Justus Azel Seeley, 1779

Justus Azel SeeleyAccording to jasfo.org:

Birth: 17 Nov 1779, Litchfield, Connecticut


Buried:Apr 1859

Died 1 Apr 1859, Pleasant Grove, Utah, Utah Find all individuals with events at this location

Person ID I46 Seelye

Last Modified 15 Feb 2008


Father Seelye Justus William,   b. 1745, New Milford, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 May 1812, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location

Mother Stewart Sarah,   b. 7 Apr 1745, East Haddam, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Sep 1826, Saint George, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location

Married 17 Jul 1766 New Milford, Litchfield, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location

Family ID F9038 Group Sheet


Family Bennett Mehitable,   b. 12 Oct 1780, , Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Aug 1861, Mount Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah Find all individuals with events at this location

Married 9 Apr 1800 Luzerne, Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  [2]


>1. Seeley Rachel,   b. 2 Sep 1801, Luzerne, Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Mar 1887

2. Seeley Mehitable,   b. 2 Sep 1801, Luzerne, Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Sep 1801, Luzerne, Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location

>3. Seelye Rebecca,   b. 4 Jul 1803, Luzerne, Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location

4. Seeley John,   b. 8 Jun 1805, Luzerene, Luzerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Aug 1826

>5. Seeley Elizabeth,   b. 29 Jun 1807, Stubenville, Steuben, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Mar 1900, Mount Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah Find all individuals with events at this location

>6. Seelye Mary,   b. 24 Jan 1810, Lucerne, Lucerne, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Apr 1881, Galland, Lee, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location

>7. Seeley William Stewart,   b. 18 May 1812, Whitby, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Sep 1895, Mount Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah Find all individuals with events at this location

>8. Seeley Justus Wellington,   b. 30 Jan 1815, Pickering, Home, Upper Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Apr 1894, Mount Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah Find all individuals with events at this location

>9. Seeley Sarah Ann,   b. 27 Aug 1817, Pickering Home, Home Dist., Upper Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 May 1885, Near Carthage, Hancock, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location

>10. Seely David,   b. 12 Oct 1819, Port Whitby, Pickering Home, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 May 1892, San Bernadino, San Bernadino, California Find all individuals with events at this location



Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868

Source of Trail Excerpt:

Pettit, Edwin, Biography of Edwin Pettit, 9-10.

Read Trail Excerpt:

In the spring of 1847 we moved camp, and passed through Winter Quarters, where the main part of the Saints had been camped all winter. All the companies rallied to a place near a stream called Elk Horn, where they organized into companies of hundreds, fifties and tens, with a captain over each. Bishop Edward Hunter was appointed captain of fifty [hundred]; John Lowry was appointed captain of ten families, in which all the Seeleys were members, my sister [Mary Pettit Seeley] and myself with the rest. I was thirteen years of age at this time. Most of the time we traveled in double columns—that is, two rows of teams, in order to keep the company together and away from the Indians. In camping over night, our wagons were placed to form a circle, an opening being left at one end to drive the cattle in to keep them from the Indians, guards being placed around the outside. Fuel was very scarce most of the time and when we wanted a fire everyone would go out to gather buffalo chips, and some of the daintier sex instead of picking them up with their hands, used tongs to gather them with. Before we had gone very far, they got very bravely over this, and would almost fight over a dry one. We could see buffalo as thick as the leaves on the trees for miles around. We had a great deal of trouble from them, having to scare them away with guns in order to make a passage. We saw many Indians, but for the most part they were very friendly and peaceable. At one place on the Platte River, some of the boys and myself went down to swim at noon time, and I got beyond my depth and was nearly drowned.


We traveled mostly on foot, the wagons being used to carry the provisions. Sometimes an ox and a horse would be hitched together to make the trip. In the latter part of the journey, when our cattle began to get tired and footsore, sometimes lying down, it was a difficult matter to get them on their feet again. We had a calf that gave out, and we had to leave him one afternoon. The next morning, while the folks were getting breakfast, I was put on a horse and sent back several miles to bring the calf. One place where there was a double road, with a swamp in the middle, I saw four Indians coming. I left one road and passed over into the other to avoid the Indians. When they saw me, passed over into that road also to meet me. I was riding a good horse, and had a good half mile the start of them, but I did not think to turn and run back. I went right ahead and met them. They came up, talked to me a few minutes, and they let me pass right along. It is almost a miracle that they did not take my horse, as it was a very good one and I often think of it as being a very foolish act on my part. I was never afraid of the Indians, and I presume this is the reason I was not more cautious. However, I found the calf and returned to the company.


We traveled from day to day feeling as happy and cheerful as possible under the conditions, covering from ten to fifteen miles a day. Our last camp before entering the valley of Salt Lake would be a short distance above the mouth of Emigration Canyon. After a journey of about four or five months, we reached Salt Lake on the 29th day of September, 1847.


From a Pickering township Newsletter called, Pathmaster: Justus Azel Seelye


Justus Azel Seeley: Another Mormon Convert from Pickering Township
By John Sabean

Justus Azel Seelye (1779-1859) was the son of United Empire Loyalist Justus William Seelye (1745-1812). As a Loyalist, the elder Seelye had had his Connecticut property confiscated during the American Revolutionary War and moved his family to Saint John, New Brunswick. About 1790, the Seelyes returned to the United States, settling in the Susquehanna River valley in Pennsylvania. Sometime prior to 1810, the family moved to Upper Canada. Justus Seelye, Sr., died in York in 1812. 1
In June 1819, Justus Azel Seelye, who had been born in Litchfield, Connecticut, and followed his father first to New Brunswick, then to Pennsylvania, purchased the north half of Lot 23, Concession 6, Pickering Township. 2 We do not have enough information to follow his moves precisely, but we know his first six children were borne in Lucerne. Pennsylvania. The seventh, William Stewart Seelye, was born in Whitby in 1812. Justus Wellington Seelye and Sarah Ann Seelye were both born in Pickering Township, in 1815 and 1817 respectively. The tenth and last child was born in Port Whitby, although the Seelye home was still in Pickering.
Very little is known about the Seeley family’s residence in Pickering. In July 1811, Seelye served on a Grand Jury along with a number of prominent Pickering (and Whitby) residents including Thomas Hubbard, John Major, Thomas E. Matthews, Joshua Wixon, Hawkings Woodruff and Jabez Lynde. 3 In 1824 Seekye’s name appeared as one of the founding fathers of the Brougham Christian Church. 4 In August of the following year, Seelye sold the north half Lot 23, Concession 6 6o Cornelius Churchill. However, he still seemed to be living in Pickering Township in 1828, as he and his some William are recorded on the Militia list of that year – in the 5th Company of the 2nd Regiment East York. A5
From Leo Johnson’s History of the County of Ontario (1973), and from the website of Justus Axel Seelye Family Organization we learn of Seelye’s conversion to the Mormon Church in the 1830’s. In 1838, the Seelye family followed Joseph Smith to Nauvoo, Illinois, and later joined the Mormon trek to Salt Lake City, Utah.6


1. Justus Azel Seelye Family Organization (JASFO) website.
2. Abstract Index to Pickering Deeds. See Township Papers 658 Reel 394, #s 1244-1245, re Con 6, Lot 20.
3. Alexander Fraser. Twenty –First Report of the Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario, 1932, p. 188.
4. William Wood, Past Years in Pickering (Toronto, 1911) p. 121, where his name is given as Jestua Seeley.
5. Men of Upper Canada: Militia Nominal Rolls, 1828 – 1829 (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1995) p. 206, Justus was 49 years old; William was 16.
6. Leo A. Johnson, History to the County of Ontario 1615 – 1875 (Whitby 1973). P. 168; JASFO

Memorial stone of Justus Axel Seelye in Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Pleasant Grove, Utah

Portrait of Justus Azel Seelye

Portrait of Mehitable Bennett Seelye

Memorial stone of Mehitable Bennett Seelye in Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Pleasant Grove, Utah

http://www.pada.ca/books/page/?id=2231&page=12&view=text (the two photos from the same source below are from the same edition of the magazine:

The reference to Justus Seeley is in reference #11 on the pages. It appears that England may have destroyed a boat of Justus' because he helped the rebel movement.

The reference to Justus Seeley is in reference #11 on the pages. It appears that England may have destroyed a boat of Justus’ because he helped the rebel movement.

http://www.pada.ca/books/page/?id=2231&page=9&view=text&keywords=justus+william+seeleyJustus 3


The Lives of Justus Azel Seelye and Mehitable Bennett

Historical Activity for June 28, 2008 JASFO Reunion
Written by Clair L. Hendrickson
Edited by Lavona Lewis
Narrated by Bruce Seely


Justus Azel Seelye is born 17 November 1779 in New Milford, Litchfield, Connecticut
(Actors: Justus William Seelye, Sarah Seelye, Baby Doll Azel, George Washington and King George III)
Narrative by Narrator: The time is fall of 1779. The American Revolutionary War has been going on for
over three years. The issue of whether to remain loyal subjects to the King of England or to sever ties with
England and become a new nation has divided families. The family of Justus William Seelye and Sarah
Stewart, who live in New Milford, Litchfield, Connecticut have chosen to remain loyal to the King of
England. In November 1779, as Sarah is preparing for the birth of their 5th child, Justus William Seelye
determines that he must show his loyalty to George III, King of England, and travels to Long Island, New
York to enlist in the British army. While Justus William is away, Sarah gives birth to a baby boy in New
Milford, Connecticut, on November 17, 1779, whom they name Justus Azel Seelye. This baby boy is the
ancestor of most of us here today.
Narrator: How many of you consider yourself to be loyal, extremely religious, and patriotic? Are you a
person who has great passion for his country, tradition and heritage? (Raise your hand)
Now by raise of hand those who loves adventure and freedom? Are you an independent thinker, willing to
walk away from tradition and heritage and for a good cause? (Raise your hand) Now I need you all to
choose one side or the other and line up on that side. Think very seriously about this choice.
If you can’t choose, it may be comforting to know that it was a difficult decision for the colonists. Families
were divided on this issue and loyalty went back and forth. About 1/3 were neutral, 1/3 revolutionists or
patriots and 1/3 loyalists. After the Revolutionary War about 80,000 loyalists left the Colonies and moved to
LOYALISTS – You are true to your homeland of England and your heritage. You are religious and believe
being loyal to the King is comparable to being loyal to God for when a King is christened he is ordained to
act as God on earth and represent the “King of Kings.” You will be lead today by King George III.
REVOLUTIONISTS or PATRIOTS – You are willing to fight for a good cause. You are rebelling from the
King of England who wants to subject you to excess taxation. You will be lead today by George
Activity: This is a mock battle in the Revolutionary War. If you are hit with water you must sit down.
Remember what you are fighting for.
Narrator: Let the war begin!2
Narrative by Narrator: The last battle of the American Revolutionary War ended with surrender by the
British Commander, Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia in October of 1781. The war officially ended
with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in September 1783. Things did not go well for those who had been
loyal to England. Persecution became so bad, that many of the British loyalists in America were banished or
chose to leave. Over 80,000 loyalists left the States and moved to Canada at this time. As Loyalists, Justus
William and his family probably traveled by boat up the Atlantic seaboard to a large cove north of Maine
later named “Seeley’s Cove”. The Seeley family around the time of 1883, consisted of Justus William, his
wife Sarah, and their five sons, the oldest being aboutsixteen years of age. Our common ancestor, Justus
Azel, was the youngest son and would have been just shy of his 4th birthday when they left the colonies.
Narrator: We need 5 Seelye Boys. You are going to help get your family travel by boat to Canada.
Activities: 1. Seelye Family moving to New Brunswick, Canada. Family pushes boat (wagon) up stream.
2. Audience of Colonists making unkind remarks with picket signs: Go Back to England
Freedom Fighters Only, Loyalists Out- Republic In, No BRITS
Narrative by Narrator: Land in New Brunswick, Canada was not very good for farming. The geology of the
area is a huge granite shelf with only a few inches of topsoil on top of the granite. This made it difficult to
farm and provide for the needs of a family. Justus William Seelye’s older brother, Abner, who was a patriot
during the Revolutionary War had moved to central Pennsylvania. At some point Justus William and
brother, Abner resolved their differences over the war. Abner must have told Justus William about the rich
Pennsylvania farm land and invited him to move to Pennsylvania to be near Abner’s family. In about 1795,
Justus William Seelye and his wife, Sarah took two of their sons, Justus Azel then being about sixteen, and
left their three married sons and Canada. In the States, George Washington was now President and the new
country was struggling to make this a Republic succeed. The return trip to the states was more difficult that
the ocean voyage to get to Canada. This time the family had to travel a considerable distance inland, across
rivers, and lakes to settle by the Susquehanna River in upper Pennsylvania. It was well worth the hardship
involved in moving, for about five years after arriving in Pennsylvania, Justus Azel met and fell in love with
a beautiful young lady named Mehitable or “Hettie” Bennett. After a short courtship, Justus Azel and
Mehitable were married on April 9, 1800 in Lucerne County, Pennsylvania – Justus Azel was 21 years old
and Mehitable was 20 years old.
Narrator: (Couple on stage) To this couple soon came children: Can we have some children? First born
were twins, Rachel and Mehitable, however, only Rachel survived infancy. The twins were followed by
Rebecca, then John. John, you were born six months prior to the prophet Joseph Smith, in 1805, but
unfortunately you only live to the age of 21. Then came Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth, who married John
Young and later Elijah Mayhew is the ancestor of some you here today.
Activities: 1. Reconciliation of Justus Azel and Abner Seelye
2. .Justus Azel (dark jacket) and Mehitable with veil getting married
3. Couple joined by 6 little children3
Event 4 – Move to Ontario, Canada
Narrative by Narrator: Great Britain made land available in Canada to those Americans who had been loyal
to Britain during the Revolutionary War. Pennsylvania seemed quite populated and Justus qualified as a
loyalist to receive the free land. Sometime around the time of the War of 1812, between 1807 and 1811,
Justus and Mehitable move with their young family from the States to the area of Pickering, in Upper
Canada. This area is now known as Ontario, Canada, and is located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario.
For the next thirty-one years, the family has struggles but seems to prosper. In Canada, Justus Azel and
Mehitable, have four more children: William Stewart, Justus Wellington, Sarah and David, making them
parents to a total of six girls and 4 boys. William Stewart and Justus Wellington are the ancestors of most of
us here today, unless we descend from Elizabeth. Justus Azel first made a living by farming but later
developed a sailing business, operating boats on Lake Ontario. Always enterprising and industrious, during
the winter when the lake was frozen, he worked as a cooper making barrels.
Narrator: Can we have four more children for this great family? (Put on signs)
Activity: Four more children join the family from the audience and put on name tags.
Event 5 – Conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Narrative by Narrator: Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled to what
was then called Upper Canada and the area where Justus’ family lives early in 1838. The Seeley’s listened
to the message of the gospel and believed it. Justus Azel and we believe his wife, Mehitable, and most of his
children were baptized some time around February 15, 1838 probably by Elder Almon W. Babbitt.
(Missionaries enter and put white shirt on Justus Azel)
Records of early baptisms were often not kept or maintained so the exact dates of the baptisms are uncertain.
We do know they accepted the gospel with a full commitment. It is interesting to note, that Justus Azel,
unlike his father, was a Patriot in Canada, and became quite active in supporting Canadian independence
from Great Britain. It is probable that the dynamics of the political strife coupled with the family’s recent
conversion to the LDS Church, helped Justus Azel determine his family needed to follow the Prophet and
move to Zion.
Activity: Missionaries teaching the gospel. Missionaries put a white shirt on Justus Azel.
Event 6 – Move to Missouri and Nauvoo Area to be with the Saints
Narrative by Narrator: Justus Azel, Mehitable and their family, now comprised of 15 members, were
determined to join with the body of the Church, which in 1838, was scattered across Missouri. The Seeley’s
had no idea of the problemsin Missouri as they divided their family and made plans to leave their beloved
Canada. Two boys, Justus Wellington and David, left overland with wagons filled with household goods and
supplies. The remainder of the family went by boat and were to meet in DeWitt County Missouri. As the
family separated, imagine the feelings of the parents as they faced the unknown. Tradition says a prayer was
offered and later recorded by a descendant. These are the highlights of the prayer offered that day on the
banks of Lake Ontario as Seeley’s left Canada, never to return:4
Justus Azel: “Oh Lord … we ask thee to bless this little company. Farewell to my native country where I
have tarried so long. Farewell to my kindred that I love so dear. Farewell to my native country that I love so
dear. Bless my kindred that sets upon the sand, me and mine is going to Zion to serve the Lord.”
Narrator: Justus Wellington and David, the “kindred on the sand” referred to in the prayer probably joined
with other saints making their way to Kirtland, Ohio, arriving 2 years after the temple dedication and arrived
in DeWitt probably about Sept. 1838. Father Justus Azel and the remainder of the family went by boat
across Lake Ontario, through the Welland Canal and across Lake Erie. They used the Ohio and Erie Canals
to the Ohio River then went down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River. Entering the Mississippi River,
they sailed up stream to the Missouri River. They sailed up the Missouri to the Chariton River where they
planned to disembark. When the group arrived at the landing at Chariton, Missouri, they learned that the
Mormons in DeWitt County, Missouri were under siege. The Seelye’s were not permitted to enter DeWitt
County, so they unloaded their goods at Chariton. We don’t know if they spent the winter of 1838/39 in
Missouri but somehow through the power of prayer, this family was reunited. It was a certainly a
tumultuous time for the church with the Hawn’s Massacre, the imprisonment of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
and the Saints ejection from Far West, but the Seeley’s knew how to unite as a family and adapt to the
Activities: Departure from Canada: two boys on stick horses and the remainder by boat – waving hankies
Event 7 – Expulsion from Nauvoo and Trek to the West
Narrative by Narrator: The spring of 1839 finds our Seeley family reunited near Burlington, Iowa, which is
across the Mississippi River a little north of the Nauvoo. Later they move down by Nashville, Iowa, a little
downstream from Nauvoo. The Seeleys’ farmed but soon became involved in the boating trade again by
developing a company of lighter boats that helped larger boats carry their cargos through the Des Moines
rapids in the Mississippi River. With several lighters, the Seeley’s financial needs were met. Living near
the body of the Church for the next few years, they were also able to enjoy Church activities. Justus Azel
participated in baptisms for the dead, an ordinance performed in the Mississippi River before the Nauvoo
temple was built. The family enjoyed the fellowship of the Saints, but also witnessed the persecution which
occurred during the Nauvoo era. Imagine the sorrow as they learned of the deaths of their leaders, the
Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum on June 27, 1844. When the temple in Nauvoo was almost
completed and it became evident that the Saints would have to leave the area, Justus Azel and Mehitable,
their sons, Williams Stewart and Justus Wellington and their wives received their temple endowments on
February 3, 1846. A few days later in the dead of winter, the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo and the trek
across Iowa began. Any parent can imagine the heartache of Justus and Hettie as they left two of their
daughters, Rebecca and Mary and their husbands, who were not members of the Church in Iowa. Except for
these two daughters, the remaining Seeley family became part of the famous trek to Winter Quarters,
Nebraska, which some say was the hardest part of the journey West. The Seeley’s spent the remainder of the
year and the winter of 1846-47 in Winter Quarters. On June 21, 1847 as part of the John Taylor Company,
they set out for the Valley of the Great Salt Lake and were part of the second company of saints to arrive in
September 1847. Justus Azel, about 68 years old, walked over 1100 miles from Nauvoo. He and his family
of over 20 members, survived the 9-year transcontinental migration from Canada which end in the Salt Lake
Activity: Family waves hankies in a goodbye gesture to Rebecca and Mary who hold signs
Signs: Zion or bust Iowa My Home
Event 8 – Settlement at Battle Creek (Pleasant Grove) and Death
Narrative by Narrator: The Seeley families spent the first several years in Utah living in Salt Lake City.
They helped construct and then lived in the fort that was built where Pioneer Park is today. Sometime later,
Justus Azel, Mehitable and their son, William Stewart and his family moved to Utah Valley and settled in
Battle Creek which is now Pleasant Grove, Utah. In April 1859, Justus Azel Seelye passed away at the age
of 80 years and was buried in Pleasant Grove.
Shortly after the death of Justus Azel, his sons, William Stewart and Justus Wellington and their families
with their mother, Mehitable Bennett Seelye, moved south to Sanpete County and settled here in Mt.
Pleasant. Mehitable died here in Mt. Pleasant on August 2, 1861 and is buried in the cemetery to the east of
the park. Justus Azel and Mehitable Bennett Seelye left us a remarkable legacy of loyalty, pioneering, and
courage to endure the many hardships that beset us in life. We honor them for their example and
commitment to the gospel.

 More info available at http://www.jasfo.org/genealogy/articles/The%20Mormon%20Settlement%20at%20Nashville-Lee-Iowa.pdf

Bio from Seely-society.net:

SEELY, JUSTUS AZEL (son of Justus Seely of Canada). Born Nov. 17, 1779, in Connecticut. Came to Utah Sept. 29, 1847, John Taylor company.

Married Mehitable Bennett 1800, Luzerne, Pa. She was born Nov. 17, 1779.

Their children: Rachel b. Sept. 1801, m. Parlin Webb; John, died; Elizabeth, m. James Young; Mary b. Jan. 24, 1810, m. John Hemmenway; William Stewart b. May 18, 1812, m. Elizabeth DeHart; Justus Wellington b. Jan. 30, 1815, m. Clarissa Jane Wilcox, m. Sarah Jane McKinney; Sarah b. Aug. 27, 1817, m. Asa McGann; David b. Oct. 12, 1819, m. Mary Pettit. Family home in Canada.

High priest. Built the first coopershop in Salt Lake. Cooper; sailor and lumberman. Died April 1, 1859, Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Esshom, Frank Elwood. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913.

[Justus Azel is SGS# 836 – Justus Azel; Justus William; Joseph; John; Benjamin; Nathaniel, Robert]

from “Esshom, Frank Elwood. “Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah.” Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913.


Justus Azel Seeley grave

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