Philip Seaver

by Henry M. Seaver, Jan. 1944

Philip was a normal boy and young man and did well in school and High School. His brother Walter got him well started in the steel business and both were in the National Steel and Wire Co in New Haven, in the office. Walter said Philip did well and was in line for good promotion. Walter had a good chance offered in the Amer. Steel and Wire Co in New York, and so resigned. Philip thereupon said he ought to resign too, but Walter advised him not to, strongly, and it did not seem as if there could be any reason for Philip so doing. But he did leave, and then went to various steel Companies.

Probably his obsession began to show, soon, for after that, he insisted on leaving places without notice and having less and less of recommendations, till almost no one would hire him. He had jobs in hotels and as bookkeeper, and I do not know what. Between jobs, as he had no money, he was apt to go home, for help. That certainly did not lead to good feeling. He did not have anything to do with Walter nor myself, but did keep in with Alice Thanisch, somewhat.

Our sister Alice did, without his knowing it, have a psychiatrist call on her and see Philip and he said he was mentally slightly abnormal. It was so slight that it did not show except we did look for a reason why he was not like other boys and keep a good job.

When mother died he inherited about three thousand dollars and he took that to study optometry in Boston. Then he went to Pennsylvania to set up an office but months went by and he could not actually start and sometime he sold or pawned his instruments and once more was a rover. It may have been at that time, and it was at some time, he was actually a tramp, sleeping out and, when cold, in fire stations on a pile of hose. I do not know how we found that out.

He came home frequently and his step mother was very good to him and father helped him financially, but needless to say, it was an unhappy situation. About 1920, Philip said he was going somewhere and [did] not let us have any address. That he did though he did write to have money sent General Delivery and most always Philadelphia. Then in 1924 when Father died, we had no way to notify Philip and he found out in about six months that father had died. He came right on to Boston to see to “his rights” and found a trust fund of $10,000 was set up for him with the proviso that some of the principal could be paid him as determined by the Trust Company. He lived about twenty years after the trust fund was started and, as far as the Trust office er knew, he got along on the $500.00 or more a year they sent him. Philip still kept his secret and even the Trust Co had to be notified by Philip where to mail the check Gen. Delivery. Yet, we knew he may have worked some, though he never let us know a thing as to how he spent his time. He complained to the Trust Officer that he was not at all well, for years, though he lived to be sixty two.

I had not seen Philip for twenty five years, that time at the funeral of our sister. Alice Thanisch. Every few years he wrote me very normal letters, evidently asking about the family, and Aunt Ann Hibbard in particular, but saying not a thing as to where or how he live He did not correspond with his boyhood friends at home, and his last visits home, he’d come from Washington Street east of the town, so as not to see anybody. So went on year after year. I asked the Trust Officer at times about Philip and they said he was no problem, and he looked and seemed pretty well the few times they saw him in Boston.

Then late in the afternoon of Nov 15th 1943, I had a telegram from the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co that they had been notified that Philip had died in Philadelphia and I was to arrange with the Coroner there. With the help and advice of a local friend and undertaker, I arranged with a Philadelphia Undertaker and the Coroner to buy a grave in a good Protestant Cemetery and bury the body in a suitable casket. It seems that the only directions that Philip ever gave me was that he must never be buried in a Seaver lot nor in New England. I felt I could accomplish nothing by going down there and gave directions to have a service if there were any who would go to Philip’s funeral. The Undertaker wrote me that there was not one person to attend the burial and they properly buried Philip’s body in a single grave they bought in the Odd Fellows Cemetery. It took some time for me to find out anything more than Philip had died in a hotel, or so I thought at the first, but here is what I learned. In March of 1943 Philip took a room at the McAlpin Hotel and as he paid by the day and later a week at a time, he evidently was thinking of moving on. It was a better room, at $10.50 a week, than the third floor back rooms that he had a few receipts for at than $3.50 week, but he had a lot of rooming addresses and perhaps he changed often. I wonder if he did not feel he was not at all well and and needed to be in a place where he could be better taken care of than in a rooming house where he could not get food sent in? At the hotel they knew little about him and, as far as I know, no one knew what he did all the days.

The manager wrote me they found about Nov 10th that Philip was not well and in his room the Manager asked him to let a doctor come but he seemed to have a distrust of doctors and would not let a doctor come. Sat the 13th he was so evidently worse the manager took it upon himself to have a doctor come and he found Philip very sick and insisted on his going to the Hospital as he must have the care impossible at the hotel. Philip refused but said he’d go Sunday if not better. Saturday night he would not let the doctor in, Sunday morning the manager and doctor got in with a master key and found Philip almost in a state of coma and got him as soon as possible to the General Hospital where he died at 2.30 P.M. of pyonephrosis with uremia. The Trust Co address was the only one they found, so they notified them. That was Sunday afternoon Nov 14th.

As I think of it, he did not realize he was seriously sick, and probably did not suffer long or much. I do not know why he had an adversion to doctors as he’d been fussing over his own sinus troubles for years and, the Trust Officer thought he diagnosed his own troubles. He had one suit case and [a] few things and clothes at the hotel and no watch nor pocket book, A small amount of cash was sent me and four keys, a few papers and an uncashed check of.the Trust Company. One key was a safe deposit key and after a time, the box was opened. There was no will there and a savings Bank book showed a substantial amount on hand and there were over $200.00 of unused Express Co Travellers Checks he’d bought.

I am glad he had plenty of money at the last. About ten years ago he inherited from the trust. fund of his step mother who had died and, in 1941 from Aunt Ann Hibbard’s Estate. The Trust Co did not know of that inheritance so they sent him, monthly, a check that was largely from the principal of his trust fund. It looks as if he was not wasteful of money these last few years, though when he was a rover he was amazingly wasteful always. This strange man, as far as we know, was honest and an enemy to no man.

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)