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Family Histories & Gen Charts > Summary for Fred Harvey Seymour

Compiled by Evelyn W Henry, g/d of Fred Seymour

Individual Summary for Fred Harvey SEYMOUR

22 Mar 2003





Date(s)        Place                                                Description







10 Mar 1865 Hume Twp, Whiteside, IL

28 Oct 1939    Tampico, Whiteside, IL Tampico Memorial Cern. Lot 13



Sex:     M
Last Changed: 22 Mar 2003

AKA:                                                  Married Name:
ID:                                                                   AEN:








Relationship          Mother           -
Biological              Martha Jane PADDOCK


-                                       Biological





Harvey Hervey SEYMOUR










Marriage Date/Place







Emma Alice BOWMAN

9 Dec 1886       Sterling, Whiteside, IL




GRANDPA FRED H. SEYMOUR:                           Compiled by Evelyn (Whitmer) Henry - 2002


Fred Harvey Seymour was the youngest of the six children born to Harvey Hervey Seymour and Martha Paddock Seymour. Being six years younger than his sister, Clara, he was the “baby of the family.” Fred broke his hip in a fall on the ice when he was about nine years old, and apparently there was no professional care available for him. As a result, he suffered life-long problems. The following is excerpted from one of Aunt Daisy Nokes’ “See More (Seymour) of Old Tampico” articles. This appeared in the PROPF-IETSTOWN ECHO 23 June 1982:


“Since there was no one there who knew how to care for his hip properly, to set it or otherwise correct it he was crippled the rest of his life, suffering untold agony as bits of broken bone worked out of his back and chest in later years.” (One actually emerged from his shoulder area.)


Daisy said his mother, Martha (Paddock) Seymour. “carried my father around on her back and hip and lifted him wherever he had to go, for a year or more until he was well enough to walk by himself with a great lift in a shoe.” All his adult life Fred wore a shoe with a six inch lift, which helped him to walk, but with an off-balance, swinging gait.


Because of his limp, Fred wasn’t able to run and play like the other boys his age, but he wasn’t idle. From Daisy’s 11 August 1982 “See More” article: “He got other youngsters to catch frogs for him - he would clean and dress them, pack them in ice and sell them to hotels and restaurants. He made enough money to buy his own clothes... children used to call him “Hoppy Bob-Tail” when he was in the school yard, since he had to kind of hop instead of being able to run.”


“Between the ages of 12 and 20 he began to trade and barter, selling Western Cottage Organs and Melodians, and New Home and Singer Sewing Machines.” No doubt, Fred knew enough about the musical instruments to demonstrate them. He probably learned the piano from his older sister, playing well enough to tune the pianos for his customers. He became an accomplished fiddle player, and played a piano accordian, as well. He and his brother, Charles, often played their fiddles for local dancing parties. (Perhaps the Seymours’ musical talent was inherited - their grandfather, Collins Seymour, played the fife during his service in the War of 1812, and their father, Harvey H. Seymour, played drums during parades down the main streets of Tampico.)


During his youth, Fred and the other townspeople of Tampico lived through many disasters. There were three fires that devastated the village, one occuring in 1872, and others in 1874 and 1876, each causing huge monetary losses to the merchants along Main Street. In between the last two big fires, there was a tornado which tore through the town and

destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property. A graphic description of these catastrophes can be found in a PROPHETSTOWN ECHO article written by Paul Nicely and published 28 May 1981, as well as in the Tampico Centennial booklet.


Fred H. Seymour married on 9 December 1886, Emma Alice Bowman. Emma was the much younger stepsister of Elizabeth Bowman Seymour, who was married to Fred’s father, Harvey H. Seymour. (See Emma’s biographical notes.) The marriage took place in the nearby city of Sterling, Whiteside County, Illinois.


Following their marriage, Fred and Emma apparently traveled to her mother’s home in Lewis, Iowa to spend Christmas with her family. A few months later, Fred wrote the following in his young bride’s little autograph book, in his beautiful script:

Tampico May 22nd 1887 “Written with a stick

Well chosen Friendship the most noble

Of virtue all our joys make double

And into halves we will divide

                           Our troubles                         Your husband F. H. Seymour, Tampico, Ils”

and, on another page:

‘To Emma S.                      Tampico, Aug. 18, 1887

Think of me when I am far away

Think of the hours you have spent with me

Think not alone of the future year

But think a slight thought of the past one

                  (Your sincere husband        Mr. Fred Seymour)    Tampico, Illinois


Fred and Emma returned to his home town after their honeymoon trip to Iowa, and set up housekeeping there. According to Aunt Daisy, they were living in a house on Washington Street in 1887 when she was born, although her mother was actually in Lewis, Iowa, with her own mother for the birth. Deed records show that Fred purchased a house on Washington Street, Tampico, in 1889, and acquired additional property on that street in 1893. Some time before December of 1891, Fred became the Tax Collector for Tampico, an elected office. He was reelected several times, according to notices in THE TAMPICO



Deed records show that, between 1891 and 1894, Fred Seymour bought and sold several properties within the Village of Tampico, some of them residences, some for his business. The family was still on Washington Street in 1892, when a second daughter, Ethel, was born, but in 1893, the family was living on Benton Street. Fred was making his living by selling organs, pianos and sewing machines on his own, and working part time in the general store owned by his sister Clara’s husband, John Paice. He continued his musical instrument sales for years after, as a sideline to his grocery business. On December 23rd of 1893 Fred’s name appeared in THE TORNADO on a poetic list of merchants doing business along Main Street as:


“F. H. Seymour, Dealer in organs and pianos grand. Who will also sell you sewing

machines, as cheap as anyone in the land.”


In the new year (1894), Fred decided to venture out on his own, believing he had learned enough about running a retail business from John Paice to conduct a similar business, It was time to fulfill his dream of opening his own general store, apparently with the blessing of his brother-in-law. According to an item in The TAMPICO TORNADO, dated 3 March 1894, Fred had purchased a wooden building on the east side Tampico’s Main Street. (County Grantee Records show he had purchased Lot 5, Block 21 from George Ruck, in May of 1893, laying the groundwork for opening a business.) This was the first of several successive and successful Seymour stores in Tampico.


Family records indicate that the first wooden store on Lot 5, forty feet deep, soon proved too small for the Seymours’ growing business. Fred had the building moved back on the lot and extended the front. The picture shows this wooden store building as it looked in 1894.


At the time the second wooden store was under construction, the Seymours lived on Benton Street, near the home of Fred’s father, Harvey H. Seymour and step-mother, Elizabeth, who owned Lots 17, 18 and 19 in Block 21. In 1896, after his father’s death and estate settlement, Fred purchased his father’s home from Elizabeth, and moved his family into it. The homestead stood on the northwest corner of Benton and Booth Streets.


In 1897, construction began on a new single-story house for the Fred Seymours on one of the other Benton Street lots. This home, located at 104 S. Benton, was referred to by the family as “the cottage.” It was located near the rear of the Seymour store, and, for a while, the family enjoyed living where the girls could play in their own yard. But, it was a tedious walk to and from the store for Fred, with his lame leg. A third daughter, Vera May, arrived at the Seymour’s on 29 May 1897. The same year, Fred was once again reelected as tax collector.


The next year, 1898, Fred Seymour took a partner into his business, and ads began to appear in THE TORNADO for” Seymour & McGrady,” inviting customers to “call and get their bedrock prices on all groceries.” With a partner, Fred hoped to be able to slow down a bit. Early in 1899, The Seymour family made a month-long trip to Iowa, but in April, THE TORNADO reported that Fred had bought out his partner and was to become sole proprietor once again.


However, before long, Fred decided that the second wooden store, 60 feet in length, was still not large enough. In 1900, he sold LotS, Block 21 to George W. Stoufer, who opened a Department Store in April 1900. On 29 March 1900, Fred Seymour purchased Lot 6, next door in Block 21, from George B. and Sarah Jackson. His family and his stock of merchandise were moved into a vacant store building across the street, where Fred continued to conduct business during the construction of a new, two-story brick building.


There were actually two brick store buildings, constructed simultaneously, one by Mr. M. A. Lyons on Lot 7, and the Seymour building on Lot 6. The two buildings had identical adjoining front facades, and shared a common wall between, just one brick wide. There is a deed document referring to an agreement about this common or “party wall.” In 1901, Mr. Lyons opened a restaurant in his building on Lot 7, and called it the Conundrum. It did not stay in business very long, and that building became the home of the furniture business owned by the Parent family.


According to THE TORNADO, the new Seymour building on Lot 6 was completed by July 1900. Fred immediately rented the new building to Mssrs. Pollock and Ripley, who purchased his stock and ran the store for about a year. Though Fred Seymour, no doubt, enjoyed a respite from doing business and found some relief from his aches and pains, within a few months, he decided to buy back his stock and go back into business. The family moved into the spacious apartment above the new store. New ads began appearing in THE TORNADO in March 1901. Daughter Daisy, at 13, was now old enough to be a real help to her father. At onetime, he left her in charge (with a clerk to help lift heavy goods) while he, Emma and the younger girls took a trip to Iowa. (See Daisy’s ‘See More” article dated 30 November 1983.)


Fred’s daughters remembered their father as a strict, but loving parent, and proud of his girls’ accomplishments. It gave him great pleasure to drive Miss Daisy all around the area to participate in elocution bees, and great pride when she so often won the contest. Fred and Emma must have been very proud when Daisy went off to college and when she taught school in Tampico and Sterling. Family togetherness was very important to the Seymours. When Daisy began teaching at the High School in Sterling (1908-09), the whole family moved there. This was possible because Fred had earlier sold the grocery and clothing business to Mr. P. H. Likes. But the move to Sterling was to be a temporary one. By October of 1909, Fred was back in business in Tampico at his store, and the family had moved back to the upstairs quarters.


1910 was an eventful year. Daisy married H. Leo Nokes, and Ethel married C. D. Whitmer, each couple moving away from the hometown, but visiting frequently. When the girls started their own families, Fred and Emma were overjoyed at the arrival of each new grandchild. In 1920, when Ethel and her husband had their first, long-awaited baby, (my sister, Denise,) Fred gave them a car so they could visit Tampico more often. Of course, Fred and Emma must have been especially happy that their youngest daughter, Vera, and her husband, Olof Lewis, elected to stay in Tampico with their lift le daughter, Eloise. Vera had developed a good business sense, ably assisting her father in the store. Eventually, Vera and Olof operated the business on their own for a number of years.


As a result of his early entry into the business world, Fred Seymour became adept at managing money. He was a tough bargainer and handled trademen and sales reps who supplied goods for his store with shrewd business tactics, and his customers with kindness and great diplomacy. He excelled at public relations, building good will among his customers and townspeople by generous gifts to schools, charities and community enterprises such as the baseball team. He gave away candy at Christmas time, and ice cream in the summer. On a few occasions, the family set up tables in the store and treated good customers and friends to one of Emma’s delicious home-cooked dinners. According to THE TORNADO, Fred was well­liked and respected for his integrity and good nature. But he was not naive - some of his encounters with people who tried to put something over on him - and failed - were reported in the TORNADO.


Fred’s first and only grandson, my cousin, Fred Nokes, recounts some of his remembrances of his time in Tampico, and of Grandpa. He recalled that when Grandma, in the apartment above the store, was ready to serve lunch, she would pound her heel on the floor to signal Grandpa that it was time to hang out the “Closed for Lunch” sign, and make his difficult, painful climb up the long, steep stairway to their living quarters. Fred remembers, also, that every Saturday night was a big occasion in the town. Stores were open for business and it seemed everyone came into town to socialize. Fred said he and his cousins would wander the length of the street, and enjoyed watching Grandpa in his store. Once, in the middle of the night while young Fred was sleeping in the front bedroom above the store, he was awakened by a “big boom. The whole town got out of bed and went down to the Post Office, where they found that burglers had blown the safe.” So much foot traffic “ruined all the evidence for the investigators.”


Cousin Fred recalls that Grandpa sometimes took him along when he had to have his “big shoe” repaired orto have a new one made. He said he felt proud when Grandpa would ask for his opinion. Fred tells of his own mischievious streak, saying that he locked Grandpa in the outhouse a couple of times. Good thing Grandpa had a sense of humorI


A list of land transactions involving Fred Seymour appears on a separate page. Whiteside County, Illinois, Grantee and Grantor Records show that, through the years, he and Emma bought and sold a number of other properties in addition to their store. Fred was excellent at bartering, a fact attested to by his daughters and evidenced through items published in THE TORNADO. Sometimes Fred would take a piece of property in trade for a purchase, sometimes a horse or livestock. Fred owned two farms near Tampico, and once gave one to Daisy and her husband, Leo, and the other to Vera and her husband, Olof, to operate on their own. (One of my mother’s stories tells that her father, Fred, was baptized on one of the farms, in a cow’s tank. Cousin Fred Nokes adds that his dad, (Leo Nokes) made a step ladder on the outside of the tank so Grandpa could climb into it. This probably took place around 1920.)


Deed records show that Fred and Emma purchased Lots 16, 17, 18 and 19 in Block 20 on 19 January 1925. The two-story house on Lots 16 and 17 (209 N. Main Street) was the Seymour home until the time of Fred’s death in 1939. This is the house that I remember so well. Grandpa had a very large garden on one of the out-lots where he grew every manner of vegetables after he retired from regular work at the store. Grandma had the chore of canning the produce not given away to friends and neighbors. Her canned stock was stored in a small earthen basement area. Coal and corn cobs were also stored in the basement, and used to stoke fires in the iron stove that provided heat for the main part of the house during winter.


Cousin Fred Nokes recalls how proud Grandpa was of his automobiles in the 19205-1930’s. At separate times, he had a Buick and an Oakland, both large cars. Being a rather small man, he was, no doubt, even more proud of his motorcars than he had been of his fancy horses and buggies. Only trouble was that the garage on the property at 209 N. Main had been intended for carriages, and Grandpa had to park his car at an angle because the garage was too short.


Grandpa grew weary of the hard work in the store, and tried to retire more than once, only.to find he had to take charge of the business again. In 1928, when he was about sixty-three, Grandpa sold the grocery store to youngest daughter, Vera and her husband, Olof Lewis. They operated the store until about 1943. Fred found it hard to leave the business he was so long associated with, and was always happy when he was called back to help out, or to fill in when Vera and Olof needed a break. In a letter, Cousin Fred Nokes said, “After he sold the store to Olof and Vera, he would park his car out in front on Saturday night, and would look so sad. I’ll always remember his face.”


Sadly, I remember Grandpa only in his old age. I can picture him sitting in front of his radio wearing a dark vest over his white shirt, with elastic garters holding up its overly long sleeves. A gold watch chain was draped from pocket to pocket. His silver hair was combed into a neat little swirl on each side of his part, and his faded blue eyes shone with pleasure at having his granddaughters there for a visit. He was an avid baseball fan, and found the radio a great comfort in the years after his beloved Emma passed away. He stayed in the large home on Main Street with the help of a series of housekeepers. (Since he had always considered himself somewhat of a “ladies’ man,” my mother and Aunt Vera were rather suspicious of these women, and Aunt Vera kept a close watch on them.) An outstanding memory of us cousins was that the house (and Grandpa) always smelled of Sloan’s Liniment, his remedy for the painful rheumatism that plagued him throughout his life.


Fred Harvey Seymour died (of colorectal cancer) on Saturday, 28 October 1939 in Tampico, Illinois, as recorded in Whiteside County records and family records. There is no will on record for him. He was buried in Lot 13-G, in the Tampico Memorial Cemetery,Tampico, Whiteside County, Illinois, beside his beloved Emma. A photo of their graves is in the possession of this compiler. The following obituary appeared in the TAMPICO TORNADO following his funeral on Monday, 30 October 1939:

“FRED H. SEYMOUR LAID AT REST MONDAY - Passed away Saturday morning after an extended illness.

“Funeral services for Fred H. Seymour, one of Tampico’s oldest business men, were held Monday afternoon at the home with Rev. G. D. Lamb, pastor of the Church of Christ, officiating. Two favorite hymns, “The Old Rugged Cross” and ‘Whispering Hope” were sung by Mrs. G. D. Lamb and Mrs. Archie Yarde, accompanied at the piano by Mrs. Nell Glassburn. There were


many beautiful flowers. The business houses were closed during the services which were attended by a large number of relatives, neighbors and friends.

“Burial was in the Tampico Memorial Cemetery with Fred Klobes, Thomas Dillon Jr., Elmer Jones, Joe Graham, George Oetzel and William Burden serving 2s pallbearers.

“Among those from out of town who attended the services were James Bowman, Silas Bowman, Mrs. Agnes Holmes and Mrs. Mary Kusserow of Eldora, Iowa; Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Bowman and son of Rockford; Mrs. Cora Underhill, Mr. and Mrs. George Merrill and Mr. and Mrs. Ralph McGrady of Prophetstown; Elmer Paice and Pearl Paice of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Bert Stewart, Mr. and Mrs. Frank P. Stabler and daughters Emma and Della of Sterling; Mrs. Hattie Besse of Erie; Mrs. Fred Near and Mrs. Lawrence Renner of Deer Grove; Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Whitmer of Madison, Wis.; Mrs. Bridget Maxtield, Mrs. Vernon Van De Mark and Laverne Van De Mark of Lyndon; Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Pierceson of Rock Falls.

“Fred Harvey Seymour passed away Saturday, Oct. 28 at 10A.M., at his home on north Main Street after an illness of several months.”


Fred Seymour was a man small in stature, but big in the hearts of his family, friends and the community he so dearly loved. There is a great snapshot of him taken in front of his store, which pictures him in his prime, sporting a mustache, and wearing

a derby hat and vest. With arms akimbo, black sleeve protectors sheathing his white shirt sleeves, he looked every bit the genial proprietor so often described in THE TAMPICO TORNADO.




>Family Records of Daisy Seymour Nokes, Ethel Seymour Whitmer, Eloise Lewis Stabler, and Barbara Seymour (Stewart) Cunniff.

>BIRTH:-MARRIAGE-:Family Bible Listing Recorded by Fred H. Seymour, himself, photocopy of the family pages now in possession of this compiler.

>Handwritten records of Martha Paddock Seymour, in possession of Daisy Nokes, copies shared by Daisy and Barbara Cunniff. (According to Barbara (Stewart) Cunniff, a great granddaughter of Martha and H. H. Seymour, the handwritten record of Martha Paddock Seymour was found “in a small box of her possessions after she died, and Daisy Nokes has the original.” A photocopy of this was sent to this compiler by Barbara in 1981 and a somewhat clearer copy sent later by Elsie Nokes. It is a list of the

children of Martha Paddock and H. H. Seymour, including Fred, and of the parents and siblings of Martha Paddock.

>Family records of the Bowman Family also confirm the birth dates and marriage of Fred and Emma Bowman Seymour.

>Personal knowledge of compiler, her mother, Ethel (Seymour) Whitmer

>Correspondence with Daisy (Seymour) Nokes, Elsie and Fred Nokes, Denise (Whitmer) Johnson and Eloise (Lewis) Stabler.

>Transcripts of misc. items from the weekly newspaper “TAMPICO TORNADO” Many items on the Seymour family appeared in “The Tornado” concerning day-to-day events in the lives of the Seymours. These newspapers have been microfilmed and are on file at the Illinois State Historical Society, and also at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Most of the family items were transcribed from the microfilms by Evelyn W. Henry during the 1980’s. Typed copies were shared and cherished by Ethel Whitmer, Daisy and Elsie Nokes, and Eloise Stabler, ~nd remain in the family files.

>Aunt Daisy Nokes’ “See More (Seymour) of Old Tampico” articles that appeared during the early 1980’s in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO, Prophetstown, Whiteside County, Illinois

>Article in the PROPHETSTOWN ECHO “Researching Reagan - History of Tampico, III”, written by Paul Nicely and published 28 May 1981.

>Autograph book belonging to Emma Alice Bowman, Fred’s wife.

>Funeral Director’s Record, Tampico, Illinois, dated 28 October 1939

>Obituary, THE TAMPICO TORNADO, 30 October 1939

>Cemetery Records of the Tampico Cemetery, Tampico, Illinois, and personal knowledge from viewing of the graves in Lot 13G. Photo of graves on file.

>Grantee and Grantor Records, Whiteside County, Illinois 1889-1 943

>Numerous family photos passed down from Emma’s daughters, Daisy and Ethel.

>Census records - see below.


Census records from New York and Illinois confirm that Fred Seymour’s parents, Harvey H. and Martha (Paddock) Seymour, left Oneida County, New York about 1855. They located for short periods of time in Dixon, Morrison and Prophetstown, all in Whiteside County, Illinois, but by 1857 they were settled in Hume Township, Whiteside County, where Fred Harvey Seymour was born in 1865, just as the Civil War was winding down. By 1874, the H. H. Seymours were living in the Village of Tampico. They lived on Benton Street, and H. H. Seymour worked as a wagon wheel maker.

1870 Census - Whiteside County, Illinois

1880 Census - Whiteside County - Tampico, Illinois - Page 3016 Seymour, H. H. M W 53 Born New York


                      Fred    M W 15   Illinois

(In 1880, all of Fred’s siblings had married and most were living nearby. His mother, Martha, died earlier in the year, before

the census was taken, and his father had not yet remarried.)

1900 Census - Whiteside County. (transcribed from book by Baer, Snyder, Bush, Nelson)

Tampico Village

1231126 Seymour, Fred M  35 M McGr’      Born IL Fa: born NY Mo: born NY

                              FE. r  31 Wf                IL    WV           OH

                           Daisy F   12 Da                 IA      IL                IL

                            EtheIF    8 Da                 IL      IL                IL

                          Vera F  3 Da        IL      IL     IL

*MCGr = Merchant, Grocer


1910 Census - Whiteside County, Tampico Township - p. 225- 16 April 1910- Theodore W. Stock

Main Street

187-190   Seymour, Fred H. 45 Ml 23 yrs b. IL Parents NY Merchant,Grocery House free of mort.

                           Emma A. 42 3 ch          IA IL IL (error, should be IL - OH - OH)

                           Ethel 5. 18                    IL          IL IA 0cc. Saleslady - grocery

                           Vera M. 12                    IL          “ “ 0cc. none aft sob.


(Next door on Main Street lived the John E. Reagans with their son, Neal. This was one year prior to the birth of Ronald R. Reagan.**)


1920 Census - Whiteside County, Illinois- Village of Tampico - p.258, Sheet 2A, Enum. Dist. 178

Main Street.

31-35 Seymour, Fred Nd Ni 54 Mar b. NY Ia IL mo IL Salesman,Groc. Owned home, free/mortgage Emma WI 52 IA IA IA No occup.

Note:  Whoever gave the information that year was wrong on all birthplaces


1930 Census - Whiteside County, Illinois - Tampico Village - p. 1 B, 7 April 1930 - Tracy Pierce

Main Street

30-30      Seymour, Fred 65 Mar. b. IL parents b. NY Occupation - none R.E.alue $2000 Emma 62 b. IL Fa. W. Virginia Mo. OH



**(There was also a common wall, just one brick wide, between the new Seymour store and the brick building later constructed


on Lot 5. It was in the apartment above that store on Lot 5 where future President Ronald R. Reagan was born years later [in February 1911]. The building now houses the President’s Birthplace Museum. This was where good friends Nelle Reagan and Daisy (Seymour) Nokes used to chat through the window that opened into both apartments. Daisy told how Nelle Reagan sometimes passed little Ronnie through the window to her or her teen-aged sister, Vera, so she could baby-sit with him.)

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