Charles Morse Seaver and his family

The architect Henry Morse Seaver (1873-1947), my first cousin once removed – his mother was my great-grandfather’s sister – left a very valuable set of family papers, which his daughter Elizabeth Helfman lodged with the Massachusetts Historical Society. I’ve scanned and uploaded here his accounts of his own immediate family.

Charles and Sue Seaver
I’m pretty sure this is the four Seaver kids, maybe taken around 1887 with the two older boys sitting down; so left to right that would be Philip (born 1881), Henry (born 1873), Alice (born 1878) and Walter (born 1870).

CHARLES M.SEAVER of W. Roxbury and his Family

by Henry M. Seaver, Pittsfield Mass 1939.

My father Charles M. Seaver, born Nov. 4th 1848, was just too young to go to the Civil War, but he remembered being taken to Readville to see Roxbury men there in camp, and to a camp at Brook Farm in West Roxbury. Also he remembered the many funerals when bodies were sent home after battles in Virginia. His was a normal childhood of one whose parents were of moderate circumstances, high school graduation being the last of his school education. His father, Joshua Seaver, when a young man, was in the grocery business, but soon changed to hold various public offices, town clerk, Sec. of the School Comm., and Judge of the Municipal Court. Father’s mother, Emmeline Morse, was the second wife, and he had one own sister, Emma. I believe he never was fond of his older half brother, even after grown up, for he remembered that George used to kick to pieces the mud houses of his little brother. At sixteen in 1863, he was left an orphan and Uncle Charles Morse took him to live with his family in West Roxbury, and Aunt Harriet Champney took his sister to Jamaica Plain to her family.

I suppose father went to work right away, and was one of those who took the train to Boston before seven A.M.. I think the first position was as a “boy” in a wholesale woolen place on Franklin St., sweeping, running errands and sewing up bundles of wool ripped open by prospective customers. Here he was sent at times, to act as a servant, tending the front door of his employer’s Mt. Vernon St, house, for children’s parties, always being directed to go to 61 Pinckney St, the service entrance. I do not know how he acquired bookkeeping, but as something of a bookkeeper, I believe, he went to work in the office of Wheeler and Wilson, Sewing Machine Co.. These places did not last long as about 1869 he heard of a place with Cyrus Wakefield, an East India merchant who imported rattan and other things. He got the place and here he stayed many years, as bookkeeper with the Wakefield Rattan Co and the Heywood Bros. and Wakefield Co. until he retired voluntarily at 50 years of age in 1898. At this time he was cashier and credit manager, and I imagine the salary was not over three thousand dollars but I never knew. His bookkeeping was always in long hand in big books, not loose leaf, working on high desks on high stools or standing. This last place was at 115 Washington St, Boston a part of the retail store of the company.

Retiring at 50 while strong and well, was, I think, a great mistake, but his ideas of family and economics made him feel that it was highly commendable to save and retire on income from investments. He had not the slightest desire to pay for children’s education beyond free high school, nor for doctor’s bills, toys, or good clothes or entertainment. He did choose to have a horse and a cottage at the seashore that were of enjoyment of the whole family. We were expected to do what he did, go to work, and begin to pay board at home. At the time of his retirement Mother, who had had a servant for years was required to do without a maid, for father was to be at home and so would help with the housework. He was never handy at this, and beyond dusting a little when he could think of it, his help was nothing. His income from a very few stocks and Ist. Mortgages and three rented houses was not over twenty five hundred dollars, I think, and, from appearances, was far from enough to take care of any sicknesses or accidents or losses. Mother’s income from her Hibbard inheritance of about $12000.00 he required to help out his inadequate income. She never had more than twelve dollars a month allowance of her income of about $50.00 and some of that she would spend on house expenses. During the World War his stocks in shipbuilding concerns paid unusually well but in the twenties they failed to pay dividends. I think if father had lived longer he would have had to have help from his children or use up his capital. Mother once said that he realized his retirement did not bring the satisfaction that he had expected. I think, that as he was short of money all the time from 50 to 75, he must have realized it was not sensible to have given up a good position when he’d have been kept many years longer. When he died he left about $47000.00 including real estate, and of this little was in good stocks and no bonds. His saving was entirely money that some would have used on family benefits, but he thought he would do his duty by the family in leaving some property to them.

I do not know when he met mother but we suppose it was at the Woodburys house where there were several popular girls who were mother’s friends. Father had been in West Roxbury but six years when, on the night before Christmas, 1869, he married mother at the Hibbard house. The Morses were there and Carrie Morse remembers her gay dress. I never heard of any wedding journey nor wedding presents. Father was 21 and mother was 18 and 2 months. Carrie Morse thinks that an inheritance from his father prompted him to marry a few weeks after he was twenty one. Aunt Ann Hibbard, eleven at that time, remembers nothing of the courtship more than that father rode up to the house at a gallop on the Morse’s white horse to see mother. Mother was then stout and always was. They say she matured very young and was a matured woman when married. Father lived at the Hibbards about three years, leaving there very early in the morning, after a breakfast so hastily gotten by Mary Cronin that lumps of fried potatoes were found to be frozen in the centre. The first year was far from complete when their first son, Walter, was born, in the east bedroom of the Hibbard house. Two and a half years later I was born in the same house, same room.

[NW comment: Walter was born on 5 August 1870, not quite seven and a half months after his parents’ wedding on Christmas Eve, and almost exactly nine months after his mother’s eighteenth birthday on 3 November 1869 and his father’s 21st birthday the following day. It must have been a fun birthday party.]

[It’s interesting that although Aunt Ann is mentioned twice here, there is no mention of the two Hibbard uncles, Thomas and Henry, even though Henry Seaver, the author, must have been named after the latter (Henry is not a Seaver or Morse name). Also worth noting that when my grandmother, Henry Hibbard’s daughter, mentions Henry Seaver’s older brother Walter in her own memoirs, she describes him as an only child!]

A few weeks after I was born, father and mother moved into a small mansard roof two story house they hired, on Park Street West Roxbury, a house now standing, about half way between Rutledge and Oriole Sts, south side. Soon he bought a lot on the South-west corner of Oriole and Wren Sts. that was well out of town, both streets laid out as to fences but both grass grown muddy wheeltracks. Then he hunted up a Mr. Alonzo Spear, a carpenter, and up on the roof of Mr Shumway’s house astride the ridge, father arranged verbally with Mr. Spear to build him a house. Into this the family moved Mar 20th 1876. There was certainly no architect and probably no plan was drawn, just a common house, a strung out plan from a front door, never used, through rooms back hall, kitchen, back room, shop and hen house. It had eight rooms, a poor plan, but father’s lack of judgement caused him to build about the same for his second house and even his third which was at Christmas Cove, Me. where that plan was impossibly bad for a very nice lot. He never knew that it was bad and once said he’d rebuild it as it was if burned down.

[NW comment: Henry Seaver, the author of this note, grew up to become an architect.]

Father’s idea of prosperity was ownership of property and that meant land. He bought a field on the south of his house, the corner of Bellevue St. and Oriole St., and sold some lots, built a house to let, and built for himself a better house at 156 Bellevue St., a house still standing. That was in 1886, a house drawn out by an architect from direction by father, a long plan hard to work in, a house of eleven rooms. It was here that both father and mother died, same room, same bed, but fifteen years apart. Father promised his second wife he’d build a new smaller house but he never did. In 1883 father began taking the family to Christmas Cove Me. and never ceased to go there and enjoy it every year till about five years before he died. In 1884 or 85 he built the cottage at Christmas Cove, a carpenter job, without charm and with a poor plan and no design. In all the years of growing up, the Seaver family had good health, apparently, for there was no family doctor, Mother took us through measles and stomach troubles with no doctor, and we had nothing worse, Father had a heart trouble, pericarditis, when in his forties, which he thought would kill him, but it was caused by his persisting in running for the trains and he stopped enough so that he lived to be seventy five. Mother was very very stout but well, though it was hard for her to walk and be on her feet. She was an even tempered sweet woman who never complained. I suppose that it was that excessive weight that gave too much for her kidneys to do, so that Bright’s disease developed and she died at fifty eight. Before mother’s death, Nov 2nd 1909, Otto Thanisch, Alice’s husband had died at our house in West Roxbury, Mar 24th 1909, mother being alone with him when he died. Father had always assumed that mother would outlive him and planned that she should have enough to live on when he died. Father thought it a kindness to try to keep mother from knowing it was Bright’s disease, and never spoke of her failing. Mother was intelligent and unafraid, and I think she knew for a long time she had a fatal illness, and did not tell of her headaches and weakness. She tried to carry on as usual, and continued to do her housework with no maid up to the end, or practically the end. Father said the doctor told him that it would not do her harm to do some housework. Maybe this work did not hasten the end, but it was so hard for her that she wrote to me not to come to see her as she could cook but little. It was a poor relationship between a husband and a dying wife. As she saw what father’s attitude was, she played the game and let him suppose she didn’t know the truth. Finally after a summer in Christmas Cove, and a fall in which she tried and failed to come to Pittsfield, they got a maid to come. That night mother had a convulsion and in a day was dead.

Judging from present days and from other people, one might say father was not fond of mother, but I think he was, and she of him, in their own way and in the way of those times. We never saw any signs of it by act or by spoken word. Alone they maybe were different. Father was much heartbroken by mother’s death, he’d never planned it so. Though he dominated the family, he lived a narrow life, entirely dependent on mother’s companionship.

Then, after visiting us in Pittsfield and Walter in California, came two years of living at 156 Bellevue Street with paid housekeepers, a most unhappy arrangement. Father did not want to give up his home and board, he loved his things, and did not want to move a single chair. The piano that he’d never use, he would not let me buy, borrow nor have, because it was needed to stand and fill a wall space. He wrote me very often telling me how badly Mrs This or That was cooking or spending.

On Nov 8th 1911 father married Mrs Jennie E. Weld of Cambridge. It was about the most prosaic marriage of convenience I ever heard of. Philip was at father’s house at the time, so he told me of the wedding. Cousin Jennie, ( as we called her, a distant relative on the Hibbard side), had come out to father’s house that afternoon. After supper they said, “Well, let’s go down to Rev. Mr. Meridith’s,” and so they did, father, the bride, her sister (I believe), and Philip. They were married and came back to the house and sat around a while, and the bride said she thought she would go to bed, and went up to father’s and mother’s room. After reading a while, father went up. and Philip put out the lights and went up to his room. I had a postal card announcement of the wedding. Before the wedding father had written us frantically that we must not object to his marrying, he was lonesome, paid housekeepers were unsatisfactory, and above all, that his wife would have her own money and he’d see to it that eventually we children would get his money and not his widow. None of us had objected but he evidently thought we were mercenary and would object. They had signed a prenuptial agreement by which neither would inherit from the other except by special bequest. After father died, Cousin Jennie told me that father had begged her to marry him, that her relatives had objected strenuously. I believe she knew her own mind and what that agreement meant, but preferred to marry than continue to live a widow. Stated plainly, though her private income was only about $1000.00, as she told me, that was absolutely essential to the marriage for father couldn’t support a wife on his income. His wife must be one who would chip in her income, and be a working housekeeper, not paid but paying. Father had written a will for mother by which on his second marriage, her property, that he had to supplement his inadequate income, must be divided among the children.

The second marriage was not a success. After a year or two, Cousin Jennie found her friends wouldn’t come to see her, why I do not know, West Roxbury women didn’t feel drawn to her as they were to my mother, father missed the friends that he and mother had, and Cousin Jennie did not like paying for house expenses. She actually left him for a few months, went to live with her sister, Mrs Wellman, but somehow her opposition to father weakened and she returned to West Roxbury. During these months father was frantic, wrote me about every day how unjust it was, how blameless he was, how no women in our family had ever acted so, etc. I never knew why she changed so, but she came back and from then on, waited on father by inches, or so it appeared to me in the few times I went there. Probably not all at once, but gradually, they both became more unfriendly with their relatives and West Roxbury people and with us in Pittsfield. It seems as if they backed each other up in criticising about everybody. It must have been a very unhappy life for them both, no friends, no relatives to visit them, no interest in grandchildren except in Gertrude who had moved to Honolulu. I do not believe father realized their situation as he felt he was just, and never was keen in social and personal matters, but I think Cousin Jennie felt it for she was once very likeable.

They travelled some, went to Maine summers, and in the winter of 1923 1924 went to Florida. Shortly after their return to West Roxbury, father had pneumonia and died in about a week, Mar. 19th 1924. I think this was his first bad sickness and the first with a nurse. Cousin Jennie and the nurse and I were at the bedside when father’s difficult breathing ceased. I had been in that exact place when father and Philip and I and.a nurse saw mother die. We did not know where Philip was when father died.

There was a funeral, there were flowers, but no one came back to the house but Cousin Jennie and myself, we were alone. She produced the will and I read it aloud. She did not like its provisions but I think she knew about what it would contain. I thought I knew, pretty well, as father had written what the will was to be, but a trust fund for his widow of $10,000.00 was an item that I did not expect. She said she expected far more than that and did not pretend to know much about a prenuptial agreement by which neither should inherit from the other according to law, but only as especially mentioned. Cousin Jennie stayed on in the house about six months and disposed of things and the place was sold. She died in 1932 but after settling the estate, I never saw her again and did not write. She did not care for the Seavers and went to live with her nephew. As father’s widow she had about $1500.00 a year income but went to work in a Veteran’s Hospital for a while and must have saved there. She had unjustly told about town that she was left a poor widow.

I never knew what early influence or training gave father his attitude toward money and family and cultural training. Walter said it was because he had joined the Morse family, New England store clerks and farmers, with hard New England ideas and little capacity for cultural training. Father’s Seaver cousins were almost all superior professional and business men, but he did not keep in touch with them and growing up we did not know our Seaver cousins but came to know them and like them later, much to the surprise of father.

He was attentive to and fond of his sister Emma Gordon and we children were brought up tobe very intimate with our Gordon cousins and with their father, a druggist who failed several times in business from laziness and poor management and who died poor.

The Morses were good„ upright people, and I never knew of any small mindedness among them. Aunt Alice Morse who became father’s foster mother was a splendid lovable person in every way. Carrie Morse, now living, was a sort of sister to father, was, and is a most truly liked person, for many years the librarian in West Roxbury. She is now, in 1939, retired. I never shared Walter’s opinion, that the Morses influenced father in any way to account for his propensity for saving.

Doubtless it is correct to say that the townspeople respected father sincerely. Why should they not? He behaved well toward neighbors and those he met in business. Father prided himself on being honest and just. He never did mean things knowingly, nor said unkind things intentionally; he never drank, smoked, never used profane expressions, was strictly honest, and never ran unpaid bills. He even went without the satisfaction of using slang terms. This might indicate a strict church going man, religious, probably, but he was, as far as I know, not religious. He went to the Unitarian Church more or less and was treasurer for years, but I never heard him say a word as to what the church stood for. We children went to Sunday School and at one time, because father liked the minister there, we were transfered to the Congregational Orthodox Church and to this day I remember my one contact with blood and original sin. I think father was keenly sensitive to opinion of friends and neighbors and wanted to be recognized as a just man, though he was his own interpreter as to what was or was not just.

Father was never on town committees, never was elected to public office, never took part in collective sports such as ball teams, never played golf nor tennis, but he was at one time, a luke warm member of the Highland Club of West Roxbury. Although very well and strong, he did not take walks for pleasure, nor skate more than a little, but when strength was needed for running for a train or garden work, he had it there. At Christmas Cove he swam some and enjoyed boating and sailing, and, later, his motor boat. Bicycling he tried a little, and later he had an automobile, but he was a poor driver, and driving seemed to be a nervous job. He used carpenter tools more than most men, in mending things, and making some rough things, but I felt he had small mechanical ability, as an auto and a motor beat were complete mysteries. His recreations were things he’d do alone or with his family. We had a horse, a boat on Charles River, and boats at Christmas Cove, a cottage for summer vacations, a family bicycle. Above all father liked to travel, first about New England on trains or coastwise steamers, or to New York or Washington, and later to Europe and California, and to Florida. Frequent week end trips to Christmas Cove were enjoyable to him. Mother was so stout and walked so slowly, that he had few recreations with her except long trips by trains. She went to California, but on short strenuous New England trips he often took one of us children, especially when half fare was enough for us, or went alone. Travel was his one hobby and the talk about it, and that he could not follow to any extent as the expense was too great for his income. He did not play card games more than a little, did not have any musical interests, played no instrument, sang not at all, objected to others whistling, had no interest in poetry or fine writing nor in drawing and painting, and not interested in collecting any objects. He read magazines, good ones, and books sparingly, but I do not think he discussed what he read. He was a lifelong Republican in politics and I think so strongly a capitalist that he did not approve of trade unions. I believe he was quite averse to discussing such subjects.

As a result of his characteristics, father did not have chums or intimate men friends, though he had a large acquaintance. I think he did not seem at ease with people, not bashful nor too crude, but he was so insistent on honesty that he could not abide social pleasantries that were obvious exaggeration, such as most people use to smooth social contacts. To some of us he was impolite at times, for he did not know how to conduct himself according to modern social customs. He probably based his social standards on what prevailed years ago for he considered his conduct and views correct and openly criticised, at times, those who differed with him. I believe most of his social contacts were with men and women who came to the house to see mother, and with his Morse relatives and, to a lesser degree, the Hibbards. He was apt to dominate a group with rapid talk, always much too loud. It would seem that he loved to talk but not to listen. In the family I think he appeared to take little interest in our affairs but talked much about his small doings, even to tell of his work and the clerks in his office. This flood of small talk we called sputtering. He was so reluctant to be intimate with his children, except when very small, that as we grew older, we never discussed personal things with him, nor our plans. In school some of us got prizes or good marks, which were entirely unnoticed at home, unless by mother, though outside the family, it is said that father told such things with pride in what we had done.

Mother must have adjusted herself early to his noisy rough manner, for she seemed quietly to move through each day, not disturbed. She must have seen need for correcting him, but except in certain manners at the table, she let him go his way. She did not nag him, nor anyone else. At times father would become very angry over something and rave to her about it, but not angry with her. There were some terribly stormy times that we children heard through closed doors. I cannot say that we had a decidedly unhappy family life, rather a neutral one, but we were all glad to leave home when we grew up. On thinking back, now, I think it would have been better for mother if she had had more long periods away from father. He must have been more wearing on her than we knew. I am sure that father never suspected his noisy way could be wearing. As to what we thought, I am not sure, if we thought at all. Walter, I think, was more resentful than the others over his treatment at home and particularly over father’s refusal to let him go to Technology. But Walter kept it to himself more than did Philip who had many stormy sceneswith father, when Philip asked for money after he should have been self supporting. Father wrote me these wild letters as to what Philip said, but later Philip told me that father kept up his end of the fireworks.

After mother died, father must have realized, but maybe not, that his friends were those who had been hers, and who were now not so interested in seeing him, for I think he found himself very lonesome, without the ability to go out and extend his interests. I think he never adjusted himself after mother’s death and found himself more and more estranged from his old friends and relatives. Just and honest and upright, though he was, but that was not enough, He should have had the ability to go further towards making friends easily and towards overlooking their faults and mannerisms. I was too far from West Roxbury to know, but I am told that too any of his old friends realized that something had happened to make a change and that they could not be as friendly as before. A keen interest in children might have helped and some sport or hobby or some lines of study or research would have taken up his time enjoyably. Lacking these, he felt that marriage was the remedy for his lonesomeness. He expected to get, and did get, when he married, a working housekeeper who paid her expenses, but he did not realize that on his part, that he should be a husband ready to adapt his life to hers. From what he wrote to me, he felt it was perfectly fair for him to furnish the house and part of the expenses, and for her to pay also, because she had thought of taking a small apartment on retiring from her position as a matron in a dormitory at Simmons College. Though father told me that this was well understood by Cousin Jennie, she told me, at that memorable talk on the afternoon of the funeral, that she resented paying him money, and his knowing when her dividend checks came.

To summarize, father should have worked fifteen or twenty years longer and somehow had a capacity for enjoyable leisure. His plan for saving for his own retirement was a selfish one as all that money saved was withheld from his family at a time when it could have been spent to the children’s advantage, and to mother’s. It is true that he did not spend it on himself and true that we had a cottage, boats and a horse, things that many other families did not have, and that we had a maid for many years. As we grew up, we did not know what his plan was, and his resentment over food bills and mother’s small expenses, and our paying board as soon as we earned more than a very little, made us feel we were a very poor family. He was not confidiing in us and we can never know how he felt. I cannot believe he was really happy, after he was retired and over fifty, and must believe that he felt, that compared with other men of his age who had done differently, that he perhaps decided unwisely. Yet, he felt strongly that it was of first importance to save, and that as he had done so, he was to be commended. He knew and everyone knew he was honest, and he believed himself just.

Although this was to be about my father, I shall add a little about mother and her children, as I shall probably write nothing elsewhere about them.

Walter, the oldest, was always active, positive, a leader, very popular and proficient in school and in business. In strength and in activity he resembled father, but was far from him in his attitude towards money and what it was for, and there was a deep seated friction, as “‘alter became older, and a remembrance of resentment towards father’s treatment of him as a boy. Walter was too gentlemanly to have rows, and so kept his feelings to himself, or so I believe. He certainly was inwardly fond of mother, and showed it openly at times, I am glad to say. The loss of his first wife, Gertrude Nelson was not long after they were married, and was a terrific blow. He loved her deeply. His second wife, Grace Whittemore, now living and his children, always lived so far from Pittsfield, that others could write better than I of Walter as a husband and father. His death at fifty nine made me wonder if he had insisted too long in playing tennis and being active too long. [More on Walter here.]

I was the second son and can hardly write of myself except to say what I have heard. “They say” that I took after mother, and perhaps grand-father Hibbard, as I was more passive, quiet, not as good as Walter in studies, but fairly good. Physically I was woefully undersize up to sixteen years and not strong though not actually sickly. I wonder that I have been unusually well since thirty or longer, and about 5′ 11″ tall and over weight. I suppose I did not make much trouble at home, as I did not have spunk enough to assert myself, ever. After High School came for me, a post graduate year at High School for no reason other than I was too small to work to advantage. With no choice of occupation on my part, nor on the part of father, my being office boy in an architect’s office in 1891 was mere chance. Father happened to know Mr. Alden, of Longfellow, Alden and Harlow, who said their office boy was leaving. It was a lucky chance, architecture has been a pleasant occupation and I am glad it took me out of Boston. I came to Pittsfield in 1898.

[Henry married Alice van Yorx Wentworth (1878-1965) in 1904. They had two children. Their son Robert Hibbard Seaver (1907-1936) died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound aged 29, and is not known to have married or had children. His daughter Elizabeth S. Helfman (1911-2001) became a teacher and writer. She had one son who is still alive as of 2023, but has no children.]

Alice, the only daughter, was certainly more like father, assertive, active, even rather mannish after she had grown up. She loved New York, and was glad that Otto’s work as civil engineer was there, but I think New York killed them both. Otto Thanisch, an M.I.T. graduate and fine man, her husband, died from working under air pressure in the first Hudson River tunnel. Alice died alone in her apartment at thirty nine, not known to be very sick, and discovered on the floor by the janitor after being dead a few days. This was after Otto had died and she was working on cases for the State Board of Charities. She lived alone. They had no children. I saw her very seldom after I left home in 1898. [More on Alice here.]

It is much more difficult to write anything of Philip the youngest. I do not know where he is, probably in Philadelphia, but he never lets anyone know his address, even insisting that the Trust Co holding his trust fund, should send checks to General Delivery in the city designated at the time by him. After High School he made a very good start in the Steel business, a start that Walter helped him to make. After a few years, he developed a mental twist that made him feel that his working conditions were not agreeable, and he would leave place after place with hardly any notice. His employers said his work was excellent. After a short time of that sort of moving about, he could get no references and no more good work. He worked in hotel offices and studied to be an optometrist with the money inherited from mother, but he never opened an office. He was without funds and wandering after that and came home broke often, after mother had died, and asked money of father. He did not think New England weather agreed with him so would be off again. It was most unhappy for both Philip and father and for Cousin Jennie who was most kind to Philip I believe. Then father died, Philip had been away in parts unknown for some time and we did not know how to let him know. Finally he was found and told of the trust fund that father had left him, to net him about five hundred dollars a year. We do not know whether he works to earn more than that or how he lives or what he does. Once in a great while he writes to me to find out about the family but tells not a thing about himself other than he is not at all well in his own estimation. He goes to see Aunt Annie Hibbard once in a while but no other relatives. I have not seen him for twenty years or more. His trust officer says Philip appears pretty well and is not nearly the problem that some are to the trust company. He was certainly a good boy in school years and has always lived straight, but there must have been something abnormal in his makeup or something that came to him after he grew up and was so well started in his work. [More on Philip, written after his death, here.]

Mother: As I look back now, I feel that none of us properly appreciated mother. Maybe it was because we could appreciate her only after we were grown up, married, and knew what it was to be a parent. Before she was married, it appears that she made friends for they stayed with her through life. As father’s wife she subdued herself, let him dominate the family, though at rare times she could rise up and assert her self. I suppose that it was best, on the whole, that she did not try to change him or his plan. It may well be that she directed family affairs more than I know. I have never seen a person more patient under circumstances that might have caused great family discord. She trained herself so that she could read a book without hearing talk about her, even when directed to her, and from what father said, in bed at four A.M. when he would insist on talking to her, she would answer without knowing that she had heard or said anything.

In spite of being very stout, she was always pretty well until about 1897 she developed what they called nervous dyspepsia, attacks of intense pain that came on without warning, sometimes away from home, and with increasing frequency. I think father was the cause of this sickness. He was nearing his retirement, was working in Wakefield and came home often, and was increasingly nervous and irritable. And in addition, he was getting ready to go to Europe in Feb. 1898. I often thought that he seemed to pay little attention to mother’s increasing sickness as he got ready to go on that six month’s trip. I was at home at the time. A few days after father sailed, mother had her very worst attack, was in bed several days. Then came six months of quiet life at home. I think mother and I were alone, maybe Philip was there, but he would have been quiet and not disturbing in any way. Mother never had another attack as long as she lived, and on father’s return he was more quiet and less nervous. In matters of sickness she was too self effacing. In this sickness and when Brights disease began, she should have insisted on better care even if father did not know how to meet the problems that sickness brought to his family. He began to be solicitous.for her too late.

At home mother’s recreations were few. She read a good deal, enjoyed books of travel and of fiction as well as the magazines. Her magazine club was one of the first of its kind and she was a loyal member and never failed to properly pass the books and magazines along. I think she originated the Travel Club, maybe not, but this she enjoyed, much. In this, a member with preparation and proper reading, would conduct the club on a trip or visit a place, using pictures, letters and descriptions. The West Roxbury Whist Club she belonged to, and later graduated to duplicate whist, and she was a long standing member o# the Reading Club. Of the Unitarian Church she was a member, and of the women’s organizations, but as I remember it, she was not a very regular attendant at church. [My grandmother notes that her own grandmother insisted that the children attend the local Unitarian church in West Roxbury, despite her husband’s lack of belief; seemingly the habit more or less stuck with their eldest daughter.] Though it was hard for her to walk about, she made calls as were customary in those days. Best of all, she was so liked that as she stayed at home, many came to see her, those of her age, young people and children. At Christmas Cove where summer people came from many states, she was recognised as one of the true New England gentlewomen. Mother took an interest in New England antiquities and history and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She enjoyed music, and played the piano somewhat. Though Walter and I were not to have music lessons, it was thought best to get a piano when Alice was old enough to begin piano lessons. The shiny black piano was delivered, and, I remember my amazement and delight when we found that our mother could play from old bound music books that she had used as a girl.

In her quiet way, I think she enjoyed life, not letting rough, irritating things bother her too much, and in being able to enjoy what came to her, and what she could get from reading. She lived to know something of her daughters-in-law and her grandchildren, and to know Alice’s husband, Otto C. Thanisch, one of the fine boys from Jamaica Plain who used to come to Christmas Cove. It was significant and touching, that Otto, dying in New York, begged to be taken home. It was to mother that he wanted to go, he loved her, and in not over two hours after he was put in bed at our home in West Roxbury, he died. Mother sat with him. He wanted her with him. Mother came to visit us in Pittsfield a few times, and told me that she liked my Alice and liked to visit with us. She knew Robert, a little boy. What a fine grandmother she was and how we wanted her to come and see our children grow up. That Nov. of 1909 when she was increasingly sick, she told father she was coming to Pittsfield and made some preparations, but maybe she doubted if she could stand the journey. She did not come. To the end she tried to carry on, she was such a wonderful patient, loving wife and mother.

Henry Morse Seaver’s family notes:
Charles Morse Seaver (father) and his family including Susan Hibbard (mother)
Walter Hibbard Seaver (older brother)
Alice Seaver Thanisch (sister)
Philip Seaver (younger brother)