The Seamans of Drummond Island

Drummond Island was seeded with Seamans by a grandson of Caleb Seaman in 1853. This island, located at the juncture of three of the Great Lakes, became home for a long line of descendants of Daniel Murray Seaman, an early adherent to the Mormon religion.

A hundred years later, John T. Nevill wrote a series of articles about the Seaman family of Drummond Island and these were published in a local newspaper, The Evening News. An index to the entire series of 17 articles from 1953 is here.

  One of the few photos available of Drummond Island's beloved "Grandma Betsy" Seaman (third from left in back row). At the far left are Hugh and Bessie Butterfield McLarney, and at the far right is Margaret Melvin Seaman, wife of Ludlow.

Installment One - Wednesday, July 22, 1953

The Seaman Story - No. 1

The Name of Seaman Is A Familiar One On Drummond

Historic Drummond Island - 133 square miles of tamed and untamed wilderness - is many things to many men, but the average visitor, no matter his main interest, almost always leaves this mighty island with a family name ringing in his ears. And the name is Seaman.

Few areas in these United States are so thickly populated by members, or off-shoot members, of one family. The Seaman family has been on Drummond Island so long and has become so large, that it is not uncommon to find the place referred to as "Seaman's Island".

But, ironic though is may be, Drummond Island was named in honor of Sir Gordon Drummond, a British naval commander, who fought against the United States in the War of 1812. Sir Gordon, chances are, never once set foot on the harsh, rocky, but beautiful island named for him!

To members of the Seaman family, this year - 1953 - bears an important message. For them this is a centennial year. It was in 1853 - 100 years ago - that Daniel Murray Seaman, first of all the Drummond Island Seamans, came to the island with his family to make his home. And, during the century which as passed since that time, Drummond Island never for a moment has been without a Seaman.

The original Daniel Murray Seaman died on November 8, 1863, just ten years after his arrival on the island. But he had sired 16 children - and he left 63 grandchildren! The Seaman family of Drummond Island, which today not only dominates this huge island, but boasts a membership extending from coast to coast and from Texas to Alaska, was well established.

Whence came the Seamans of mystical Drummond Isle?

A Cavalry Story

We are told by records held by various descendants of Daniel Murray Seaman (the first) that Daniel Murray's father was Samuel Seaman, eldest son of Caleb Seaman, a cavalry soldier in the army of His Majesty, King George III.

Caleb first came to American with his red-coated brethren in 1775 as part of His Majesty's unsuccessful efforts to prevent and quell the American rebellion. Following the British surrender at Yorktown, he elected to remain in American, to marry, and to settle down.

Ultimately, he fathered 11 sons and four daughters, most of whom were born after the family moved to Canada in 1787. Records show, however, that Caleb's fist-born son, Samuel (father of Daniel Murray) was born in Vermont about 1784.

Daniel Murray Seaman himself was born in Chantry, Canada, February 7, 1811. He grew to manhood in Canada, and , at the age of 21, on November 13, 1832, he married Miss Lovina Smith in (or Near) Brockville, Ont. Lovina Smith Seaman was fated to die just eight years later - but not before she had presented her husband with five children, two of whom died in infancy.

The three surviving children, in order of age, were Cecelia, known as Celia, who later became Mrs. Ludlow P. Hill; Manada, known as Naida, who later became Mrs. Sam Chambers; and Samuel (named for his grandfather), who ultimately became "Uncle Sam'l" to a host of Seamans on Drummond Island.

Less than 10 years before Daniel Murray Seaman married Lovina Smith, a Vermont-born young man, currently in the town of Manchester, NY - a man named Joseph Smith Jr., - had experienced visions which prompted him to become the founder of a new religious sect called "Mormonism." Smith's visions, and the religious beliefs which sprang from them, were to have a profound effect on the mind of young Daniel Murray Seaman - an effect so deeply etched that many persons today, 121 years later, still have the wholly erroneous idea that the Seamans of Drummond are Mormons!

Serious-Minded Man

Young Daniel Murray Seaman was a serious-minded man who gave much thought to the hereafter, and to the proper way to attain the reward which is promised after death. Thus it was that at about the time of his marriage to Lovina Smith, he became obsessed with the idea that Mormonism was the answer to his problem. Just why he selected Mormonism is not clear, because he apparently didn't believe in polygamy - but select it he did.

Like many another new cult, Mormonism, from its start, and for many years thereafter, was beset by violent opposition and bloodshed. But, as often happens under such circumstances, the new faith took hold and spread rapidly.

Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Mormonism, established headquarters in Kirtland, OH, where, in 1832, his son Joseph Smith II, was born. This, remember was 1832 - the year Daniel Murray Seaman married Lovina Smith. And Joseph Smith II, years later, a successor to his father as head of the Mormon church, was destined to spearhead the fight to rid Mormonism of polygamy, a practice he claimed was injected in to the tenets of his church without authority and without the approval of his father.

Daniel Murray Seaman was no man to jump at conclusions. He must have thought the matter over very thoroughly, because some time elapsed before he espoused Mormonism. About 1838, by which time Smith and his Mormons had moved from Kirtland, OH to Independence, MO, and from there by request, had moved to and established the town of Nauvoo, IL, Seaman journeyed to Nauvoo to attend the first meeting of the Saints of Mormonism,. Apparently he went there to stay, because he took with him his wife, Lovina, and their two small daughters, Celia and Naida.

Ordained in Ministry

Burning with zeal for the still new religious belief, Daniel Murray Seaman soon was ordained in the Mormon ministry. He remained in Nauvoo for a year or so more preaching the gospel of Mormonism, and he is said to have been a vigorous, forceful, and convincing teacher of this strange, new doctrine. Ultimately, however, Lovina Seaman's health began to fail; she expressed a strong desire to return to her friends and kin in Canada. And Seaman, although deeply immersed in his new-found vocation, was not too immersed to ignore the longing of his wife. He asked for, and obtained, a commission to the leave the colony, and to preach the Mormon gospel in "the regions beyond."

So he carried his little family back to their Canadian homeland, and he remained there until Lovina's health appeared to be improving. After a short time, however, the Seamans moved to Stockholm, NY, where Daniel Murray resumed preaching, and where their third surviving child - Samuel - was born.

It was in Stockholm, on a day in 1840, that the first Mrs. Daniel Murray Seaman became ill, and died very suddenly. The young husband, then only 29, took his three youngsters back to Canada, where he left them in the care of friends. He then returned to Stockholm to resume his work. About a year after his first wife's passing - in 1841 - he married again. This time he selected Elizabeth (Betsy) Grandy, a Canadian born school teacher, who was just twenty-one.

Twenty-one year old Betsy Grandy was destined to become, in time, a revered personage in the Seaman family. She followed her husband faithfully for 21 years - from Stockholm to the Beaver Islands, thence to Manitoulin Island, and finally to Drummond Island - until his death in 1863.

She presented Daniel Murray Seaman with five more sons and six more daughters, and after his death she carried on, alone and undaunted - a venerable matriarch of a huge and rugged island.

"Grandma" Betsy Seaman - free thinking, courageous, and resourceful - was to remain the nominal head of the Seaman family until her own death on Drummond Island March 2, 1896, at the ripe old age of 75.

John T. Nevill
Drummond Settlement
The Evening News
July 22, 1953