If you go to the Old Granary Burying-Ground along the Freedom Trail in Boston, as John Hedtke did when he took this photo, you'll see a stone memorializing the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The local Sons of the American Revolution erected it in 1906.
After naming the men shot on 5 March 1770, the stone goes on to say:
Here also lies buried the body ofThis boy was the first American killed in the political strife that became the American Revolution—eleven days before the Boston Massacre. The only problems with the memorial stone's statement about young Christopher are that his body does not lie there, his name was not Snider, and he wasn't twelve years old.
Aged 12 years,
Killed February 22nd. 1770.
Most corpses were removed from this burying-ground in the 1800s. The remaining headstones were reportedly moved around to look neater, so by 1906 no one could be sure where anybody lay buried.
As for the boy's family name, it was most often spelled Seider, particularly in legal records. Spelling wasn't a big concern for Englishmen in the eighteenth century, and even people as famous as John "Handcock" could see their names rendered in novel ways. Various documents and accounts refer to the Seider family by the variant spellings Sider, Siders, Syder, and, indeed, Snider. But Seider appears most often in official records and accounts from people who seem to know the boy's family.
Statements about Christopher's age had political ramifications in 1770. Shortly after he was wounded, the Boston Chronicle, which supported the Crown (and was supported by funds from the Customs office), estimated his age as fourteen. Anti-Crown papers later reported he was eleven. No source said Christopher was twelve. Perhaps that number was derived from an average of the ages reported in 1770. Perhaps historians of the early 1900s couldn't believe a mere eleven-year-old had been caught up in a violent political demonstration.
But now we have solid records about Christopher Seider's family from two sources:
- The 1984 New England Historical & Genealogical Register published the baptism records of Christ Church in north Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts.
- Wilford W. Whitaker and Gary T. Horlacher's genealogical study Broad Bay Germans: 18th Century German-Speaking Settlers of Present-Day Waldoboro, Maine (Rockport, Me.: Picton Press, 1998).
Christopher Seider was baptized in Braintree on 18 March 1759. The times between his older sisters' births and their baptisms were ten and thirteen days; if the family followed the same timing with Christopher, he was born in the first week of March. Since he was shot and killed on 22 Feb 1770, he was most likely still ten years old when he died.
ADDENDUM: Christopher Seider's work and reading habits in 1770.