bevell-Line about four of Gunters Chains and Fifty Links Southerly by said Road or Highway on a bevelling Line Six of said Chains and Seventy three Links North westerly by the Land of George Loughlen about Fifty Links Southerly by the Land of said Loughlen about one Chain and Sixty Eight Links Southeasterly by the Land of said Loughlen about Fifty Links and  Southerly by the said Road or Highway about Two Chains and fifty two Links Northwesterly by the Land of Cap^t Joseph Mayo about Four Chains sixteen Links and Northerly by the Land of Cap^t Nicholas Davis about Ten Chains and Eighty Links. "

An earlier deed noted that the road to the west was "the road to Dedham."  

I needed to determine the boundaries of the land described above.  I used the FREE Deed Platter program at to plot the boundaries or the parcel of land described in the deed above.  First, I made a table of the deed boundary lines from point to point from the description:

Line No.
Bounded on
Length (ft)
Bounded by
Road (to Dedham)
George Loughlen land
George Loughlen land
George Loughlen land
Capt. Joseph Mayo land
Capt. Nicholas Davis land

I calculated the length of each boundary based on a chain being 66 feet and a link being 7.92 inches in length.

In the Deed Platter program (it is only online, and I can show only screen shots of it) I entered the boundary information above.  I assumed that North, South and West were truly those directions, and assumed a 30 degree angle from north-south for the Southeast and Northwest boundaries (that was a guess).  Here are the input fields for Deed Platter (two screens, some overlap):

I clicked on the "Plat Deed" button and saw the outline of the parcel:

I think I guessed pretty well on the angle for the Southeast and Northwest bounds - there is only a little mismatch between the first and last points.

Apparently, George Loughlen had a small area along the road to the south (that's the 0.50 chain by 1.68 chain area).

Can I find a place near the present intersection of Centre and Amory Streets in Roxbury that the plat might fit into?

Here is a Google map of the Boston area, with the marker at 225 Centre Street (at the Amory Street intersection) in the Roxbury area:

Here is a closeup of the marker area of the Centre Street intersection at Amory Street.  This is just to the west of the intersection of Centre Street with Columbus Avenue.

I think it is possible that this is the correct location.  Columbus Avenue didn't exist in 1730, but I think that Centre Street did, and Centre Street probably had a dog leg at the intersection where the southeast corner of the plat occurs.  Centre Street was also one of the roads that went to Dedham to the south, but it was essentially a road west at this point.  

When I look at the Google map above, there is a pathway just to the east of Jackson Square that may be what used to be the angular portion of Centre Street that connected to the Centre Street that now ends in an intersection with Columbus and Heath Street and curves to the west to what is now Centre Street that intersects with Amory Street.

The length along the road to the south of the land deed is about 19.92 chains long, or 721 feet.  Using the scale on the Google map, that is the approximate distance from what is now the pathway to the east of Jackson Square to Bickford Street to the West along Centre Street.

It appears that this is a commercial area with a railroad running through it and Jackson Square station is located there.  I have not visited this location.  

I tried looking for historic maps of this area of Roxbury to try to ascertain how the streets ran in this time period but was able to find only an 1876 map and a 1905 map.  I found a book on Google Books that describes Centre Street in the 19th Century, but it did not have a map:

Francis S. Drake, The Town of Roxbury: It's Memorable Persons and Places, Its History and Antiquities, with Numerous Illustrations of its Old Landmarks and Noted Personages (Roxbury, Mass. : the author, 1878).

The book did say that Centre Street was the highway ot Dedham.

Perhaps the NEHGS or the Boston Public Library has street maps from the 18th century that might enlighten me.  

If someone does have a link to a historical map of this area I would appreciate knowing about it.

This was genealogy fun at its funnest!  


The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

1 comment:

Marian said...

I'm interested in the older roads around Brookline, Mass., so this post caused me to I study several maps of the area around Amory and Centre Streets. Did you notice that Columbus Ave becomes Seaver Street where it crosses Washington -- about half a mile south of Jackson Square?