In Part 1 of this post, I introduced the story of Sever Severson, the Norwegian immigrant, husband, and father of five daughters, who was drafted for military service in the Civil War and apparently died in the war, never to come home.
In a recent post, I shared news about an exciting development that’s come to light in my research into Sever Severson’s death—knowledge that Sever kept a daily diary from January 1, 1864, until September 26, 1864, just four days before he died, and that at least a copy of that diary has survived.
In this, the second post in this series, I’ll assess what I don’t know in regards to the emerging story of the life and death of Sever Severson, and I’ll formulate questions that I’ll need to answer in order to shed light on these unknowns. I’ll do what I can to answer as many of the questions as possible, and then I’ll chart a course for finding answers to the remaining questions.
What a week it’s been! After writing the first post of this series on the death of Sever Severson, while planning my next steps for research, I was reviewing my previous research on this subject. As I was looking over some past correspondence, I noticed that I had received a message through Ancestry.com from a woman (I’ll call her A.W.) who appeared to be my third cousin, once removed. My great-great-grandmother, Ellen Caroline “Carrie” (Severson) Bailey and her great-grandmother, Cecilia M. “Celia” (Severson) Leary were sisters, and both were daughters of the man I was researching, Sever Severson.
As those who’ve known me can attest, I’m generally not known as a great correspondent. My genealogical work is an exception, as I try quite hard to keep on top of my communications with family members and genealogists with whom I share common research interests. So it was with no small amount of embarrassment that I discovered that I had let a promising correspondence slip away through neglect.
I’m not sure why I was so busy at that particular time two years ago (although people who know me well will tell you that I’m always busy, all the time—it’s my nature), but my response was a quick note saying I’d write back as soon as I had a moment. By the time whatever it was that I was working on had eased up, I had forgotten about A.W.’s letter.
I’d like to introduce the tragic story of a Norwegian immigrant, Sever Severson, dying far from home in the service of his adopted country. Despite his death while serving his country, his service to his adopted country was apparently all but unnoticed by the very government he was fighting for. If not for his death, burial, later disinterment and subsequent reburial in a military cemetery, his country and his descendants may not have even known he died, far from home, fighting for the survival of the country that we call home.
I do not know this story first-hand, of course, because Sever is my great-great-great-grandfather, and he died a century and a half ago. Even his daughter, my great-great-grandmother Carrie Severson Bailey, was only 4 years old when he went to war, and whatever memories she may have had of her father did not make it down through the family to me.
In Part 1 of this series, I’ll present what I currently [think I] know about Sever Severson—his life, his family, his military service, and his death. In subsequent posts in this series , I’ll chart a research strategy, undertake the necessary research, present the results of this research, and will hopefully be able to draw some conclusions about the life and death of Sever Severson.