Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wedding Wednesday ~ Samuel Greeley and Eliza Wells 1866

The website of New England Historic Genealogical Society at has a wealth of information in its databases (a benefit of paid membership). The Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910, is a database I could spend lots of time exploring.

Following is a record of the marriage of my second great grandparents, Samuel Sewall Greeley and Eliza May Wells.

My second great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley (1824-1916) married twice. He married first, Anne Morris Larned in 1855 in Chicago. She gave birth to four children in less than eight years and died in 1864. Samuel returned to Massachusetts to marry his second wife, a first cousin once removed, Eliza May Wells. I discussed this family a bit when I wrote about my relation to Louisa May Alcott.

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910. (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives.
Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004).
Marriages, volume 190, page 276b, line 32.

Close up of the left-hand side

Close up of the left hand side confirms the wedding date, September 5, 1866. Samuel's place of residence is Chicago, Illinois, and Eliza May Wells' residence is in Brookline (where, in fact, she is listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census with her parents). Her age is correct; she had just turned 27 years old. However, Samuel's listed age should be 41. He was a Civil Engineer in Chicago (which is how he served the Union in the Civil War). He was born in Boston and she in Cambridge.

Close up of the right-hand side

Samuel's parents were Samuel (they are fourth and fifth in a line of Samuel Greeleys) and Louisa (daughter of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall) and Eliza's parents were Thomas G. and Elizabeth (granddaughter of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall). This is a second marriage for Samuel and a first marriage for Eliza and they were married by F. H. Hedge, pastor of First Parish, Brookline.

Interestingly, other (secondary) sources (Willis genealogy and May genealogy) indicate that they married in Cambridge, so this is an interesting find. The couple returned to Chicago, where they had five children, only two of whom lived to adulthood, and only my great grandmother, Ethel May Greeley had (three) children.

I descend from this couple as follows:

Samuel Sewall Greeley  and  Eliza May Wells
(1824-1916)                        (1839-1880)
Ethel May Greeley
Lowell Townsend Copeland
My mother


  1. I enjoyed reading this post, and the previous one about Louisa May Alcott. Family trees can get so complicated--though it's so much fun to try to disentangle them.

    1. Yes, this is one of the more confusing branches of my tree, with lots of Elizabeths, Samuels, Benjamins, Ruths and Louisas (among others). Thanks for reading and commenting.