Thursday, January 31, 2019

Seavers in the News - John E. Seaver Killed By Train in 1940

It's time for another edition of "Seavers in the News" - a weekly 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 Record [Hackensack, N.J.] newspaper dated 8 July 1940:

The transcription of the article is:

"John E. Seaver, 59, Is Killed By Erie Train At Ridgewood
Flour Broker Who Had Breakdown 3 Years Ago Probably Committed Suicide, Police Say

"John E. Seaver, 59, of 46 South Monroe Street, Ridgewood,  a partner in the New York flour brokerage firm of Seaver and Seaver, one of the Produce Exchange's oldest members, was crushed to death at 12:12 P.M. yesterday by a New York-bound Erie passenger train as it approached the Ridgewood station.


"Dr. Arthur Greenfield, assistant County physician, said Seaver committed suicide.  The broker suffered a nervous breakdown three years ago and was still under the care of a doctor.

"According to train engineer, Orville Crane of 14 Catherine Street, Port Jervis, N.Y.  Mr. Seaver either fell or threw himself from the north end of the west-side station platform onto the railroad tracks.  The train which was slowing up to stop continued for about 400 feet.  Mr. Seaver had left his car parked near the station.

"When Mr. Seaver left his home at noon he told his wife and son he was going to drive to the station to get a check which he expected containing a refund for a railroad commutation ticket which he had turned back.  Patrolman Herman
(Continued on page 4, column 2)

(continued from page 1)
Adickes notified Mrs. Seaver at 1:45 P.M. of her husband's death.  Friends said she had started worrying a half hour earlier about his absence.

"The station agent, Tom Kane of Glen Rock, said that Mr. Seaver had not entered the station.

"The upper part of the body was completely mangled although two pairs of eyeglasses which he carried in a coat pocket were not broken.  Dr. James Placa, Ridgewood police physician pronounced Mr. Seaver dead.  Dr. Arthur Greenfield, Assistant County physician, ordered the body removed to The Van Emburgh Mortuary, Ridgewood.


"He was identified by a driver's license in his wallet and a signet ring which he wore.

"Mr. Seaver had been ill recently and had not been working regularly in New York.  Friends said there were no financial difficulties that would have caused him to take his own life.

"The death was the first fatal accident at Ridgewood since 8 years ago when a young woman fell while attempting to board a train.

"The conductor of the train was W.T. Keyes of 159 Pearl Street, Paterson.  Dr. H.A. Bonynge investigated the death for the Erie Railroad.  Captain Summerrock was in charge of the police investigation, Sergeant John Hennemann and Patrolman Adickes and John Dros assisting.


"Mr. Seaver was a former treasurer of the Produce Exchange in New York City, of which his firm is one of the oldest members.  He had also been chairman of the admissions committee and president of the Flour Club.

"He was born in Woodstock, Vt., July 21, 1880.  He attended the University of Vermont where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.  He had lived in Flatbush, N.Y., before moving to Ridgewood 21 years ago.  He lived on Godwin Avenue, Ridgewood, for several years, later moving to Monroe Street.

"He was an active member of the West Side Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood.

"Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Helen Seaver; a son, Philip Seaver, 19, who is a sophomore at Cornell University; and three brothers, James Seaver of Westchester, N.Y.; Robert Seaver of Quechee, Vt.; and Frederick Seaver of Brooklyn, with whom he was in business.

"The funeral services will be at 4:30 P.M. tomorrow at the Van Emburgh Funeral Home, Ridgewood, with Dr. Arthur Hughes of the West Side Presbyterian Church, officiating.  Cremation will be in the New York and New Jersey Crematory at North Bergen.  Burial will be in Quechee, Vt."

The source citation for the article is:

"John E. Seaver, 59, Is Killed By Erie Train At Ridgewood,The Record [Hackensack, N.J.] newspaper, Monday, 8 July 1940, page 1, column 3, John E. Seaver obituary;   ( : accessed 31 January 2019).

This story is horrific and sad.  It does provide some family information about the subject, his wife, son, and brothers.

John Elliott Seaver (1880-1940) was the son of Richard Adam and Eliza Maria (Barber) Seaver.  He married Helen Elizabeth Benson (1895-????) on 15 December 1915 in Hartford, Vermont.  They had one son, Philip Henry Seaver (1920-1999).   John Elliott Seaver is my 6th cousin 3 times removed.

I have these persons in my RootsMagic family tree, but I did not have the career and personal information for John Elliott Seaver.  


Disclosure:  I have a paid subscription to and have used it extensively to find articles about my ancestral families.

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