The Seger Diaspora…

Many family letters document Joseph Seger’s son Heman’s dogged efforts to obtain Joseph’s Revolutionary War pension, which was, at least partially, paid to Joseph’s surviving children in 1852, and the bequest was eventually sent to Joseph’s grandchildren, the children of his son Hiram, in Michigan.

The Seger/Seager family, from the earliest generations, reflects in microcosm our national restlessness and willingness to “light out for the Territory,” as Huck Finn put it. First as immigrants, then in migration: west to the frontier for greater opportunity, be it western Connecticut in the 1770s or Michigan a half century later.

The Michigan Story

Frank Seger
1987 Detroit News feature on Frank H. Seger,
newspaper editor and co-author (with his cousin Elbert)
of a Seger family history.

Cousins Frank and Elbert Seger, great—great grandsons of Joseph Seger, researched and compiled a family history which was the source of much of the information in Eric Freedman’s history of the founding families of Michigan. In this 1987 article in the Detroit News, Freedman features Frank H. Seger. The article was provided by Elbert’s grandson Tony Seger, also a genealogist and a member of the eighth generation of Segers to live in Michigan.

Hiram Seger

21 December 1797 – 16 September, 1848, Redford, Michigan

Joseph Seger’s son Hiram grew up in Kent, married and moved to Wayne, New York, in the Finger Lakes region, and then in the early 1830s applied for and received a grant of 160 acres in Michigan, which was not yet a state. He moved west with his wife and seven children, traveling by wagon, barge and steamboat.

Sons of Hiram and Leah Burdge Seger.
Left to right: George Washington Seger, Oliver W. (Oliver Cromwell?) Seger, William Henry Harrison Seger. (Photo courtesy Tony Seger, 3x great grandson of Hiram Seger)

Pioneering Michigan, by Eric Freedman (Northmont Publishing Inc., 1993) quotes an otherwise uncredited family history by cousins Frank and Elbert Seger, great-grandsons of Hiram and Leah:

Hiram Seger and Leah Elizabeth Burdge
A lot of nerve

It’s said that Hiram Seger and his wife Leah Elizabeth Burdge must have had courage to make the westward trek to Michigan Territory with seven children.

“They thought maybe this land was better, that there wsas more opportunity to get ahead,” descendant Frank H. Seger said. “They loaded everything up in two wagons. They took the Erie Canal and then crossed Lake Erie by boat. They must have had a lot of courage. That’s a lot of nerve.”

Their journey began in 1833 in New York, where Connecticut-born Hiram and New Jersey-born Leah owned a farm. Elbert notes, “There had been a large migration from New York to Michigan at that time but the record does not indicate if friends and acquaintances were there to welcome the newcomers.”

In 1834, a presidential land grant gave the family 160 acres in Redford, Wayne County, based on Hiram’s status as a military veteran.…

… At age 17, Hiram was drafted in the War of 1812 and wounded in battle. When he was discharged for a disability after being thrown from a horse, he was given a hand-carved wooden cane by the commander.

One son, Michigan-born William Henry Harrison Seger, spent four years with the Union Army during the Civil War. Initially, he signed up in Marquette for 90 days but reenlisted for the duration of the war, fighting in such battles as Gettysburg, Antietam and Chancellorsville. He was captured by the enemy and spent 10 months in the Confederacy’s infamous Andersonville, Ga., prison camp.

Another son, George Washington Seger, also served and was wounded but survived his injuries. The text of two letters from G.W. are posted below.

Coming Full Circle…
4th great grandsons of Joseph Seger: Tony Seger of Michigan and Stan Jennings of Connecticut. Tony’s October 2015 visit to Connecticut reunites two branches of the family separated by a thousand miles and nearly two centuries.

Tony’s visit to another generation of Connecticut Segers: Ellen Ravens-Seger and Andrew Seger, October 2015.

Hiram was born in 1797 and died in Michigan in 1849; his wife Leah Burdge died in 1856. He and Leah raised thirteen children. Further information on the children and gravestone images have been provided by Tony Seger.

  1. Mary Ann (4 Mar 1820–23 Mar 1876) Wayne, New York, married Seymour Finney. They were involved in the Underground Railroad in Detroit, Michigan
  2. Amanda Minerva (c. Aug 1821–26 Apr 1885), buried in the Wallaceville Cemetery; Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Married Jacob Mundinger.
  3. Phoeba (or Phebe) (c. Aug 1823–13 Dec 1871), buried in the old Bell Branch Cemetery; Redford Township, Michigan
  4. Marquis de Lafayette (Mark) (c. Feb 1825–23 Jul 1848), buried in the old Bell Branch Cemetery; Redford Township, Michigan.
  5. Deborah Diantha (c. Nov 1827)
  6. Twins: Joseph Persons (c. Mar 1830–6 Jun 1863) and
  7. Jonathan (c. Mar 1830–fall 1830, Wayne, NY)
  8. George Washington (1 May 1832–1 May 1913); died in Aplena, MI), went to California during the gold rush, served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was wounded (see letters below).
  9. Oliver Cromwell (15 Mar 1834–11 Jun 1907)
  10. John Fowler Burdge (c. Dec 1835– 13 Feb 1872), buried in the Brighton Old Village Cemetery; Brighton, Michigan.
  11. Sabrina (c. Sept 1837–c. 1872)
  12. William Henry Harrison (Will) (19 Sept 1840–16 Jan 1936)
  13. Emily (c. Dec 1841–c.1843)

Hiram Seger Family Gravestones:

Gravestone of Hiram Seger
Gravestone of Leah Burdge Seger
Gravestone of Amanda Seger Mundinger
Gravestone of Phebe Seger
Gravestone of Mark Seger
Gravestone of Will Seger

The Gold Rush: A Letter from George Washington Seger to his sister Mary Ann Seger Finney

Patricia Seger kindly provided scans and transcriptions of two letters from Hiram’s son George Washington Seger, which appear below. The second letter is from a stay in Harewood Hospital, Washington DC. Both are written to his sister Mary Ann and her husband Seymour Finney in 1863.
Letter from G. W. Seger, 1854
1854 letter from California

February 4, 1854

Dear Sister

I could not write half enough on that other piece of paper and now will try again. Still my health is good and I hope this may find you all the same. I thank you kindly for your advise but had left there long ago. I only worked for them 1/2 month and have not got my pay yet. On?? is here they same as she was at home only wors [sic] This is enough but could tel [sic] more if desired. I am mining and keeping old Batchelors hall for particulars see C— Mary (?) letter. My claim pays me very well and if it pays as well as the miners in general thinks and as I think it will myself I may be home within 8 months and if it does not I can’t tel [sic] when perhaps not never. Hiram Coon is to work with me. I see Lafayette Sellman and Margaret Coon his wife every Sunday and Bill Myers and his wife Olive Voltine and E-an (?) Dueshan(?) from redford

Oh I saw on Saturday after Christmas Gustave Warner he has ben here ever since last Spring and he is doing very well. I stood a talking with him and did not know him and had seen him some 3 or 4 times before and did not know one another til then he knew me first. He is as fat as he can be and only lives 3 miles from me and I havt seen him since then. I sent one letter to you and one to Salmin? and my likeness to Sabrina in the mail of the 15th of December and would like to have yours and hers with mothers or the little children and send them to me for they don’t cost but a trifle and I will send you a 20 shilling piece to pay for them if you will do it I shal [sic] send mine home to some one about next May but don’t say to who–perhaps you will see it for my hair has not ben [sic] cut since I left home (?) I havent shaved only around my mouth and /
my hair hangs down to my shoulders
my whiskers twise [sic] as long
and every time I think of home
I begin to whistle a song

Well you may think how I look now I shant have them cut of [sic] til I come home and I have ben [sic] ? lucky ? for I havt [sic] had a louze [sic] on me through all of my roming [sic] so far but it is because I keep that towel you gave me and am a going to bring ti home with me if ever I do come I wash my head every Saturday in soap sudz [sic] as I would a little Pig to keep if from getting louzy [sic] We have fine weather here and we have not had but 2 or 3 days of rain since I have ben [sic] here and it is clear and as warm here as it is at home in Merry May The few showers of rain we have had long back has started the grass and wild flowers up nicely I tel [sic] you.

Oh I will tel [sic] you Mary Ann I had a good supper to night and perhaps you would like to know what it was Well I bought 10 lbs of corn meal and paid 10 cts a lb and bought one qt of milk and paid 3 shillings a qt and had some old fashion Mush and milk So good by [sic] but don’t forget to give my love to S. R. and write as every mail and also the liken??? too

I remain your Affectionate Brother

G Washington Seger

The Civil War: A letter from George Washington Seger to Mary Ann Seger and her husband Seymour Finney, 1863

Let me specialize a visit I made to the collection of barrack-like one-story edifices, Campbell hospital, out on the flats, at the end of the then horse railway route, on Seventh street. There is a long building appropriated to each ward. Let us go into ward 6. It contains to-day, I should judge, eighty or a hundred patients, half sick, half wounded. The edifice is nothing but boards, well whitewash’d inside, and the usual slender-framed iron bedsteads, narrow and plain. You walk down the central passage, with a row on either side, their feet towards you, and their heads to the wall. There are fires in large stoves, and the prevailing white of the walls is reliev’d by some ornaments, stars, circles, &c., made of evergreens. The view of the whole edifice and occupants can be taken at once, for there is no partition. You may hear groans or other sounds of unendurable suffering from two or three of the cots, but in the main there is quiet—almost a painful absence of demonstration; but the pallid face, the dull’d eye, and the moisture on the lip, are demonstration enough. Most of these sick or hurt are evidently young fellows from the country, farmers’ sons, and such like. Look at the fine large frames, the bright and broad countenance, and the many yet lingering proofs of strong constitution and physique. Look at the patient and mute manner of our American wounded as they lie in such a sad collection; representatives from all New England, and from New York, and New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—indeed from all the States and all the cities—largely from the west. Most of them are entirely without friends or acquaintances here—no familiar face, and hardly a word of judicious sympathy or cheer, through their sometimes long and tedious sickness, or the pangs of aggravated wounds.
—Walt Whitman
Harewood Hospital, Washington, DC
Harewood Hospital; mosquito nets over the beds.
From, courtesy of Patricia Seger

Harewood Hospital
Washington DC
Dec 18, 1863

Dear Brother and Sister

Agreeable to my promises I attempt to write you. Hoping that my letter may find you all well and enjoying yourselves around your pleasant fireside.

My health is improving slowly and I begin to feel like myself again and ere many months shall have passed that I may again be the same man – physically speaking that I was when I entered the Service and a better man Spiritually.

Dear Brother and Sister I feel that God is striving with me through the Spirit of Christ and working of His holy Spirit. I am constrained to almost give up my sinful wicked ways and to try to live a consistent Christian life and by the assisting of the grace of God I mean to put on the armor of God & the Breast plat of Righteousness and make my calling & election.

Sure, Seymour the last word you said to me when we parted has wrung in my ears ever since. May God take care of you & be with you. Dear Brother those words I feel come from your ever kind heart for this very purpose to lead me back to God & to fall in with the overtures of Mercy & go on my way rejoicing.

from George Washington Seger
Letter from George Washington Seger, 1863
courtesy of Patricia Seger

Remember me your humble Brother at the Throne of grace around your Family Alter that I may live as God would have me & that my daily walk & conversation may be such that the world may know that I have been with Christ & learned of him, this is my hearts desire.

Please give my love to all the children and my respect to Mr & Mrs. Inglis (?) & all enquiring friends & except of my Love and kind wishes for you all.

So I’ll wish you good morning hoping to hear from you soon while I remain your ever true and Affectionate Brother

Geo W Seger

George Seger: Michigan to Missouri

18 January 1815 – 10 Dec, 1886

Heman and Lovisa’s fifth child, George, moved to Michigan. In August 1854 he married Ann Eliza Partridge in Port Huron. There was affectionate correspondence between the Kent and Port Huron Segers, some of which has survived.

The couple had four children: Etta Nichols, Georgia Sims, Fred and Kitty, who died at age 21. Daughter Georgia and her husband Robert Sims, also of Port Huron, were married in Kimball, St. Clair County, Michigan and later moved to New Cambria, MO.

In the 1860 Census for Port Huron, George Segars [sic] is listed as age 36, his wife Anna at 20 and children Kitty age 3 and Fred age 1. According to family records George would have been 45, not 36. The son of Hiram Seger, also named George, would have been only 28 in 1860, and the presence of Anna/Anne and the two children indicate that this was Heman’s son.

One diligent Seger genealogist found a death record for a George Seger in New Cambria, MO, who was born in Connecticut, with a death and burial date of 29 Dec 1886. Was George, at 72, living with or near his daughter and son-in-law in Missouri?

21 April 1891, Kimball
Robert H. Sims, 24, W, Clyde, b. Port Huron, Farmer, P: David Sims & Amelia Hitchings
Georgia Seger, 24, W, New Cambria, MO, b. Michigan, P: George Seger
May Sims, of Clyde & Mrs. Jhon Beane, of Kimball; John Beane, JP

Another voice—and family branch—in Michigan

The Segar farmhouse near Morley, Michigan circa 1903. Left to right: William Stanton Segar, Clark Segar, Raymond Segar, Cora Buchanan Segar (grandmother of Raymond Segar), Grace Segar, infant Charles Benjamin Segar in the chair, Katherine Segar, aunt of Raymond Segar, William Dodge Segar (grandfather of Raymond Segar), Benjamin Segar (great uncle). Courtesy of Raymond Segar, son of Charles Benjamin Segar

Raymond Segar of Michigan found this website and offered a history of another branch of the tree.

My branch of the Segar/Seger/Seager family ended up in Michigan. Richard and Elizabeth Seager of Hartford and later Rhode Island were my 7th great grandparents (all of my ancestors were 30-40 years old when they had my next ancestors which explains why it is only 7 generations).

My line is Richard, John, John, Joseph, Thomas, William B., William S., William D., Charles B., and me.

William B. Seager moved from Rhode Island to Syracuse, New York sometime around 1835 to 1840 and had 12 children. My great-grandfather William Stanton Segar was born in Rhode Island. William Stanton moved to Morley, Michigan area about 1859, homesteaded a farm, and worked skidding logs for the lumber companies with a pair of oxen. He went off to the Civil War in 1864 and served in Custer's 6th Cavalry, Co. D.

My father married and moved to his father-in-law's farm in Greenwood Township, Clare County, Michigan. My siblings and I moved to the Detroit area in the 50's and 60's.