Archibald Campbell is one of the mystery men in our family tree as we know very little about him and most of what we do know for certain we obtained almost entirely from the U.S. Census records. One of the problems in researching Archibald is that the surname Campbell was a very common name during this time period. Even the proper name of Archibald was fairly common and was used frequently in the numerous Campbell family lines. In a brief research of the Revolutionary War pension records we found upwards of sixty soldiers with the surname of Campbell and incredible as it would seem, we found eight soldiers with the name Archibald Campbell. Furthermore, it appears that the various Archibald Campbells were not closely related as they were scattered among five different states from Connecticut to South Carolina and none of these eight Archibald Campbell soldiers were our ancestor. And then finally just to make research all that more difficult, in the 1810 US Census in Seneca County, New York where Archibald and Elizabeth moved after their 1806 marriage, we found nine males with the surname of Campbell including our Archibald although as far as we can tell, none of the other eight individuals was related to our 3rd great grandfather. Obviously it is going to be impossible under the circumstances to know the exact details of our great grandfather's early life, although we believe there is enough historical information available to draw a few conclusions.
There is one very unusual coincidence that took place in 1789 that must be mentioned before we move on to describe our Seeley ancestors. In June of 1789 a man named Archibald Campbell was granted 3,000 acres of land along the Susquehanna River near the present day city of Owego, New York. In 1790 this same man was granted another 1,200 acres in what was known as the Military Tract. Then sometime later probably after 1793, another record was made this time of the transfer of 1,000 acres to the "heirs of A. Campbell." While this last transfer of land was a little confusing, it was easy for us to assume that our Archibald Campbell had arrived in Chemung County area as early as 1789 and he was successfully purchasing large grants of land. We were however, somewhat skeptical that this Archibald Campbell was our 3rd great grandfather as it seemed highly unlikely that a young 25-year old single man was being granted such enormous grants of land along a major body of water especially land that cost in excess of 200 dollars. Our further research proved that this man was not our Archibald. He was a much older man born in 1736 and he lived much of his life near Albany, New York. He was after the war the Deputy State Surveyor and he had surveyed the "Tioga" area and subsequently either purchased or was granted land in the area. He died in 1793 which explains why some of the land was passed to his hiers. As it turns out one of his heirs was his son Archibald Campbell but after a brief rise in our heart rate, we quickly realized that his son was not our Archibald Campbell. Who would have known that the name Archibald Campbell was such a common name.
As we have learned in other chapters in this blog, many of our ancestors on my Grandmother Baker's side of our family immigrated to the Elmira, New York area shortly after the Revolutionary War. Many of the families with names such as Hammond, Sly, Tubbs, Maxwell, Miller, Spaulding, and Wisner became prominent citizens in the Chemung County community and their surnames come up frequently when searching the early public records. On the other hand, on my Grandfather Baker's side of our family it was only the Seeley family and Archibald Campbell, who immigrated into this area. The Seeley Family came early however, and they came in force such that the land upon which the family first settled was to be called then as it is today, the Seeley Creek Valley. On the above map which principally shows the location the Newtown Battlefield, the Seeley Creek appears running off the Chemung River at a point just under the island in the Chemung on the left hand side of the map. As a point of reference Elmira is located just north of this area and the Susquehanna River to which the Chemung River is a tributary is to the east. In the very early years of the settlement, the Chemung River was called the Tioga River as it is labeled on the map below. The area on this map where the Seeley family and many others settled is called "Chemung Town." In the 1790 Census taken in the Chemung area there were 648 males listed over the age of 16 and a total of 2,391 total individuals including 37 members of the Seeley family. Two of the Seeley households owned slaves including our 5th great grandfather Nathaniel Seeley Sr. Archibald Campbell's future wife, Elizabeth "Betsey" Seeley, was born in December of 1790 shortly after the census taker had visited their Seeley home and therefore she was excluded from the total count. On this same map located north of Chemung Town is a section labeled "16 Ovid." It was to Ovid (or specifically the town of Lodi) that Archibald Campball moved with his new wife Elizabeth sometime after their 1806 marriage to raise a family and live their lives.
In 1775, six of the Seeley brothers, sons of Ebenezer and Mercy, including Nathaniel, plus two of Nathaniel's oldest sons including Nathaniel Jr, our 4th great grandfather, signed in Orange County what was called the "Revolutionary Pledge." By signing this pledge they were agreeing "to resist and defend themselves against the oppressive acts of the English Parliament" which included taking up arms against the British if necessary. In the end, Nathaniel and his brothers, plus two of his sons, and some of his nephews joined the local militia groups in the Orange County area. In the case of Nathaniel and his son Nathaniel Jr, we know at the very least that they enlisted in the Westchester County Militia - Fourth Regiment under the command of Col. Thaddeus Crane. Westchester County is located immediately east of Orange County.Whether or not Nathaniel or his son saw any action during the war is unclear, although they may have been involved to some extent in the Battle of White Plains that was fought in Westchester County in October of 1776. Militia soldiers typically were called out only when needed and usually only served for short periods of time in their local area. George Washington was not a big fan of the local militias as he believed them to be undependable and their typical three month enlistments were too short to allow for proper training. For the most part all men between the ages of 16 and 60 were expected to serve or face possible penalty of fine or even imprisonment. This may in part explain why all of the Seeley men enlisted in one of the local militia regiments and why over 40,000 men in New York State alone are credited with having served during the war.
"Monday 30th. Rained a little last night and partly all this day by Showers near half the army out today cutting corn which is in great Abundance here; the party out of our Brigade went up the River [south side of Chemung River], where the corn Chiefly grows, went up the River about 2 miles, then took up a large branch [Seeley Creek] of the River which bears near S.W. one Mile burnt 5 houses [Indian homes] and destroyed all the corn in the way. Our Brigade Destroyed about 150 Acres of the best corn that I Ever saw, some of the Stalks grew 16 feet high besides great Quantities of Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Squashes & Watermellons, and the Enemy looking at us from the hills but did not fire on us."
Obviously when many of the soldiers in this campaign returned home they spoke of the fertile lands along the Susquehanna and Chemung Rivers and how they had removed the Indians and made the lands available for new settlement. Shortly following the Revolutionary War the new United States government worked out treaties with the six Indian nations whose lands had been confiscated during the war. The ensuing treaties basically paid the Indians for their lands and forced them to move elsewhere principally to reservations. The terms of the various treaties were basically dictated to the Indian tribes who had no choice but to accept the terms with the hope that peace would follow and that they would be left alone. History has long ago shown that the Indian lands continued to be taken as white settlement moved westward across the new American states.
It was probably Nathaniel Seeley Sr., the father, who gathered his sons and son-in-laws together to urge them to consider the benefits of moving their families westward into New York State and to the Chemung River Valley. He would have told them of the large acreages of fertile land that was being offered for sale at a fraction of the cost of the land that could be purchased in Orange County and he undoubtedly would have pointed out that the soil in this new location was much better for growing crops than the hard and rock filled soil found around their present farms. In 1788 when this conversation probably would have taken place, Nathaniel and Jemima Seeley had four married sons, three married daughters, two single sons, and many grandchildren with more on their way. He may have convinced them to move by offering to pay the cost of purchasing the land for in November of 1788 a survey of 2,553 acres of land was recorded for Nathaniel Seeley Jr, James Seeley, Adam Seeley, and two of their brother-in-laws, Abner Hatfield and Samuel Edsall. Two of the other married Seeley brothers, Samuel and Israel, for some reason delayed making a decision although they eventually moved to Chemung County and the youngest Seeley boy, Caleb, who was still living with his parents may have been too young at the time to be included in the initial purchase. Only the oldest daughter of Nathaniel and Jemina Seeley who was living with her husband in New Jersey at the time did not eventually move with the rest of the family.
The Seeley family name appears a number of times in the Chemung County records over the next decade although most of the records involve the transfer of the title of the land that they original purchased in 1788 plus a later purchase in 1791 of another 1,426 acres. The land was gradually divided up among the sons and son-in-laws of Nathaniel and Jemima and in a few later records in the early 1800s land transfers were made to some of the grandsons. There are also a few records of the sale of land to other families perhaps for the purpose of raising money or in a few cases to families known to the Seeleys back in Orange County. It is not surprising considering the huge acreage of land originally purchased by the Seeley family that the area upon which they lived became known as the Seeley Creek Valley. There are a few other interesting historical notes that are worth mentioning such as the fact that Nathaniel and Jemina Seeley are credited with building in 1792 one of the first framed houses in the area and the first framed house in the Seeley Creek Valley. We also learn that Nathaniel Seeley Jr, my 4th great grandfather, was part of a group of men including his brother James, who helped establish in 1793 the first Masonic Lodge in the area. There is also in the history records some evidence that Nathaniel owned and operated an inn or tavern on what is now Lake Street in Elmira. When we read this it was not hard to believe as it is known that his father operated a tavern for a period in the early 1780s while the family lived in Sussex County, New Jersey. It is not clear however, than Nathaniel was living with his parents when they briefly lived in New Jersey.
My 4th great grandparents, Nathaniel Seeley Jr and Elizabeth Sayre, were married in Orange County in 1785 and they had four children before Nathaniel's early and untimely death in 1796. He was only 39 years old when he died. The birth location and birth year of their second child and their only son whom they named Nathaniel after the child's grandfather, is listed in most Seeley family history accounts and on Ancestry.com as being in Chemung County in either October or November of 1788. We mention this because if this date is correct then our comments about the family arrived in Chemung County in mid-summer of 1789 would not be accurate. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Nathaniel's mother, Elizabeth Sayre Seeley, would have made the long trek to Chemung in the summer of 1788 while pregnant with her second child and at the same time caring for a two year daughter. Furthermore, if the family did arrive by the summer of 1788, they arrived before their land was granted to them which took place in October of 1788. But then who knows, and we should never be surprised or amazed by the stamina and determination of our early ancestors. Our 3rd great grandmother and their third child, Elizabeth, whom they quickly nicknamed "Betsey," was born in their log home on Seeley Creek on 19 December 1790.
Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Seeley quickly remarried following Nathaniel's early death. We know that Nathaniel died sometime in late 1796 as his will was probated in January of 1797. We also know that Elizabeth and her new husband, Robert Starrett, married shortly following Nathaniel's death since their first child together was born in October of 1797 which meant that they probably married before the probate of Nathaniel's will. In any case, the new marriage between Robert Starrett and Elizabeth Seeley may not have gone as well as my great grandmother might have hoped as there is some evidence to suggest that Robert may have married Nathaniel Seeley's wife for her money or at least for her late husband's assets. Nathaniel's older brother Samuel was appointed in 1805 to be the guardian of Nathaniel's four young children. Almost immediately following the appointment, Samuel started suing Robert Starrett for using the assets owned by the heirs of Nathaniel Seeley, his children, without paying for the assets. The case made its way slowly through the court system before finally settling in August of 1807 wherein the property was declared to be seized from Robert Starrett. One of the parcels seized was the one acre parcel containing a tavern which apparently Starrett had used for free without payments to the children. Elizabeth Sayre Seeley Starrett died sometime between 1806 and 1809 after giving birth to four children with Robert Starrett.
We need to mention that the ancestry of our 4th great grandmother Elizabeth Sayre is a total mystery at least with respect to our not knowing the names of her parents. We have spent literally hours reviewing the Sayre family trees on Ancestry.com as well as studing the numerous Sayre family histories including the "Sayre Family: Lineage of Thomas Sayre" published in 1901 without being able to find the name of Elizabeth's parents. There is always the possibility that Elizabeth's maiden name was not Sayre although there was nothing that we could find that suggested this possibility. One thing that we do know is that the Sayre and Seeley families were close knit families. For example, Nathaniel Sr's sister Susannah Seeley (1730-1807) married a James Sayre (1720-1788). Following James' death in 1788, Susannah and most of her children followed her brother Nathaniel and his wife Jemima to Chemung County. Even more interesting is that three of James and Susannah Sayre's children married spouses with the surname of Seeley and six of their nine children moved to Chemung County. One of the children's name was even Elizabeth Sayre and she was about the same age as our 4th great grandmother, although it is pretty clear that she married a Jonas Seeley and they never moved to Chemung County. It does seem like a real probability however, that our Elizabeth Sayre was a daughter of one of the five brothers of James Sayre although unfortunately the historical records for each of the brothers is lacking and after a lengthy search we found nothing conclusive. We guess that at this point our Elizabeth Sayre's lineage will have to remain a mystery.
Another mystery of course is when did Archibald Campbell come in contact with the daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Sayre Seeley. Archibald is believed to have been in his early 30s when he married 16-year old Elizabeth Seeley in 1806. If Elizabeth's mother died in 1806 as some believe, than Elizabeth was an orphan when she married and despite her large age difference with her new husband, arranged marriages which this probably was, were not that unusual in the early 1800s. This assumes of course that Archibald was believed to be a man capable of providing for his new and very young wife. We believe that he was more than capable at least financially. The first mention of Archibald Campbell in the history records we found in the Chemung County Historical Society's website where they informed us that Archibald Campbell along with a few other men were among the "prominent early traders" in Newtown (which is now the city of Elmira.) There are numerous documents in their files that mention our Archibald Campbell including bills, bill of ladings, business letters, and various references to "stores" all beginning as early as 5 June 1800 and ending in October of 1805. Apparently in the Chemung County area as far back as 1784 there was a site for a trading post where farmers and hunters could gather to sell or trade their products in exchange for processed goods such as maybe tools or lumber. It appears that one of Archibald Campbell's partners was a man named Stephen Tuttle who lived during that period in Athens, Pennsylvania. Apparently what was transpiring was that Archibald was buying goods from Stephen Tuttle and then hauling the goods up the Susquehanna River and then up the Chemung River for re-sale in Newtown. Their trading business may have ended around 1809 since it is known that around that time Stephen Tuttle relocated to Wilkes-Barre. We mentioned in one of our earlier paragraphs that we believed that Archibald Campbell may have immigrated from Ireland into this country via the Port of Philadelphia. As many others had done before him, he may have left Philadelphia traveling up the Susquehanna through Wilkes-Barre to Athens where he then met Stephen Tuttle and where they setup their trading business. This probably occurred sometime in early 1800. All of this seems to tie in with some of the Tax Assessment Records for Chemung County (which was then part of Tioga County) that we found online for the years 1800, 1801 and 1803. In the year 1800 we find Archibald Campbell listed as owning no land and having "personal estate" valued at only 12 dollars. By 1802, his personal estate had skyrocketed to a value of 4,160 dollars which undoubtedly reflected the value of the goods he had in his care for trading. In 1803, his personal estate dropped back to a more modest 1,245 dollars but here again this was probably just a reflection of the current market value of his trading goods. In each year, Archibald Campbell is shown as owning no land. The tax assessment records for the other years of his business may have been just lost as there is no reason to believe that he ceased doing business, at least not until he moved with his new wife to Lodi in Seneca County which we believe occurred in the year 1809 or early 1810. The location of the birth of the first child of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Seeley Campbell who was born on 24 December 1807 is shown on all of the family trees on Ancestry.com to be in Lodi in Seneca County. We believe this to be false. Their second child, their son Robert, who was born on 3 May 1809 is also shown to have been born in Lodi and it is possible that this birth location is also incorrect. These children may both have been born in Newtown before their parents moved to Lodi. Lodi was located on the east side of Seneca Lake about 40 miles north of Newtown. If Archibald's trading business closed down simultaneously with Stephen Tuttles relocation to Wilkes-Barre in 1809, then it is reasonable to assume that their move to Lodi would have taken place after this date. We also know from other records that Archibald Campbell did not purchase land in Seneca County until the year 1810.