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 Fifteen - Wednesday, August 12, 1953

The Seaman Story - No. 15

Only Two Substantial Ties Remain Between Seaman And Bailey Families

Drummond Settlement - However extensive and complex the marital ties between this island's Seaman and Bailey families may seem to outsiders, the fact remains that only two really substantial ties exist. These are provided by Emma Seaman, a daughter of Ludlow who married Blain Bailey, and by Myrtle Fairchild, a granddaughter of Daniel Murray Seaman, who married Blaine's older brother, Warren E. Bailey.

Now in his late seventies, "Warnie" Bailey is the oldest Bailey residing on Drummond Island today. That seems to make him a patriarch of the Bailey family - and were it not for an accident he encountered nearly 10 years ago, he'd probably be a very active patriarch indeed.

Most of the past decade, however, Warnie has lain abed reading omnivorously, smoking long, black cigars, and thinking of the thousand and one adventures he's had since his parents brought him to Drummond 73 years ago.

From Wisconsin

Warnie's parents, George Warren and Cornella Bailey, brought six children with them when they came here from Wisconsin in 1880 and Warnie, only five, was third oldest of the lot. Oldest was Minnie, who was 15 in 1880, and second oldest was Alton (also called Ben), who was seven. Then came Warnie, and after him came Marshall, four, Jessie, three, and Blanche, just one. Cornelia Bailey herself was only 27!

These were the Bailey youngsters who had made the trip to Cheboygan on the old steamer, Oconto, and who had trans shipped a couple of times before landing among the Seamans here. These were the young ones - wide-eyed and fascinated - who had been taken aboard "Ly" Jones' 30-foot freight boat, and carried around Drummond Island to Warner's Cove.

Only two of these original six "imported" children are alive today, Warnie and his older brother, Alton Lee, who bore the nickname, Ben. And Warnie, as the only one left on Drummond, heads the island's oldest family. Marshall, who may have married Leila Seaman if he had lived, died while a young man. Ben grew up, married a relative of "Grandma" Betsy Seaman, and, in 1903, moved to Washington State. Blanche (Mrs. Lachlan McInnes) died about 10 years ago. Jessie, too is dead. She married a man named Nelson Fisher, and like her brother, Ben, moved to Washington.

Eight More Children

But long before the senior Baileys passed on, eight more children - four more sons and four more daughters - came along, and that established the Baileys on Drummond. the newcomers were Alda, the first Bailey born on Drummond Island; Blaine Ethel, Earl, Clifford, Frank, Nina, and Nona.

Generally speaking, particularly in the case of Alda and Ethel, the Bailey girls always have been the outdoors type - handy with rods and reels, and rifles; always ready, willing, and able to tackle a man's job, and never hesitant to say precisely what they think about anything.

Alda, for instance, long ago earned the reputation of being Michigan's foremost huntress. In her younger days, she thought nothing of packing a few victuals, grabbing her rifle and hunting knife, and sauntering into the woods, where she'd spend the night, sleeping on the ground, absolutely along. She is said to have slain more bears than any bear hunter in Michigan - men included. Alda married Louis Cloudman, who died in January, 1935. Widowhood failed to lessen her outdoor activities but a heart attack suffered while fishing through the ice last winter may have ended them for all time.

Married Twice

Ethel has been married twice. Her first husband was Andrew McInnes, a brother the Lachian McInnes who married her older sister, Blanche. Her second was Frank Avery. Back in the early days of this century, when automobiles were, well, not as dependable as they are today, and when roads on Drummond Island were more trails through the woods, Ethel, at the wheel of a weather-worn old Model T, ferried men, supplies, and mail through the island woodlands from DeTour passage to the lumber mill at Johnswood. It probably didn't occur to Ethel, then Ethel McInnes, that hers was a job which might well tax the stamina, patience, and courage of any man.

Nina became Mrs. Theil Seaman, providing a third link between the two families - until that marriage ended in divorce, and Nona - youngest of the original Baileys - married the late Jesse Church, a son of Harbor Island's J. Wells Church.

All of Warnie Bailey's brothers and sisters who are still around have proved to be producers, but Warnie and Myrtle are head and shoulders ahead of them with five sons and five daughters even though only half of them survive today. Buster Bailey, Drummond Township supervisor, is the only surviving son, Juanita, now Mrs. Ivan Gabel, Lillian, now Mrs. Howard Stark, Joy, now Mrs. Ted Tellefsen, and Dorothy, now Mrs. Halley McDonald, are the remaining four.

Hit By Tragedy

Like many other branches of the Seaman family, the family presided over by Myrtle Fairchild Bailey has been hit hard by tragedy. Two of their sons - Charles Warren and Byron were drowned. A third son, Theodore, lived only one year, and a fourth son, Jewell, born a twin to Mrs. Joy Tellefsen, died at the age of eight. Perhaps the most cruel blow of all, thought, was the fate of Muriel Fern, their youngest child, who was burned to death in the Fairchild home 20 years ago. Moreover, their grandson, Edwin, eleven months old son of their oldest daughter, Nita, died in the same fire.

Add to all that the spectacle of Myrtle Fairchild Bailey gazing with horrified eyes upon the terribly dismembered body of her own mother, then add the accident in November, 1943, which forced her to dedicate her life to looking after an invalid husband, and you'll have a picture of a courageous woman.

Myrtle Bailey, granddaughter of the island's much loved "Grandma Betsy" Seaman, served as Drummond postmaster for 32 years, but was forced to resign about two years ago when it became apparent that her postal duties were interfering with "looking after Papa", as she calls Warnie.

Warnie Bailey, patriarch of the Bailey clan, is completely bedridden now and chances are he'll never be up and about again.

"Lud" Bailey

Warnie's younger brother, Blaine, who married Emma Seaman, a daughter of Ludlow and a sister of the late Leila Seaman, is the father of Kenneth, the Sault Ste. Marie mortician; Thiel and Glen, of Drummond Island; and the late Ludlow Bailey, the well-known Sault Ste. Marie athlete who died last year. They have a total of 14 grandchildren - including one grandson born posthumously to Mrs. Frances Wommer Bailey, Ludlow's widow, a month after her husband's death.

Kenneth Bailey and his brother, Glen, both married girls named Gertrude, Kenneth's wife being Gertrude Newhouse, daughter of the Sault undertaking family, and Glen's being Gertrude Kempainen, daughter of Drummond Island's widely known Joe Kempainen.

Although it may well be that the Bailey's of Drummond, today out number the Seamans of Drummond, it is these people the descendants of Warren and Blaine Bailey, and Theilla, daughter of Theil Seaman and Nina Bailey Seaman who provide the link between them.

Cornelia Edgerton Bailey passed away on November 12, 1911, at the age of 58. Her husband outlived her for about 15 years. He must have lived long enough to realize that the impact he and Cornelia had made upon Drummond Island might well last forever.

John T. Nevill
Drummond Settlement
The Evening News
August 12, 1953