My Kindle Books


Welcome to Southwest Virginia Genealogy .com

Hi guys.All the books are back again. My brother has taken them over. Sorry that it took so long. Protection Status Protected by CopyrightSpot

This is the website for all things about Southwest Virginia Genealogy.

As most people know this is an important melting pot area for people to have met and married in the expansion of America. The Scott County area is famous for the Wilderness Road and most families had to travel through here to go to other parts of the country. This are has a natural gap that let people travel trhough the mountains.

From this a lot of people met for the first time and married and then spread out all over the country.

I have started a series of books that are available on Amazon as electronic books, or ebooks. These books can be viewed on Kindle, your computer, and other book reading devices. View the books page for more information.

I am unable to provide you with my actual books here due to my agreement with Kindle. You will need to go there and purchase. I do have other files that you can access here that are about some of my immediate family and the paid section has some other information.

If I can be of any service you can email me at

Dear Randy – "What is Your Work Flow With An Ancestry Hint?"

 Reader Nancy emailed me asking:

“…For now I will continue with RootsMagic 7. I have once again read your post: and you are very clear on what you do not do with respect to Ancestry hints but I am not clear on what you actually do. Do you go to the hint, accept or reject, and then if you want the information you add the record (image) to RootsMagic with your own citation, as if the hint never existed? Where do you store the image? When you sync RootsMagic with your ancestry tree how does this record appear, i.e. is the image and your EE source online?”

My response to Nancy (edited a bit):

1)  When I see an Ancestry Hint, I decide if it is one I want to use in my family tree.  For non-ancestors, I don’t bother with the compendium type of Hints – e.g., Millenium File, Public Records, Phone and Address Directories, City Directories, School Yearbooks, Family Histories, etc.  For ancestors, I look at them more closely and add them if they have value.  For other records that come from a real record (e.g., BMD vital records, indexes of BMD vital records, Find A Grave, draft registrations, Social Security, church records, census records, some military records, passenger lists, passports, etc.) In RootsMagic, I create an Event (or use an existing event), and add the date, place, and a free form source citation.  Many of my Events have more than one source citation.  I also  create Alternate Names in RootsMagic when the entry has a different name for the person, and add the source to them. 

2)  I almost always check “Ignore” rather than “Accept” the Record Hint to my Ancestry tree because I don’t want to spend the time dealing with the Ancestry Member Tree, which I will eventually delete.  The “Ignore” Hints are still on the Hints page on the Ancestry profile if I want to see them again, and they are in the RootsMagic WebHints for each profile.  I don’t download the record image unless it is for an ancestor.

3)  If I do download an image, I rename it and put it in a family file folder in my digital file system.  I’ve written about the file system in Dear Randy: “What Is Your Naming Convention for Downloaded Documents?” and My Genealogy Digital File Folder Organization.

4)  When I TreeShare my RM tree to my Ancestry tree, all of my RM sources appear as “Other Sources” in my Ancestry Member Tree (even the Evidence Explained sources) and are linked to the event in the timeline.  I mainly use free-form sources in RootsMagic because the EE source templates don’t export well in a GEDCOM file.

5)  If I have an image connected to the RootsMagic person, I usually choose not to upload it to the Ancestry Member Tree because of the time it takes to upload and the relatively short-lived Ancestry Member Tree.  

6)  The above reflects my goals for my RootsMagic family tree (and by extension my online family trees):  I want to gather every bit of information on my ancestors and include them in my trees.  For the profiles in my collateral lines, surname studies, and descendants studies, I want to gather names, relationships, birth or baptism date/place, marriage date/place, death date/place, and burial date/place.  


Disclosure: I have a complimentary all-access subscription from, for which I am thankful. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2021, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post. Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest using the icons below. Or contact me by email at

Seavers in the News — Virginia Seaver Dies in Chico, California in 1947

 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 Chico [Calif.] Enterprise newspaper dated 15 January 1947:

The transcription of the article is:

“Virginia Seaver, Pioneer Chican, Taken By Death

“Virginia B. Seaver, 80, a resident of Chico for 50 years and the last of a family of 14 children, died last night at her home, 198 East Eleventh Street after an illness of nine weeks.

“Mrs. Seaver suffered a broken hip nine weeks ago and had been confined to her bed since that time.

“Born in Richmond, Virginia, August 11, 1866, Mrs. Seaver moved to Colusa county 60 years ago.  She later moved to Chico where she and her husband farmed on Long Lane.

“She married John H. Seaver November 8, 1889.

“In addition to her husband, Mrs. Seaver is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Anna Sutton and Mrs. Emma Huff, both of Chico; three sons, Henry Seaver, Modesto, George Seaver, Stockton and Frank Seaver, Chico; and by four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“Funeral services will be held at 2 o’clock Friday afternoon, January 17, 1947, at the Brusie Funeral Home.”

The source citation is:

“Virginia Seaver, Pioneer Chican, Taken by Death” Chico [Calif.] Enterprise newspaper, obituary, Wednesday, 15 January 1947, page 1, column 4, Virginia B. Seaver obituary;   ( : accessed 14 January 2021).

This death notice provides a birth date and place, an approximate death date, the names of her spouse,  children, a marriage date when she came to California, what she did in her life, but not her maiden name or parents names.

Virginia B. Putney was born 11 August 1866 in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of William Robert and Lucy Jane (Burress) Putney.  She married John Henry Seaver (1963-1949) on 8 November 1889 in Colusa County, California.  They had six children:
*  Charles Franklin Seaver (1890-1954), married about 1940 Gladys Jones (1897-1963).
*  Anna May Seaver (1892-????), married (1) 1916 Stephen Layton Owen (1885-1959), (2) Holman B. Sutton.
*  Emma Odesa Seaver (1893-1977), married Thomas Adsil Huff (1888-1961).
*  Minnie B. Seaver (1896-1902).
*  Henry John Seaver (1900-1974).
*  George William Seaver (1902-1965), married about 1921 Gladys Shanks (1903-1942).

John Henry Seaver is my 4th cousin 3 times removed, with common Seaver ancestors of   my 6th great-grandparents Robert and Eunice (Rayment) Seaver.  

There are over 10,000 Seaver “stories” in my family tree – and this was one of them.   Life happens, accidentally and intentionally, and sometimes a woman lives her life surrounded by family and dies after a fall. I am glad that I can honor Virginia B. (Putney) Seaver today.  

You never know when a descendant or relative will find this blog post and learn something about their ancestors or relatives, or will provide more information about them to me.


Disclosure:  I have a complimentary subscription to and have used it extensively to find articles about my ancestral and one-name families.

Copyright (c) 2021, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook,  or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

Genealogy News and Education Bytes — Tuesday, 12 January 2021

 Welcome to Genealogy News and Education Bytes, posted on Tuesday afternoon and Friday afternoon, where we try to highlight the most important genealogy and family history news and education items that came across our desktop since the last issue.    

1)  News Articles:

2)  New or Updated Record Collections:

3)  Genealogy Education — Conferences and Institutes

4)  Genealogy Education – Seminars, Webinars and Online Classes (times are US Pacific):

*  Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Wednesday, 13 January, 5 p.m.:  Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?, by Robyn Smith

*  Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 15 January, 11 a.m.:  From Grandmother to First European Landowner of Canada, by Lianne Kruger

*  Archived Family Tree Webinar:  MyHeritage Mobile App: All New Features From 2020, by Daniel Horowitz

5)  Genealogy Education – Podcasts:

*  Researching Like a Pro:  RLP 131: Grafting Family Branches Part 1
*  Fisher’s Top Tips:  #240r – Who Else Has Your Stuff?

6)  Genealogy Videos (YouTube):



The URL for this post is:  

Copyright (c) 2021, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

Monday Genea-Pourri – Week Ending 10 January 2021

 Here are the highlights of my family history and genealogy related activities over the past week:

1)  Attended the Chula Vista Genealogical Society board meeting and reported on the monthly Research Group meeting, the monthly DNA Interest Group meeting, and the monthly newsletter.   Wrote, edited, published and distributed the January 2021 CVGS Family History Gazette to the society members via email.

2)  Attended the San Diego Genealogical Society monthly meeting featuring two presentations by Diahan Southard on “Organizing Your DNA Results” and “Ask the Wife!”  Excellent talks.

3)  Participated in today’s Mondays With Myrt webinar.  We discussed 2020 genealogical research successes, the Nantucket Historical Association records, Facebook groups, the FAN club, USA passports, Norway visits, DNA company changes, and Myrt’s Journal.

4)  Wrote and posted a biographical sketch of my 7th great-grandmother #575 Bennett (Freeman) Paine (1671-after 1716) of Eastham, Mass. for my 52 Ancestors biographical sketch on Friday. 

5)  Transcribed a probate record in Amanuensis Monday — 1703 Will of John Mainord (1630-1711) of Marlborough, Massachusetts  for Amanuensis Monday today.  

6)  Added Notes to 13 more AncestryDNA matches with cM values, relationships and known common ancestors, and added connecting lines of DNA matches to three Common Ancestors in my RootsMagic family tree.  Ancestry added 67 new DNA matches this past week, with one new ThruLine.   MyHeritage added 21 new DNA matches.   Reviewed the new DNA matches on  AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe.  

7)  Started my first DNAPainter Chromosome Mapping using known relationships on MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe.  I still have many more to do, but I started (a year after deciding to do it).

8)  There were several sessions working in the RootsMagic software program to match with and update FamilySearch Family Tree profiles for Seaver families and my ancestral families, with occasional additions to the RootsMagic profiles. I have matched 39,875 of my RootsMagic persons with FamilySearch Family Tree profiles (up 149).

9)  Used Web Hints and Record Matches from Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast and FamilySearch to add content and sources to my RootsMagic profiles.  I now have 60,985 persons in my RootsMagic file (up 126), and 131,516 source citations (up 485).   I TreeShared with my Ancestry Member Tree twice this week updating 306 profiles, and I resolved 1,536 Ancestry Hints.  I’ve fallen behind on the Ancestry Record Hints with 146,202 to be resolved, but I work on them almost daily. 

10)  Worked a bit gathering copies of supporting evidence for two generations on my Mayflower Society application for William White.  Doing this, I identified several more “certificates” I need to obtain for the application.  

11)  Wrote 16 Genea-Musings blog posts last week, of which one was a press release.  The most popular post last week was Saturday Night Genealogy Fun — What Do You Take After From Your Parents and Grandparents?  with over 281 views.  

12)  We are still fine here at the Genea-cave, hunkered down and not going out much in Week 43 of COVID-19 isolation.  I went to the grocery store on Monday and Friday, and it wasn’t too busy.  I went to the dental hygienist on Thursday.  Other than that, it was stay-at-home on the computer doing genealogy, eating, sleeping, cleaning, and a little yard work.  I watched some of the playoff  football games on Saturday and Sunday, and I continued reading a mystery fiction ebook on my laptop.


The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2021, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun — What Do You Take After From Your Parents and Grandparents?

 Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It’s Saturday Night again – 

time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1) What do you “take after” or “favor” from our parents and/or grandparents?  It could be looks, traits, mannerisms, speech, etc.

2)  Put it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

My thanks to reader Liz Tapley for suggesting this topic.

Here’s mine:

 A)  Physical size, looks, etc.

*  I am 5’10” tall, my father was 6’2″, my mother like 5’4″, but my brothers were both about 6’2″.  My grandfather Seaver was about 5’10” and my grandfather Carringer was 5’7″.

*  I had blonde hair as a child, which turned brownish with auburn streaks before turning gray.  My father and mother both had dark brown hair.

*  I am pretty bald now, and it has been receding since I was 21 years old.  My father had a widow’s peak with receding temples, and my maternal grandfather had a full head of hair.  My paternal grandfather had thinning hair and receding temples, but wasn’t bald.  My great-grandfather Auble was cue-ball bald so it’s all his fault!

*  I have blue eyes, and both of my parents had blue eyes.  I don’t know about my grandparents.

*  My skin is very fair – I get sunburned easily, my skin peels, when it burns, and I have some basal cell spots on my arms and head.  I think my parents burned easily, but I don’t recall spots.  None of us tanned well.  I think this reflects my 99% western European ancestry.

*  I am overweight which reflects my sedentary lifestyle since I was a teenager (125 pounds at age 18), sitting at a desk all day.  My father was somewhat overweight after 1971 when he retired, but had a job driving and walking as an insurance agent when he was working.  My maternal grandfather was thin all of his life and had a walking job at a department store in San Diego. 

*  I have one good eye and one eye with amblyopia that was never corrected.  My aunt Marion, my father’s oldest sister, had it too.

B)  Traits and mannerisms:

*  I am fairly even-tempered in public, but I have a temper in private at times, expressed as a cuss word or a door slam, but nothing more violent.  My father was similar, my mother was very even tempered and rarely raised her voice.  My maternal grandparents seemed very peaceful and happy.  I never met my paternal grandfather and met my grandmother only once. 

*  I love to read.  My mother did too, and her parents also.  I don’t recall my father reading much.  We had a large library of fiction and nonfiction books, plus World Book encyclopedia,  in my house growing up.  My mother had a “mysteries library” in her home after becoming a widow and would lend paperback books to me and to others.  I have a fairly extensive genealogy library and read for about an hour every light from library books and online books – mainly mysteries and crime fiction.

*  My love of sports is from my father.  He coached youth baseball, and listened to or watched baseball, football and basketball all of his life.  He loved the Chargers most.  My mother put up with it (only one TV!).  My brothers and I loved it – playing, coaching, watching, being fans of Padres, Chargers, Clippers, Gulls.

*  My maternal grandparents, my parents, and my wife and I had/have traditional values of right and wrong, law and order, trying, studying, and working hard, achieving goals but not bragging, being judgmental of actions and words of others, etc.  

*  I don’t recall many “sayings” of my parents or grandparents – perhaps my brothers do.  My Massachusetts-born father used to say “For crying out loud!” when I or my brothers did something wrong.  But I don’t think I did/do that with my children or grandchildren.  

C)  This was difficult because I don’t think I look like either of my parents, or like my grandparents.  It’s difficult to tell because the photographs I have are at different ages.  


The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2021, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

Seavers in the News — Carter W. Seaver Dies at 54 in Gate City, Virginia

 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 Kingsport [Tenn.] Times newspaper dated 8 December 1960:

The transcription of the article is:

“Carter W. Seaver

“GATE CITY — Carter W. Seaver, 54, died at his residence at 12 p.m. Tuesday.

“He was a life-long resident of Scott County, Va., and a member of the Gate City Methodist Church.

“He had been a barber by trade for most of his life.  He was employed by the Cross-Vermillion Barber Shop of Gate City, Va.

“Survivors include his wife, Ova Gilley Seaver, Gate City; one son, Billy Seaver, Gate City; his father, A.P. Seaver, Gate City; five sisters, Mrs. Roy E. Rose, Mrs. Belt Quillen, Mrs. Grace Maness, Mrs. L.B. Ferbrache, and Mrs. P.M. Elliott, all of Gate City; two brothers, R.E. Seaver  and Jamie Seaver, Gate City.

“Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Gate City Methodist Church with Rev. Ray P. Hargraves and Rev. Kenneth Williams officiating.  Burial will follow in the Holston View Cemetery.

“Pallbearers will be Ray Quillen, Jack Quillen, Jerry Seaver, Harold Seaver, Euel Elliott, O.F. Pendleton, Pat Gilliam, Pat Quillen, Byrd Quillen, Jim Rose and Joe Baker.

“The body was removed from the Gate City Funeral Home to the residence of his father, A.P. Seaver, in Gate City at 7 p.m. Wednesday.”
The source citation is:

“Carter W. Seaver,” Kingsport [Tenn.] Times newspaper, obituary, Thursday, 8 December 1960, page 25, column 1, Carter W. Seaver obituary;   ( : accessed 7 January 2021).

This death notice provides only an age, an approximate death date, his occupation, and the names of his spouse, one child, parents, siblings and pallbearers.  

William Carter Seaver (1905-1960) was born 30 March 1905 in Gate City, Virginia, the son of Ap Percell and Lillian (Hutchins) Seaver.  He married (1) Maude Ethel Stewart (1907-1988) in 1927, divorced in 1944, and they had no children.  He married (2) Ova Marie (Roberts) Gilley (1924-2012) in 1959, and they had one child:

*  Ray William “Billy” Seaver (1959-????).
I am not related to William Carter Seaver since he is descended from Henry and Elizabeth (–?–) Seaver who migrated from Germany to Virginia in the 1760s.

There are over 10,000 Seaver “stories” in my family tree – and this was one of them.   Life happens, accidentally and intentionally, and sometimes a man lives his life surrounded by family and dies early. I am glad that I can honor William Carter Seaver today.  

You never know when a descendant or relative will find this blog post and learn something about their ancestors or relatives, or will provide more information about them to me.


Disclosure:  I have a complimentary subscription to and have used it extensively to find articles about my ancestral and one-name families.

The URL for this post is:  

Copyright (c) 2021, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook,  or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

2021: Webinars, Meetings and Myrt’s Journal


WE’RE BAAACK starting Monday! Here’s the lineup of our webinars and meetings, held via Zoom. Remember Zoom Meetings provide a confirmation email with your personal link to join the meeting. Zoom Webinars provide three additional email reminders – 1 week, 1 day and 1 hour prior to the webinar.

MONDAYS WITH MYRT – CC Recurring most Mondays throughout the year.
Starting 4 Jan 2021 at Noon Eastern
Zoom Webinar format

A special presentation for the Corona Genealogical Society (CA)
Monday, 4 Jan 2021 only at 10pm Eastern
Zoom Meeting format

Recurring most Wednesdays throughout the year. Other Mini-Myrts on an ad hoc basis.
Starting Wednesday, 6 January 2021 at 4pm Eastern Zoom Meeting format
WACKY Wednesday – CC
Starting 6 Jan 2021 at 9pm Eastern
Zoom Webinar format. 1 topic in 1 hour

Weekly blog posts with an embedded video where Myrt reports to her grandchildren about the next ancestral artifact she is adding to the old steamer trunk. She then sends the link via text to her descendants – a 21st century take on the concept of “letters from grandmother.” Also periodic video posts as Myrt explains how she creates handmade journals to share an ancestral anecdote.


Most DearMYRTLE Webinars and Meetings are presented at no cost. If you find the information useful, consider the Pay What You Want business model Ol’ Myrt. We use the donated funds to pay for our Zoom webinar membership.

Archived webinars and Meetings will show up on DearMYRTLE’s YouTube Channel. Most links we mention will appear in the description box under the video. See the list of videos most recent on top as well as the “playlists” of videos in categories. 

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
Your friend in genealogy
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE

Second Life: Clarise Beaumont

19 Weird Things You Can Watch Drop Online If You Stay Home for New Year’s

Wondering how in the world you can celebrate New Year’s if you stay at home? Well, I made you a list. NINETEEN count ’em NINETEEN weird things you can watch drop online, from a blueberry to a mushroom to a sardine and maple leaf. (If you know of more, leave a comment.)

And if you’re more looking for a whole party I also included several roundups of virtual events so you can find the perfect way to celebrate safely at home.

I want you healthy and happy so you can be here to witness the joy of the pandemic’s end. Look at how much you’ve gotten through this year. Take care and keep safe so we can all get through together.

Hey, I love you! Happy 2021.

Burgaw, North Carolina: A blueberry

Hattiesburg, Mississippi: A hub sign

New Bern, North Carolina: A bear

Plymouth, Wisconsin: Sartori cheese

Somewhere in Idaho: A potato

Port Clinton, Ohio: A walleye

Show Low, Arizona: A deuce of clubs

Mount Olive, North Carolina: A pickle

Columbia, Tennessee: A mule

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania: A mushroom

Flagstaff, Arizona: A pinecone

St. George, Bermuda: An onion

Prescott, Arizona: A boot

Eastport, Maine: A sardine & a maple leaf

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: A red stick

Perry, Georgia: A buzzard

Morehead City, North Carolina: A crab pot

Somewhere in Pennsylvania: A bologna

Las Cruces, New Mexico: A chile

The Resident: 6 Ways To Celebrate New Year’s Eve Online. “With London in Tier 4, looks like we’re all going to be stuck at home this New Year’s Eve. Sure, you can take a turn around the local park with a glass of champers in hand, but if you don’t fancy the cold, stay at home and dial into one of these great online events… ” Offbeat n’ funky. One of the events definitely sounds R-rated.

Los Angeles Daily News: 5 ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve online with local events during the coronavirus pandemic. “This year has been a bummer to say the least and a lot of people are ready to tell 2020 to leave already. But, of course, with the coronavirus pandemic there aren’t any big live parties going on to celebrate the end of 2020. But there are online ways to celebrate the end of the year and welcome a hopefully better new year ahead. Here are five online New Year’s events being put on by local organizations.” Meditation! A grape drop!

Dazed: The best ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in quarantine. “Say goodbye to 2020 (finally) with virtual raves, old traditions reworked for the pandemic, and performances from Patti Smith, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, and more.” Music, celebs, and pointers to the mainstream stuff.

TimeOut: 12 amazing online New Year’s Eve events to help you see off this godawful year. “Club nights, house parties and huge public celebrations are all pretty much out of the question this New Year’s Eve, but many of the usual suspects are bringing the festivities online. That means you could go to an EDM festival, a charity rave, attend a huge ‘street party’ or even see the godfather of electronic music play live from a cathedral – all from the comfort of your home.” Jean-Michel Jarre live from Notre-Dame? A 24-hour house party? Yes please.

DC Metro Theater Arts: Celebrate New Year’s Eve with the stars of Broadway. “Though Times Square will be closed to crowds for New Year’s Eve and you won’t be able to watch the iconic ball drop in person this year, you can still celebrate the arrival of 2021 in New York style, with a roster of Broadway stars, special events, and music videos on TV and online.” NYC-oriented, as you might expect.

“A determination to discourage a faithful Servant of the Crown”

For acting governor Thomas Hutchinson, the dispute between his Council and the provincial secretary Andrew Oliver was yet one more headache in 1770.

On 28 September, Hutchinson told the departed but still official governor, Sir Francis Bernard: “[Royall] T[yle]r is sowered by that deposition of the Secretarys which was published in England and it has hurt me every way.” (Bernard had been responsible for that publication, at least in part, but Hutchinson didn’t let on that he suspected that.)

Writing to John Pownall, an official in the Colonial Office, two days later, Hutchinson was more careful to avoid suggesting the controversy had hurt his effectiveness:

The Council except a few are…very friendly to me though there is some abatement of their friendship since the deposition of the Secretary taken by my order relative to the Affair of the Troops has been published. These publications & the sufference of the Letters to the Ministry of which a fresh parcel was sent by the last Ship to be made publick do infinite disservice.

Ironically, Hutchinson was just as upset about leaks as the Council—just different leaks.

There was also a private dimension to this dispute. On 10 October, while the Council was in the midst of collecting the depositions I quoted over the past couple of days, the acting governor’s son Thomas, Jr., married Sally Oliver, daughter of the secretary.

The families were already related by marriage. Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver had married sisters. In February 1770, Hutchinson’s daughter Sarah married Dr. Peter Oliver, son of Andrew Oliver’s brother Peter.

All three of those men were royal appointees. Thomas Hutchinson was lieutenant governor, thus acting governor, and also chief justice of Massachusetts. Andrew Oliver was secretary and was supposed to have been the stamp agent. Peter Oliver was a judge. Furthermore, other relatives were in the provincial government. John Cotton, the deputy secretary, was half-brother to the sisters who had married Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver. And Hutchinson had been trying to get his nephew Nathaniel Rogers appointed provincial secretary before the young man died.

Of course, there were family alliances on the other side of the political divide as well. James Bowdoin, the principal author of the complaint against Oliver, was a son-in-law of fellow Councilor John Erving, brother-in-law of fellow Councilor James Pitts, and father-in-law of Customs Commissioner John Temple, whom other royal appointees regarded as a snake.

Eighteenth-century society ran on such familial connections. People expected officials to look out for their relatives, and officials expected their relatives to be loyal assistants in government. Neither side was pure in this regard, and both sides complained about the other using family ties too much.

On 30 October, Hutchinson summed up his view of the controversy over Oliver’s description of the Council meeting in another letter to Pownall:

Unfortunately it has got published. Mr. Tyler denied that he made any mention of the Commissioners. I am sure I heard it from him but could not be certain whether that Day or a day or two before. Three or four Witnesses present swore, they heard it that Day. All the Council say they do not remember it.

They have not however directly charged the Secretary with false swearing but to a long Narrative drawn up by Mr. Bowdoin there is added divers Resolves declaring him guilty of a Breach of trust in taking the Minutes &c. The whole is a weak but malicious injurious performance which they have ordered to be recorded. . . .

I gave them my Opinion that these Resolves would be more resented than any thing which preceeded them as they plainly indicated a determination to discourage a faithful Servant of the Crown from doing his Duty as far as lay in their power.

These proceedings I hope will not pass without censure either in [privy] Council or when the State of the Province comes before the Parliament. Such a censure would mortify the party and being made matter of Record here would remove the reproach which otherwise will be transmitted to posterity upon the Secretarys Character.

In fact, the London government was already preparing to reward Andrew Oliver for his service. When Hutchinson officially became the royal governor, Oliver was promoted into his brother-in-law’s spot as lieutenant governor. And in 1772 Peter Oliver succeeded Hutchinson as chief justice.

(Hutchinson’s 1770 letters will appear in the Colonial Society of Massachusetts’s next collection of his correspondence, scheduled to be published in the new year.)

The Massachusetts Council Investigates Itself

Yesterday we left off as provincial secretary Andrew Oliver’s sworn statement about what members of the Massachusetts Council had said on the day after the Boston Massacre made its way back to Massachusetts.

That statement was the final item in A Fair Account of the Late Unhappy Disturbance at Boston, published in London. Capt. James Scott, who worked for John Hancock, carried a copy of that pamphlet to Boston. Edes and Gill printed Oliver’s deposition without comment in the 24 September Boston Gazette.

The Whigs quickly leapt to the conclusion that Oliver’s description of the 6 March Council meeting was the latest move by royal appointees to misrepresent the province as rebellious.

And in a way they were right—the statement and its publication were part of a campaign by high officials. As Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson later wrote (modestly referring to himself in the third person), they wanted to be sure the London government understood what they were dealing with:

he asked the secretary to recollect, as well as he could, what passed in the debate at council, and to commit it to writing, intending to send it to England, to shew in the fullest manner the reasons for the lieutenant governor’s complying with their advice, and not with any intention to set the council in general or any particular member, in an unfavourable light.

The secretary informed him, that, of his own mere motion, and for his private satisfaction, he had done it the evening before, while the debates were fresh in his mind.

After he had transcribed and corrected the minutes, he made oath to them; and they were transmitted at the same time with the copies of the votes or minutes of council, and other papers relative to the transaction, not to the secretary of state, but to governor [Francis] Bernard, who, at that time, continued governor of the province.

Oliver (shown above) made his oath before justice of the peace Foster Hutchinson, the acting governor’s cousin. 

Soon after the pamphlet arrived, the Massachusetts General Court started a new legislative session in Cambridge, with the Council meeting in Harvard’s Philosophy Chamber. On 4 October, the Council took up Oliver’s statement:

ONE of the Members of the Board having acquainted the Board that he had seen a Deposition signed Andrew Oliver, which was published in the Appendix to a Pamphlet lately printed in London; in which Deposition divers Gentlemen of the Council, which consisted of 8 Members then present, therein said to be convened on the 5th Day of March last, are represented as having made such a Declaration to His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor, respecting a plan formed by the People to remove the King’s Troops and the Commissioners of the Customs from the Town of Boston, as was likely to be attended with the most pernicious Consequences to this Province—He thereupon moved that the Board would make Enquiry of the Gentlemen of which said Council consisted, what Foundation there was for such a representation—

Which motion being seconded, the Board desired said Gentlemen, namely, Mr. [Samuel] Danforth, Mr. [John] Erving, Mr. [Thomas] Hubbard, Mr. [Harrison] Gray, Mr. [James] Russell, Mr. [Royall] Tyler, Mr. [James] Pitts, and Mr. [Samuel] Dexter, to prepare a true State of the Matter and lay the same before the Board as soon as may be.

Those were the eight Council members present at the 6 March meeting. Oliver had named five of them in his account. (To be exact, he had named three and referred to two more by title, and the London pamphlet had helpfully identified them in footnotes.)

The next day, Oliver asked for a chance to respond and to call witnesses to support his account of the discussion. The Council therefore accepted evidence on 9 October from Capt. Benjamin Caldwell of H.M.S. Rose, Lt. Col. William Dalrymple of the 14th Regiment, deputy secretary John Cotton, and clerk Francis Skinner.

All those witnesses basically agreed with Oliver’s description of what Royall Tyler had said about the town and countryside being angry enough to attack the troops if the governor didn’t remove them, and to drive the Customs Commissioners out of Boston as well. They also agreed that no other members of the Council had objected to Tyler’s statement.

Councilors bore down on Cotton and Skinner about one important detail. When Tyler said of the Whigs, “they had formed their plan, and that this was a part of it to remove the troops out of town, and after that the commissioners,” did he let slip news of a plan predating the Massacre? No, said those provincial employees; they didn’t think Tyler’s mention of a ”plan” on 6 March necessarily referred to any planning more than a day old.

TOMORROW: The Councilors’ contentions.