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.

Installment Ten - Saturday, August 1, 1953

The Seaman Story - No. 10

Seamans Married Into Historic Sault Family Founded by Famed J. Johnstone

Drummond Settlement - George Murray Seaman's wife, Carrie, must have been a remarkable person.

She was one of the Andersons, the Henry Andersons who are not to be confused with the Walter H. Andersons, whose daughter also married into the Seaman family. Carrie L. was one of several children of Henry and Lucinda Anderson, farmer fold, who came to Drummond from Bay City, and who, in time, became "Ma" and "Pap" Anderson to all on the big island. The Walter Andersons, on the other hand, had a daughter named Estelle (nicknamed Zula) who married Carrie L. Anderson's husband's cousin.

Lest that be a bit confusing, suppose we repeat it this way; Carrie Anderson married George Murray Seaman, a son of Sam Seaman, who in turn, was a son of Daniel Murray Seaman by D.M.'s fist wife. Zula Anderson married David Murray Seaman, a son of Edwin Seaman, who was a son of Daniel Murray by D.M.'s second wife.

Carrie, a kind, motherly, overly generous type of person, was a mainstay in her family as well as in that of her husband. When sickness or other trouble befell members of either family, Carrie was the one they could rely upon to help. When infirmities of age overtook the old folk, Carrie Seaman was the one toward whom they turned.

Took In Others

In addition to looking after her own two sons, Floyd and Onnie, Mrs. Seaman, at various times, took in her own mother, and also her husband's parents, Sam and Phene Seaman, who were not even speaking to one another! That, it would appear, must have required a type of kindness, endurance, patience, and tact possessed by few people. But Carrie Anderson Seaman managed it.

George Murray and Carrie Seaman were blessed with only two children - both sons - and one of them, Leonidas (known on the island today as Onnie) never married. But the other son, Floyd B. Seaman, turned out to be prolific enough for the two of them. When came time for Floyd to marry, he selected Miss Emma Solomonson, a daughter of one of the sturdy Finnish families brought to Drummond Island and transplanted there by the late Maggie Walz of Calumet, about the year 1904.

Their sons and daughters numbered eleven - eight daughters and three sons - and most of these children, and THEIR children, still live on the island. Floyd himself was killed on Drummond in a sawmill accident two years ago.

Floyd Seaman (Junior), son of Floyd B., grandson of George Murray, great-grandson of this island's first Seaman, is postmaster at Drummond Settlement, which recently, by permission of the Post Office department in Washington, became Drummond Island, Mich. rather than just Drummond, Mich. (This change, designed to give the "sex appeal" the simple name, Drummond, did not contain, resulted from a project undertaken by the Drummond Island Chamber of Commerce at the suggestion of C.G. Knoblock, general manager of Drummond Island's dolomite quarry).

Other Children

Floyd has no children of his own, but his brother, George Byron, has two and his other brother, Vernon, has one. George B. Seaman married Eleanor Hamilton and Vernon married Rose Toland. Among Floyd B. Seaman's daughters, Elaine married Linton Schopp of DeTour, and has four children of her own. Rosemond married Jim Mack, and has two children; and Alice became Mrs. Don McAdam, with two young daughters.

The only other remaining married daughter is Audrey, who married Fred Moser, a descendant of another line of Seamans. (Fred is a grandson of Lillie Seaman Fairchild, who was a half-sister of Audrey's great-grandfather, Sam Seaman). The Mosers have four children.

Three other daughters of the late Floyd B. and Emma Solomonson Seaman - Sally, Joyce, and Betsy are unmarried.

To return momentarily to George Murray Seaman: It was the late Ray Mason Belden who said of him that he fathered the idea of converting Drummond Island into a tourists' haven. As early as the turn of the century, Belden said, G.M. Seaman began selling lots as low as $25.00 each in order to attract summer residents. Of course, like various other Seamans, George Murray also operated a ferry service across DeTour Passage - and left that business to his son, Floyd, when he died in 1947.

Summer Residents

Summer residents came to the island too and in ever increasing numbers. Many of them purchased property, and built summer homes and today they, or their descendants, wouldn't think of passing a summer without at least a week or two on the island.

But the records seem to indicate that the island's first regular tourist resort, established about 1907, was sponsored and operated by Miss Leila Seaman, daughter of Ludlow Seaman, and three of Leila's cousins, the Misses Nita, Naida, and Evelyn Johnstone. Located a short distance west of the Settlement, this resort was given the name, Seastone Point, by combining the names Seaman and Johnstone. It was not too successful financially, but it showed what could be done to attract the vacationer not interested in investing in a summer residence of his own.

The Johnstone girls represent an interesting subdivision of the Seaman family for two ?????? reasons: One is that the marriage of their mother, Estella Seaman to William Johnstone provided a definite tie between the Seamans of Drummond and one of the oldest and most noted families of Sault Ste. Marie. The second is that it served as another instance in which Indian blood was introduced in the Seaman line.

Marries Johnstone

Estella Seaman, born in 1856, has been described as being "most like" her mother, Grandma Betsy Seaman and that in itself is a compliment of considerable proportions. The man she married, William Johnstone, was a son of John McDouall Johnstone, and a grandson of the Sault's John Johnson, he who had married a daughter of Waub-o-jeeg, the Ojibwa chieftain.

William Johnstone's sister was married to T.C. Anthony, a store-keeper in DeTour, but his most illustrious relative was Henry Row Schoolcraft, one-time Indian agent at the Sault, who married William Johnstone's aunt. Johnstone himself was a tall, handsome man, a good teller of stories and with a good fund of stories to tell. He had a pleasant singing voice too, and he sang in the Presbyterian choir in the Sault for years. His prowess with a fiddle was well known both on Drummond Island and in the Sault.

Johnstone resided on the island for quite a few years, operating a small store, carrying the mail to and from DeTour, lumbering, and piloting steamers up and down the river. He is credited with giving the name, O Mah Me Kong, to the lodge built by Ludlow Seaman, his brother-in-law, and which today is operated by Mynor Seaman, Ludlow's son.

Despite Handicaps

William Johnstone's skill with a fiddle and his success in piloting steamers through the river's twisting channels was surprising in view of the handicaps against which he worked; he suffered from a crippled hand and he was plagued by very bad eyesight.

But Estella Seaman, or "Aunt Stell", as all on Drummond called her, was the driving force in the William Johnstone family. Like her mother, she was a Nineteenth Century "go-getter". She was resourceful and ever ready to help where help was needed. Her husband was never too successful as a businessman, and there were times when Estella herself had to help out.

Drummond Island was "home" to her and she loved it, but she realized that the Sault was "home" to her husband and he loved it. So, in the end, the Johnstone family packed their things, placed them on a boat called the "Wanena", and moved to Sault Ste. Marie.

Even so, it is probable that consideration for her three daughters, rather than for her husband motivated this uprooting. Estella Seaman had obtained her education the hard way - from her mother's knee - and she had learned it well, eventually becoming a teacher herself in the Sault and elsewhere. Neither Drummond Island nor DeTour offered educational opportunities "Aunt Stell" considered fit and proper for her daughters. Hence, leaving the island, while tearfully carried out, was at least sweetened by the knowledge that her daughters would obtain good educations. Her faith in the eventuality was well founded; all three of her daughters, Naida, Nita, and Evelyn became teachers themselves, ultimately holding teaching positions in the Sault and various other points in Chippewa County.

Teach on Island

Drummond Island, of course, became the first place all of the Johnstone girls wanted to teach - and all three made it. Later, there were other teaching positions, including some in Alaska and on the West Coast, where all three "Johnstone girls" reside today. Nita, contracted from Juanita, and Naida, contracted from Nanada, never married, but Evelyn married Laurence Brown, and had one son, Laurence of Riverside, Calif., and one daughter, Phyllis, of Anchorage, Alaska. Both are married.

The Browns seldom miss an opportunity to visit Drummond Island. They own their own home here, and they occupy it all summer, every summer. Wintertimes they live in Riverside.

Phoebe Estella Seaman Johnstone passed on shortly before Christmas in 1921, followed 15 years later by her husband. But their three daughters - the Johnstone girls of Drummond Island - survive. None of them has forgotten their sojourn in the Sault, where their father, grandson of one of that city's pioneers, tended a small store on Portage Street near the docks, and their home was headquarters for any Drummond Islander, whether a Seaman or not.

"Not far from my father's store", Mrs. Brown said, "my grandfather (John McDouall Johnstone) portaged merchandise around the Sault Rapids. That was our home for years, and we were happy there. But Drummond Island is our historic home - for after all, we are Drummond Islanders."

John T. Nevill
Drummond Settlement
The Evening News
August 1, 1953