Orris Seavey Celebrates His First 100 Years

Attending Orris Seavey’s (sitting) 100th birthday party on Sunday were brothers Neil Seavey and Harold Pike Seavey (standing) and sister Helen from Pennsylvania. (Photo by Dorothy Johnson).

 By Dorothy Johnson

Friends and family of Orris Seavey gathered at the Hilltop restaurant in Crawford on Sunday to celebrate his  100th birthday. Orris was born to Ernest and Gertrude Roberts Seavey on April 23, 1915, the ninth of sixteen children. Only fifteen of the sixteen children born to the Seaveys  lived to grow up and of the fifteen five are still alive although they could not all attend the party. Ernest and Gertrude were married in 1906 and had the following children: Eva Belle, Georgia Louise, Forrest Paul, Dora, Cora, Orris Ermine, Doris Emma, Blanche Alma, Edna Gertrude, Marion Valentine, Ellen Carrie, Helen Carlene, Neil Austin, Alton Arthur, Howard Pike and Eleanor Jeanne.  As the names indicate some of the children came in pairs.  These names were found in the Seavey family records on Internet. On Sunday, brothers Pike, 85, from Alexander, Neil, 88, from Crawford and Helen , 92, (nicknamed Pete) from Pennsylvania attended.  Sister Eleanor, 84, could not attend from her home in Canada.

The Seavey family grew up like many families in this area did.  They cut their own wood, ate from their own garden and worked at what jobs were available. The older members helped the younger members.  Many went to elementary school in Crawford and some were sent to other states for their high school educations.  Many did not attend high school; they needed to work and help out with family finances.

Orris as one of the older children and the second oldest boy was required to help out the family.  He helped with household chores and found jobs in town (Woodland) when he could.  He also raked blueberries and helped other farmers with odd jobs to earn a little money. He was married and had one daughter, but after Orris and her mother were divorced, she moved away and no one has heard from her for years. Orris then married Glynnis Thornton and helped her bring up her four children.  Orris now lives in South Princeton and has his step-grandchildren and step-great grand children help him. They (Becky and her daughters Devon and Emily along with Becky’s sister Sheila) and Neil’s wife Shirley and their children organized the party. Other relatives brought food and congratulations and it was a wonderful gathering to honor Orris.

On Sunday Orris greeted many of his friends and family members and did not seem like a 100-year-old man.  He remembered most people and how he had made their acquaintances.  He shared jokes with nephew Dick Carlow, old friends Everett Dean and Harland Hitchings.  He thoroughly enjoyed his party.

Just to give readers and idea of what was going on in history in 1915, the American history timeline and the Census Bureau statistics of 1910 were consulted. Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States.  The first long distance phone call was made from New York to San Francisco on January 25th. A German submarine sank the Lusitania, which worsened diplomatic relations between the United States and Germany.  World War I was raging in Europe and the Germans first used gas on their Western Front. The United States Coast Guard was established.

Gas was 15 cents a gallon in January and 23 cents a gallon by December except in California where it went from 12 cents a gallon to 14 cents a gallon. Bread was 7cents a loaf (but most people in Crawford made their own; a dozen eggs sold for 34 cents, a quart of milk was 9 cents and a pound of steak was 26 cents. Again these figures are from the Census Bureau and probably apply more to cities than Crawford where farmers had their own hens, milk cows and meat.


Orris has seen a lot of changes in the economy, technology, and even in the landscapes around Crawford, Alexander, Princeton and Woodland. He has seen changes that he considers good and changes he believes he could do without. Congratulations, Orris, on your many years of making a life for yourself and your loved ones.