Source: History of Whiteside County, Illinois - 1877
Edited by Charles Bent
Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society
COL. EBENEZER SEELY was born in Cayuga county, New York, in 1802, and married Miss Dolly MAYNARD, in 1824. He moved with his father to Cattaraugus county, New York, in 1823, where he successfully engaged in farming and lumbering. In the summer of 1834 he concluded to explore the new West, and first went to Michigan where he expected to find his brothers Norman B. and Alexander J., but upon ascertaining that they had pushed on farther west followed them to Dixon's ferry, and thence to Prophetstown, arriving at the latter place, September 24, 1834. The next day he made a claim where he now lives. His health not being good he soon after started for his New York home to remain for three months. He pursued his journey immediately upon his recovery, and arriving at home sold his farm, and mill property, and with a raft of lumber started down the Alleghany river. His father and mother, John REED, wife and child, and Henry BREWER, wife and three children, accompanied him and his family on the raft, with all their household goods. He sold his lumber at Louisville, and took a steamer for St. Louis, and thence to Rock Island, where he arrived on the 4th of June, 1835. By dint of great perseverance he procured a team to take his family to his new home, and then returning to Rock Island chartered a small ferry boat, loaed it with his effects and started up the river. When he had got within sixteen miles of his destination, he fortunately found some teams to take his goods to Portland. He had brought provisions for a year's supply for his family, but he was not the man to refuse to feed the stranger, or share with his neighbor, and as there was considerable immigration that fall his supply soon became exhausted. St. Louis was the best market for provisions, and Col. Seel, in conjuction with his neighbors, William HILL, Marvin FRARY, N. G. REYNOLDS, and Asa CROOK, sent Capt. DIX to that place with $1,300 to purchase the needed supplies. Capt. DIX was robbed of the money on his journey, and then there was nothing to do but go to Knox county to which place Col.SEELY and Mr. FRARY started with teams to purchase wheat, pork, etc. By the time they had bought the wheat, fanned it in the primitive sttyle to which they were compelled to resort, taken it to the mill and had it ground, and had procured their pork, and other articles, winter was upon them. The creeks and small rivers were freezing up. Col.SEELY'S house always furnished a shelter for the newly arrived settler until he could build a cabin for himself, and the hospitality shown by him and his amiable wife, will be long remembered. He has always been held in high estimation by his fellow townsmen, and when the land came into market in 1843, was selected to enter all the lands around Porland village, and re-deed to the owners of different claimsand lots, a duty which he performed to the utmost satisfaction of all. This delicate and important duty was only entrusted in the different townships to men upon whose integrity a full reliance could be placed. Col. SEELY is now in the severy-fifth year of his age, and still in the possession of his faculties. At the annual gathering of the old settlers, at Hamilton's Grove, he is the one most eagerly sought for to relate the incidents and reminiscenses of pioneer life, and much of the success of these meetings are due to his genial presence. John REED, who came with him, remained in Portland for a time, and then west to Missouri, where he is still living. Henry BREWER stayedonly a year or two, and then settled in Sterling. He was the father of Ald. George W. BREWER of that city. Mrs. SEELY died January 6, 1874, aged 72 years.The children of Mr. and Mrs. SEELY have been. Solomon M., who married Miss Rachel E. LELAND, was in trade at Porland for several years, afterwards went to California, and upon his return engaged in business in Sterling, and was for a time proprietor of the Wallace House, in that city, and is now residing in Jones county, Iowa; David B., who first married Miss Jane MAYNARD, and after her death, Miss Frances ADAMS, and died in 1874; Sarah G., wife of Alexander M. HETFIELD, living in Porland, Andrew J., who married Miss Armina WILLIAMS, and is a farmer in Porland, and has been Assessor of the township for the past three years; Martin V., who first married Miss Almina MAYNARD, and after her death, Miss Kate KEELER - has been engaged in farming and stock raising in Portland, was Presidnet of the Whiteside county Agricultural Society for several years, and now resides in Prophetstown where he owns a fine hotel, known as the SEELY House; Caroline, wife of S. H. BEARDSLEE, living at Clam Lake, Michigan; and Jane A., wife of A. B. CROSBY, living at New York.