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Sylvanus Seely


Gender: Male

Date of Birth: December 18, 1743

Date of Death: April 17, 1821

Sylvanus Seely (18 Dec 1743- 17 Apr 1821) was the son of Christopher Seely and grandson of Samuel Seely and Charlotte Popino who were among the first group of settlers in Goshen, Orange County, NY, in 1714. Born in Chester, as a teenager he moved to Berks County (Reading) PA, where his uncle Jonas was one of the richest and most important men. Sylvanus fought in the French and Indian War and then became manager of his uncle’s farm. Jonas and Christopher got a lot of land in Wayne County, northeastern PA for their military service and young Sylvanus moved up there for a few years to help settle it. Then he moved to Chatham, NJ where he was a tavern keeper, merchant, and Colonel in the state forces during the Revolution. In 1800 he moved back to Wayne County for good, setting up a saw mill and grist mill at what is now called Seelyville, just outside Honesville, the county seat.

From 1868 to 1821, Sylvanus kept an almost daily diary which discussed his business affairs, his relatives, his comings and goings, even (in code) his love affairs. It is a fascinating account of life in that time with a lot of genealogical information, some available nowhere else. Although he discusses a few visits back to Orange County, the diary deals primarily with people in Morris and Sussex Counties, NJ and Pike and Wayne Counties, PA. Among the families are: Bonnel, Broadwell, Bruen, Day, Edsall, Howell, Little, Miller, Minthorn, Moore, Morrell, Reeder, Sayre, Schoonover, Seaman, Torrey, Ward, Wigton.

The original diary in 30 volumes is at the Library of the Morristown National Historic Park, along with a 1600-page transcript. Because the library is only open by appointment, few people have ever seen this document. One of our members, Oliver Popenoe , has excerpted all the parts of genealogical interest, annotated them with identifications and relationships, and posted the abridged diary (along with a biography of Sylvanus and the genealogy of his family) on his website, www.popenoe.com. He invites additions and corrections to his footnotes.

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