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George B. Seely


Gender: Male

Date of Birth: December 29, 1830

Birth Place: NY

The accomplishments of one of the interesting American pioneer families of enviable association with the development of the West is recalled in the life-stories of George B. Seely, of 1651 South First Street, San Jose, and his highly-esteemed father, the late Charles R. Seely, who crossed the plains twice before settling in San Jose, after which he became one of the oldest and best-known citizens of Santa Clara County. He was born in New York State on December 29, 1830, and when twelve years of age accompanied his parents to Jones County, Iowa. Subsequently, he chose for his life companion Miss Salena Southern and they were married on September 1, 1849; and when, in 1854 he found himself the father of two sons, and the lure of California beckoning him westward, he left his loved ones in the hands of friends and sailed for the Isthmus of Panama, and hurried north by water. In 1857, he returned to the East and rejoined his family.

Two years later, in the spring of 1859, Mr. and Mrs. Seely and family, together with one or two other families, started on the long and dangerous journey across the plains, and they took nearly half of the year to make the trip. There were nine in the little company, and when at Goose Creek, they were attacked by Indians, but through the coolness and courage of Mr. Seely, who had been elected captain, the lives of the party were saved, and the Redskins forced to retreat. Immediately on arriving in California, Mr. Seely engaged actively in agriculture; and this occupation he followed successfully until 1869, when he concluded that he had acquired sufficient of this world’s goods to permit the spending of declining years in comfort.

Accordingly, he sold his farm and took passage with his family on board a streamer bound for New York harbor, and from there he came west by rail to Chicago, and then went to Cambridge, Illinois, where they visited for a short time their relatives. In Cambridge, Mr. Seely purchased a family carriage and a beautiful pair of bay horses, and with his family drove over to Iowa, to the little town of Olin, where his father had resided ever since he first settled in the state; and supposing that their roaming was at an end, Mr. Seely purchased his father’s farm and built a beautiful residence. Two winters there, however, made him sigh for the more congenial climate of California, and he once more outfitted to cross the plains.

In the spring of 1871, Mr. Seely started out on the old emigrant trail accompanied by his father, Norman B. Seely, and a younger brother, M.J. Seely, who later successfully entered the medical profession. Mr. Seely once more took up his old occupation in the production of California’s natural and most staple product, wheat, cultivating thousands of acres in different sections of the country until 1880, when he again retired and settled on Tenth Street, San Jose, where he resided with his family until 1884, when he purchased one of the finest orchard and residence properties in Santa Clara County, known as the McAllister place, on Bascom Avenue. There he again took upon himself the cares of an active business career, and engaged in horticulture. Selena, the mother of 13 children died. In 1895 he took to himself a second wife, Eliza Judson (Note: Christine Havnar; great-grand-daughter of Charles R. Seely, notes that the correct married name for her great-grandmother was Smith, nee Sarsfield, NOT Judson), and by her had another son and daughter. He left a valuable estate, although he spent thousands of dollars in giving financial assistance to his more unfortunate fellowmen. He was liberal-minded, sympathetic and tender-hearted, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church nearly all his life, and withal a stanch, true Christian of the genuinely old-fashioned and practical type.

George B. Seely was born near Dixon in Solano County, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Seely and a nephew of G.W. Seely, who became well known in California. Idaho and Oregon for his mining operations, and lived to retire on his farm near Aromas. George was reared on the family farm, sent to the local public schools and then, for a term or two, attended the Garden City Business College. For seven years, 1874 to 1881, he was engaged as an extensive grain farmer near Waterford, in Stanislaus County, the Seelys being the first to engage in wheat raising in that section of the San Joaquin Valley. Oakdale was then the market-center, as the railroad from Stockton ran only to Oakdale.

In 1889 Mr. Seely was married to Miss Margaret Turner of San Jose, a native of Alleghany, Pa., who came with her parents, Joseph and Anna McClellan Turner, via the Nicaragua route to California in 1867. She attended the San Jose Normal School in 1886-87, where she further acquired a liberal education, and has since participated ideally in all of Mr. Seely’s ambitious plans and in the social life of their circle. Since 1889 Mr. Seely has been active as a rancher in Santa Clara County, and he has also been a leader in dairying. In partnership with his brother, Charles Seely and George Graft, he founded the Garden City Creamery of San Jose, ran it four years and sold it and continued dairying. He has also been a pioneer in the wholesale and retail distribution of milk and creamery products in Santa Clara Valley, and for many years he has been a very successful hay-farmer and dealer in hay, at times operating as many as 2,000 acres, some years handling as high as 5000 tons of hay. His ranches lie several miles from San Jose and his home off the State Highway toward Gilroy. He owns 500 acres in the Yaqui Valley, Mexico; devoted to growing rice, and with associates owns 6,000 acres in Sinola, Mexico. Mr. and Mrs. Seely reside at 1651 South First Street, San Jose, and are loyal members and supporters of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

From History of Santa Clara County, California published 1881, page1210-1211

[Grandson of Norman B. SGS # 2665 – George B.; Charles R.; Norman B. (SGS # 2665); Jeduthan/Juduthen; Ebenezer, David; John; Benjamin; Nathaniel; Robert]

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