William Elmer Seeley

Personal

Gender: Male

Date of Birth: September 19, 1840

Birth Place: Fairfield, CT

As secretary and treasurer of the Blue Ribbon Garage William Elmer Seeley is at the head of one of the largest business enterprises of this character in New England and has made for himself a creditable record as a most progressive, alert and energetic business man. He was born in Bridgeport in 1863 and is indebted to its public school system for the educational privileges which he enjoyed. His father, William Elmer Seeley, Sr., passed away August 25, 1905, after having for many years been an active factor in financial circles and in the political circles of the state. He was born in Fairfield, Connecticut, September 19, 1840, a son of Seth and Charity (Wilson) Seeley, the former a farmer by occupation, through whom the ancestral line was traced back to Robert Seeley, who came from England in 1630 and settled at Salem, Massachusetts. He afterward became a resident of Watertown, Massachusetts, where he lived for six years and then removed to Wethersfield, Connecticut. Later representatives of the family defended American interests in the Revolutionary war.

William E. Seeley, Sr., started upon his banking career in early manhood in connection with the Farmers Bank of Bridgeport and ^from that time forward his career was one of steady progress. In 1864 he became one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Bridgeport, was chosen its first cashier and in 1892 was elected to the presidency, occupying that position until his demise. He was also for many years president of the Peoples Savings Bank of Bridgeport, occupying that office to the time of his death, and he was president of the Connecticut Bankers’ Association, which indicated the regard entertained for him by his colleagues and contemporaries in business. His opinions were recognized as authority on matters of banking and finance. His name was also prominently known in connection with military, civic and political interests. • He served for a number of years in the State Militia and resigned while holding the rank of lieutenant colonel. In the same year he was elected state senator and while serving in the upper house was made a member of the committee on finance. From 1903 until 1905 he filled the office of state comptroller and enjoyed an enviable record in that position. He was prominent in the councils of the republican party and at various times was called to office in Bridgeport, serving as lire commissioner for eight years, as police commissioner for three years, as councilman, city treasurer and manager of the sinking fund. He was very prominent in Masonry and was a past grand commander of the Knights Templar of Connecticut. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, of the Society of Colonial Wars, of the Union League Club, of the Transportation Club of New York and of the Seaside, Algonquin, Brooklawn, Yacht and Outing Clubs of Bridgeport. He held membership in the Congregational church and for a half century was one of the most respected and influential residents of Bridgeport. In October, 1861, he married Jane Elizabeth Sterling and they became the parents of five sons, William E., Frederick Sterling, Henry Sterling, Robert Clinton and Frank Earle.

The eldest son, William E. Seeley, early in his business career became a representative of the Electric Vehicle Company of Hartford, Connecticut, in New York and for a few years also had charge of a branch of that establishment at Washington. D. C. In 1907 he became a salesman with the Blue Ribbon Horse & Carriage Company of Bridgeport, a firm carrying everything for the horse and stable, including all kinds of harness, blankets, robes, whips and carriages. They conducted as well a livery, boarding and sales stable and made a specialty of selling fine carriage horses. As the automobile, however, came more and more largely into general favor the nature of the business changed somewhat and in October, 1908, the Blue Ribbon Garage was incorporated with J. Schiott as the president and W. E. Seeley secretary and treasurer. They handled automobile supplies, accessories and parts and became exclusive agents at Bridgeport for the Packard car and also agents for the Dodge car. At that date they had one car salesman and six men in the repair department. Something of the growth of the business is indicated in the fact that they now have twelve salesmen and eighty men in the repair department, while one hundred and four men altogether are employed in their main building at No. 283 Fairfield street. They erected a three-story building containing ten thousand, two hundred square feet of floor space and in 1910 added another story, giving them sixty-four hundred more square feet. In 1914 they took over the building of the auto and carriage company in the rear, adding sixty-four thousand square feet, and taking over the Blue Ribbon Auto and Carriage garage, secured an additional sixty-four thousand square feet. In 1916 they bought adjoining property with an eighty foot frontage, on which they have recently erected a new steel and concrete building three stories in height, giving them twenty-two thousand square feet in addition to what they already have. They will occupy all of this space. Theirs is the largest garage in New England. In 1910 they built a garage at Meriden, Connecticut, as a branch of their business and in 1916 erected a building for a sales room and service station at Waterbury which is the best in that city. They also put up a garage at New Haven. They are operating all of these branches, where they handle the same cars that they do in Bridgeport, and their business at each point is steadily growing. They have storage for more than four hundred cars in Bridgeport. In 1915 they added to their business a painting, trimming and upholstering department with competent people in charge. In addition to the one hundred and four men employed in Bridgeport they have twelve men at Meriden, fourteen men in New Haven and fourteen in Waterbury. Their business has assumed extensive proportions, becoming one of the most prominent and profitable undertakings of this kind not only in Bridgeport but in New England.

In 1889 Mr. Seeley was married to Miss Maude D. Parker, of Bridgeport, a daughter of Edwin M. Parker, a jeweler, and they have one son, W. Parker. Mr. Seeley is a thirty- second degree Mason and a Mystic Shriner, is a member of the Algonquin Club, of which he was one of the corporators, and is also a member of the Brooklawn Country Club and of the Home Club of Meriden. In politics he takes a very active interest as a republican, is chairman of the first district and has been treasurer of the republican town committee for a number of years. He is now serving as president of the board of apportionment of Bridgeport, which position he has occupied for several years. To his public duties he brings the same keen discernment and unfaltering enterprise that he displays in the conduct of his business affairs. In his vocabulary there is no such word as fail. What he undertakes he accomplishes and legitimate purpose has ever actuated him, while indefatigable energy has brought him to the desired goal.

Page 371 – 372, “History of Bridgeport and Vicinity, Volume II,” The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, New York – Chicago, 1917

[Grandson of Seth SGS # 2079 – William Elmer; William Elmer; Seth (#2079); Samuel O’Dell/Odell (#645); Seth; Nathan; James; Nathaniel; Nathaniel; Robert]