As 1850 neared, many pioneers were pushing westward. Gold had been discovered in California and the people there were talking about pulling out of the Union unless they could have better travel and communications with the states on the eastern side of the United States.

Kansas City and St. Louis became important transportation centers. The great fur trade became less important because the pioneers were starting to farm the land to a greater degree. Inland towns and villages were being built.

And into this historical drama stepped an adventurous businessman by the name of William Tipton Seely. History has left us only a dimly lit trail on Seely’s life, but a letter from his great niece, Mrs. Marie Lagarde Arabie of Thibedaux, Louisiana, offers us a glimpse into his life.

The family has no pictures of Seely or his store in Tipton, but she writes that all Seelys have definitive characteristics. Medium in height. Slender to the point of thinness. Probably blonde, as they came from the Nottingham section of England.

“All Seelys are very shy,” she writes. “He couldn't have been a Seely if he hadn't been generous.”

Time and carelessness have destroyed many of Seely’s valuable papers, but from what is left, this much is known:

William Tipton Seely and John Little Seely, brothers, came from England in about 1793 to Louisiana. Everything seems to indicate that they came from a wealthy and influential family and they could read and write in English and French. For them to be educated in both languages at a time in history when education wasn't considered important and something only the wealthy could afford speaks for itself.

John Little Seely married a daughter of a wealthy southern plantation owner. For William Tipton Seely, the years between his arrival in Louisiana and the War of 1812 are blank. When the war started, he joined the Virginia Volunteers. 

In 1817, Congress passed a Pension Act in which a grant of land would be given to those who served in the army because the country did not have the money to pay them in cash. Among the numerous grants of were three in William Tipton Seely's name in what is now the city of Tipton. One dated in 1845, signed by Franklin Pierce, and two in 1848, signed by James K. Polk.

CONTINUED

 

TIPTON, MISSOURI — FOUNDED BY WILLIAM TIPTON SEELY


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