The Seamans of Drummond Island

Drummond Island was seeded with Seamans by a grandson of Caleb Seaman in 1853. This island, located at the juncture of three of the Great Lakes, became home for a long line of descendants of Daniel Murray Seaman, an early adherent to the Mormon religion.

A hundred years later, John T. Nevill wrote a series of articles about the Seaman family of Drummond Island and these were published in a local newspaper, The Evening News. An index to the entire series of 17 articles from 1953 is here.

Installment Twelve - Wednesday, August 5, 1953

The Seaman Story - No. 12

Three Youngest of D.M.'s Children Overshadowed the 13 Preceding Them

Drummond Settlement - The memory of Ludlow, Lillie, and Daniel Murray Seaman Jr., final three of Daniel Murray Seaman's 16 children, is still too strong to permit much of a view of the brothers and sisters who preceded them.

Ludlow was D.M.'s ninth child by "Grandma Betsy" Seaman, his second wife, Lillie, who was to become Mrs. Charles Fairchild, and Daniel Murray Jr., who was born just a year before D.M. Senior's death in 1863, were to follow Ludlow. But preceding him, in order of birth, were William James, Edwin, Lovina, Olive, Don, Eliza, Alice, and Estella. Moreover, there had been three surviving children by D.M.'s first wife - Celia. Naida, born in 1844, therefore was eldest of D.M.'s second family. Christened Edwin Augustus, but known on this island simply as Ed Seaman, he was born in Stockholm, NY, long before D.M. and Betsy Seaman rejoined the Mormons on Big Beaver. He died in 1899.

Wrote Verses

A good-natured man, wearing chin whiskers, and given to writing short verses whenever the mood struck him, Ed Seaman waited until he was just past his 31st birthday before getting married - and the he surprised everyone by going below and marrying his first cousin, Miss Eliza Aldridge.

That was during the year, 1875, and on the following Feb. 22 - Feb. 22, 1876 - while Ed Seaman was employed as keeper of DeTour Point Light, his fist child, David Murray Seaman, was born at the lighthouse.

Perhaps it was the fact the day was Washington's Birthday, and Ed Seaman could see a future President in his new-born son. Or, it could have been simply the joy of newly-arrived fatherhood. In any event, Ed Seaman sat down and wrote a poem dealing with his son's arrival a verse still to be found in Drummond Island scrap-books.

Ed's son, David Murray, was followed by a daughter, named Flora, who died in 1897, exactly one year after the death of "Grandma Betsy" Seaman. So David Murray became Ed's only productive issue. He married Estelle Anderson (nick-named Zula) and they produced three sons and three daughters.

Daughters In Sault

Two of David Murray Seaman's daughters, Genevieve and Faye, live today in Sault Ste. Marie, and each has two children. Genevieve is Mrs. George Barr, while Faye is Mrs. Frank Taylor. Eugene, the eldest son, lives in Escanaba, Russell in San Diego. Dale, in Washington, and Gertrude, now Mrs. George Stevens, in Manistique.

Ed Seaman's sister, Lovina Elizabeth, as has been pointed out, was oldest of D.M.'s "second family" girls. Born a year after Edwin, "Viny" grew up to marry Sam Butterfield, after which she developed a serious mental disorder. She resided with the Seaman family on the island - not with her husband - for several years preceding her death in 1903.

Don Seaman, next born son, first saw the light of day on Big Beaver Island - the only Seaman to be born in the Mormon Kingdom. His wife was the former Sarah Foreman and his children included, in order, Merton, Tiny, Chester, Cyril, Ray, Viola, and Oren. All are dead, except Cyril, who is believed to live in St. Paul, Minn., and Ray, who resides in Newberry.

Don's older sister, Eliza, was born just before the Seamans left Stockholm, NY for the Beavers. She ultimately became Mrs. Jebediah Hill and moved away from Drummond. Jedediah Hill was no kin to [missing text] came Mrs. Tom Healy, Mrs. Charles Todd and a Mrs. Scott, respectively. Ellen, now dead, left a son, Dr. Roland Todd, who practices dentistry in Los Angeles.

First on Drummond

Alice Feziza Seaman, born to D.M. and Betsy Seaman in the spring of 1854, just one year after they family's arrival here, was the first Seaman to be born on Drummond Island. Only nine when her father died, Alice was one of the Seaman youngsters tutored by "Grandma" Seaman - and that was the only schooling Alice received. Despite this handicap, Alice proved to be an apt student, and in later years, like her younger sister, Estella, taught school herself. Moreover, one of her daughters, Miss Norma Bunker, taught classes in DeTour and Goetzville - then spelled Gatesville.

Fred Bunker, Alice's husband, was a "down-easter" - a broad, erect, likable chap from Maine. He spoke with a husky, New England accent, and he had a moustache which drooped over the sides of his mouth.

Bunker was a mill-man - and a good one, and that was what brought him to Drummond Island in the first place. He worked for Clark A. Watson, foreman for the lumbering firm of Hitchcock & Foster, and later superintendent at the DeTour Lumber and Cedar Company plant, where Bunker was employed for 14 years.

It was Bunker and Watson, in fact, who, on a cold day in the spring of 1896, drove Watson's team over the ice all the way to the Sault to purchase a casket for "Grandma Betsy" Seaman. According to the practices of that day, it might be perfectly proper for a lesser personage to repose eternally in a home-made coffin. But not "Grandma" Seaman! She was, in the esteem of her family and friends, entirely too close to the angels of Heaven to be buried in a home-made casket. So Fred Bunker and Clark Watson started out over the ice to obtain something more fitting.

Meet On Mud Lake

In the approximate center of Mud Lake they met two men driving two horse-drawn sleighs southbound, enroute back to Drummond with supplies. Bunker and Watson stopped just long enough to tell Ludlow Seaman and Ludlow's nephew, Arden Fairchild, that "Grandma" Seaman was dead, then hurried on to the Sault. Ludlow, Betsy Seaman's second youngest son and Arden, oldest son of Ludlow's younger sister, Lillie hurried in the opposite direction - toward Drummond, where Ludlow's mother lay dead.

The Bunkers live in DeTour for many years, and raised their family there. Their eldest daughter, Norna, became a school teacher, first in DeTour, then in Goetzville, later in the Sault, and ultimately in Milwaukee. Winifred, active with her sister, Norna, Retta Anthony, and other girls of their age in the DeTour Lawn Tennis Club, eventually became Mrs. Sam Howe, and settled in Wheaton, Ill. It was Winnie Bunker, incidentally, who won the silver cup when the Lawn Tennis Club staged a tournament in 1897. Winnie, a twin to a brother named Waldo, lies buried today in Picayune, Miss., where the Howes lived during the last years of their lives. May Bunker, another daughter, became Mrs. Mead Warner, of Sault Ste. Marie and still another daughter, Helen, became Mrs. Guy Ramsey of Minneapolis. The Warners of Sault Ste Marie have had four children of their own - three of whom are living. These are Fred [missing text] this area. So, when came the day that the lure of a more profitable connection took Fred Bunker to Green Bay, Wis., to work for Frank Perry, of Sault Ste. Marie, and Bunker moved his family from the local scene, they were accorded a compliment few departing families ever receive; Prof. Dibble, DeTour school principle, dismissed classes for ten minutes so that the children might bid the Bunkers farewell.

As the boat carrying the Bunkers family moved down DeTour Passage, and slid silently by Frying Pan Island, W.J. Burke, the Island's lighthouse keeper, dipped his colors three times. It is a safe bet that neither Fred nor Alice Bunker - nor any of their children - ever forgot that tribute.

John T. Nevill
Drummond Settlement
The Evening News
August 5, 1953