Thursday, August 24, 2017

Seavers in the News -- Allan W. Seaver, Handwriting Expert, Dies in 1904

It's time for another edition of "Seavers in the News" - a semi-regular feature from the historical newspapers about persons with the surname Seaver that are interesting, useful, fun, macabre, or add information to my family tree database.

This week's entry is from the Los Angeles Herald newspaper dated 4 November 1904:

The transcription of this article is:


Allan Seaver of Worldwide Reputation Dies at Home

Allan W. Seaver, one of the leading handwriting experts of the United States and one of the best known men in Los Angeles, passed away early Wednesday morning at his home on West Twenty-third street.

Mr. Seaver has frequently, for the past thirty years, been engaged in important cases from California to Maine as an expert, and has been considered one of the first men in the country in his line.  His services have been in demand and decisions in some of the most important cases have depended on his opinion.

In June 1902, he was summoned to Butte, Mont., and asked to give his testimony at the hearing of the Colbert will case, which was of widespread interest.  The expert was called upon to go into every detail of the case, and it was upon his opinion that the verdict actually rested.

Another important trial in which he figured was the Griffith and Bird trial, in which Bird was tried for forgery.

He was called to New York to testify in the case of the state vs. Roland B. Molineaux, charged with the murder of Mrs. Adams by means of poisoned candy sent through the mails, but for some reason was unable to attend.  Altogether he has been a leading witness in nearly 400 cases necessitating the services of an expert, and in every one he has been considered a man of unquestioned integrity.

Daniel T. Aimes, in his book on handwriting, speaks of Mr. Seaver as one of the best men in the work.  Mr. Aimes said that he was an expert in every sense of the word and a man who could not be bought.  The two men were close friends and much of their work was carried on together.

Allan W. Seaver was born in Salem, Mass., in May 1842, but moved to Connecticut at an early age.  He graduated at Harvard and attended Yale for a short term.  He came to Los Angeles sixteen years ago, and had been deputy county clerk for more than half the intervening time.

There has probably never been a man in this position who was more respected by his associates in the court house and by all others with whom he came into contact.  He was appointed by Thomas Rowan just before the latter became mayor under the Democratic administration, and held his position by his own merits, through all the changes in party, under the successive clerks, Ward, Dunamore, Meridith and Newlin.

When Clerk Newlin went into office it was thought that Mr. Seaver might have to go out, and to guard against this a petition signed by more than 250 of the prominent persons in the city, and requesting that the deputy clerk be retained, was presented to Mr. Newlin and honored by him.  The document was afterward given to Mr. Seaver as a token of appreciation and the high esteem in which he was held.  The document is now in possession of the family.

He made and lost two fortunes in the course of his life, and both went through the failure of those with whom he was associated.  The last was lost in Fort Wayne, shortly before the date of his coming to Los Angeles.

A large firm which was secured under his name failed, and his money went to pay the creditors.  Through all his reverses he remained hopeful and cheerful.

The deceased was 68 years old and leaves a widow and married daughter.  The funeral services will be held at the undertaking parlors of Orr & Hines, today at 2 o'clock.

The source citation for this record is:

"Handwriting Expert has Passed Away," obituary, Los Angeles [Calif.] Herald newspaper, 4 November 1903, page 5, column 4, Allan W. Seaver obituary; digital image, California Digital Newspaper Collection ( : accessed 24 August 2017).

What a great obituary!  Surely, this Allan W. Seaver born in Massachusetts is in my RootsMagic database, right?  Well, not exactly.  I don't have a Seaver, Sever, Seavers, Seever, Seevers, or Sevier listing for this man in my database with over 5,000 Seaver persons.  

So I added him to the database, and did some research in census records, and California vital records, and Find A Grave and easily found his birth and death dates, his wife's name and birth and death dates, his daughter's name and spouse and their birth and death dates, etc.  

There are no birth records for a Seaver (any variation) in Salem, Massachusetts in the Salem Vital Records book.  There are 1880 U.S. Census (in Indiana) and 1900 U.S. census records for Allan Seaver and his wife, but I found no census records before 1880.  There is a California voter Registration record that gives his name as Allan Ward Seaver.  I searched FamilySearch without finding any other records of interest.  There are several Ancestry Member Trees with the above information, but he is not in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  I looked for Ward Seaver entries without success.  

So I've struck out once again on a Seaver person.  I wonder who his parents were?


Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

There are many times, when reading old documents, that I would like to have a handwriting expert in the family!

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

There are many times, when attempting to read old documents, that I would like to have a handwriting expert int he family!

Anna Matthews said...

It's too bad you couldn't find a connection, but that is one of the most interesting obit's I've ever read.