Shanty Irish or Boston Brahmin?

I found an amazing connection in the Dunn family tree yesterday while trying to figure out the Leonard O. Smith household. Leonard was the father of Mary Alice Smith, who married Daniel Dunn, and gave birth to Earl, Carl, Guy and Mildred. The 1880 census lists the Smith family members as Leonard, the father and head of household, daughters Mary Alice and Etta, and mother in law Lucy Cogswell. (Lydia Cogswell, Leonard’s wife, having passed away sometime before 1880.)

Trying to figure out maiden names of wives can be difficult, but in this case it was right there! I was able to trace Lydia Cogswell’s parents as Stephen and Lucy Cogswell, and found a marriage record from 1820, in Rutland Massachusetts. Now for the confusing part- the Massachusetts marriage record shows Lucy’s maiden name as Rider. A number of genealogical records, however, give it as Seaver.

It turns out that Lucy was indeed born a Seaver, but had married someone named Rider, who left her a widow, before marrying Stephen Cogswell. I found this information thanks to my old friend Google. It appears in a paper by genealogist Randy Seaver, posted on (Note- it’s a big document- 256 pages when I printed it to .pdf.)

Now for the amazing connection: the paper does much more than clear up Lucy’s maiden name. The document is an 8 generation history of the descendants of Shubael Seaver, son of Robert Seaver, one of the earliest residents of Boston, having arrived there in 1637. It links Lucy Seaver directly back to Robert and his wife, Elizabeth Ballard.

Elizabeth arrived in Boston in 1633, just three years after the founding of the city.

So that makes me one of the few people, I suspect, that are eligible for both membership in the Winthrop Society, thanks to great great great Grandmother Lucy, and an Irish passport, thanks to Grandfather Sheehan!

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