Submitted by Robert Kingrey
Bondinot Seeley, a prominent and wealthy farmer of Painesville Township, Lake County, Ohio was born on the farm, on which he now lives, March 23, 1823, being the son of one of the earliest pioneers of this part of Ohio.
The Seeley family is of Welsh descent, three brothers of that name having come from Wales to America in the Colonial times. One of these brothers was killed in the French and Indian War, another became Governor of New York, and from the third, the subject of this paper is descended. Many of the Seeley’s were men of prominence and worth, occupying honorable and useful positions in life. Ebenezer Seeley, a native of Connecticut, and a highly respected farmer of Weston, Fairfield County, New York, had a son, Uriah, born at that place, May 25, 1791.
Uriah Seeley was the father of Bondinot, and was a man whose unique character and prominent connection with the early history of Northeastern Ohio entitles him to more than a passing notice on this page of this work. He was reared on his fathers’ farm and remained in his native state until he was twenty-three years old. In 1815 he came west on horseback to what then was the frontier, and in Lake County settled on the farm, which his son now owns and occupies. A few acres of this land had been partly cleared, and a log cabin built on this place. The Indians frequently called at his place. Deer and bears were plentiful here, and for sometime Mr.Seeley had to keep his hogs in a log pen to protect them from the bears. On one occasion he captured a young bear, which he kept for awhile.
He had married before coming to Ohio, and in 1816 he returned to Connecticut and brought his wife and child to this pioneer home, making the journey by wagon. In those days it was pretty hard getting along. There was no money in the country and supplies were hard to procure. At one time he traded four bushels of wheat for a pound of sole-leather to repair his boots. It was several years before he could get cash enough to pay his taxes. It took plucky men to come out here, live in cabin homes surrounded by Indians and wild animals, clear away forest and develop farms. Mr. Seeley was one of those plucky men; indeed, all the elements of a true pioneer were found in his make-up. Few of the early settlers did more to advance the interests of this part of the country than did he.
Mr. Seeley was one of the commissioners appointed by the governor to settle the boundary between Ohio and Michigan. In 1824, he was sheriff of Geauga County, all this part of Ohio then being included in Geauga County. He served in the State Senate in 1832-33, being nominated on the anti-Jackson ticket, and as the opponent of a local faction here, which he fought and wiped out. A strong Abolitionist, he was subsequently nominated by that party to represent Ashtabula and Geauga Counties in the State Legislature. He was connected to the underground railway, keeping one of its stations and assisting more than 1000 colored people in making their escape to Canada.
In politics he was independent and conservative. He took and active part in the campaign when Horace Greeley ran for President, frequently presiding at the Greeley meetings held at Painesville. He was not only a man of undaunted courage, but also of strong moral and religious convictions, and he lived up to his convictions in the truest sense.
He and all his family were members of the Congregational Church. Mrs. Seeley’s maiden name was Abbie Turney, and she was a native to Weston, Connecticut. They had ten children, of whom Bondinot was the fifth born, and one of the six who reached adult years. The names of these six children are as follows: Anna, Parthena, Abbie, Elizabeth, Lavinia and Bondinot. Their mother died at the age of sixty-five years.
Bondinot Seeley was born and reared amid frontier surroundings, receiving his education in one of the typical schoolhouses of the period, which with its open fireplace, its slab benches and its teacher “boarding around,” is a picture that has been frequently presented. Hunting wild game was one of his boyish sports, and to kill a deer was no unusual thing for him. When he was nineteen he went to Lawrence County, Ohio, and settled at Hanging Rock, now known as Ironton, and there for thirty years he was extensively engaged in the manufacture of pig iron.
In 1873, on account of his fathers advanced age, and in order to educate his children, he came back to the old home place, and here he has since been engaged in the agricultural pursuits, his honored father having passed away some years ago. Mr. Seeley now has 300 acres of well-improved land, all of which is devoted to general farming.
He married in 1847, to Charlotte A. Austin, a native of Ashtabula County, Ohio. They have six children and fifteen grandchildren, the names of the former being as follows: Kate A., wife of Prof. Albert H. Tuttle, Charlottesville, Virginia; Lamar B.; Mrs. Anna W. Benard, Portland, Org.; Uriah of Tacoma, Washington; Edward A.; Orvill W.; Portland, Oregon.
Mr. And Mrs. Seeley are members of the Congregational Church. Politically he is a Republican. He is well posted on the general topics of the day, takes a commendable interest in the general welfare of the community in which he lives, and is regarded as a most worthy citizen.