1863-5: Mary Ann (King) Seymour to Margaret Seymour


Mary Ann (King) Seymour — a poor washerwoman

These three letters were written by 50 year-old Mary Ann (King) Seymour (1814-1889), the widow of Newton Seymour (1807-1854) — both natives of Lincolnshire, England, who emigrated to America aboard the Barque Minstrel in May 1838 and settled in Michigan Territory soon afterwards. She wrote all three letters to her daughter, Margaret (“Maggie”) Seymour (1839-1928).


In this heart-rending 1863 letter, Mary Ann informs her daughter Maggie that she has received word by way of another soldier that Maggie’s younger brother, George Seymour (1842-1918), had been wounded in the fighting at Gettysburg while serving with the 16th Michigan Infantry, Co. I. The monument on Little Round Top reads: “The 16th Michigan held this position during the afternoon and night of July 2, 1863, and assisted in defeating the desperate attempts of the enemy to capture Little Round Top. Present for duty 17 officers, 339 men total 356. Casualties: 3 officers 20 men killed, 2 officers 32 men wounded, 3 men missing. Total 60.”


Addressed to Miss Maggie Seymour, Care of Mr. E. B. Jones, East Saginaw, Michigan
Postmarked Byron, Michigan

Argentine [Genesee county, Michigan]
July 23, 1863

Dear Daughter,

I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are well and hope these lines will find you enjoying the same blessing too. Maggie, we feel very bad to hear that our dear one is suffering as he is and no one there that can fill a Mother’s or a Sister’s place. Maggie, I think sometimes that I can not stand it but we must trust in the Lord. He doeth all things well.

Tommie Atherton ¹ is at home. He came home last week. He is wounded in the hip. I have not seen him yet but I saw his sister yesterday and she said that he had received a letter from one of the boys and he said that [your brother] George was wounded in the breast slightly but he did not know where he had gone. They took him from the field and he did not know [where] but I am going to send a letter to Baltimore today to the hospital as it is in the paper and I shall send it to the sergeant in charge. I shall not leave anything untried. We have written to others to try to find where he is and I hope and trust we shall hear from him before long and if you hear from him, do let me know as I know you will.

Oh Maggie, do come home and stay awhile. I do want to see you so bad. I do not know what to do. I think you could come home for awhile. If you thought you could, I wish you would.


Capt. David G. Royce, 6th Michigan Cavalry

I shall go to see Tommey tomorrow if nothing happens to prevent it. Then I shall hear all I can about George. That is the most we can do. We are going to find out and we shall not stop trying till we find out where he is—if it is possible. Captain [David G.] Royce ² came home from the army last week and was buried on Sunday. That is the captain of John Snook’s company and John Snook ³ is wounded in the hip. John Kelley is not wounded but he has been through 11 battles and come out all right all but once. He had his leg broke but it has been well a long time. He had a shot through his haversack at the Gettysburg battle but he came out without a scratch. I think he is lucky, don’t you? He was one of the first to go. He went in the Fifth [Michigan] Regiment.

Will writes that there are lots of men in the hospital where he is that has both legs off and both arms off. Some has their nose and lips shot off. Oh, Maggie, it is awful to think of but he said that they are doing well. But he said there are lots of them that has no home or friend in this world. Is it not awful. Oh Maggie, I can not bear to think of it—them that have no one to think of them. I know they must feel it—no friendly word to them.

I was at a sewing circle last week and we have sent a box from Byron. We have all helped to get the box up. We have sent it to the Potomac Army to the poor wounded soldiers.

¹ There was a William Atherton from Argentine on the roster of Co. I, 16th Michigan Infantry. I presume this was the “Tommy” Atherton mentioned in the letter.

² Capt. David G. Royce of Co. D, 6th Michigan Cavalry was killed at the Battle of Falling Water on 14 July 1863. He was buried in the Byron, Shiawassee county, Michigan cemetery.

³ John G. Snook of Argentine enlisted at age 18 in Co. D, 6th Michigan Cavalry.



Maggie Seymour


Mary Ann wrote this 1864 letter from Argentine, Genesee County, Michigan, to her 25 year-old daughter, Margaret (“Maggie”) Seymour (1839-1928), at the time in residence at East Saginaw, Michigan. Mary informs Maggie that her brother, George W. Seymour (1842-1918), can’t visit her in Saginaw because he is home on furlough and has been advised to stay near his home in Argentine, Michigan, lest he be suspected of being — and arrested as — a deserter from the Union army. George served from September 1862 to May 1865 in Company I, 16th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. Regiment records indicate that he was wounded but survived the war. Family records indicate that he married Nellie Elliott about 1877.

1864 Letter

1864 Letter

Addressed to Miss Maggie Seymour, Care of Mr. C. B. Jones, East Saginaw, Michigan

Argentine [Genesee County, Michigan]
July 19, 1864

My Dear Daughter,

I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well and hope these lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. I received your letter and photographs and I think they are very good. I will send you 50 cents to get two and send to me when you write to me. Cate has got hers and I want two and you can get them for me and send them. I will send a postage to pay the letter with them so it will not cost you anything but your trouble.

George has sent in and got his furlough extended but he can not come on to Saginaw. He would be taken for a deserter. He can not go anywhere — only round home — so you need not expect him. I do not know how long he will stay. He will have to report every little while. He told me to tell you that if he came out there, he would be grabbed up and he does not want to be taken off that way so you need not expect him out there this time.

I do not know whether I can write to Joy today but I want to. But the teacher is boarding here and we have so many that comes every day that I am tired of having so many here every day. We have 5 or 6 more than our folks every day so you may know how it goes. We have more than we want together.

I do not have any news to write so I shall close with my love to you. From your loving mother, — Mary Seymour

Write soon. Goodbye.



In this 1865 letter, Mary Ann (King) Seymour informs her daughter that she has heard from her son George Seymour (Co. I, 16th Michigan Infantry) and informs her that he has been wounded again but no so seriously that he had to be sent to the hospital.


Addressed to Miss Maggie Seymour, Care of Mr. C. B. Jones, East Saginaw, Michigan

Argentine, [Michigan]
March 6th 1865

Dear Daughter,

I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well and hope these lines will find you enjoying the same blessing, I received your letter and was glad to hear that you was well. I had a letter from George on the 4th dated the 22nd and he told me about being wounded and he is better—most well of his wound. He said a bullet him him and he fell down and he said it made all look blue for a spell but he did not lose his presence of mind [such] that he was took prisoner, and I thank God for that for it would be worse to be taken by the Rebels. ¹

But Maggie, I dreamed that George was at home and I saw him fall just as plain as if I really had seen it. He put his hand on his head and I asked him what the matter [was]. He said, “My head,” and fell back and that was just as I dreamed and I felt bad till Sam Atherton’s got a letter and he said that he was wounded but it was not bad. He did not have to go to the hospital but stayed with the regiment.

You said that you was glad that I was coming out but I am not coming. Mary has got a woman to stay with her and i am glad of it for i could not go to stay 2 or 3 months and it is better for her to get somebody that will or can stop for I could not and she said that she had got a good woman.

Now Maggie, I thank you for that dollar. There never was anything that came so good, My cow was sick. She had a little bossey and did no do well and thought that she never would, but she is getting some better now. I had to get a cow doctor and that dollar I paid for stuff to cure her and I hope she will get well.

And Maggie, you wanted to know if Toot was gone to enlist. He is not. The town is clear this call. I will tell you who has enlisted. Freeman and John, his brother Atherton, and Will’s brother John has enlisted and A. Wise that went when George did and got a discharge and now he is going again.

Mr. Mires [Myers?] is very sick. He has not spoke since last night. That is all the news that I know so I shall close. From your loving mother, — M. A. Seymour

I think you can not read this. My pen is so bad. Write soon.

¹ George must have been wounded in the fighting at Dabney’s Mills (Hatcher’s Run) of February 5-7, 1865.




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