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Nathan A. Seelye


Gender: Male

Date of Birth: July 17, 1851

Birth Place: Davison Township

Nathan A. Seelye, a well-known and substantial farmer of Atlas township, this county, and the owner of a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres in the northeastern part of that township, is a native son of Genesee county and has lived here practically all his life. He was born on a farm in Davison township, July 17, 1851, son of Abel and Eliza (Townsend) Seelye, the former a native of the state of New York and the latter of Vermont, who had come to this county in the days of their youth and who spent the rest of their lives here.

Abel Seelye was born in Saratoga county, New York, April 1, 1819, son of Abel and Abigail (Seeley) Seelye, who came to Michigan in territorial days and became substantial pioneer residents of Genesee county. The senior Abel Seelye was born near Bridgeport, Connecticut, a son of Nathan and Deborah (Gregory) Seelye, both members of old New England families, the first of the Seelyes in this country having come from England more than two hundred and fifty years ago. Among the children of the senior Abel Seelye were two sons, Abner and Alson, who came to the Territory of Michigan in September, 1835, and built a cabin on a tract they had secured from the government in the north half of section 33 of Davison township, this county. In the spring of 1836 Alson Seelye went back to New York and in April of that year drove through from eastern New York to the lake, accompanied by his sister, Deborah, proceeding thence by boat to Detroit and thence driving through to Pontiac and from there following the trail into the wilds of Genesee county until they reached the homestead cabin in Davison township, where they prepared for the coming of the rest of the family, the father and mother and Abel, Abner, James and Arsena, who joined them in the new home in the wilderness in August of that year. There the elder Abel Seelye and his wife spent the rest of their lives and their children continued to make their home in this county, with the exception of Abner, who moved to Cass county, this state.

The junior Abel Seelye was eighteen years old when he came to this county and he entered heartily into the general family task of preparing the forest homestead for cultivation. The second day after coming here he split his foot most severely while chopping in the woods and there being no doctor nearer than Pontiac, his sister, Debbie, acted as surgeon and skillfully sewed up the wound,. undoubtedly thus preserving the foot. After his marriage in 1846 he and his wife started housekeeping on a farm he had bought in section 26 of Davison township, but presently traded that place for a farm of sixty acres in section 22 of that same township and there spent the rest of his life, his death occurring on November 14, 1892. His widow survived him about three years. During the early days Abel Seelye, Jr., held several township offices and was later highway commissioner. He was reared a Whig, but upon the formation of the Republican party gave his allegiance to that party and was ever thereafter an earnest worker in the ranks of the party in this county.

It was in 1846 that Abel Seelye, Jr., was united in marriage to Eliza Townsend, of Davison township, who was born near Lake Champlain, in Vermont, daughter of Isaiah Townsend and wife, the latter of whom was an Abbott, who later moved to a farm near Batavia, New York, where the mother died. Afterward Eliza Townsend and two of her brothers came to Michigan, about 1840, and settled in Davison township, this county, where and in Richfield township Miss Townsend was engaged in teaching school until her marriage to Mr. Seelye. Some time later her father came out here and made his home with the Seelyes, where his last days were spent. He was born in Vermont, son of Thomas Townsend, who, with two of his brothers, was a soldier in the patriot army during the Revolutionary War. To Abel and Eliza (Townsend) Seelye nine children were born, the first four of whom died in infancy or early childhood, Cecelia, Abigail and Adelbert dying within one week, victims of an epidemic which swept through that part of the county. The eldest of the survivors of this family is Nathan A., the subject of this sketch. the others in order of birth being Edgar J., of Detroit; Edith, wife of C. S. Moss, of Flint; Clarence, who died in infancy; and Aldruda, who died in March, I893, at the age of thirty-three years.

Nathan A. Seelye lived on the paternal farm until he was twenty-two years of age, after which he began working on his own account and presently made his way into the lumber woods in the vicinity of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he had relatives and where he married in 1874. In the fall of that same year he returned to Genesee county with his wife and the next spring began farming on a rented farm in Davison township. The following spring he began working his father’s farm and was thus engaged nearly all the time until in March, 1890, when he rented the John McNeil farm of one hundred and sixty acres, the northwest quarter of section I in Atlas -township. In 1893 he bought that place and has ever since made his home there, becoming very well circumstanced. In addition to his general farming Mr. Seelye has given considerable attention to dairying during recent years and has a fine herd of Jerseys. He is a Prohibitionist in his political views, a member of the Grange and of the Gleaners and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Nathan A. Seelye has been twice married. It was on July 2, 1874, in Sheboygan county, Wisconsin, that he was united in marriage to Adelaide E. Townsend, who was born in that county, daughter of Hiram and Eliza (Baldwin) Townsend, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of New York state, born near Batavia, and to that union eight children were born, namely: Elrick A., of Lansing, this state, who married Bessie Rouser and has three children, Harold, Ralph and Robert, the former of whom had a twin brother, who died in infancy; Laverne E., of Hopkins, this state, who married Martha Bullock, of Lapeer county, and has three children, Edna, Nellie and Dillman; May, who married William R. Nutter, of Lansing, and’ has one child, a daughter, Thelma; Abel, of Elba township, Lapeer county, who married Emma Nutter, a sister of William R., and has two children, George and Albert: Edith Amanda, who died when about eight weeks old; Bela, who lives at Silver Lake, Oregon; Edgar J., who also lives at Silver Lake, and Nathan A., who married Eva Andrews, of Mt. Morris, this county, and is now farming with his father. Nathan A. Seelye, Jr., has’ but recently returned from the vicinity of Silver Lake, Oregon, where he and Bela and Edgar each have taken up three hundred and twenty acres of land, upon which they are basing high expectations. The mother of these children died in July, I904, and on June 10, I908, Mr. Seelye married Mrs. Margaret G. (Hartnell) Magee, of Detroit, widow of William Magee, a former well-known resident of this county.

Margaret G. Hartnell was born in Yarmouth, Canada, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Rock) Hartnell, natives of England; who emigrated to Canada and located at Yarmouth, later, when their daughter was about two years old, moving to a homestead farm in Osborne township, Ontario. There Margaret G. Hartnell grew to womanhood and married William / Magee, who was born on a’ pioneer farm in that same vicinity and who was an expert carriage- and wagon-maker. For three years after their marriage they lived at Whalens Corners, not far from their old homes, and then moved to Elandville, in that same township, moving thence to London, Ontario, where William Magee followed his trade until the fall of 1882, when he came to Michigan with his family and located at Davison, this county. In the spring of 1890 he moved onto a farm in Richfield township and two years later moved to Juniata, in Tuscola county, and continued farming there until 1898, when he moved to Flint, where he worked at his trade for about two years, at the end of which time he moved to Pontiac, where he engaged in mercantile business. Two years later he moved with his family to Shoal Lake, Manitoba, where he and the family engaged in the mercantile and restaurant business, but two years later returned to Michigan and located at Detroit, where Mr. Magee died on October 31, 1906, and where his widow was living when she married Mr. Seelye.

To William and Margaret G. (Hartnell) Magee six children were born, as follow: John Wesley, who died when six months old; Eva Jane, who married George Tweed, who died in May, 1912, leaving two children, May and Clyde, his widow later marrying William Foster, of Watertown, this state; Charles Ross Magee, of Racine, Wisconsin, who married Clara Moss and after her death married Jeannette Granish and has two children, Alice and Lucy Margaret; George T. Magee, of Detroit, who married Flora McKenzie and has five children, Grace, George, Beatrice and Bernice (twins) and Harry Elmer; Edgar J. Magee, unmarried, and Elsie, who married Elmer Schuknecht, of Detroit.

Page 612-615 ” History of Genesee county, Michigan, her people, industries and institutions “, Volume II, by Edwin O. Wood, President Michigan Historical Commission, published by Federal Publishing Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916.

[Son of Abel SGS # 2103 – Grandfather Abel SGS # 654 – Nathan, Nathan, James, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Robert; Grandmother – Abigail SGS # 1973 – Stephen, Hezekiah, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Robert]

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