Saturday, August 14, 2010

I stopped by the 18th century and bumped into Randy Seaver

Recently I have been working on a house history of an 18th century colonial in Millis, Massachusetts. This project was for a monthly column called “Old House Secrets” which appears in a local newspaper. Public record listed this property as being built around 1790. A conflicting document from the Massachusetts Historical Commission listed the date as 1760. While it wasn’t my goal to find out the exact date the house was built, I wanted to get back as far as possible.

After quite a bit of work I broke the “year 1800” barrier. The earliest record I found at the Norfolk County Registry of deeds was a 1795 deed transferring the property. This is not the earliest deed for the property however. Norfolk County was created from Suffolk County in 1794. Earlier deeds could be found at the Massachusetts State Archives in Boston. For this article, though, I had run out of time and budget to go further.

The 1795 deed transferred the property from Ichabod Seaver to Tisdale Puffer. For my house history research I like to do genealogical sleuthing to discover more information about the people who lived inside the home. I wanted to know as much as possible about Ichabod Seaver. The deed itself provided me with his name, his wife’s name (Rebecca), and his occupation (cordwainer). I can also infer from the deed that in 1795 and for sometime earlier he resided in Millis, Massachusetts.

My first attempt was a broad Google search of the terms “Ichabod Seaver” +Rebecca. I like to include names in quotations so that Google will return only hits with that exact name. The +Rebecca ensured that the name Rebecca would also be found on the same page. The site I was brought to was called “The Descendants of Caleb Seaver.” There I found my Ichabod, with his wife, Rebecca, and information about their marriage and children. I floated to the top of the page to see who the site was created by and what did I find – Genea-Musings’ very own Randy Seaver.

When I started my research, the name Seaver never triggered any bells in my mind. Though previously, I had located a survey sheet on another Seaver house in Massachusetts for Randy. Running across Randy while doing my recent house history research was fun. It was almost like discovering a long lost cousin.

Typically I don’t research the whole lives of my subjects, just the years they lived in the house. But with Ichabod Seaver I’ve decided to go further. Perhaps it was the combination of a cool sounding name, bumping into a colleague and the connection to my home county. Maybe after I have finished compiling all the research you’ll see it here as another blog post.


  1. Well I bet you were surprised when you saw the name. It is such a small world. Interesting piece. And, I hope he is pleased.

  2. Yes, Barbara, very pleased! Marian, thank you for dragging me back over 200 years.

    Do you have an image of the deed? Or an abstract? I wouldl ove to put it in my database. Norfolk deeds is one set of records I have not chased yet. I am so behind! I'm stuck at about 1720 in Middlesex deeds for my hundreds of surnames. I haven't done Suffolk or Barnstable probates or deeds, nor Essex deeds, nor Bristol deeds. I have done Norfolk, Essex and Bristol probates. I've done Worcester deeds and probates. There is too much data available and I don't spend enough time doing research!

    Thanks -- Randy