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Ebenezer Seeley


Gender: Male

Date of Birth: 1760

Date of Death: 1840

Birth Place: Fairfield

EBENEZER SEELEY was born in the year 1760, probably in the township of Fairfield, where his father, Enos Seeley, resided until his removal to Cohansey Bridge, some time previous to 1770, in which year he bought the old Hancock saw-mill, situated on the dam now crossed by Pine Street, and built there about 1683, together with a large surrounding tract, containing at least one hundred and twenty acres, comprising the southern part of East Bridgeton.

Enos Seely was a descendant of Joseph Seeley, one of the original settlers of Fairfield, and an elder in the old Cohansey Presbyterian Church, and thus related to Col. Ephraim Seeley, but the precise line of descent is not known. He married Naomi Petty, and after he removed to Bridgeton owned and resided for a time in the house next below Broad Street bridge, towards the close of his life living in a house which stood on what is now the northwest side of Pine Street, a few rods from his mill. He was one of the prominent residents of the town. He was an earnest Whig, and at the commencement of the Revolutionary war he entered into active service as a lieutenant-colonel of the militia, but was soon disabled by disease and obliged to resign. For several years before his death, which occurred in 1801, he was confined to his house and unable to attend to business.

He had three children. His daughter Ruth married Joseph Buck. David, the oldest son, took charge of his father’s business. He resided several years in the old house, renewed by John Buck; was captain of a company of artillery, and generally known as Capt. Seeley. He married a sister of Hugh Merseilles, of Hunterdon County, and entered into mercantile business with him, under the firm of Seeley & Merseilles, for some years a well-known and prosperous firm. They owned a sloop called the “Betsey,” built of live-oak and red cedar, the best probably that ever sailed out of the port, which was for a time commanded by Jeremiah Buck. Their store-house was at first situated near the wharf at the southeast corner of the bridge, from which they removed to the southeast corner of Commerce and Laurel Streets, into a store-house they built. They both indulged father freely in good living. Seeley died in 1802, and Merseilles in 1806. David Seeley had several children, one of whom (Mrs. Nagley, of Philadelphia) died at an advanced age. After the death of his first wife he married Nancy Seeley, one of the daughters of Judge Ephraim, who survived him many years.

Ebenezer Seeley became the owner, through the gift of a brother of his mother, of a good farm in Fairfield, situate on the west side of Cedar Creek, not far from the landing. On this he lived for a time, and in 1783 married Mary Clark, a daughter of Daniel Clark, of Hopewell, and his first wife, Anna, daughter of Jonathan Holmes. About the year 1795 he purchased of his brother-in-law, Joseph Buck, the house (now the hotel) on Irving Avenue, and was the owner of a large adjoining tract, extending west to Laurel Street (Pearl Street, north of Irving, did not exist), north near half a mile, and east to the Riley line, near where the Port Norris Railroad now is. He entered into mercantile business, and built a store-house on the northeast corner of Laurel and Irving Street, where he transacted a large business as a country store, sending wood and lumber to Philadelphia, then the principal business of the town. In 1802 he sold his residence, with fifty acres of adjoining ground to Jeremiah Buck, and purchased to stone house on the west side of Laurel, then called Front Street, originally built by Zachariah Lawrence, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, where he resided until 1825. Previous to this time, in common with many other business men, he was so injured by the contraction of the currency that followed the war of 1812-15, that he entirely failed and lost all his property.

Mr. Seeley became a member of the Presbyterian Church in early life. In 1818, during the pastorate of Rev. Jonathan Freeman, he was elected a ruling elder.

Few men in the county were more popular. He was firm in his adherence to his political and Christian principles, but always mild and charitable towards others, no matter how much he differed from them. He was elected a member of the Assembly in 1795, before party politics became very prominent. In 1806 he was elected one of the Legislative Council as a Democrat, and again in different years nine times, his last service in that capacity being in 1825, and then he was succeeded by one of his sons. In 1814 he was chosen by the joint meeting clerk of the county, and being chosen three times afterwards, held the office twenty years, longer than any other person. But little of the business of the office was conducted by himself, his sons being the real workers. For several of the last years of his life, and especially after the death of his wife, in 1829, his mind and memory seemed deranged, but he found a comfortable home in the family of his son. He died in 1840.

There were twelve children of Ebenezer Seeley and his wife Mary, of whom five died in infancy or at an early age. Enos, born in 1789, was for a long time and until his death, employed as the actual clerk of the county. He was poisoned by a young colored servant-girl in 1843, who alleged no grievance. She was tried, convicted, and executed. Elias Pettit Seeley studied law, which he practiced in Bridgeton, and lived in the house which use to stand where the insurance office is. He 1829 he was elected a member of the council, and several times afterwards, as a Whig, and in 1832 was chosen vice-president. Mr. Southard, the Governor, having been elected senator of the United States, Mr. Seeley was chosen Governor, and filled the office during the remainder of the year. He was afterwards elected to the Legislature several times, and almost equaled his father in popularity. He married Jane, daughter of Dr. Champneys, and had two children, Elias (deceased), and a daughter who married Henry T. Ellett, a lawyer, who removed to Mississippi, and was quite distinguished there, being at one time a member of Congress and then a judge of the highest Court of Appeals, and now a lawyer in Memphis of high character. They had several children. Mrs. Ellett died a few years since. Mary married Dr. Parker, of Pittsgrove, and died in 1821. Ebenezer died in 1846. Naomi married Jonathan Ayres, and died in 1850.

Samuel W., born in 1807, is the only one living. He married Henrietta Seeley, daughter of Mason G. and his wife, Henrietta Potter. They have two sons, Robert and Henry.

Anna Maria married Joseph Gibson, and died in 1869, and has left descendants.

Pages 619-620, Thos. Cushing, M D and Charles E Sheppard, Esq, “History of the Counties Of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland, New Jersey With Biographical Sketches Of Their Prominent Citizens, Philadelphia: Everts & Peck 1883 Press of J S Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia

[Ebenezer is SGS # 385 – ; Ebenezer; Enos; David; John; Nathaniel; Robert]

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