A box of papers…
Montgomery, Jany 6, 1856
Dear Uncle and Aunt:
The best part of a year has passed since we were at your place. We have enjoyed good health the past summer. We have heard of you by Peleg, and Daniel Evitts who have visited us. They were out here last fall, and we have not heard from Daniel since they were here. We are very comfortably situated here, and think we shall do well. I like milling, and it seems to agree with me. It is indoors, and these stormy days it appears more pleasant than usual.
We have a good run of business. Before the river shut up we did a good business flouring rye & buckwheat & sending to York. After a long warm open fall on Christmas it commenced storming and now we have plenty of snow & good sleighing.
When I returned to Michigan last spring, I called on Mr. Finney and left the money you sent by me. I enclose his script. He took your address and was quite interested in his new found connections.
Hiram Seger left nine children I believe. We would like to hear from you soon. Remember us to Ira, [?] Sherman and the friends. I suppose Maria is well or we should have heard.
Salmon Father Bronson says he would like to see and hear from the old Kent friends. He is a good Miller & no mistake.
If we have our health and good luck we may make you a visit sometime.
If I go to Mich. next summer, as I am thinking of, I will inquire more particularly about Uncle Hiram’s family.
____ fair ____ of __, to write to us before long. When John gets his lady, tell him to be sure and come out and see us.
Henry and Sarah Fisk [or Fish]
By the late 1840s and early 1850s railroads had established safe and easy transportation between the upper midwest and the east. This would have made visiting a good deal less arduous than Hiram and Leah Seger’s 1833 trek to Michigan.
Parents and siblings of Hiram Seger:
Joseph Seger (born 13 October 1757 in Simsbury, CT; d. 28 June 1845 in Kent, CT) married Olive Calender (1st wife) of Sharon, CT on 1 March 1772 in Dutchess County, NY
Joseph’s children with Olive:
- Ettie M., b. 1779; m. Thomas Young of Kent, CT; d. 25 Oct 1834, Kent, CT
ERS:(I believe this is “Mary Young” in the will)
- Heman, b. 2 Dec 1782, Kent, CT; m. Lovisa Root 10 Jan 1803; d. 22 Apr 1864, Kent, CT
- Benjamin, b. 1785
- Lucy, m. ___ Knapp of Kent, CT; lived in Bristol, IN in 1845
- Cynthia, b. 1796; m. Salmon Bronson of Kent, CT; d. 28 June 1833
- Hiram (b.21 Dec 1797 Kent, CT; d. 16 Sept 1848 Redford, MI
- Elizabeth, m. Nathan Smalley of Spencertown, NY
- Hannah, m. ___ Hawes; lived in OH in 1845
Joseph married Lydia Jane Mills (2nd wife) abt. 26 Apr 1804, Kent, CT (dau. of Lewis Mills and Hannah Hall). The Kent Register of Families says Lydia Jane Mills, elsewhere recorded as “Lydia Morgan”
- Lydia M., b. 1807, m. 13 June 1824 Noble Smith of Kent; d. 8 May 1895
Household Goods and Commerce
In 1832-33 Heman’s son Erastus bought a peddler’s wagon and eventually got his 21-year-old brother Ira to join him on the road in Pennsylvania. Letters and documents from Erastus’s venture are posted in a separate section and linked from here.
Frank Seger’s great-grandfather Heman Seger (b. 1783) saved receipts. Folded and stored away, these brittle scraps of paper have survived for nearly 200 years. Some of them are almost incomprehensible to me, but offer a record of some commercial transactions in the community. A few samples are included below. To the best of my knowledge Heman did not farm in the way his descendants did. The Segers were known as teamsters at one time, and a few slips for “waggon hire” suggest this was part of his livelihood. The Kent Historical Society has a record of Heman and his father Joseph as partners in a forge, described as “Kent’s first iron works.” Francis Atwater’s 1897 History of Kent notes that Hemam’s son Hiram was a merchant, running the South Kent store for a few years, but I have no formal documentatation regarding any business relationships. Family lore says Heman’s son Ira established and worked the Seger/Jennings farm.
In 1835 was there a reason for calculating the value of this material in English denominated currency? Perhaps B. Gilbert was English. The fractional values seem roughly equivalent to the second column of numbers if one accepts that we’re talking about shillings and pence, allowing for what I suspect are many mistakes in my transcription.
Another thought: President Andrew Jackson pulled government funds from the Second National Bank in 1833, effectively destroying central financial regulation. At this precise time, private and state banks were printing their own currency. Overprinting of this private scrip led to inflation and financial instability, culminating in the panic of 1837. Perhaps the old Pound Sterling was a measure of value for that reason (just as Spanish coinage was trusted for its real value at this time). Just guessing here.
If this is indeed a conversion from English money, a shilling is worth around 16 cents. I’ll leave it up to someone with more patience to figure out pence.
|Heman Segar Bot of B Gilbert|
|1||Sett Pink cups & saucers||3/||50|
|1||Teepot Sugar Bol|
|Undercup & Slop [?]oo por||1/11||125|
|1 do||knife & forks 9/11||158|
|1||Blk Tee Pot||4||12½|
|1||Sett Plates for||[?]||17|
|10 lb||flat Iron||83|
|Warren March 18, 1835|
Heman’s receipts cover may purchases, from fabric to turkeys. The following is undated, but shows a store credit. Again, the persistence of what seems to be English denomination in some receipts. The penmanship flourishes and unfamiliar abbreviations leave much room for error in my attempts to transcribe.
Correspondence with the Warren, CT, historical society confirms that Mr. Gilbert was a storekeeper in the town of Warren in these years.
|Mr. Heman Sigar in a/c|
with Horace F. Sockwood
|[illeg] By 7 Tom Turkies||wt[?]||73½|
|11 Hen do||69¾|
|12 Mo 28th 1831|
|Mr. Segur bot of|
Peters & Gregory
|4 Galls Mols__________||3/6||$2.34|
|10 lb Sugar___________||10c||1.00|
[Lewis Weston Mills, 7 Dec 1801-4 Dec 1837, Kent resident]
Kent, Jan 24, 1835
|July 1834||Carding 96¾th wool||2.91|
|Jan. 1835||drying 9¾ yds. Mixt[?]||0.98|
|22.||drying 20½ yds Black _____||3.49|
|do. 5 yds L. B. Flannel||0.50|
|R_ecved[?] Pay in full to the dot|
Lewis W. Mills
|8 yd. Gingham||1/6||$2.00|
|7 " Muslin||2/6||2.12|
|Warren May 14, 1836|
Warren Oct 16 1834
|1 Gall Brandy||3/6|
|2 qts Molasses||2/3p|
Recd Nov. 21st, 1835 of Heman Seeger
Thirty Seven dollars and thirty two
Cents in full of account
$37.37 B. P. Bearsdley
Trade with the Hudson Valley
I only knew the name “Matteawan” from the old Matteawan State Hospital (originally the Asylum for the Criminally Insane) in Beacon, NY. Fishkill was the landing and Matteawan the manufacturing component of the town of Beacon, fifty miles from Kent. (My mother claimed you could see the lights of Matteawan at night from the Walter Jennings farm, 30 miles as the crow flies.)
From an online history of Beacon, NY: “1814 — the Matteawan Company built the Matteawan Store to serve its factory workers. (25 years later it became the David Davis Dry Goods store).” So Heman wholesaled over 300 pounds of cheese at 7.5 cents per pound to the Matteawan store. The route to Fishkill was overland, not a river run, and railroads were still in the future. Whether Mr. J. Green made a trip to buy from the Kent farmers or someone in Heman’s family traveled the roads to the Hudson Valley, there was agricultural business between the two areas at a time when historians describe activity in Kent as dominated by iron mining and charcoal boom.
|Bot of Emon Seger|
|163_ Cheese______ 7½||$12.22|
|Paid by J. Green||$22.94|
Receipts from school fees in the 1830s and class lists from more recent times at Rocks School.
Students: Florence Dwy, Vesta Dwy, Elva Richards, Nellie Hall, Gurnsey Richards, Lucy Seger, Howard Dwy, John Hall, Hattie Davis, Raymond Davis, Grace Dwy, Foster Richards, Edwin Vargoshe, Milie Vargoshe, Flossie Richards, Heman Seger, Nettie Richards, Roscoe Seger, Vernon Dwy, Lewis Seger.
A statement dated April 11, 1830 listing the obligations of each household for educating their children, calculated by number of days attended.
The names of paterfamiliae: Heman Seger, Benjamin Howland, Daniel Morehouse, Buel [?] Roots, Daniel Roots, Elias Dwy, Garry Hallock, Luke Hallock, Eli Chamberlain, David Morehouse, Gardner [?] Geer, Orange Roots
This statement from November 1831 includes the teacher’s name: “Amarinda Cole’s School Bill”
The parents listed are Heman Seger, Daniel Morehouse, Joseph Dwy, Elias Dwy, Garry Hallock, Luke Hallock, Charles Morgan, Aaron Smith and Seymour Roots.
Paper appeared to be at a premium in the 1830s and 40s, even for official business. Three scraps of paper serving as receipts for town and state taxes are signed by three different tax collectors in 1837, 1842 and 1843. On another piece, the 1840 signature appears to be Edward Schermerhorn; 1838 is Charles H. Leonard; the 1834 receipt is missing a piece that includes the signature. Click on the image for a larger view.
Kent Sept 28th 1837
Received of Heman Segar eight dollars & twenty two cents being in full of his Town Tax laid on the list of 1837. Asa Slade Collector
Recd Kent Sept 23 1843 of Heman Segar nine 81/100 dollars for his town & State tax on List 1842.
Smith [?] Stuart Collector
of Town & State Tax
Received Kent Nov 26th 1842 of Heman Segor ten Dollars & 37 ct in full for his state and Town Taxes laid on the list 1841 that I have in my hand.
Philetus Winegar Collector
Joseph’s heirs, 1847
[We can document] Heman’s efforts to help obtain his father Joseph’s Revolutionary War pension, which he did, 7 years (1852) after Joseph’s death (1845).
By that time, Hiram had also died (1848). The pension was $1,370.05. It seems that the pension was split into 5 portions for Joseph’s children—I wonder if only 5 were still alive when the pension was paid in 1852. They are Heman, Elizabeth Smalley, Lydia J. Smith, Hannah Hawes, and 1 other (can’t piece that together yet—Mary Young or Lucy Knapp)?
Twenty-six years later, with Heman’s son Ira as executor of Heman’s estate, Ira began distributing Hannah’s portion of the pension to Joseph’s grandchildren (I’m guessing the ones descended from Heman, Elizabeth, Lydia, and the other, from the surviving documents) who signed that their portion would be returned if Hannah Hawes or her heirs establish a legal claim. So I wonder if Hannah (who was in OH in 1845), could not be located in 1852 or forever after. I have no documents indicating that Hiram or his descendants are involved in the pension distribution.
A lawyer (L.M. Drusy or Drury) of Canandaigua, NY, who helped secure the pension from the government, received 25% as a fee. He wrote that he spent more than $2,000 in all (presumably he was working on behalf of many veterans) “and more than one year’s labor but I brought about a change in the practice of the Department which has existed for 25 years past and I got all the artificers’ pensions increased.” (An artificer was a military workman in the artillery.)
Joseph’s heirs, 1847: Lucy Seger Knapp
Bristol, Elkhart Co., Indiana Octo 20th 1847
Please pay to Owen Coffin in order the Amount due me from the Estate of Joseph Segar deceased, late of Litchfield County Connecticut and this order with the Amount paid thereon En_[?] shall be a sufficient discharge therefor
[signed] Lucy Knapp
Mr Heman Segar
Permit me to introduce to your friendly acquaintance Mr. Owen Coffin of Bristol Elkhart County indiana
and on the reverse:
Received from Mr. Heman Segar Six Dollars & fifty four cents being the Amount due Lucy Knapp from the personal property of her late fathers Estate.
Kent Nov 30, 1847
Hiram Seger, Heman’s brother, established a clan on a 160-acre homestead in Redford, Michigan, and from the few surviving documents we can see that family ties remained for at least a couple of generations. Heman’s son George settled in Port Huron as well, and I am assuming the children mentioned in the receipt are his. The unsigned document is on a piece of lined paper and is dated the year after Heman died.
Re’d Port Huron May— 1865 of Ira Seger Executor on the Estate of Heman Seger late of Kent Connecticut. in full of all the right [?] law [?] title and interest of Katy Seger Frederick Seger and Ettie Seger Minors [?] left to them by the last will and testament of their Grandfather Heman Seger the same Heman Seger Deceased.
George Louis Seger’s will, 1913
At the time of the death of George Louis Seger, Frank’s father, there was a substantial amount of property to divide, both in cash and land. Frank inherited the home farm, and apparently bought out his brother George’s interest in the livestock. George, Sr., gave his elder son Clinton a property on Geer Mountain and a mortgage from the Jennings family. The trust established for his daughter Kate protected her assets independent of her husband. In forgiving the mortgage held against Harry Newton, it appears he was giving Mattie a break.
I had been curious about a scrap of paper with a tally of assets, including the two aforementioned mortgage debts. It appears to be in Frank’s hand, but I haven’t seen a sample from George, Sr.
By the time George’s grandchildren matured they were not prosperous: the home farm was sold off in the late 1940s, Dick and Jnet Jennings struggled with the Jennings farm. The boys who “took the milk”, Charles and Lem, worked as laborers. Roscoe moved away. Lewis worked for the New Haven Railroad for many years.