John William ("Will") Seaman (May 28, 1837-May 14, 1916) was the eldest of 12 children of Franklin Allen and Susan Kane Seaman of West Union, Adams County, Ohio. Will married Mary Ann Ellison (September 1, 1840-March 13, 1915), the eldest of eight children of Johnson and Elizabeth Boyle Elizabeth, in the home of her parents in West Union, Adams County, Ohio on February 15, 1859.
The Franklin Seaman and Johnson Ellison households were neighboring farm families. The eldest children of these two families now married. Will and Mary Ann set up house and were blessed with the birth of their two eldest children, Emma Jane Seaman Moore (1860-1929) (married Joseph N. Moore on January 30, 1879) and James ("Jim") Henry (November 24, 1861-December 18, 1939) (first married Flora McKee on December 17, 1882; then Minnie Moore on February 3, 1909) while they still lived in Adams County, Ohio. Like many of their neighboring Amish families, Will and Mary Ann were beckoned westward. With their two young children, her parents Johnson and Elizabeth Ellison, and all her siblings, Will and Mary Ann travelled by covered wagon to Coles County, Illinois in the fall of 1862.
This was the same year that the Homestead Act was enacted into law on May 20, 1862. This may explain why the eldest son of a pioneer Ohio farm family left his parents and siblings behind and moved his family west to the Illinois frontier. A more likely scenario is that Johnson Ellison had purchased 600 acres of land in Coles County, Illinois and was moving his entire family westward. His only married child at the time, Mary Ann Ellison Seaman, probably yearned to be near her parents and siblings, realizing that they would never return to Adams County, Ohio. Besides, with 600 acres of unimproved land, Will Seaman's knowledge of farming and his experience would prove to be a valuable asset on the frontier of east central Illinois. So, once again, another generation of Seamans were pioneer homesteaders, this time in east central Illinois. They first settled in North Okaw Township where they lived three years. They then moved to Humbolt, now Humboldt Township, and leased the Blue Grass Grove farm, which was located 1/2 of a mile southeast of the village of Milton (later Humbolt, now Humboldt). In 1869 they came to their farm, near Dorans, and lived there until 1906. Will acquired several hundred of acres of land which he earned entirely by his own labor and management and principles. Will and Mary Ann then moved to 1508 Champaign Avenue, Mattoon, Illinois for their retirement years. At the time of his death, John William ("Will") Seaman was reputed to be one of the wealthiest men in Coles County, owning several hundred (1200) acres of land.
After coming to Illinois, ten more children were born, making a family of 12 children. The younger ten were: Franklin ("Frank") Allen (1864-1929), who was evidently named for his paternal grandfather living in Adams County, Ohio, Mr. Franklin Allen Seaman.
The Illinois Franklin married Mary Ann Ellison, who might have been named after the younger Franklin's mother, on September 5, 1891; Frederick ("Fred") Johnson (1867-1951), who was evidently given the middle name of Johnson in honor of his maternal grand- father, Johnson Ellison, of Coles County married Amelia ("Pink") Butcher; Charles ("Charley") William (September 15, 1868-December 28, 1955) married Sarah Luella ("Luella") Smith on December 21, 1892; Harry (December 26, 1871-July 14, 1941) married Laura Ann Hamilton on March 12, 1891; Elizabeth Susan ("Susie") Seaman Brannan (February 1, 1874-June 20, 1964) married William Lewis Brannan on November 22, 1893; twin sons: Thomas ("Tom") E. (April 4, 1876-October 7, 1941) first married Cora F. Hutton on February 3, 1897, then Anna Stallman); William ("Bill") Ellison (April 4, 1876-May 4, 1955), who was given his mother's maiden name for a middle name, married Emma Eliza Moore on August 25, 1897; Maggie Seaman King (February 8, 1878-May 18, 1904) married Albert King on December 31, 1903, but she died 4 1/2 months later; George Wilson (March 28, 1880-December 7, 1949) married Ellen ("Nellie") M. Hackleman on December 25, 1900 and Edward ("Ed") Clarence (October 29, 1882-April 12, 1942) married Etta Belle Young on January 9, 1912. A few great-great grandsons of Will Seaman still farm the land that he once owned. Many descendants of this family live in Coles County, Illinois today. The Thomas E. Seaman family has a famous cousin, the present popular Republican governor of Illinois, James Edgar. Others of the hundreds of descendants of Will and Mary Ann Ellison Seaman live in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, California, Alaska and Hawaii.
written July 27, 1997