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Oscar F. Seeley


Gender: Male

Date of Birth: June 12, 1832

Birth Place: Rochester, NY

OSCAR F. SEELEY, M. D., of Climax, a representative physician, is second to none in his profession in learning and skill in Kalamazoo County, or, indeed, in Southern Michigan, over thirty years of successful practice placing him in the front ranks of the medical fraternity. The Doctor was born near Rochester, N. Y., June 12, 1832. His father, Elisha B. Seeley, was also a native of the Empire State, born in the year 1808, and he was of English and French descent. He was engaged at his occupation as a farmer in New York until he came to Michigan in 1835, journeying to his future home in the wilderness by water to Detroit, and by ox-team from that city into the interior of the Territory. He entered a tract of Government land near Plainwell, in Allegan County, and was one of the early settlers of that section. Some five years later, he came to this county and joined the pioneers of Cooper Township, settling on a tract of new land on section 16. He made a good farm, and then took up his residence near Galesburg. He lived there some time, and after that went to Calhoun County, where he remained until 1867. He then spent two years in Battle Creek, after which he went to Eaton County, and there passed the rest of his days on a farm, comprising one hundred and twenty acres of finely tilled and well-improved land. He was sixty-six years old when he died. He was a man of superior character, an earnest, practical Christian, with a gift for preaching, and for twenty years lie served the Baptist denomination as a local minister, who was instrumental in building up the church of which he was a member. He was largely a self-educated man, his native ability surmounting obstacles that stood in the way of his thirst for knowledge. In politics, he was a Republican.

The mother of our subject, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1813, was Sarah Halstead in her maiden days. She was brought up and married in her native State. She was a consistent member of the Baptist Church, and carefully nurtured her children in that faith. This good mother died at the age of fifty-seven years. Four sons and two daughters were born of her marriage: Emeline, Oscar F., Miles H., Harley M. and Ruel E. The maternal grandfather of our subject, who was of German antecedents, was an early settler of that part of Pennsylvania in which he lived, and he had a full experience of the Indian wars that were waged there.

Dr. Seeley was about three years old when the family emigrated to Michigan. The preliminaries of his education were obtained in a typical pioneer schoolhouse, that was built of logs, heated by an open fireplace, and furnished with slab benches, a board against the wall serving as a desk for the elder pupils to write upon. There were then no free public schools, but they were conducted on the rate-bill plan. The Doctor became familiar with pioneer life, in which the people had to sacrifice much that they had formerly deemed necessary and live in a primitive style. The house in which he and his parents dwelt was made of logs, had a puncheon floor, and the furniture was most of it home-made, the chairs having barrel stave backs. This house was situated on the banks of the Kalamazoo River, near the present village of Plainwell, Allegan County, and the first night that it was occupied blankets were hung up in the doorway and openings for the windows, which had not been put in, and our subject can well remember how the wolves made the night hideous by their howls. That was in the time of the Indians, and every day some of them would paddle by the house on the river in their canoes, and frequently would stop to trade.

Our subject was early set to work helping on the farm, and by the time he was nineteen years old, he had a pretty good knowledge of agriculture. He was of a bright, studious turn of mind, and at that age he had an opportunity of furthering his education by attending the old Branch School at Kalamazoo, under the charge of Dr. Stone, and lie gladly embraced it. Soon after the Baptist College was completed, he spent two years in study in that institution with both pleasure and profit. He then gave his attention to teaching and taught five winters, having charge of a school in the village of Schoolcraft two years, and during that time he was busy reading medicine, as lie had decided to become a physician. He then took a course of lectures in Cincinnati, and entered upon his professional career at Eden, Fayeyette County, Iowa, where he remained three years, and was at Princeton, Ind., one year. In the spring of 1861, he returned to this county, opened an office at Climax, and has ever since made his home here.

In the winter of 1868-69, the Doctor, wishing to still further prepare himself for his beloved calling, took a course of studies at Rush Medical College, Chicago, and was graduated from that institution. Returning to Climax, he has lived here continuously since, and has built up a large and lucrative general practice, winning a high reputation for the skillful treatment of dangerous and complicated forms of disease, and gaining the confidence and esteem of the people among whom he has lived so long, and to whose ills he has administered, in a rare degree, as he is all that a true physician should be, intellectually, socially and morally. le keeps well abreast of the times in his profession, and is a valued member of the State Medical Association, of the United States Medical Association, and of the Kalamazoo Academy of Medicine. He also belongs to the Masonic order and to the Ancient Order of United Workmen at Climax. He is a Republican in politics, and has a splendid equipment for public office, but has not cared in his busy life to burden himself with additional duties. Our subject has shown himself to be a practical business man, investing his money judiciously, and he has acquired a handsome property. He has a well-improved farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Charleston Township, which is under the management of his son. He has a neat frame residence and a frame store building in Climax, and is one of the substantial men of the village financially.

Dr. Seeley was united in marriage to Miss Mercy L. Sinclair March 12, 1857, and in her he has a wife who is devoted to his interests, is a congenial companion, and to their children is all that a wise and loving mother can be. She is imbued with a true Christian spirit, and is an active working member of the Methodist Church. Our subject and his wile have been blessed in their wedded life with five children, one son and four daughters, namely: Ida C. (Mrs. Dickey), Frank L., Nellie, Mary and Hattie.

Page 696-697, “Portrait and biographical record of Kalamazoo, Allegan and Van Buren counties, Michigan, containing biographical sketches of … citizens … governors of the state, and … presidents of the United States,” published Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1892.

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