Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEELY FAMILY











The following is taken from Seely Family History, compiled by Montell Seely.  Montell has made numerous corrections to the original record:

Compiled from the Family Record made under the direction of Justus Azael Seely, and also  from the verbal recollections of Mrs. Clarissa Jane Seely.

According to Justus Azael Seely, the oldest ancestor of his family known was JOHN SEELY, a Welshman, who died in Connecticut, U.S.A., but no data is obtainable either of his birth or death.  This John Seely had a son named Joseph; of whom again we have no other knowledge except that his wife's name was Margarett, and that they had a son named Justus, and five other children, Abner, Joseph, Margarett, Thankful, and Kesiah, (who is not found on any family group sheets) This Justus Seely was born and lived in Connecticut where he married Sarah Stuart, and with her raised a family of five children named: Orange, Stuart, Philo, Philo (Montell inserts here that he believes there was only one Philo. But where is the fifth child then?) and Justus Azael Seely; the last named being born November 17, 1779.

About the time of the American Revolution, Justus and his entire family left the United States and removed to Nova Scotia, where they lived about seven years (according to the statement of Justus Azael Seely made to Mrs. Clarissa Jane Seely).  Then afterwards they returned to the United States and lived for some time in Pennsylvania, on the Susquehanna River.

Here Justus Azael became acquainted with and married Mehetabel Bennet, daughter of Amos Bennet, daughter of Amos Bennett and Anna Duncan.  She was born 17 November 1779, on the same day as her husband. (Montell interjects: It is my personal opinion that this is an error.)  Justus Azael Seely and his wife Mehetabel resided in Pennsylvania until about 1811,  (Error.  They moved in 1807) when they removed to Uppoer Canada, together with Father Justus Seely and his wife Sarah, locating in Pickering, in what was called the Holme District.

When they left Pennsylvania they had five children; named as follows:  Rachel Seely, b. 2d Sept. 1801; Rebecca Seely, b 4 July, 1893; John Seely (2nd), b 8 Juhne 1805; Elizabeth Seely, b. 29 July, 1807; Mary Seely, b. 24 Jan. 1810. (Error, Elizabeth was born in Steuben Co., NY, and Mary was born in Canada.) While living in Pickering Home District, Upper Canada, four more children were born to them:  William Stuart Seely, b. 18 May 1812, Justus Wellington Seely, b. 30 Jan. 1815; Sarah Ann Seely, b. 27 Aug. 1817; and David Seely, b. 12 Oct. 1819.

In January, 1812, when the war broke out with the U.S., Justus Azael was drafted into the military service and was subsequently quartered at the barracks in Toronto. (Error: Justus Azael had served in the militia from 1808.)  Here he stayed until about May, 1812, when the illness of his wife necessitated his returning home on furlough, while his own father Justus Seely supplied his place in the barracks.  On May 18th, 1812 Mehitabel Seely, Justus Azael's wife was confined, and on the same day, while in Toronto in his son, Justus Azael's place, father Justus Seely died. (Justus Azael stated that his father "died in Markham of a disease he contracted during the late war.") 

Justus Azael Seely continued to reside in Upper Canada until about 1838, when together with his wife, his daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth and their  husbands, and also  his sons John,  William, Justus, and David, he emigrated to Missouri.

William and the old folks went by way of the Great Lakes in a steamer, while David and Wellington traveled in wagons.  They expected  to meet in DeWitt Co. Missouri, but ere they arrived there the Missouri mobs had already driven the Saints from house and home, and all the members of the Seely family, seperated as they were,  were also driven back in the general retreat.  But the Lord protected them, and they found each other in Calhoun Co., Illinois in Nov. 1838.

In the spring of 1839 they removed to the vicinity of Burlington, Iowa, where they remained until the spring of 1841, when the parents and the three sons, William, Justus W., and David, located at Nashville, now Galland, Lee Co., Illinois.

William Stuart Seely was married before leaving Canada to his first wife, Elizabeth Dehart, who had faithfully shared with him all the trials of these times.  Justus Wellington was married by Bro. Cyrus H. Wheelock on the 10th of March 1842 to Clarissa Jane Wilcox, daughter of Hazard Wilcox and Sarah Seely Wilcox. He and his wife resided on his own farm of 100 acres near the river.

Aside from tilling the ground Justus W. was kept busy as a boatman on the River, as he, in company with hsi brothers William and David, operated a flatboat, which they used to convey parts of steamer cargoes over the Keokuk Rapids.  These were not then improved as they are now, but were a costly hindrance to navigation.  This occupation of assisting boats over the rapids was necessarily a very lucrative one at times, and the proceeds supplied the family with all the extra money they needed.

Three children were born here to Jusus Wellington and Clarissa Jane Seely, and they lived as happy and busy lives until the Exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo also necessitated their removal.  About this time Mary Seely Hemingway and her husband also came from Canada and located at Nashville, Lee Co., Iowa, purchasing the properties of Justus Azael and Wm Seely, thus enabling them to leave with the Saints.  Mrs. Rebecca Seely Young and David Young, her husband whose emigration from Canada had been made possible in 1841 by the assistance of the whole family also remained in Lee Co., Iowa,  and  eventually died there.

Justus Wellington Seely was able  to dispose of his farm for $200.00 and  this with 2 yoke of oxen, one wagon,  4 cows , and a few household utensils, etc., was all that the tender  mercyof the mob hadleft  him to make the long journey to the Rocky Mts.

Wm. S. Seely and Justus W. Seely and their families left Nashville together  on the 16th of June 1846 on thrir journey westward reaching Winter Quarters on the Missouri about the 20 Oct. 1846.  There they built a small house in which they spent the winter.

On the 8th of June 1847 they crossed the Mo. River and started again with the Pioneer Train the 13 of June.  When the Saints were organized on the Elkhorn  in companies, they were numbered among John Taylor's 100. (Error:  They were in Edward Hunter's 100)  Jacob Foutz's 50 and John Lowry's 10.  They started at the Elkhorn on the 14th of June and arrived in Salt Lake City on the 30th of Sept., 1847.

Here they lived first in the old South Fort in the 5th Ward, and later in the 14th Ward.

On the 5th of November 1849 Justus W. Seely, David Seely and Edwin Petit started for the gold fields of California, by way of the Southern Route.  Arriving at San  Pedro in California they took passage for San Francisco on the first day of April 1850, on the ship  "Sea Bird", a small sailing vessel, arriving in San Francisco after a very tempestuous journey on the 112th day of April, 1850.  After staying there a few days they went to the Goldfields of the Greenwood valley on the American River, where they worked in the gold diggings.  However, Wellington's healthe soon failed him, and he was obliged to give up his work.

About this time Brothers Charles Rich and Amasa Lyman and Dr. Bernhisel who were also in the Goldfields with a company, decided to return to Great Salt Lake Valley, and so accordingly they all returned  with them, arriving in Salt Lake City on the 25th of Sept, 1850.

The stay in Salt Lake City was, however, only brief, for in January 1851, Justus W. and David were called to go to California as colonists under the direction of Apostles Charles C. Rich and Amasa Lyman.  They left Salt Lake City  on the 13th of March, 1851 and reached their destination, San Bernardino in Southern California, on the 11th of June of the same year.

Justus Wellington Seely lived in San Bernardino seven years; during which time he was engaged in farming and later in the saw mill business.  While in Salt Lake City two more children had been born to the family; Hyrum Seely and Justus Wellington Jr.  In California three children were born to Justus W. and Clarissa Jane Seely; William H., and John H., and Mary Miranda.

In 1857, at the time of the Johnson or Buchanan War, the California Colonizing Mission was dissolved, and the colonists were recalled by order of Pres. Young.  This was again the cause of great sacrifice on the part of Wellington Seely, because he was obliged to sell his property for little or nothing and return to a land where he had to begin everything anew. David Seely and his family remained in San Bernardino.

On the 20th day of March, 1858, (in Orange Seely's family reunion address he said the date was April 23, 1858) Justus Wellington Seely and his family reached Pleasant Grove, Utah Co., Utah. where they found their father Justus Azael  and their mother Mehitabel, and his brother William Stuart Seely, who had remained in Utah all this time.

In 1859 Justus Wellington was again called upon to leave his temporary home in order to help colonize the central and  southern part of Utah; arriving at Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete Co., Utah, on the 28th day of April, 1859.  Here his brother, William Stuart Seely, had been called upon to preside over the new ward as the first bishop of Mt. Pleasant.  Here Justus Wellington located in the western part of the city, on the block just opposite where the depot (once) stood.  The old homestead was on the S.E. corner of the block, and was removed in 1895 when Stuart Seely built his residence on the site.  Orange Seely owned the two west ots on the same block, and built his home on the S.W. corner, where he lived until he removed to Castle Valley, 14th Oct. 1880, when he sold to his father, Wellington Seely.

Henceforth Justus Wellington Seely and his wife occupied this home, and here Justus Wellington died in 1894.

Three children were born to the family while living in Mt. Pleasant: David, Joseph, and Stuart R.  David died when about one year old.  All the rest of the children attained to the age of manhood and womanhood.

William Stuart Seely, who had been  appointed Bishop of Mt. Pleasant Ward, was also the  progenitor of a large family.  He had three wives.  He died one year after his younger brother Wellington in Sept, 1895.

Justus Wellington Seely was married 17 Nov. 1873 to his second wife Sarah Jane McKinney and by her had one child, Eva Rebecca, born 6 December 1874.

All the children of Justus Wellington Seely and Clarissa Jane were married, and each has a number of children.  Orange Seely, the oldest was married in Mt. Pleasant to Hannah Olsen, on July 24th, 1863, by Elder Orson Hyde.  They had nine children.  (This brief history was written between 1895 and 1903)

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