There’s a Way

Today you're going to get a small glimpse of how my crazy mind works. I'm going back to the second week of May to make up that week's blog post. The theme was “there's a way”. In my mind I kept thinking “the way”. Do you remember playing a game where someone says a word and you're supposed to say the first word that comes to your mind (no filtering)? Well this is how that worked for me on this blog post. My mind said “the way” and then responded with “the truth and the life”. (The Holy Bible~ John 4:16, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.) So that thought led to Christianity, which led to church, which led to preachers, which led to Reverend Charles SEELY. So I present to you today, my Baptist minister ancestor- Charles SEELY.

Charles SEELY and wife, Synthia Arrena FOSTER

Charles SEELY was born in 1826 in Missouri. I don't know anything of his childhood and I don't know anything about his parents, siblings, or any of his family. The first time he shows up in any record that I can find is on 15 October 1845 when he married Synthia Arrena FOSTER in Lawrence County, Missouri.

The marriage record started on one page and ended on the next, thus the reason for two photos to show one record.

Synthia was born in 1824 in South Carolina to Frederick FOSTER and Mary (BURNETT) FOSTER. Her family moved from South Carolina to Tennessee sometime between 1830 and 1840. Sometime between 1840 and 1860 they moved to Lawrence County, Missouri.

Finding Their Way from Missouri to Arkansas

Both SEELYs and FOSTERs were present in the area at the time Lawrence County was created. There is an annual “pioneer families” reunion each year in September. The reunion is a big deal complete with printed t-shirts, a day for genealogical information exchanges, etc. See these two websites for information about previous years' reunions: (2013 gathering and includes a contact name and email address) and (2014 gathering). Although neither of our families are listed as pioneer families that are included in the reunion, another SEELY researcher said that she went one year and she seemed to feel it was profitable to her research.

Charles and Synthia had eight children together- Fifth Sergeant Elijah SEELY, blacksmith William, blacksmith James (who went by Frank), farmer John, baby George who only lived 8 months, Mary Ann (my great-grandmother and wife of George BATES), Elzora (who went by Josephine and married a HARRELL), and farmer Charles. They resided in Lawrence County, Missouri until the late 1860's. Charles owned land there as evidenced by a land patent issued in 1860 and a deed dated 1867. You can view the land patent at this link along with a map of where the property was located-

Around 1868, Charles packed up his family and left Lawrence County, Missouri for Benton County, Arkansas. On 7 April 1869, Charles was licensed as a Minister of the Gospel in Benton County, Arkansas. He was the first preacher at Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church located in Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas.

The Way, The Truth, The Life

The recording of his credentials:

I've transcribed it here the best I can, leaving any misspellings as they appear in the record:

      Credentials of Seely: Credentials of Charles Seely- Benton County Arkansas This is to certify that we being duly called as a
          presbytary have examined into the carcter, call qualifications of our beloved brother Charles Seely and with the consent of the
          Church of Christ at New Sili (?) to which he belongs have by prayer and imposition of hands set him apart to the great work of
          the gospel ministry and he is hereby authorized to excrise himself in the several parts of the ministerial functions where he may
          be called whether occasionally or Slated by Given under our hands this the 26 day of October 1868

          E. T. Willingham, J. Dungan, Presbytary
          Filed and recorded the 7 day of April 1869
          J. R. Rutherford recorder

The Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church was organized in a log school house above Cash Springs in the Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas area on 28 May 1870. The church moved to it's present location in 1880. The story I read was that Charles was an elder in the church and moderator of the organization committee when he was chosen as the first pastor. I have contacted the church and am waiting on a response. Maybe soon I'll have an update with new information if the church has any.  I wasn't able to find Cash Springs on any map but I found Cash Springs Road in Gravette so I'm going on the assumption that Cash Springs is nearby.  Here is a map showing the distance from Cash Springs Road (Where the arrow and pinned spot is) to the current church location:

I know Charles performed marriages while he was licensed. He was the minister who performed the wedding ceremony for Greenberry BATES and Eliza PENDERGRAFT in 1872. (Greenberry was one of the sons of John C. BATES. You can read about John BATES in a previous blog post found here: Charles SEELY's daughter, Mary Ann, married George BATES- another of John C. BATES' sons). Later in Charles' life (after the death of Synthia), Charles himself married a PENDERGRAFT. Two years after Synthia's death, Charles married Mary Ann (PENDERGRAFT) SEAMSTER. She was the widow of Williamson SEAMSTER who was also a Baptist minister.

Rock Island…Haven't We Been This Way Before?

One interesting story I found while researching for this blog post was the story of why Charles' son William packed up his family and moved to Texas and what happened along the way. The story goes that William and his family were living near Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas. He was a blacksmith there. His house and shop were next to each other. Crews were blasting out a path for the Rock Island Railroad nearby (that is possibly the same railroad company that ran the train that hit my great-great-grandfather Samuel WILLIAMS whom you can read about in the blog post at The crews were having to blast through a hillside to make a deep cut for a section of the railroad and the rocks from all the blasting were falling on William's house and blacksmith shop. William said he wasn't going to live where they were tearing up everything so he packed up his family and set out for Texas in a wagon. Somewhere along the way Indians started to attack the family. William's sons were big boys and they scared the Indians away with their guns.  That's all of the story I know.  I have to believe they made it to Texas alright since there is now a large branch of distantly-related SEELYs in Texas.

I love this postcard found at depicting a railroad cut similar to the one being done (maybe the actual one being done??) near William's home that made him decide to move.  I also love how Rock Island crept into my stories again.  If you'll remember, Rock Island was where John BATES (referenced above) was imprisoned during the Civil War.  Also every day on my way to work during the school year, I pass a Rock Island caboose that's been restored.  I don't have a photo of it but here is another Rock Island caboose for you to look at:

I also found this great picture of the old depot in Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas at

And I couldn't help but post this 1901 depot sign:

Finding His Way to His (Heavenly) Home

In addition to being a preacher, Charles was a farmer. He died on 29 June 1891. He had a very short obituary which reads:

      Rev. Charles Seeley died on the 29th of June and was buried on the day following at Gamble's
          grave yard. Mr. Seeley had lived here a number of years and had lots of warm friends to mourn
          his death.

The obituary appeared in The Bentonville Sun on 11 July 1891.

I hope you've enjoyed learning about Charles SEELY and "the way" he lived his life.  Here's hoping you find your way to a safe and happy weekend spent with loved ones.

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

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