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Charles Grandison Seely


Gender: Male

Date of Birth: February 6, 1840

Date of Death: December 2, 1918

Birth Place: Oakland Township

Charles Grandison Seely was born in Oakland Township on Feb. 6, 1840, a son of Zedic and Thia Cheers Seely. Grandison, or “Grant”, as he was always called, was the fifth of a total of nine children, six boys and three girls. The father was a farmer and a shoemaker.

When Grant was quite young, the family moved to Plum Township, settling on the “Lamberton Bottom” between the Horseshoe Bend and Bradleytown. While there they made maple syrup. The used hollowed-out cucumber logs in which the sap was stored prior to boiling. After living there a few years the family moved to a 50-acre farm a distance southeast of Chapmanville. This place, where no buildings have stood now for years, was later owned by the Sherman family. It had fine white oak timber standing on it and the Seely family cut it and burned it in heaps.

While boys, Grant and a brother, Zedic Jr., took cutters and cut weeds out of the corn one day. After cutting awhile they started back to sharpen the blades. They were sliding down a couple planks resting on a rail fence when one slipped out of place. Zedic swung his cutter to bring it back in position. He missed and struck the back of his left ankle, cutting the cords and tendons. It never was right after that. He used a smaller shoe by two sizes on that foot. The injury kept him out of the Civil War.

When a young man Grant both worked in the woods and coopered out. It is not known now where he learned the cooper’s trade. For a year or so his father operated the flouring mill at Wallaceville, and Grant helped him. Grain was drawn up to the third story by power control, and Grant was there to grab it. He later said he nearly froze to death at that job.

While living on the flats above Bradleytown, their father sent Grant, Zedic Jr., and a fellow named Espy Reynolds with their yoke of oxen and wagon to Chapmanville to buy a large kettle for butchering. The oxen were named “Buck” and “Bright”. Ox bows had a key attachment in an oblong hole in the bows to keep them in place. While the fellows were proceeding down the steepest part of the old Armstrong hill (not the present hill) with their kettle, this key somehow slipped out of place on Buck’s side and he left his place. Bright, who was on the right and still hitched to the wagon, became alarmed and started running down the hill as fast as he could. During this spree the kettle bounced high in the air and landed, mouth down, on the road and never broke! Grant and Zedic jumped off the uncontrolled wagon. Reynolds grabbed Bright by the tail and hung on. The time the ox and empty wagon reached the bridge at John Armstrong’s place, Reynolds had managed to work his way up on the beast and grabbed his horns, stopping him. Then Buck was caught as he came up from behind. The excited fellows then hitched him back up, went back to get the kettle and started for home, no material damage done whatever.

In the fall of 1871 Grant traded a team of horses and some farming utensils to “Aunt” Jane Richardson for 15 acres of land at Plum Center. Grant hired George Beers to build the large part of the house. Then after his marriage Grant dug a cellar, moved the house on it and built the smaller addition to the house. He hired Andrew Spangler to carpenter his barn, and years later Jim Arters helped construct the addition to it. Grant dug a well 22 feet deep and had it walled up with stone by the last of October. Some fellows threatened to fill it up on Halloween night. Grant came over with a gun from is father’s place and stood guard until 1 o’clock in the morning, but no one showed up.

On Dec. 31, 1878 Grant was married to Miss Susan Hollabaugh of Deckards Run. They were married at Cochranton in the home of Susan’s brother, Philip Hollabaugh, in a double wedding with Eli Seely and Sarah Ann Hollabaugh. Eli was a cousin to Grant, and Sarah Ann was a niece to Susan. The people claimed they were going to serenade them then. Philip told them that the barn was full of horses and if anything happened they’d have to make good for it. No serenade occurred.

Susan was born in Crawford County on July 21, 1840, a daughter of George and Margaret Umholz Hollabaugh. They had come from Dauphin County to Crawford County. They were Pennsylvania Dutch. Mrs. Hollabaugh, before leaving Dauphin County, had accidentally bound up a rattlesnake in a sheaf of oats one day, but she wasn’t bitten.

Grant and Susan commenced living at Plum Center on his 15 acres. Grant kept busy clearing land on not only his own property but others too. He had a yoke of oxen that weighted 4,900 pounds. Everybody nearby wanted him to come with this yoke of oxen to logging. When clearing land, Grant got the first three crops, one a year. Generally the crops were wheat. Grant had three different yokes of oxen after his marriage. He started to break one particular pair by hitching them to the plow on the corn stubble. They really traveled fast. At the end of the field he petted them, gently turned them around and started back on the “back furrow”. They went so fast that the plow threw the earth smack into the other furrow, covering it up!

One time in the 1880s Grant’s neighbor, James Brush, used Grant’s oxen and wagon to go over to the Jim Cowen place and husk corn on the shares. While coming back with a load of corn they broke through the bridge below Cowen’s and landed in the creek which is rather deep in that particular spot. The noses of the oxen were under water, so Brush hurried up to Seelys and got Grant. When they reached the broken bridge the heads of the oxen were out of the water and they were chewing their cuds. With considerable effort they managed to get the oxen and the wagon out of the creek, but Brush lost his corn.

One time Mr. and Mrs. Henry Noel of near Chapmanville made a visit to the Seely place. Henry saw that Grant had some saw logs out and he jokingly told him that if he wanted to sell them, a certain fellow (who was rather odd) in southern Troy Township was starting a toothpick factory and he’d buy them.

Grant and Susan had a set of twins, a boy and a girl, who died at birth in 1879. Their only other child, a son, Frank Nelson Seely, was born February 28, 1881 and still lives in the same house and sleeps in the same room in which he was born. Dr. C.N. VanSickle was the attending doctor at the time of Frank’s birth and his bill amounted to $7.

Frank was married to Miss Bessie Bearce of Diamond on Dec. 21, 1904, at Jamestown, N.Y. They lived in Titusville and she died on Aug. 22, 1913. They had three sons, as follows: Paul A. Seely of Jamestown, N.Y., Lawrence W. Seely of near York, and Lee S. Seely of Anaheim, Calif. On July 31, 1922, Frank married a second time to Mrs. Goldie Nellis Prody of Reno, the ceremony taking place in Oil City. They have resided on the Plum Center farm their married life. They have one daughter, Miss Twila E. Seely who resides at home. Grant also reared a niece, Gertrude Seely, until she became 16. Her father, Thomas Seely, died rather young.

Grant Seely was six feet in height with a weight of 180 pounds. He was a good neighbor and had a cheerful disposition. He attended the Second Advent Church of Wallaceville. In his earlier years he wore sideburns and people said he looked like an area preacher named Hull. In fact some called him Hull for awhile. Then for sometime he wore a mustache, but he was clean-shaven his last 10 or 15 years.

He could really swing a scythe or cradle. It seemed that no one could beat him at it. He had a small building on his lot, one half of which housed chickens and pigs, and the other half having a granary. Grant had roofed this building, when it was new, with red oak shingles, 30 inches long and 10 inches to the weather. He had made these shingles with a draw shave, and they lasted the life of the building. His son, Frank, when very small, crawled under the granary and got lodged there. Grant couldn’t reach him so he had to tear up two floor boards to get him out.

When visitors stayed for meals, Grant always had the habit of saying to the: “Eat your dinner and don’t do like the last time.” Upon their inquiry what was that, he replied: “Go home and say you got nothing to eat!” Then all would laugh.

Grant bought 20 acres in 1881 from William H. Grove and fifteen more in 1899 from Grandison W. Grove, making a total of 50 acres on the far, which acreage it still contains today.

Mrs. Susan Seely was around 5 feet 10 inches in height with a weight of 115 or 120 pounds. She had dark brown hair. She could read German and Frank still has some of her books written in that language. She was a member of the German Reformed Church at Deckards. She was sickly much of her life with sort of a nervous condition. When young she was struck by part of a tree after it was struck by lightning at Deckards. She died June 13, 1897, little over a month short of her 57th birthday. Her funeral which was preached by the Advent minister of Wallaceville, was the last one conducted in the original Baptist Church of Chapmanville. Less than a month later, July 11, lightning struck the church and burned it to the ground.

On June 22, 1898, Grant was married to Mrs. Minnie Styer at Townville. She took over the household duties at Plum Center. Grant died on Dec. 2, 1918. He was ill for only a few weeks. His service was from his home with the Diamond minister officiating, and burial followed in the Chapmanville Cemetery. Mrs. Minnie Seely died a few years later in Titusville.

“Who Was Who in Plum Township” Titusville Herald, by H. W. Strawbridge, January 15, 1962

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