LIFE OF SAMUEL HENRY SEALY
Myrtis S. Dorton and Lucil S. Jowers – granddaughters (of Samuel Henry Sealy)
Samuel Henry Sealy was born 8 Dec. 1852 in Macon, Bibb Co., Georgia, to the
parents of James Morris Sealy and Mary Elizabeth Palmer.
He was the second in the family of ten children. Brothers and sisters are the following: Albert Gray, Matilda, V., William M., Matilda Ann, Nancy Narcissus, James Albert, Synthia Jane, Drucilla E., and Mary L. All members of this family were tall. Our Grandfather was 6'-2" tall, blond hair and blue eyes, strong and muscular.
Grandfather’s father was a farmer and a saddle maker. His mother was a schoolteacher in the rural schools, which were in session from five weeks to three months a year. He told us of going to school with his mother and driving the horse and buggy and taking care of the horse. His education was termed fair at that time.
We remember his telling about the Civil War. Their home was in the path of
"Sherman's March to the Sea". In 1864 Sherman's men spread out over
a territory of sixty miles width. Their orders were to take or destroy everything
in their path. They took all the meat from the smokehouse that they could use
and destroyed the other. They broke open the barrels of flour and let the wind
blow it away. They also opened the feather pillows and mattresses and let the
wind blow the feathers away. They destroyed cotton in the fields, burned barns
of hay and sometimes homes. Upon hearing that Sherman's men were coming, the
boys took their horse and hid him in the woods. But they forgot to hide the
saddle. The men swore and were very angry because they couldn't find the horse.
They took chickens, corn, bedding and other articles that they could use and
rode off yelping and laughing.
The family later moved southeast to Wilcox and Marengo Counties of Alabama. There they became acquainted with the Surginer family. In this family was a girl named Henrietta. She was small of statue with black hair and brown eyes; quiet, even-tempered and partly French ancestry. This beautiful lady and Samuel were soon married. At first they lived in a big one-room log house. Soon afterwards they built a big four-room log house with a large hall and porch with two large fireplaces. As their family increased, they added on a dining room, kitchen and a porch on the side. Nine children were born to them, all in this house. They all lived to maturity, married, had children and were still living when our grandparents died. There was not one divorce in this immediate family.
Our grandfather was a farmer. He grew cotton, corn, potatoes, sugar cane, watermelons, vegetables and fruits of all kinds. In fact he raised chickens, pigs, ducks, geese which supplied meat and eggs for the table. There was an ever-bearing strawberry patch in a corner of the garden and the grandchildren were free to pick berries to eat any time. In the orchard was the largest pear tree I ever saw, bearing as many as 100 bushels a year. This tree is still bearing fruit in 1968.
Everybody was welcome to their home. Rarely ever did anyone stop in to visit
who left without eating. Their children could invite friends in whenever they
wished. Young people would meet there to dance and
have parties. Since their home was open to everyone, they were the first in the community to receive the Mormon Missionaries.
Our grandfather had a workshop in back of the house that was made from their
first home that they moved in back of their new home. In this workshop, he built
cabinets, desks for schoo-houses, hoe and ax handles, plow beams and most anything
needed for farm tools. Late one afternoon four Mormon Elders walked up to the
shop and announced who they were and that two of them would like to spend the
night. Our grandfather told them that all four of them were welcome to stay.
They explained that they had a message and would rather divide up and two stay
at a place. Two of the Elders directed to a neighbor's house. But they soon
returned saying that they were rejected. This made our grandfather more hospitable.
Their home was opened up for cottage meetings. The Elders made this their headquarters
and would stay for days and go out to tract other homes and business places.
At night the Elders would sit by the fire with the family and discuss the gospel.
Our grandmother, a son and two daughters were the first to be baptized
Others of the family soon followed.
Our grandfather was deacon in the Baptist Church and had been very active. The minister came to the home and talked to the family and told then the Mormons were bad men and that they must not let them stay there. Our grandfather told the Minister that this was his house and he would entertain anyone whom he wished. He showed the Minister the door and told him to get out. The minister had him, his brother-in-law and some others who were friendly to the Mormons excommunicated from the Baptist Church.
More and more people in the community joined the church. An arbor was built in which to hold meetings. Later they used the schoolhouse but not without opposition. It was necessary to have members or friends to stand guard with guns as mobs were prevalent. On one occasion Ben E. Rich, president of the Southern States Mission laid the Standard Works on one side of the pulpit and a Gun on the other and stated that,
Here is life and salvation on this side and hell and damnation on the other, take your choice." Not a person said a word, but a man sitting in the back of the building with a basket of rotten eggs eased out the door.
A conference was held once when 37 Elders stayed at our grandfather's home.
Our Grandfather was loved and respected in the community as a man of religious
and high moral standards. When he told the missionaries that they could hold
meetings in the schoolhouse, there was opposition, but he told them that he
helped build the schoolhouse, built all the desks in it and that he had sons
who could stand guard and keep order. On several occasions the mobs did strike.
In fact they shot under the schoolhouse where the preacher stood. Our father
was among those who stood guard with a shotgun. We can testify that many members
of the mob had much sadness in their lives. Some served jail and penitentiary
sentences. One night the mob came to his home to get the two Elders who were
there. My grandfather went out with his shotgun and said, "Men, this is
my home; the Elders are my guests and the first move from you, I'll shoot your
heads off. You are masked, but I know some of you!" The men rode away and
didn't attempt to come in.
In spite of the mobs and our grandfather's having to squelch them by having his sons stand guard he was very much liked and respected. He was truly a friend to man. He did blacksmith work for all the farmers for a small sum of money if they wanted to pay. Some, of course, was charity. He helped his neighbors build houses and barns. He also built caskets as needed but ever had a corpse in his house. He was very prompt in his duties. He hurried with what he did; but his wife was just the opposite. Many times he would think his wife was ready to go some place and would hitch the horse to the buggy and drive out to the front of the house and wait and wait and wait till he got impatient. Then he would go into the house to get her and she still wouldn't be ready. She said “Go on; I didn’t want to go anyway”. She had always rather stay(ed) home.
Our grandparents both lived to see all nine children grown and married and they were survived by 77 grandchildren, 62 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.
Grandpa Coon Sealy died 17 July 1935 and his wife died 31 August 1935.
Our grandfather was in very poor health the last few years of his life. They sold their home and lived with a son, John. They would spend sometimes a week or two at a time with another son, our father, Frank. Our grandfather died at Franks house and our grandmother died at Johns.
Our grandparents were always very devoted to each other. Another couple or
incidents which we think might be of interest:
Our grandfather had honey bees he could take the honey from the hive without getting stung. We have a recollection of helping our father cut the honey from the hives, they called it "robbing the bees. But we would get stung unless we made the bees sick by smoke. This we did by rolling up some rags and lighting them with a match. Those who are familiar with bees know that in the spring of the year the bees swarm. When there is more than one queen bee in a hive, one leaves and a lot of the bees leave with her and make a swarm. Then they light on a tree limb, the eaves of a house, or something of this nature. There are hundreds of bees in a swarm. Grandfather would rake them off with his bare hands into a hive and rarely ever got stung. Most people put on a big hat with a mosquito net draped over it and tied under the chin, and wear a long-sleeved shirt and gloves.
Our grandfather being a farmer grew about everything on his farm. He grew sugar cane and made syrup. Other farmers of the community who did not have the facilities for making syrup brought their cane to him and he ground the sugar cane and extracted the juice and cooked it in big vats into syrup. He amused the onlookers by dropping a silver dollar into the boiling syrup and picking it up without getting burned. He did it so quickly the dollar didn't have time to get hot, and he dropped it into the big bubbles. Young people, as well as families would visit the syrup mill and enjoy evenings making candy and having candy pulls. Some enjoyed chewing the sugar cane and drinking the juice from the mill. Everybody was also welcome to anything he had.