The Seger Families
of 17th and 18th Century Connecticut
Richard Seager: c.1595–1682
Richard Seager was the first of the Seger ancestors to emigrate from England. Genealogical information online is sometimes sketchy before his appearance as one of the founders of the Hartford, Connecticut, colony. The information that I currently have been able to glean suggests he was born around 1595 in England, perhaps in Suffolk, and married Mary Cone circa 1615 in England. There is evidence that he had surviving children by Mary, although I do not know when or where Mary died.
He was a follower of the Rev. Thomas Hooker, and very likely emigrated with him to the New World and in 1636 to the Connecticut River valley.
Early Hartford records suggest Richard served an indenture before becoming a freeman and landholder. In 1649 he married Elizabeth Moody, thirty years his junior, in Hartford. Between 1650 and 1655 Elizabeth bore five children, one of whom, Ebenezer, drowned in 1669 while the family still lived in Hartford.
Accusations of witchcraft plagued Elizabeth in the early 1660s and she was brought to trial three times. The legal documents of these trials are a rich source of information about the life of a woman at a time when women are nearly invisible in the historical record. I have attempted to present an account of those events.
Excerpted from extensive online Seger family research by Kara Seager-Segalla:
By the time the South Side Mill Rates of Hartford were set in 1656/57, Richard Seager had become a substantial property holder in Hartford, Connecticut and was admitted as a Freeman of Connecticut in May of 1657. At a General Court of Election on May 21, 1657, “Were made free before the Court, those whose names are underwritten, Rich. Seager”. With the problems resulting from his wife's conviction on the charges of witchcraft and the drowning of the son, Ebenezer in 1669, Richard Seager moved with his wife and their son, John, to Southold, Rhode Island, and were listed there in 1671 (Austin's Rhode Island Record). In about 1678 the Seager's moved east to Westerly, Rhode Island, settling near the Pawcatuck River in an area claimed both by Connecticut and Rhode Island. On May 18, 1671, Richard Seager was one of twenty-two inhabitants of Westerly, who swore allegiance to the King and Rhode Island before a Court of Justices at Westerly (Rhode Island Colonial Records, 2:388). In about 1679, the family moved again settling in Newport, Rhode Island (Carl Boyer III, 1993). Richard died there in 1682, about age 87, but there is no record of the place and time of his wife's death.
Note: Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island, Vol. 1, pg. 572, published in 1908 by J.H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1908; Orlando Public Library RD 975.5 R V1, age 63 in 1658. Death possibly in RI.; "The Seager Families of Colonial New England" researched and compiled by Cordelia Thies Seager and Chalres William Seager, Illahee Hills, Brevard, North Carolina, copyright 1978. 250 copies were printed by Adams Press, Chicago, Illinois. 929.273 Sel3s at Family History Library.
Joseph Seager I: 1652–1740
From History of Joseph Seager by Kara Seager-Segalla:
Joseph Seager was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. Connecticut was one of the most successful of the English colonies. By 1700, almost 26,00 people lived there. Connecticut farmers grew corn, wheat, and tobacco. Fishermen brought back tons of fish from Long Island Sound. Evolving from an early agricultural economy, Hartford grew into an important trading center on the Connecticut River. Molasses, spices, coffee and rum were distributed from warehouses in the city's thriving merchant district. Ships set sail from Hartford to England, the West Indies and the Far East.
Joseph Seager became one of the first proprietors of the town of Suffield, along with a group of about one hundred families under the leadership of William Pynchon, who had previously settled in Springfield in 1636. The approaching marriage to Abigail Taylor, whose parents were of the Pynchon group, brought him 40 acres, plus a home lot on High Street in 1679. Joseph was a chair maker and farmer, and apparently successful in his business. Cabinet makers or makers of fine furniture were in particular demand during this time period. Few settlers could afford to bring their furniture with them when they sailed to New England because of high shipping costs. Consequently, those with extra income often chose to spend it at the local cabinetmaker's shop, purchasing chairs and other furniture of far better quality than they themselves could make at home.
Puritan artisans farmed in addition to practicing their trade, therefore Joseph Seager's days, along with other members of his family, were filled with endless chores, "from sunup till sundown". In 1721 Joseph Seager sold his High Street property to Samuel Kent of Suffield and retired, except to perform a few duties for the town and church. Kent Public Library, built on the site of the original High Street lot, has in its archives the deed for the sale of this property.
The graves of Joseph and Abigail are believed to be covered by the building of a new church, still on the hill in Suffield.
Joseph Seager II: 1682– c. 1745
From History of Joseph Seager by Kara Seager-Segalla:
Joseph Seager was born, raised, and married in Suffield, Hartford, Connecticut. The records of Joseph's family, unlike most of the period, are quite ample. Joseph's marriage to Mehitable, daughter of Joseph Parsons, with inherited means, brought property to Joseph in Simsbury, Connecticut, and he received more land from his father in 1705. This was an expansion period for early Simsbury. Land was parceled out in frequent grants and settlers often made trades or deals for these lots to achieve convenient access or to consolidate holdings. In 1706, Joseph sold to David Buttolph four acres, which Mehitable had inherited from her father. In 1711, he sold 20 acres in Hopmeadow that had been his father's. While Joseph was probably a farmer, he was also an active land trader until about 1734. Joseph Seager lived to be about 62 years old. He left three children who needed gardianship. Apparently his second wife, Mary, was unable to do this. At this time John Seager, age 17 years, chose Thomas Addams to be his guardian. In August, 1746, Capt. James Goodrich of Simsbury became John's guardian. Mehetabell Seager, age 15 years, and Elizabeth Seager, age 12 years, both chose their brother, Joseph Seager, to be their guardian. About a year later, in July 1747, the two youngest daughters chose John Brown of Windsor to be their guardian.
More detailed information may be found at Ms. Seager-Segalla’s RootsWeb entry.
Joseph Seger III: 1706–1794
Joseph Seger married Dorothy Alford in 1730
Extensive information on Dorothy Alford and her family has been provided by a descendant on RootsWeb, as well as details of the earliest Seger/Seagers to emigrate to New England. Alford was a great-granddaughter of Thomas Hooker, a Puritan clergyman and one of the most important leaders of the early Massachusetts colony.An excerpt of Kara Segalla’s research on RootsWeb regarding the third Joseph Seger:
Joseph Seager was born and raised in Simsbury, Connecticut. Girls of that time period performed most of their chores indoors. Boys, on the other hand, chiefly helped with the outdoor work of caring for crops and livestock. David and John Brainerd wrote of growing up in colonial Connecticut, “The boy must rise early and make himself useful before he went to school, must be diligent there in study, and be promptly home to do chores at evening. His whole time out of school must be filled up with some service, such as bringing in fuel for the day, cutting potatoes for the sheep, feeding the swine, watering the horses, picking the berries, gathering the vegetables, spooling the yarn for spinning. He was expected never to be reluctant and not often tired.”
Until the final years of the seventeenth century Puritan ideas about government, society, family, and education predominated throughout the New England colonies. In studying our families history, perhaps America's most important legacy from the Puritans is the emphasis placed on education. The first public schools in America were founded in New England by the Puritans. The Puritans thought that learning was very important. They believed the Devil tricked people by keeping them in ignorance Education was a tool to fight the temptations of evil. Literacy, the ability to read and write, was considered essential By the mid-1700s all of the New England colonies except Rhode Island had laws calling for free public education and every town of 20 families or more was required to open a school, therefore Joseph and his children were schooled early in life.
The family of Joseph Seager is probably the most firmly documented of this period due largely to the records of the Wintonbury, now Bloomfield Church, which Joseph and Dorothy attended for many years. Religion played an important part in the life of most early settlers, but their frequent isolation and lack of transportation made regular church attendance an impossibility. It was about 1740, after the birth of Zubeh, that there was family attendance at Wintonbury, and Jospeh and Dorthy were admitted to full membership in June of 1742. Thereafter their children were baptized in infancy and there are communion records of the parents.
In 1734, Joseph received Hopmeadow Street property in Simsbury from his father,“in love and affection”, (Simsbury Deeds Book 6, pg. 6). The first Connecticut settlers worked hard to clear their land and raise food. By the middle of the 1700's, some farmers had managed to become large landowners. They were now able to hire men who did not own land to work for them. This was the beginning of commercial agriculture. Surpluses of grain and other crops, beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and dairy products were sold. Joseph was a land owner and farmer. After 1734 he was also involved in a number of land transactions until about 1771.
Joseph Seger IV: 1731–1818
Joseph Seger, son of Joseph and Dorothy (Alford) Seger, b. Simsbury, Ct, 23 March 1731; d. New Hartford, Ct. on January 9, 1818. C. 1756 m. Lucy Buttolph, who died 21 November 1821.
Joseph joined the militia when the French stirred the Indians to raid the frontier settlements (The French and Indian War). He served from September through December 1755.
In 1757 he purchased a site for both his home and business from Josiah Case. That same year he opened a grist mill and it is said that he operated “Segur’s Mill on the west side of the Farmington River where Collinsville is now.” Joseph was active in this business until his retirement in 1803.
There are several account of Joseph’s family. Most omit sons Joseph and Elijah, apparently because the two left early for military service and did not become permanent residents of Simsbury. Upon retirement, the miller deeded the property, in two parcels, to Israel and Benoni and went to live with the latter in New Hartford, CT.
One of the accounts of the family appears in Genealogical History, with Short Sketches and Family Records, of the Early Settlers of West Simsbury, now Canton, Conn., by Abiel Brown, Hartford; Press of Case, Tiffany and Company, 1856. P 122-123.
Joseph Segur, Jun., was an early settler in West Simsbury. He resided on the west side of Farmington river. His house stood where is now the center of Collinsville, west village. The farm that he owned, now belongs to the Collins Company, and Samuel W. Collins, Esq. During a great share of his family state previous to 1795, he tended the grist-mill, then called Segur’s Mill. The mill stood the east side of the river some eight or ten rods south of the main bridge, the great flat rock in the middle of the river, making the middle part of the dam, which was a low one. He daily crossed the river in his canoe, to go to and from the grist-mill, when the river was not frozen sufficient to be safe crossing on the ice. Among his children were Israel, Charles, Benoni, the wife of Eliphalet Alford, and two other daughters. He, with his son Benoni, removed to new Hartford in 1805, to spend the remainder of his days, where he and his wife died in 1818. The family are now gone from this town. His father Joseph Segur, Sen., married Dorothy Alford in 1730. The writer will relate one little incident connected with that mill, which made some sport among the people at the time being. Mr. Chauncey Gleason, a trader in the East Village, then called Suffrage, having a quantity of brimstone in the roll or lump, wishing to pulverize it into fine sulphur, (an article sometimes used in families at that time,) carried a large quantity of it to Segur’s mill to be ground, in the year 1789-90; it was put into the corn-mill, but it soon took fire and flamed up frightfully. Gleason ran to the river and brought water in his hat to extinguish the flames. The undertaking soon proved a failure, and in the operation, Mr. Gleason having on a valuable broadcloth coat, spoiled it for use; the mill became thoroughly scented with the itch antidote, and the event was well spread abroad. A neighboring poor family had a small grist of indian corn ground in the mill afterward, and in trying to bake some of the meal in johnny cakes before the fire, their cakes ignited and blazed up. A man by the name of Bethuel Parker, an apt poetical genius, wrote a lengthy and apt poem on this laughable subject, entitled “Hell upon Earth, or Brimstone in the Grist-Mill,” touching upon different parts of the scene, something after the manner of Cowper’s John Gilpin. He compared the blazing of the mill and johnny cakes to Mount Aetna in a blaze. The closing lines were:“Then Segur cries out in bitterness of soul,
Have mercy, Lord, though I did take large toll.”
Joseph Seger V: 1757–1845
For information on Joseph Seger V, who founded the Kent, Connecticut, branch of the Seger family after his Revolutionary War service, see Farmer/Soldier/Farmer which includes a link to the text of his 1832 petition for a military pension.
According to Marge Smith of the Kent Historical Society, Joseph Seger owned an interest in the Morgan Forge in East Kent:
Joseph Seger who bought 1/8 interest in the forge in 1807 (for $116.25!). Then he bought 1/2 of the business, including forge, coal house and dwelling. Four years later, Heman Seger bought 1/8 share, giving the family full control of Kent's first iron works. Reading just from Miss Emily Hopson’s notes in the book I have here at home, I’m not sure how long the Seger family stayed involved, because by 1841, much of it was back in the hands of Ira Morgan. Perhaps the Segers were holding mortgages?