Walter Seaver

Note by Henry Morse Seaver, dated July 1947, five months before he died on 9 December 1947

For my genealogical notes, about my older brother Walter.

Walter was always a stronger and more positive boy than I was, and as he grew to manhood he was put to work as a ” boy” under an Irish shipping Clerk in a wholesale Hardware store, after High School. Father had no idea of having any of us go beyond High School though Walter was smart and some of his schoolmates and our Uncles went to M.I.T. [This seems to be the only mention of the Hibbard uncles in Henry Seaver’s notes; he was presumably named after the younger of them, Henry Deming Hibbard, my great-grandfather.] He stayed in similar lines of work and rose in time from jobbers to manufacturing of steel and was finally district manager at San Francisco for the American Steel and Wire Co a branch of the United States Steel Corporation.

Walter was athletic, a foot ball player and later, prided himself on his tennis far along in years, so he told me, but maybe it was unwise to do such hard play. He died in 1930 at the age of 59, I think it was, of heart disease that he knew he had but had kept from his family. He was at work up to a day or so of his death and at home, sent for a neighborhood doctor whom he had not had and who sent him to the hospital at once where he died in a few hours, I believe, or a day or so. I think up to i then he had been in good health, yet, it appears, as with so many of the athletic men, he did not live to an old age.

Walter was popular as a boy and young man, and as soon as he was able decided to marry, and in those days we supported our wives and did not expect them to go to work. He married Miss Gertrude Nelson of Newton Highlands. I believe they lived with her father and mother for the short time she lived. Walter was travelling a good deal in his work and they were looking forward to having her have her first baby to make home life less lonesome for Gertrude, Walter told me. A kidney complication came to her, and she died before the baby was born. Gertrude Nelson was a most refined, cultured, college girl, not very strong, but, in the little we saw of her, much liked by us and everybody. Walter told me, in one of the very few times we spoke of her, that he loved her as he could never love again and that it was a terrible loss never to be made up in any way. I can understand that, in a way, knowing her even a little, and it was possibly a case where a strong man delights in taking to himself a weaker companion to care for and cherish, for I could see he was protecting her even on the few days she came to see us in West Roxbury from the noise and confusion at our house. Walter continued to live in Newton Highlands with the old Nelsons an old lovable couple but one where the mother dominated everybody in her quiet way, or so I think the situation was. Gertrude was an only child and it was a great loss to her mother and I think they were glad Walter stayed on with them. We felt the father was neglected but not to any cruel extent.

One of Gertrude’s girl friends in Newton Highlands was Grace Whittemore, a beautiful strong girl of good family, who, I believe, was of the group at that time decidedly looking for a good husband. Evidently all Ihave about her was from the few talks I had with Walter, but I must say he was amazingly frank about some of the things he said. A little I had from my mother and others of the family, for, though I knew Grace very little, she had contact with father and mother for a good many years, even when Walter had moved to California. Grace was one who was always selfish and looked after her own comfort, Walter even telling me that in an outburst, one of his children said to Grace “You are the most selfish person I ever knew”. Walter said even a child could see it was true.

Walter told me, here in Pittsfield, that he knew he could never find and love a wife as was Gertrude his first, and as she was weak and not able to bear even her first child, he deliberately went about to marrying a strong well woman to be mother of children and home maker. This woman he believed was Grace Whittemore and he married her not very long after his first wife died. Grace, I now suppose, looked on him as a fine strong handsome man who had money or would eventually have a good income. I think they were a reasonably happy couple all through Walter’s life, but I cannot forget what Walter said about his plan in marrying her as a fine strong woman to be mother, and a remark that my mother told me that Grace made to her at Christmas Cove, one summer, long after they were married. Grace told her that at the time she married Walter another man had asked her to marry him, and now she wondered if she had not made a mistake as this other man seemed to be having a large income and Walters had not come up to Grace’s expectation. Mother told me she was so mad she pitched into Grace verbally for such a dreadful remark, and it took a lot to ruffle my mother. But to Grace, I can think it was perfectly normal to say she was out for a good catch as to money when she married. She knew she was beautiful and desirable, and felt it was her due to be well paid. As to that Walter told me that all through their married life, she demanded a very large “allowance” from him, money she stowed away and was hers and not an estate or of the family. In other words, she was being paid to be his wife, and Walter meant that to be so understood. But he was content, I think with that, partly because his salary was always large, though how large I never knew.

His daughter Gertrude told me once that as they were growing up, they had a family talk and agreed that all of Walter’s salary should be spent as they went along, and by that he should not leave much if he died, that meant good living and private schools and Country Club. Walter did not leave much, I think, yet his widow went to live in a large family hotel in Berkeley Cal. and I suppose she has that fund Walter made for her as hers. I am told she has always been, and is now, in fine health and is a beautiful woman, quite content in her grand hotel life.

Walter and Grace first lived in New Haven Conn, then Montclair N.J. and then in Berkeley California. I went for a short visit to the New Haven place. Then after we were married, Alice and I made one visit to Montclair but never to Berkeley. Once in a great while Walter stopped to see us in Pittsfield and so did Grace and her little children on the way east. It seemed to us that Grace never liked us and after we had taken her to see Lenox, so, as she said, she could say she had been there as well as stylish Newport, she never thought she had any reason for seeing us here. We almost never saw their three children, nor did they see ours or indicate they wanted to. Once, showing her self interest, when Grace and her little Gertrude, age five, came to stop with us over night, from the train, they were very dirty and sweaty. Grace went up and washed and said how refreshed she was and had a new clean waist on and said they were now ready for supper. Poor little Gertrude was vile with wet railroad soot but her mother never noticed and had her sit down to eat that way. I remember her vile hands as she ate a hot biscuit. We wondered how a mother could be so self centered. But physically I think Grace was a grand mother as the whole family seemed to be on the top of the wave as to good health all the time.

When Father and his second wife Cousin Jennie went to Berkeley to visit Walter, they told me that their friends seemed to be rich but not cultured people. Walter told me that he approved of having he family brought up to have moderate drinking of alcoholic drinks and to disregard prohibition laws.

Though the Whittemores and Grace seemed to find little worth while in the Seavers here or in West Roxbury, Grace did cling on to father and mother as to summer vacations at Christmas Cove Maine, for she went there many summers with one or more children. Walter did not go, and it was evident, as Walter told me, that she had a grand time dancing every night at the Casino with mother at home taking care of the little grandchild. Walter did not like that and told me he thought it time his wife had some more mother duties and so they went about having Barbara who was born about seven years after Talcott. I told Walter that when Alice and I went to the Cottage after mother died, and had our baby Robert with us, he had us pay half the expenses and Alice was made to be working housekeeper as well. Walter, to that, implied that Grace had never been asked to pay board. Father had always taken a strong liking for Gertrude as a little grandchild, and enjoyed having her at the Cove with him, and I think mother did, too. After mother died, it was different. Father agreed to take Grace to the Cottage but Cousin Jennie would not go and it made a terrible disturbance that summer, but Grace had her free vacation there just the same. I do not know who did the cooking that summer, nor if Gertrude was there. After Gertrude became older in her ‘teens, father could not get along with her at all for the grand daughter had , naturally, a will of her own. I think that was the last summer at the Cove for Grace, but am not sure.

I think Gertrude and Talcott were born about a year apart in New Haven and we saw them as very little children. Barbara we saw about four years old in Pittsfield, but have never seen them since. I write to Barbara sometimes but not to Talcott, who is now a grandfather and has two daughters. Barbara has two children, as Mrs Crittenden of Palo Alto Calif. Gertrude we saw as she was a child and as a girl of 18 and once after her divorce, when she came east alone about 1944 or 45. She was a small but attractive and very active and popular woman. In Berkeley she was engaged to a rich young man who gave her great presents including a valuable ring, so we were told, a ring she kept after she broke her engagement to him and married James Campbell of Honolulu T.H. She had two children Gail and James whom we have never seen, said to be fine children now in College. After fifteen years Gertrude divorced Jimmy Campbell who soon married again. Gertrude died in Honolulu in Dec 1945, the two children going to live, I believe, with their father and his second wife in Honolulu. Barbara wrote me that her sister Gertrude had q few very unhappy years before she died. I cannot think that there was some connection with her family life. though Barbara seems to be a fine woman happily married and so does Talcott seem to be doing well though continually changing his job, so I am told.

Notes: Walter H. Seaver married Gertrude Nelson June 9 1897.
Gertrude Nelson died Dec 15th 1898
Married Grace Whittemore June 4th 1901 who was born Sep 13 1873.
Walter born Aug 5th 1870 died July 13 1930.

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)