The Migration to Nebraska

According to the writings of the late Keith D. Weaver in his work, "Perpetual Pioneers", the migration of members of the Seaman family and other families from the area of Grey county, Ontario was triggered by reports from Allen Grant Seaman (a grandson of Caleb) who had been in the area while serving in the Army of the North during the American Civil War.

In 1866, one of the first to make the move was Peter Howard Seaman, who, at the time, had been married only a year. His wife, Urania McLean, followed later the same year. Peter's reports on the new land must have been very favorable since over the next few years no less than five of his siblings (along with their families) made the journey to Nebraska.

Despite the fact that there was train service to parts of Nebraska, the trek was made (at least in part) by covered wagons. It is said that 12 families left the area of Meaford, Ontario in 1869 destined for Nebraska. Among them were Burleys, Mackies, and, of course, Seamans. The Seaman families were sons and daughters of David Seaman - son of Nehemiah - son of Caleb.

Remember, these people were heading to Nebraska to make new lives for themselves. They had all the personal items they could carry - they brought along farm animals. The wagons allowed for transporting these items and supplies and provided a place to live during the trip.

The "wagon train" wintered in the area of Chicago and in the spring of 1870 continued on its way. Not all of those who left Ontario headed straight for Nebraska. The Burleys detoured to Iowa for a year before joining the others in the new land.

Life was very hard for pioneers on the prairies. Sod houses were built to help provide protection from the bitterly cold winters. Homesteading applications were made by most - and the Land Patents for the property were issued to many of these settlers.

Land Patent issued in Valentine, Nebraska to James Seaman
   This Land Patent was issued to James Seaman (your webmaster's great-grandfather) in 1910 for 160 acres in the area of Valentine, Nebraska.

These pioneers were not totally cut off from their old homes and families. Indeed, train service allowed for fairly rapid and painless transportation between their old homes in Canada and their new homesteads in Nebraska.

Some of the recent immigrants decided they had been better off in Canada and returned there. Others visited back and forth and in some cases, returned to their former homes in Canada to marry.

This was truly the Diaspora of these people. Since the American Revolutionary War, these families had been together as loyalists - they had been each others neighbors - and they became related to each other by marriages. From New York colony to Brockville, Ontario to Meaford, Ontario - and now to Nebraska back in the United States, these people of like minds had been together. Nebraska was the end of that association.

After less than a generation in Nebraska, the families dispersed in various directions - some west to Washington state - some north to Montana and the Dakotas - while a few stayed in Nebraska. The bonds that had held these families together for over a hundred years dissolved.