Friday, March 1, 2013

"One of the Best Things For the Town: Chauncey A. Seaman and the Sedgwick Nursery"

Researched by museum volunteer, Thomas Carrell
Written by Kristine Schmucker, Curator 

In connection with our new exhibit featuring the oldest town in Harvey County, we will be posting articles highlighting the people and business of Sedgwick throughout the year.

On what was surely a hot Kansas day in August 1887, twenty-five year old Chauncey A. Seaman arrived in Sedgwick, Kansas. Eighteen years after  Charles Schaefer established the first business in Sedgwick, the town was thriving. 

Chauncey A. Seaman
A Kansas native, Seaman was born in Linn County, Kansas, on March 24, 1862.  Seaman, no doubt, was looking for a place to establish himself and make a life. He soon became involved in a local business, the Sedgwick Nursery, owned and operated by Samuel B. Shirk.
Sedgwick Nursery, 490 E. 7th, Sedgwick
ca. 1910
Photo taken from Glenn Manning Barn
HCHM Photo Collection
Shirk had moved to Harvey County from Lancaster, PA in 1884 with his wife Barbara, one son, David, and two daughters, Medessa and Anna, and started a nursery  business near Sedgwick.  The Sedgwick Nursery was located at 490 E. 7th near Sedgwick and consisted of 200 acres.
In 1886, Barbara died; a few years later Shirk married for the second time to  a widow, Anna Musser.  
Grafting, 1898
Photo Courtesy Sedgwick Historical Museum
Soon after Chauncey A. Seaman arrived in Sedgwick, he began working for Shirk at the nursery.  On September 10, 1889, Seaman married Anna Shirk. 
In 1892,  Seaman bought Sedgwick Nursery from his father-in-law. For the next several years, Seaman operated the successful business.  At some point John P. Schermerhorn became a business partner in the nursery.  In May 1900, Seaman sold his part of the business to Schermerhorn. 
Sedgwick Nursery
HCHM Photo Collection
The Sedgwick Pantagraph noted the change of ownership with praise for what the business had meant to the community.
"The Sedgwick nursery company, which organized several years ago proved one of the best things for the town that ever located here, as it gave employment to a large force of m en, conducted a big mail business which benefitted the post office and printer, and was an institution which advertised the town far and wide."  (Sedgwick Pantagraph, 3 May 1900)
Schermerhorn continued to operate a nursery in Sedgwick until approximately 1910. Seaman continued to actively work in the Sedgwick community, serving as mayor 1899 - 1900 and 1909 - 1911.  During this time he was also the president of the Sedgwick State Bank from 1900 to 1940.   Seaman retired in 1940 due to ill health and passed away at Bethel Hospital, Newton, on November 13, 1947.

 Sedgwick Historical Museum Photograph Collection
 Sedgwick Pantagraph, 3 May 1900
Sedgwick Pantagraph 26 October 1911
Evening Kansan, 12 March 1935;
"Chauncey A. Seaman Obituary", ND, original in possession of Deborah Austin
Sedgwick Nursery
ca. 1910
HCHM Photo Collection

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