Family Stories

The Seay Family of Washington County, Kentucky

from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky

As compiled from newspaper articles by Orval W. Baylor

A Short Sketch of the Seay Family

By James A. Seay

Editorial Note:  The following brief sketch of the Seay Family written by James A. Seay in 1906 has lately come into our hands.  This family, headed by Jacob Seay, a Revolutionary Soldier, a Justice of the Peace and prominent pioneer resident of Washington County, was long identified with the history of the county.  We publish the sketch without revision, as James A. Seay wrote it thirty years ago for his son, Dr. E. V. Seay of Salvisa, Kentucky.

To All Whom It May Concern

The writer, James A. Seay, desires to leave with his children after he may be dead, a little history of the Seay Family that left the State of Virginia about the year of 1790 and went to the four winds, as it was.

There were six brothers who agreed among themselves that they would all leave Virginia and settle in different states never to meet again.  This they did about the year 1790.  My grandfather, Jacob Seay, one of the six brothers, came to the state of Kentucky and settled in Washington County two miles west of Springfield on the Bardstown Road.  He bought lands, built good houses, owned slaves (one lived to be one hundred and thirty years old) reared a family consisting of six boys and two girls.  Their names are as follows:  John, Barnett, Booker, William, Austin, Richard, Nancy and Betsy.

Betsy married Reuben Mock, a gunsmith by trade.  Nancy married a man by the name of Dean, and she and husband and brother, Barnett, moved to Graves County, Kentucky, in an early day before there were any steam boats or railroads in Kentucky.  They went down the Ohio River on a flat bottom boat.  John moved to the State of Indiana and reared a family.  Booker, William, Austin and Richard all died in Washington County, Kentucky.

My grandfather, Jacob Seay, was a very healthy man.  He lived to be ninety-two years old.   He served in the Revolutionary War with Great Britain and was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.  He never belonged to any church, but was an honest, truthful and upright man in all his dealings.  The land he owned and reared his family on lies between the Bardstown Road and Cartwright Creek and is now owned by the Sisters of Charity or Nuns.  The maiden name of my grandmother, wife of Jacob Seay, is not known to the writer.  She lived to a good old age and was baptized three days before her death by a Christian preacher.  They were both buried in the old burying ground near their old home, but the tombstones that marked their sleeping place have long since been broken down and now nothing marks the place.

My grandfather on my grandmother’s side was Phillip Mattingly.  He lived in Washington County, Kentucky, and built the first flour mill at Beechland, then known as Poortown.  He also dug a race one and a half miles long to furnish water to run his mill which cost him a large sum of money.  His mill has passed through the hands of several men since his day (to wit) Jimmie Ryan, Samuel Reding, Evan Rogers, Samuel Vanarsdall and others.  Parts of the old mill and the race still remain, and furnish bread for the people of the place.

My grandmother’s name, wife of Phillip Mattingly, was Yeager, daughter of Cornelius Yeager.  My father, Austin Seay and Rosa Mattingly were married in the year of 1841.  To this marriage was born nine children, five girls and four boys.  Their names are as follows:  James A., William, Mary, Ann, Hettie, Booker, Steve, Mattie and Sudia.  William was killed by the fall of an old dead tree when four years old.

My father, Austin Seay, never belonged to any church, but loved to read the Bible, loved truth and was honest to the letter.  My mother, Rosa Seay, belonged to the Catholic Church and reared eight children out of nine in that faith, the writer of this sketch being the exception who joined the Christian Church in a grove near the noted Tatum Springs on Chaplin River in the year 1860 and was baptized in Glens Creek by one Preacher Price, about three hundred yards from its mouth.  My mother’s people all left Washington County in the year 1848 and settled in Lincoln County, Missouri.  My father died August 29, 1872.  My mother died in the year 1879.  He was buried at Willisburg, Kentucky, and she at St. Rose in the Catholic Cemetery.

James A. Seay, son of Austin and Rosa Seay, was born near Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky, March 2, 1842, was reared on a farm near Willisburg, Kentucky.  Served in the War between the States.  Married, December 19, 1863, to Sarah Mayes, daughter of James and Elizabeth Mayes.  To this marriage was born seven children (to wit) William M., James B., Stephen M., Ezra V., John H., the other two died in infancy.  Sarah J. Seay, the mother of these children died September 5, 1880, and is buried at Willisburg, Kentucky.  On October 16, 1881, J. A. Seay was married to Nancy A. Mayes, sister of first wife.  To this marriage was born five children (to wit) Asa F., Effie M., Herbert P., Ollie and Hettie.  Nancy A. Seay, the mother of these children, died March 23, 1894.  On December 10, 1894, J. A. Seay was married to Paralee Mayes, sister of the two former wives.  To this marriage was born four children, one dying in infancy.  The others as follows:  Austin L., Harold Thomas and Maurice.

4 replies »

  1. What a great history; I enjoyed reading it. By any chance have you discovered the other five brothers of your Jacob Seay?

    In the 1840s-50s, there was another Seay family which migrated into Graves County from Spotsylvania County, VA via Williamson County, Tennessee, the family of John Thomas Seay, first born son of Carr W. Seay and Jane Seay (Dillard) of Spotsylvania County. John Thomas Seay and his wife Sarah Etherton remained in Graves County and parented many children there. I descend from the second son of Carr W. Seay, William Anthony Seay. I do not know how the two families are related.

    Thanks again for putting this site on the web.

    Jim Seay, Jr.
    Wilmington NC

    • Hello Jim. My Hill family lived adjacent to Jacob Seay in Amelia County, Virginia. I’m pretty sure my Hill line is related to the Seays in some fashion, though I’m not exactly sure how. The Seays and Samuel Luck of Spotsylvania County were related, and one of my Hill relatives married a daughter of Samuel Luck as well. I’ve just begun looking into the possible Hill-Seay connection, so I don’t have much to share, but there is a website that contains information about the Seay-Luck connection of Spotsylvania County. Perhaps it would be of interest to you: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~shadywoo/seay/articles/early_seays.htm

      Mike Hill
      Fayetteville, Arkansas

  2. Thank you Mike; I’ll check out that website. Yes, there is a known connection between the Lucks of Spotsylvania County and the Seays of Amelia. The Amelia Seays, for the most part, trace a paper trail back to old Jacob Seay. Old Jacob (one of the four great Seay patriarchs) had a son named Moses who married Elizabeth Luck from Spotsyvania County, VA.

    Good to know the Hill family lived next to Jacob.

  3. The Irish immigrant was Mathew See/Seay whose neighbor was Isaac Hill. King William County, Va., late 1600’s. Some speculate that Mathew married Isaac’s daughter. Mathew’s eldest son was named Isaac.

Any thoughts?

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