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Follow-Up to Another “Interesting” Obituary about Joseph Heller, Jr.

Last week I published an article at about Joe Heller’s obituary. It seems that his funeral and burial ceremony have now taken place and, as you might expect, both were a bit “unusual.”

According to the New York Times at

On Friday morning, Mr. Heller’s body, in a coffin draped with an American flag, was placed on the 1941 Mack fire truck he helped restore and taken to Centerbrook Cemetery to be buried next to his wife, Irene, who died in 2015, and whom he embarrassed daily “with his mouth and choice of clothing,” according to the obituary.

Family members followed the fire truck in Mr. Heller’s immaculately restored 1932 Plymouth roadster with, as per his request, a set of plastic testicles dangling from the rear bumper.

There’s more information available at:

Darned Record: No Father — Just Growed

imageWe depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

Reader Steve Squier shared this:

Hello, I thought you might like to use the attached image for one of your “Records Say the Darnedest Things” posts. The first entry in this register of births is for an unnamed daughter of a Miss Knox, of whose father the clerk wrote: “hain’t got none just growed.”

Source: Taylor County, Iowa, Register of Births, vol. 1 (1880–1897): 160, entry no. 110 for [unnamed female]; County Courthouse, Bedford; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 April 2017); imaged from FHL film no. 1,035,143, item no. 1.

Unfortunately, I can’t show you the image. To see it, visit your local family history center and click here:

New Free Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of 9 September 2019

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch added newfree, historical records this week from Bolivia, Costa Rica, Germany, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the United States. 

Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

Country Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments
Bolivia Bolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996 120,328 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Costa Rica Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1823-1975 42,462 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Germany Germany, Prussia, Westphalia, Minden, Miscellaneous Collections from the Municipal Archives, 1574-1912 18 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Germany Germany, Prussia, Saxony, Census Lists, 1770-1934 61,223 0 New indexed records collection
Panama Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973 36,461 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Paraguay Paraguay, Catholic Church Records, 1754-2015 159,525 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru Peru, Puno, Civil Registration, 1890-2005 9,161 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Peru Peru, Lima, Civil Registration, 1874-1996 306,796 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Portugal Portugal, Porto, Catholic Church Records, 1535-1949 27,59 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Russia Russia, Samara Church Books 1748-1934 6,463 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
Spain Spain, Province of La Coruña, Municipal Records, 1648-1941 30,264 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection
United States United States, Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Military Servicemen in World War I Records, 1919 4,736 0 New indexed records collection
About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Seavers in the News- Noted Violin Maker George F. Seaver Dies in 1902

t’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 Boston [Mass.] Globe newspaper dated 10 January 1902:

The transcription of the article is:

George F. Seaver, Dead at Dover, N.H. — Won Repute Also as Inventor.

“DOVER, N.H. Jan. 9 — George F. Seaver, age 66, one of Dover’s most esteemed citizens, died this morning at his home, near Granite State park, after a long illness.  Since early in the 80’s Mr. Seaver had been an invalid from paralysis, and since last fall he had been confined to his bed.

“Mr. Seaver was born in Lebanon, Me. of long-lived ancestry.  His maternal grandfather lived to the age of 104 and his mother died at 89.  For the past 30 years he has been a resident of this city, coming here from Haverhill, where he resided several years.  He married Miss Hannah R. Ham of Rochester.

“He was best known as a violin-maker, but was an inventor as well.  Among his patented inventions were a cane umbrella, a lasting machine and a car-heating apparatus.  For the past 16 years Mr. Seaver had been making violins, at first in an experimental way.

“During a long course of experimenting and study he solved the problem of making an instrument that from the first possessed the mellowness, richness, and breadth of tone of some of the best of the productions of the old makers.

“His latest productions are not excelled in beauty of wood and workmanship, and are pronounced by musicians to be of rare quality.  In his collection of old violins is a Stradivarius formerly owned by Ole Bull.

“Mr. Seaver was a veteran of the civil war.  He enlisted in Co H, 1st N H volunteers, and served at fort Constitution nearly the full period of enlistment.  He there received an injury to his back which necessitated his discharge, and which resulted in the paralysis which caused his death.

“He is survived by his wife, three sons, William H., George F. and John D., all of Boston; two daughters, Mrs. Roscoe G. Kilham of Boston, and Mrs. Ada F. Patten of Lynn; also a sister, Mrs. Ellen Ayer of Lynn.”

The source citation for the article is:

“Well-Known Violin Maker” The Boston [Mass.] Globe newspaper, obituary, Friday, 10 January  1902, page 11, column 4, George F. Seaver obituary;   ( : accessed 5 September 2019).

What an interesting life.  An inventor, a violin maker, a Civil War veteran, a wife and 5 living children.  
George Freeman Seaver (1835-1902) was the son of John D. Seaver (1798-1861) and Sarah Maddox (1805-1895) of Portsmouth, N.H. and Lebanon, Maine.  He married Hannah R. Ham (1835-????) in 1855 in Rochester, New Hampshire, and they had five children:
*  Ada Florence Seaver (1855-????), married George Lincoln Howard (1865-1920) in 1903.
*  George Freeman Seaver (1858-????), married Ella R. Waterhouse (1855-1919) in 1882.
*  Lola Estele Seaver (1859-1934), married (1) Roscoe Green Kilham (1859-1921) in 1882, and (2) George Edward Tibbets (1863-????) in 1929.
*  John D. Seaver (1867-????), married Nellie P. Norris (1876-????) in 1895.
*  William Harrison Seaver (1873-????) married (1) Marie E. Carlton (1878-????) in 1896, and (2) Alexandrina Wishart (1871-1976) in 1923.

George Freeman Seaver is my 3rd cousin four times removed, with common ancestors of my 6th great-grandparents Robert Seaver (1702-1752) and Eunice Rayment (1707-1772).

There are over 8,000 Seaver “stories” in my family tree – this was one of them.  George Freeman Seaver had an inspiring and interesting life.  Life happens, accidentally and intentionally, and sometimes it is noble and good.


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

Copyright (c) 2019, 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

FamilySearch Introduces Family Tree Lite

Here is a quote from the FamilySearch Blog:

“One of our goals at FamilySearch is to create a research experience that is fast and efficient. That’s why, when you visit our site or use our app, you come across so many different tools. You can attach photos, list sources, use record hints, and search partner sites, and the list goes on.

“However, in some cases, you might have limited internet bandwidth that doesn’t allow all the bells and whistles of the website to run smoothly. Or maybe you simply want to save on data usage. For these circumstances, we have created a streamlined version of FamilySearch’s Family Tree, known appropriately as Family Tree Lite.”

You can read a lot more about Family Tree Lite at:

Genealogy News Bytes – 3 September 2019

Some of the genealogy news and education items across my monitor the last four days include:

1)  News Articles:

National Geographic’s Genographic Project Discontinued

2)  New or Updated Record Collections:

3)  Genealogy Education – Webinars:

 GeneaWebinars Calendar

*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Tuesday, 3 September, 7 p.m. PDT:  Are you Lost? Using Maps, Gazetteers and Directories for British Isles Research, by Paul Milner

*  Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Wednesday, 4 September, 11 a.m. PDT:  Combining DNA and Traditional Research – In-Depth Case Studies, by Michelle Leonard

*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 6 September, 8 a.m. PDT:  Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof, by Elizabeth Shown Mills

*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 6 September, 9:15 a.m. PDT:  Finding Immigrants Who ‘Disappeared’: A Research Approach Based on Recognizing and Challenging Assumptions, by Martha Garrett
*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 6 September, 10:30 a.m. PDT:  Share and Share Alike: The Rules of Genealogical Privacy, by Judy G. Russell

*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 6 September, 12:30 p.m. PDT:  Details of New and Modified DNA-Related Standards, by Karen Stanbary
*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 6 September, 1:45 p.m. PDT:  How to Write a Case Study that Meets the New Standards for DNA: As Codified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, by Melinda Henningfield
*   Upcoming Family Tree Webinar – Friday, 6 September, 3:00 p.m. PDT:  Reconstructing an Entrepreneurial Woman’s Life: From Family Intrigue to Water Rents, by Rick Sayre
*  Upcoming SCGS Webinar – Saturday, 7 September, 10 a.m. PDT:  The Home Archivist: Preserving Family Records Like a Pro! by Melissa Barker

4)  Genealogy Education – Podcasts:

*  Fisher’s Top Tips:  #102 – Free Genealogy Sites

5)  Genealogy Videos (YouTube):

*  Family History Fanatics:  Getting Started to GEDmatch – A Segment of DNA
*  BYU Family History Library:  DNA Testing: Mt DNA and Y DNA – Sarah Stoddard

6)  Genealogy Bargains:

7)  Did you miss the last Genealogy News Bytes – 30 August 2019?


Copyright (c) 2019, 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

Lancaster County (Virginia) Fiduciary Records 1657-1872 Online

From the Virginia Memory web site:

“The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the addition of the Lancaster County Fiduciary Records, 1657-1872, to Virginia Untold. This collection contains the earliest records added to Virginia Untold, and the largest number of names added from a single locality so far—over 20,000. Fiduciary records primarily consist of estate administrator settlements, estate inventories, dower allotments, estate divisions, estate sales, and guardian accounts that record a detailed list of all personal property owned by individuals, including enslaved people.

“These records demonstrate the rapid growth of slavery in Virginia from the “20. and odd Negroes” who arrived in Jamestown in 1619. Two estate inventories recorded in 1670 named a combined total of 60 enslaved people. As the records progress into the 18th and 19th centuries, the number of enslaved people owned by individuals exploded. In some cases, a single person could own hundreds of enslaved people, and their residences were not confined to Lancaster County. For example, the estate inventory of Rawleigh W. Downman recorded in 1781, lists nearly 150 enslaved people who lived on estates he owned in Lancaster, Richmond, Stafford, and Fauquier counties.

“Many of these fiduciary records document additional information about enslaved people, beyond a name and assigned monetary value. The authors often included comments about individual enslaved people which, though limited to a couple of words or short phrases, shed light on the hardships that they experienced. Some comments related to the sale of enslaved people, an ever-present fear for enslaved families. The guardian’s account of Elizabeth Mitchell, recorded in 1836, identified an enslaved mother and her children who were sold in August 1835 ‘to go to the Western Country.’ They were sold because the mother’s ‘husband’ had been sold by a different owner ‘to go to the West.’ All the names of the family were recorded except one, who the recorder identified as an ‘infant in the arms.’”

You can read more and view some of the records at:

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun — Your School Yearbook Photos

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It’s Saturday Night again – 

time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) updated their School Yearbook collection and it is FREE to access until 2 September.  Use

2)  Show us your school yearbook photos from the Ancestry collection, or from your personal photo collection.  Tell us the school and year.  Add your spouse or best friend or children if you wish!

  3)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog, or in a Facebook post.

Here’s mine:

1)  I was a 1961 high school graduate of San Diego High School in San Diego, California.  Here is the entry in the 1961 SDHS yearbook:

I think I wrote that myself trying to be funny.  I had to check a YouTube video yesterday to check out the Hully Gully song and dance.  I don’t recall what Boys Federation was.  I recall Veni Vidi Vici.  I was skinny then – 5’7″ and 120 pounds… I really didn’t enjoy high school.  Math, Latin, Social Studies, Physics and Chemistry were great, but gym was terrible.  The only sport I was good at was handball.  Gym ruined my GPA.   I had no social life being smaller than every girl but one at the school.  

2)  Here is my wife, Linda Leland, in her 1960 yearbook of Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco:

And in the 1964 San Francisco State yearbook:

I showed you mine – please show me yours!!


The URL for this post is:  

Copyright (c) 2019, 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

Back at George Washington High

Last month I wrote about the controversy over murals at George Washington High School in San Francisco.

Those murals, painted by Victor Arnautoff as a New Deal project, depicted the life of George Washington without hagiography. Arnautoff devoted space to the oppression of slavery and the human cost of westward expansion. But showing subservient African-Americans and dead Native Americans raised objections from some students in the 1960s and today.

This spring, the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to budget $600,000 to permanently conceal the murals, most likely with a new coat of paint. People thought that money would cover an environmental study of the plan, the work itself, and anticipated legal battles.

News of the decision attracted attention across the country. The school was opened for public viewing this summer. Many artistic figures joined local preservationists and alumni in opposing the decision. Some fans of the murals started to organize a public vote to keep them. The board president and vice president defended their decision to, in their words, do away with “art that for more than 80 years has traumatized students.” There were few additional voices for removing the murals, however.

This month, the San Francisco school board took a second vote. By the slight margin of 4–3, they decided “to obscure the art with panels or similar materials rather than painting over it.” That would allow the panels to be taken off at some future time. Back in the spring, this remedy was expected to cost much more than the painting, but quite possibly the board had come to anticipate more legal costs.

Or perhaps the first vote was a strategy to test the fervency of the two sides. The Board of Education’s president controls its agenda. The San Francisco Chronicle quoted the current president saying he “always supported obscuring the mural rather than destroying it, although he voted to paint over it in June.” He doesn’t plan to allow a third vote during his term, which ends in December.

The school year will start soon. Given how municipal contracts work, I have no sense of how quickly the project of covering the murals will progress. At some point the board will choose its next president, and in 2020 the city’s voting public will elect a new Board of Education. The referendum on the murals appears to be still up in the air. This whole controversy could rise again—or quietly subside for another few decades.

Review: Unofficial Workbook

Unofficial Workbook: A How-to Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy WebsiteSomehow I missed the release of the Unofficial Guide to by Nancy Hendrickson. When I reviewed Unofficial Guide to, I became a big fan of Family Tree Book’s unofficial series, so I was very happy when I received a review copy of the new Ancestry book, Unofficial Workbook: A How-to Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy Website.

Chapters are organized around record types. The chapters of the book are:

  1. Search and the Card Catalog
  2. Census Records
  3. Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
  4. Military Records
  5. Immigration Records
  6. Historical Maps, Images, Newspapers, and Publications
  7. Social History [directories, tax records, land records, histories, etc.]
  8. AncestryDNA

Each chapter contains overviews of the databases of the chapter’s record type and helpful instructions on using that type. For example, from the vital records chapter:

Death records can open up new lines of research, primarily because they can contain the name of the person’s parents (including the mother’s maiden name) as well as where the parents and the decedent were born.

Each chapter has a number of exercises. Don’t think workbook quizzes; think step-by-step walkthroughs. 

Each chapter also contains some helpful “search strategies” for the chapter’s record type. Here is an example search strategy from the census chapter:

Don’t assume your ancestor was skipped during an enumeration. Look for alternate surname spellings, first name shown as initials, or location in a neighboring county.

Each chapter contains workbook forms and worksheets for things like searching the census and abstracting birth records. Appendices have additional checklists, worksheets, and census abstract forms. While a book obviously isn’t going to contain enough copies of each form or worksheet, additional copies can be downloaded from the Family Tree Magazine website.


Unofficial Workbook: A How-to Manual for Tracing Your Family Tree on the #1 Genealogy Website
Nancy Hendrickson
8.2 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches, 192 pp., paperback. 2017.
ISBN 1440349061
Family Tree Books
$10.99 Kindle
$13.19 Google eBook
$14.57 Amazon
$21.99 Paperback/eBook list price, plus shipping.