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 Sixteen - Thursday, August 13, 1953

The Seaman Story - No. 16

Era of Ludlow and D.M. Seaman Jr. Believed Family's Most Interesting

Drummond Settlement - The era lived through by Ludlow and Daniel Murray Seaman Jr., youngest of the original family of Seaman boys, could well be the most interesting era in Drummond Island's history. Certainly there are Seaman descendants living today who say it was.

Ludlow, born in 1857, died in 1922. D.M. Jr., born in 1862, died in 1936. One daughter, Lillie, who was the last of Daniel Murray Sr's ten daughters, came along in 1860, between the final two of his six sons. Old Daniel Murray Seaman, the one-time Mormon who fled the Beavers and came to this island 100 years ago, passed on in November of 1863, while still in his very early fifties. But he had sired a total of 16 children - five by his first wife, and 11 by his second!

Both Ludlow and Daniel Murray Jr. were born on Drummond Island - and died here - so they were in a position to enjoy what Seaman descendants now call "the most interesting era in the island's history".

Era of Devices

Theirs was an era of primitive life, but an era immensely less primitive than that known by their parents. Theirs was an era of lumbering the virgin woodlands; of rapidly accelerated commerce on the Great Lakes; of wood-burning steamers replacing sails, and coal eventually replacing wood; of an uncanny gadget called a telephone, which men had been tinkering with for centuries, although Drummond Island still remains without telephone service. They saw the telephone become commonplace elsewhere, and then they watched the advent of still more marvelous devices a gasoline driven carriage to replace their horse-drawn vehicles, and even a carriage which flew through the air like a bird.

While watching the installation of lighthouses, buoys, and channel markers in the St. Mary's both Ludlow and D.M. Jr. must have recalled that time in 1868 when Betsy Seaman sent them to the Sault in a sailboat to bring back a load of precious supplies. While watching a powered ferry cross the channel from DeTour within a few minutes - and break ice as she moved! - Ludlow must have thought of the day he, like many of the Seamans, carried the mail in a sailboat, and of those wintry days when he started out across the ice with his three dog team - one lead dog and two at the sled - and of how Betsy had to make cloth shoes for the dogs to protect their feet from sharp ice.

One Advantage

Ludlow had one advantage none of his older brothers and sisters enjoyed; his mother sent him away to school in Cheboygan, where he managed to squeeze in several terms. Like almost every other able-bodied man he did his share of lumbering, and he tried to homestead a farm along what today is the Johnswood Road. He apparently didn't care for farming, because he abandoned his homestead in 1886, moved back into the Settlement, and purchased a store from his older brother, Ed. That store, and the tourist lodge which subsequently was added to it, is operated today by Mynor Seaman, a son.

When Ludlow Seaman began to look around for a wife, he didn't have to look very far. Employed in his mother's home was a tall, slim well-mannered, blue-eyed girl named Margaret Melvin, and the two of them just sort of "hitched it off together". Margaret was a daughter of Hugh Melvin, a brickmaker from Canada, who had brought his family down from the Sault in 1877 and settled on a homestead just west of DeTour. The two were married in the Sault on Sept. 1, 1880, just three years after the Melvins arrived. That was the year the Bailey family came to the island.

In September, of 1881, when came time for their first baby to arrive, Lud and Margaret went to Cheboygan where Margaret's mother was living, and there Leila was born. After mother and child were able to travel, Ludlow brought them back to Drummond. Seven more children were to be born to Ludlow and Margaret - one more daughter, and six sons.

Others in Family

Leila was followed by a son, Lee, and then by the second daughter, Emma, who was destined to marry Blaine Bailey and provide one of the major links between the Seaman and Bailey families. After Emma, came the remaining five sons - Mynor, Theil, Charles, Bryce, and Holley.

Leila never married. When she was approaching 30 in 1911 - she moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where she resided until her father's death in May, 1922, after which she returned to this island to help her mother, then 60, operate the family business. When Margaret Melvin Seaman, whose quiet, ladylike manner had endeared her to the entire island as "Aunt Maggie", passed on Nov. 21, 1933, Leila as eldest of the children, began operating both the Seaman store and the O-Mah-Me-Kong Lodge. This position she held until her own death on May 10, 1952.

Lee Seaman married Margaret Browning and they have one son, Melvin Seaman, who has two children of his own. Mynor's wife is the former Emma Lehman, and their children include Margaret, Lucille (Mrs. Alvin Shaw), Thomasina (Mrs. Clifford Walmsley), Mynor, Jr., Ludlow, Leila, and Rochelle.

Four Sons

Emma Seaman, as has been stated, married Blaine Bailey and became the mother of four sons, including Kenneth, the Sault Ste. Marie mortician , and Ludlow, the young athlete who died last year.

Theil, the only Seaman son to marry a Bailey daughter, of George Warren and Cornelia Bailey, and Nina's daughter, Theilia, today looks back upon the island's original Baileys as grandparents, as well as this island's original Seamans as great grandparents.

Charles Seaman and his wife, Millie Spencer Seaman, have one daughter, and Bryce, who married Marian Gray, have a son and a daughter. Holley's wife was the former Hilma Karpl, and their one son and daughter, Eldon and Edna, have given them a total of eight grandchildren.

As one of the skippers of the "Drummond Islander", the all-metal, diesel-powered, county-owned ferry which today plies across DeTour Passage with the islanders' mail, Holley is performing a task many of his forebears have performed before him. Besides his own father Ludlow, mail carriers among the Seamans have included Holley's Uncle Edwin, oldest of Daniel Murray's second family; his Uncle Don, Ed's younger brother; his cousin, George Murray, a son of Sam Seaman, Ludlow's step-brother; his second cousin, Floyd B., who was George Murray's son; his uncle, Daniel Murray Seaman Jr.; and his uncle (by marriage), William Johnstone, who married Holley's Aunt Stell.

Important Cog

Ludlow Seaman, "Uncle Lud" to all the Seamans of Drummond, was, at the very least, a mighty important cog in the machinery which spread the Seaman name throughout Drummond and its environs. His six sons produced a total of six sons, and they, in turn, have produced a half dozen, or more male great-grandchildren. All of these, of course, bear the name, Seaman, and will continue to bear it throughout their lives.

Ludlow Seaman apparently didn't have the smooth, easy-going disposition given to his younger brother, D.M. Jr. A medium size man, stockily built, we wore no beard and no moustache. He is described as having been moody on occasion and was easily irritated. Assuming this to be true, he was a fortunate man, indeed, to have for a wife a gently-bred, dignified balance wheel like Margaret Melvin Seaman.

John T. Nevill
Drummond Settlement
The Evening News
August 13, 1953