Thursday, May 24, 2018

Seavers in the News - Roland Burrage Dixon Death in 1934 in Boston

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, mysterious, fun, macabre, or add information to my family tree database.

This week's entry is from the Boston [Mass.] Herald newspaper dated Friday, 21 December 1934:

The transcription of this obituary is:


"Was Member of Harvard Faculty for 37 Years

"Funeral services for Prof. Roland Burrage Dixon of Harvard University, who died Wednesday night at his home at Bare Hill in the town of Harvard, will be held tomorrow at 2:30 P.M. in the Forest Hills crematory chapel, The Rev. Henry Wilder Foote will officiate.

"Prof. Dixon had been a member of the anthropology department at Harvard for 37 years, and was distinguished in his field.  He was born in Worcester, Nov. 6, 1875, the son of Lewis Seaver and Ellen R. Burrage Dixon.  He was graduated from Harvard with the class of 1897, immediately joining the staff of the anthropology department as an assistant.  At the same time he continued his studies and received a master's degree in 1899 and a doctor's degree in 1900, both from Harvard.

"In 1901, he became an instructor in his field at Harvard and in 1906 he was made an assistant professor.  Full professorship was awarded him in 1916.  He was also the curator of ethnology and librarian of the Peabody Museum of archaeology and ethnology at Harvard.

"In 1918 and the following year Prof. Dixon was a member of the staff of the American commission to negotiate the peace at Paris.  He was a member of the Harvard clubs of Boston and New York, the Cosmos club of Washington, the Union Club and the Faculty Club of Cambridge.

"He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts ansd Science, the Philosophical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"Prof. Dixon was a member of numerous scientific societies, both here and abroad, including the American Anthropological Society of which he was president from 1913 to 1915, the American Folk-Lore Society over which he presided from 1907 to 1909, the Linguistic Society of America and the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.  He was the author of numerous scientific books and papers.

"He was unmarried, the nearest survivor being a cousin."

The source citation for this record is:

"Rites Tomorrow for Prof. Dixon,Boston [Mass. Herald newspaper, 21 December 1934, page 35, column 3, Roland Burrage Dixon obituary; digital image, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 24 May 2018), Newspaper Archives collection.

I was attracted to this obituary by the name "Lewis Seaver" named as the father of Roland Burrage Dixon, then I realized the last name was Dixon.  Was Roland's father a Seaver or a Dixon?  What was the Seaver connection?  So I did some research.  I easily found Roland with his parents, Lewis S. and Ellen R. Dixon in the 1880 census, and found Lewis S. Dixon in the 1870 census before he married Ellen Rebecca Burrage in 1875 (where Lewis's parents were named as Lewis W. and Susan W. Dixon).  

It turns out that Susan W. Dixon (1825-1909) married Lewis Wheaton Seaver in 1844 in Dedham, Massachusetts, and they had son Lewis Seaver (born 1845 in Dedham).  However, the father Lewis Wheaton Seaver died in 1847, and Susan Seaver and son Lewis Seaver (age 4) resided with her parents, George and Eliza (Fales) Dixon in the 1850 U.S. census.  Susan married again, to Rufus Ellis Dixon (1816-1897), perhaps a first or second cousin of Susan) before 1855, and they are on the 1855 Massachusetts State Census with Susan's parents and Lewis S. Dixon.  Then I found a name change record that changed the name of Lewis Seaver to Lewis Seaver Dixon in 1855.

Lewis Seaver, son of Lewis W. and Susan W. (Dixon) Seaver, used the name "Lewis Seaver Dixon" from at least 1855 on, and died 5 August 1923 in Boston, Massachusetts.  He was a physician.  A passport application in 1900 gave me Lewis Seaver Dixon's birth date.  Lewis Seaver Dixon (1845-1923) is my 6th cousin 4x removed, so Roland Burrage Dixon is my 7th cousin 3x removed.  

Apparently, Roland Burrage Dixon left no known descendants, but he sure was a smart and accomplished Seaver cousin.

That was fun, and solved a long-standing mystery about what happened to Lewis Seaver, son of Lewis Wheaton and Susan Waters (Dixon) Seaver.  Solving one mystery at a time.  This only took an hour to work through!


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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