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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Hon. William Henry Seaman

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 669 - 670

Hon. William Henry Seaman, United States Judge of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, is a native of the Badger State, born in the town of New Berlin, then Milwaukee, now Waukesha, County, on the 15th of November, 1842. He is a son of Williams and Arelisle (Crane) Seaman, pioneers of Wisconsin and distinguished early settlers of Sheboygan County, of whom see sketch elsewhere in this work.

Judge Seaman came to Sheboygan with his parents in the winter of 1845-46, and was educated in the public schools of this city. He began learning the printer's trade in the office of the Evergreen City Times, but laid down the stick to take up the musket when the late Civil War broke out. On the 19th of September, 1861, he enlisted as a private of Company H, First Regiment Wisconsin Infantry, under Col. Starkweather, for three years, and went to the front. He served a year with his regiment, advancing to be Corporal, and later Sergeant, when he was detailed for service at headquarters of Gen. Thomas, where he was employed two years in the Quartermaster's department. From October, 1864, to September, 1866, after mustering out, he was Chief Clerk in the department at Nashville and Mobile. While with his regiment, he participated in the battles oŁ Perryville, Murfreesboro, Stone River, Chickamauga, and in the Atlanta campaign. During the battle of Nashville he served as Orderly under Gen. Thomas.

On his return from the army in September, 1866, he resumed the study of law, which he had undertaken while a typo, prior to entering the service. His early preceptor was C. W. Ellis, of Sheboygan, with whom he studied for two years, and to whose thorough and systematic training the Judge attributes the broad and sure foundation of his professional career, which has placed him upon the United States Bench in his early prime. Soon after his return from the field, he pursued his legal studies under the direction of J. A. Bentley, an eminent lawyer of the Chair City. Being admitted to the Bar in June of 1868, he at once formed a partnership with Mr. Bentley, which connection was continued until Mr. Bentley was appointed Commissioner of Pensions, under President Grant. Subsequent to that event, or from 1874, Judge Seaman pursued the practice of his profession alone until 1882, when he formed a law partnership with Francis Williams, under the firm name of Seaman & Williams, which connection was continued until April 1, 1893, when it was discontinued by the promotion of Judge Seaman to the United States Bench. His appointment bears the date March 27, 1893.

In politics, the Judge is an old-line Democrat, and is descended from stanch Democratic ancestry. His father was an earnest Democrat, and his paternal grandfather was a Democratic State Senator in New York, and for twenty years one of the group who had the ruling hand in politics in the Empire State in the Jacksonian days, and those just preceding them. Our subject has always taken an active part in the enunciation of Democratic principles, and in the past ten years has borne a more or less prominent part in local, State and national politics. In 1888 he was Chairman of the Democratic State Convention, and the same year was a delegate to the National Convention at St. Louis, and was member of the Committee on Platform. During campaigns he has rendered valuable service on the stump and in party councils. He has never been ambitious of official distinction, but has served in various municipal offices—for three terms as Alderman, one term as Mayor of Sheboygan, and for seven or eight years he served on the Board of Education, holding the office of President of that body during the time. In September, 1891, he was appointed a member of the Board of Regents of the Wisconsin University, served two years, and was re-appointed, but has been obliged to resign the office on account of his elevation to the United States Bench.

On the 17th of December, 1868, Judge Seaman was married at Glens Falls, N. Y., to Miss Mary A. Peat, a daughter of William and Jane (Brockburn) Peat. Mrs. Seaman was born in Albany, N. Y., of English parentage Three children were born of their union, a son and two daughters: Arelisle, Charles and Mary. All are natives of Sheboygan. The son is a student of the Wisconsin State University, and the daughters are graduates of the Sheboygan High School, and have attended school in Boston since. The Judge and Mrs. Seaman are members of the Congregational Church.

Judge Seaman is a Knight Templar Mason, a member of Sheboygan Lodge No. 11, A. F. & A. M., and of Fond du Lac Commandery No. 5, K. T. He is also a member of Jairus Richard Post No. 12, G. A. R., of Sheboygan Falls, and has always been an earnest supporter of all legitimate efforts to benefit the old soldiers and to perpetuate their memory. The soldiers' monument at Sheboygan, that ornaments the park and serves to cherish the memory of those devoted heroes who laid down their lives for the maintenance and preservation of the Union, had no more active or influential worker in its support than the subject of this record.

Judge Seaman has always been one among the foremost and enterprising citizens of Sheboygan to encourage and advance every interest that was calculated to benefit the city and the county. He was one of the first to favor and extend the manufacturing industries of the city. He was a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary of the Sheboygan Chair Company at its inception, and is still a stock-holder in that important corporation. Mr. Seaman was one of the incorporators and founders of the old Sheboygan Manufacturing Company, the first manufactory established in the city, and of which the present Sheboygan Chair Company is an out growth. He was also one of the incorporators of the Phoenix Chair Company, one of the most extensive concerns in its line in the State. He is at present Vice-President of the Bank of Sheboygan.

In his profession, Judge Seaman has been eminently successful from the beginning of his career, which has just now completed a quarter of a century. His superior legal attainments, industry and conscientious discharge of every duty to his clients, won for him the confidence and respect of the Court and Bar, as well as of those who retained him, and insured for him a large and lucrative practice. His course in life has been distinguished by strict integrity, a high sense of honor, studiousness and a marked devotion to his profession, which, with a natural gift of oratory and a mind adapted to jurisprudence, combined the necessary elements that insured success. It is to his high standing as a lawyer and unblemished record as a man, that the unsought honor of his recent appointment to the United States Bench is to be attributed, rather than to political or other influences.

Possessed of a genial, winning, yet unassuming manner, Judge Seaman is one of the most entertaining and companionable of men, and it can be said without question that no man in Wisconsin enjoys a more devoted host of warm friends and admirers, regardless of party affiliations, than he who is the subject of this brief sketch.

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