Friday, October 9, 2015

Samuel Sewall Greeley Born in October - 52 Ancestors #40

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is "Birthday in October."

Family Tree Maker's filter option makes it easy for me to filter for direct ancestors (of the person shown) or to filter for those with "Oct" in the Birth field. I have several ancestors with October birthdays, including my great great grandfather, Samuel Sewall Greeley, who was born in Boston 191 years ago this weekend on October 11, 1824.

The best evidence that I have for his birth date is an 1890 passport application. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007. Roll 344: 01 Mar 1890-31 Mar 1890.
Record for Samuel S. Greeley

He was 65 years old when applying for this passport in March 1890. If you look closely at the document, it appears that he crossed off "swear" and wrote above it "affirm" in each case where the word "swear" appeared. He also crossed off the "So Help Me God" in the middle of the document.

Here is closeup of the middle section of the passport:

At 65, he was 5 feet, 9 1/4 inches tall, with brown eyes and Hair: black, flecked with grey." He had a dark complexion and a "full beard + mustache, grey."

I believe I have mentioned before how much I love passport applications from this collection at

I have written about Samuel Sewall Greeley before: He graduated from Harvard in 1844, and was a surveyor and civil engineer in Chicago for decades, even using these skills to build a sewer during the Civil War. You can find additional wonderful descriptions in a couple of obituaries I have previously shared.

He was the oldest living graduate of Harvard for a period of time before his death on March 8, 1916, at the age of 91. Apparently he signed his name with "OLG" after it during this period, though it's a little unclear as to how long he was the "Oldest Living Graduate."

He is buried at Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, and I visited the Greeley family plot at the beginning of September. I previously wrote about obtaining this plot card and the interesting mysteries solved and mysteries introduced by it.

He had two wives (I descend from his second wife, Eliza Wells) and nine children, five of whom predeceased him. My descent from Samuel Sewall Greeley:

Samuel Sewall Greeley
Ethel May Greeley
Lowell Townsend Copeland
my mother

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