The Seals Family
The 1870 census showed the following children living in the William and Cordelia (Mays) Seal household. The enumerator wrote Cordelia's name as Cornelia. He listed a child named Fleming living in the house. This was likely William B. Seal, Jr. who was born in 1862. Alton Lee Greene has indicated that William's nickname was Flim and the name Fleming would have come from Cordelia's father, Fleming Mays. The enumerator indicated that Elizabeth could read, but could not write.
|Name||Age||Sex||Profession||Real||Personal||Place of Birth||Attend School||Read/Write|
|Cornelia Seal||38||F||Keeping House||Tennessee||No|
|Elizabeth Seal||25||F||At home||Tennessee|
|Margaret Seal||23||F||At home||Tennessee|
|Rebecca Seal||20||F||At home||Tennessee|
|James Seal||18||M||Works on Farm||Tennessee||Yes|
|Thomas Seal||15||M||At home||Tennessee||Yes|
William Seales appears in the 1880 census with his wife Deala (Cordelia). On May 20, 1892, John Clark was appointed administrator of the estate of Wm. Seals by the Clerk of the Court in Claiborne Co., Tenn. James W. Seals was also held liable for the administrator's bond. It's presumed that William Seal died shortly before this date. William Seal is buried at Howard Quarter Cemetery in Claiborne Co., Tenn. There does not appear to be a date of death on his tombstone.
James Washington Seal, son of William Seal and Mary Vaughan was born on Dec. 25, 1851 in Hancock Co., Tenn. His death certificate gives his date of birth as Sept. 2, 1850, but that date is inconsistent with most other sources including census records and the grave marker placed by his family. He was the first of our line to be born in Tennessee. He first married Emily Byrd, the daughter of William E. and Susannah Byrd of Hancock Co., Tenn. Children born during this marriage were:
- Albert Clarke Seal, b. Oct. 6, 1875, m. Charlotte (Lottie) May Casler on April 22, 1900 in Council Grove, Kansas, d. March 7, 1935 in May, Okla.
- Luke (Lucas) Seal, b. Feb. 1879.
- Grant Alex Seal, b. Mar. 20, 1882 in Claiborne Co., Tenn, m. Catherine Elizabeth Ferguson (see Catherine Seals's death certificate), d. Dec. 30, 1944 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. (see death certificate)
The marriage of James W. and Emily Seal appears to have had its ups and downs. The 1880 census showed James W. Seales and his son, Clarke, living with James's father, William Seales, and stepmother, Deala (Cordelia) Seales. It's not known where Emily Seal and son, Luke, were living at that time. By 1885, James W. and Emily Seal had permanently separated. It appears that Emily (Byrd) Seal married James Howerton of Hawkins Co., Tenn. around 1889 and moved to Arkansas. The 1900 census showed that Lucas Seal, age 21, was living with James and Emily Howerton in Lawrence Co., Ark.
|Name||Sex||Age||Relation||Single||Married||Profession||Place of Birth||POB-Father||POB-Mother|
|Deala [Cordelia] Seales||F||48||Wife||✓||Keeping house||Tenn||Va||Tenn|
|William H. Seales||M||19||son||✓||At home||Tenn||Tenn||Tenn|
|Anderson Seales||M||16||son||✓||At home||Tenn||Tenn||Tenn|
|Moses S. Seales||M||13||son||✓||At home||Tenn||Tenn||Tenn|
|James W. Seales||M||28||son||✓||Works on farm||Tenn||Tenn||Tenn|
James W. Seal's second wife was Delaney (Laney) Jane Sulfridge who was born on July 13, 1859 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. She was the daughter of Lucenia Mullins, but we are not sure of the name of Laney Jane's father. In the record of her marriage to McDaniel (Mack) Sulfridge (see below), her last name was indicated as Shultz. We're not sure if that was the last name of her father or step-father at the time she married in 1874, but many researchers have indicated that Lucenia Mullins's first husband was Jake (or Jacob) Shultz. We have seen no record that substantiates this claim. Compounding the issue of identifying Laney Jane's father is the fact that Lucenia Mullins was listed as living with, or next door to, her parents, William and Tabitha Mullins in every census record from 1850 thru 1880. In those records she always had the last name of Mullins. So, even in the 1860 census, one year after the birth of Delaney Jane, she and her daughter were listed with the last name of Mullins. Check out this separate profile for more on the life of Lucenia Mullins.
Before Laney Jane (Mullins) Sulfridge married James Washington Seals, she had previously married McDaniel (Mack) Sulfridge on Dec. 24, 1874 in Claiborne Co., Tenn., with whom she had at least one child, Arthur Sulfridge, born in September 1877. Many researchers indicate that her husband's name had been David Sulfridge, but we believe we have found five primary records that, together, make a convincing case for recognizing Laney's first husband as McDaniel (Mack) Sulfridge. Those records are:
- an 1850 census record which indicates that McDaniel Sulfridge was born to Thomas and Sarah Sulfridge around 1842 (it appears the enumerator started to write the "D" for Daniel, then changed it to an "M" and added a superscript "c" followed by "Daniel." The "D" in Daniel is not written in the same style as other D's which suggests the flourish at the top of the "D" is really a "c.")
- an 1860 census record which indicates he was a 16-year old living on the nearby Vanbeber farm working as a laborer (the enumerator appears to have written Mack Sulfrage, but the record was originally indexed as Mack Salpage).
- his 1874 marriage record which indicated his name was Daniel Suffrage. Some researchers have interpreted his first name as David, but we believe a closer inspection of this record along with these other documents make the case that his name was Daniel on this marriage record.
- his Civil War Service Record which variously indicated his name was McDaniel Suffridge (twice), McDonald Suffridge, and McDonald Siefirege. Like so many East Tennesseans, McDaniel Sulfridge's record indicates he "deserted" at one point during his service. As indicated in Seals, Part 3, with the ebb and flow of the front lines during the war, many East Tennesseans had to make difficult choices when Union troops drew back from the Tennessee border. Often, soldiers chose to go home to protect their families, rather than leave them at the mercy of Confederate troops and sympathizers who often terrorized families that they believed supported the Union. These same troops usually went back to their units or joined others after spending time with their families to ensure their safety. The last document indicates that he mustered out of his regiment on Oct. 6, 1864 in Knoxville, Tenn.
- the 1917 death certificate of Arthur Sulfridge which indicated his father's name was Mack Sulfridge.
Putting all five of these primary records together strongly suggests that McDaniel Sulfridge was born in Tennessee between 1842 and 1844; that his parents were Thomas and Sarah Sulfridge; that he served in the Union Army during the Civil War like many other East Tennesseeans and that he preferred the name Mack over McDaniel. The outlier in this analysis is his marriage record which indicates his name was Daniel. Perhaps Mack Sulfridge gave the clerk his full first name and the clerk simply made a mistake in truncating it to Daniel.
By the late 1870s, Mack Sulfridge had died and, according to the 1880 census, Laney Sulfridge, a widow, and her son Arthur were living with Laney's divorced mother, Leney [Lucenia] Mullins, in Claiborne Co., Tenn. We suspect that sometime after the 1880 census, James W. Seal moved to Claiborne County. He married Laney J. Sulfridge in Claiborne County on May 20, 1886 (see marriage record). Children of James W. and Laney Seal were:
- Maude Seal, b. Feb. 1887, m. Pleasant Seal, d. Jan. 9, 1925 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. (see death certificate)
- Orvil Seal, b. July 1889, m. Eppie Rowe, d. April 18, 1955 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. (see death certificate)
- George W. Seal, b. May 1892, m. Emily Meyers on March 24, 1912 in Claiborne Co., Tenn., d. Aug. 28, 1927 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. (see death certificate)
- Burl Seal, b. May 1892, m. Mary Dulcenia Elizabeth McAfee on March 9, 1941.
- Thomas Seal, b. 1895, m. Ora Cope.
- Heaston Seal, b. 1898, m. Laura Bull.
- Margaret Jane Seal, b. June 2, 1901 in Claiborne Co., Tenn., m. Milton Kasper Parker on July 4, 1919, d. Oct. 1, 1925 in Caryville, Tenn.
The 1900 census indicated that James W. and Laney Jane Seals were living in Claiborne Co., Tenn. with their six children; also living with them were Grant Seal, son of James W. Seal and Emily Bird, and Arthur Sulfridge, Laney Jane's son by McDaniel (Mack) Sulfridge, and Arthur's wife and child. The enumerator indicated that Arthur's relationship to the head of the family was "son-in-law." Arthur would have been James W. Seals's stepson. Census and legal records often used the terms son-in-law and stepson interchangeably, particularly before the 20th century. Laney's name was spelled "Malanie" by the enumerator who also indicated the Seals had been married for 28 years. He was probably counting from the date of James W. Seal's first marriage to Emily Bird. In reality, James W. and Laney J. Seals had been married for fourteen years by 1900.
|Name||Relation||Sex||Date of Birth||Place of Birth||Profession||Read||Write|
|James W. Seals||Head||M||December 1851||Tennessee||Farmer||Yes||Yes|
|Malanie [Laney] J. Seals||Wife||F||July 1859||Tennessee||Yes||Yes|
|Grant E. Seals||Son||M||March 1882||Tennessee||Yes||Yes|
|Maud S. Seals||Daughter||F||February 1887||Tennessee||No||No|
|Arville[Orvil] Seals||Son||M||July 1889||Tennessee||No||No|
|George W. Seals||Son||M||May 1892||Tennessee|
|Burl H. Seals||Son||M||May 1892||Tennessee|
|Levi T. Seals||Son||M||April 1895||Tennessee|
|Heston B. Seals||Son||M||March 1898||Tennessee|
|Arthur Sulfrige||Son-in-Law||M||September 1877||Tennessee||Farm Laborer||Yes||Yes|
|Dora Sulfrige||S. Daughter||F||August 1879||Tennessee||Yes||Yes|
|Martha J. Sulfrige||G. Daughter||F||July 1898||Tennessee|
According to a book written in 1986, "All Our Churches of Claiborne County, Tennessee," James W. and Delaney Seals donated property for a church and school to be built on Rapshis Road in Big Sycamore. Seal Chapel Missionary Baptist Church was organized in May 1909. The church also served as a school from 1909 until the early 1950s. Here's a picture of the students from 1916. This photo appeared in the Claiborne Progress in 1995 to celebrate the reunion of former students that year. Many Seals and Sulfridge family members appear in the photo, including Margaret Jane Seals, daughter of James W. and Laney Seals, who was around age 15 when the photo was taken. See the article for the names of all the students. Margaret Jane Seals is in the second row, second from the left. See The Seals Family Homestead in Tennessee for more on the Seals home and the chapel's structural evolution through the years. It's clear from the 1916 photo that the chapel originally had wood siding. The wood structure was replaced with brick, both with and without the front covered porch. Finally, in recent years the brick construction was replaced with cement block with a covered porch across the entire front and wheelchair access.
James Washington Seals died on April 12, 1925 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. Laney Jane Seals died on March 25, 1941 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. Both are buried at Seal Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Claiborne Co., Tenn.
Margaret Jane Seals, daughter of James W. and Laney Jane Seals, was born in Claiborne Co., Tenn. on June 2, 1901. She married Milton K. Parker on July 4, 1919 in Tazewell, Tenn. Milton K. Parker was born on May 23, 1898 in Claiborne Co., Tenn. Children of Margaret Jane Seals and Milton K. Parker were all born in Tennessee:
- Warren G. Parker, b. Oct. 26, 1920 in Tazewell, Claiborne Co., Tenn., m. Kathleen Carmon.
- Esther Ruth Parker, b. Jan. 9, 1923 in Caryville, Campbell Co., Tenn., m. Ralph Ellis Pruiett on July 10, 1943 in Cincinnati, Ohio, d. Nov. 8, 2006 in Cincinnati, Hamilton Co., Ohio.
- Charles Hubert Parker, b. Nov. 22, 1924 in Caryville, Campbell Co., Tenn., m. Lucille Paquette.
See Parker, Part 3 for more on the life of Margaret Jane Seals and her marriage to Milton K. Parker. Margaret Jane (Seals) Parker died on Oct. 1, 1925 in Caryville, Campbell Co., Tenn. Milton K. Parker died on July 27, 1977 in Stanford, Lincoln Co., Ky.