There is one RAOGK – Randon Act of Genealogical Kindness – that I do every month. I troll eBay looking for orphaned vintage photographs in which the subject/s of the picture have been identified and a photographer’s location noted. Then I try to see if the person/s in the photo have descendants for whom I can find a current address.
If I am successful in my search, I purchase the photo and mail it to a family member with a short note about where I found the photo and how I found the recipient. All I ask in return is that someone in the family appreciate and cherish the photo, most of which are over 100 years old.
Sometimes, I hear nothing back from the family member, but most of the time, I get an email or snail mail and occasionally, I even get a phone call.
My experience with Myrtie Fisher has been much different. She was a very special lady – a thoroughly modern lady – and I’d like to introduce you to her.
“Mertie Fisher Charlotte”
I was initially drawn to this photo because the seller noted that
“Mertie” hailed from Charlotte, Maine, a town which I know well because two of my direct ancestral lines – the Carlisles and the Stewarts – lived in Charlotte.
Charlotte, Maine is better described as a village. The 1820 census enumeration is but three pages long. By 1850, there were 718 souls living there, but today just over 300 people call Charlotte home.
Myrtie Emma Fisher – never Myrtle in any record – was born on 27 August 1872 in Charlotte, Washington, Maine to Enoch and Augusta (Hooper) Fisher. The Fishers had been residents of Charlotte since the town began as Plantation #3 about 1820 – the same time that my Stewarts and Carlisles settled there!
Myrtie attended school in Charlotte and then went on to attend the Maine Normal School in Castine and became a teacher. After teaching for a short time, she worked as a bookkeeper.
However, Myrtie evidently had a great love for history and genealogy as she joined the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1914. She had several Mayflower ancestors and completed paperwork for ten Revolutionary War ancestors and joined the Daughters of the American Revolution.
I was beginning to notice that Myrtie and I had a lot in common. NEHGS was the first genealogical society I joined back in 1980. I’ve been a DAR member since 1980 and I discovered my George Soule Mayflower line just four years ago. I am also an avid history buff. . . hmm.
Like many before and after her, Myrtie left Maine and settled in Haverhill, Massachusetts. She married twice, first to Sidney Horace Batchelder on 27 November 1900 in Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts. Sadly, Horace died only 18 months later on 13 May 1902 of typhoid fever. Mertie and Horace had one child, a son, Sidney Horace II.
She married (2) Charles E. Seaverns, 14 October 1908, also in Haverhill. They had one daughter, Helen Lorraine. Charles died in 1925, leaving Myrtie a widow once again.
After moving to Melrose, Massachusetts, Myrtie was active in her community, serving on the Board of Trustees of the Public Library. Myrtie served as the publicity chairman of the Melrose Emergency Committee on Unemployment, which sought out jobs for men during the Great Depression. During World War I, she served as the secretary and treasurer of the Melrose Liberty Loan Committee.
She joined the Daughters of the American Revolution and was a charter member of the Old State House Chapter in Melrose and served twice as its regent. She belonged to the Melrose Women’s Club, the Melrose Historical Society, the Melrose Republican Club and was a member of the First Congregational Church there.
I didn’t realize it until I delved into Myrtie’s life accomplishments, but Myrtie and I “met” in the 1980s. Back when I was just beginning my quest to learn about my family history, I found a treasure trove of town vital records that had been published in 1947/1948 issues of NEHGS’s journal, The Register. It was there that I found the birth records of my 2X great grandfather, Charles Stewart, and his siblings, who were born in Charlotte, Maine from 1821 onward. I took another look at The Register pages today. Myrtie Fisher Seaverns was the person who transcribed all the vital records of her beloved town and submitted them for publication in The Register!
I also took a look at her DAR lines and had another surprise – she and I are distant cousins and not through any Charlotte town connections. One of her ancestors was Robertson Lakin, son of James Lakin and Elizabeth Williams. I actually have four Lakin ancestral lines and one of them is Mary Lakin who married Oliver Shepley. She was the sister of Robinson Lakin! I think we are about 5th cousins 3X removed. Not close, but still a cousin.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Myrtie had another wonderful gift. She wrote hundreds of poems and verses that her daughter, Helen, published in 1948. Myrtie died on 10 July 1948 and I suspect that Helen wanted to honor her mother’s memory and decided to publish her writing.
Yesterday, in the mail, I had a small bulky envelope arrive from Myrtie’s great grandson. He is the gentleman to whom I mailed her photo and he included a short note:
I just want to thank you for forwarding the photo of my great grandmother Myrtie Fisher Seaverns. It really was a pleasant surprise. As a special thank you I want to gift you a copy of the book [Hills of Home] she had published that contains her writings. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for all you did to bring this photo to our family.
This more than made my day because I don’t expect anything in return for the photos I send back home. I absolutely love Myrtie’s poems. She wrote about her family and friends, nature, memories of places she’s been, and patriotic thoughts. There were even a couple of politically-themed jabs. Her book closed with “My Epitaph.”
I’d like to share several of her verses with you.
Memories of Growing Up in Charlotte, Maine
Remembering the End of World War I
Myrtie’s Beloved DAR
It seemed only fitting, with this being Women’s History Month, to share the life story of Myrtie Emma (Fisher) (Batchelder) Seaverns, who was a thoroughly modern 20th century lady, well ahead of her time. Although Myrtie passed away before I was born, I now feel like I’ve met her. Thank you, Myrtie, and welcome to my family tree. 🙂