An American Family History

Peet Seeley

  also spelled Cely, Scellie, Seley, Seeley, Seelye, Zieley  

The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

Peet Seeley was born on June 4, 1766.

He married Rebecca Peltor Peet in February, 1789 in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Truman Seeley,
Sarah Seeley (married Thomas Thompson),
Polly Seeley (married Benjamin Thompson), and
Peet Seeley (married Lydia Graves).

1797 census of Elizabethtown: Peet, Rebekah, Truman, Sarah, and an infant girl

Peet Seeley was in the 1805 assessment of Yonge Township.

1812, Aug. 2nd. Thomas Thompson and Sarah Selee, banns, both of Yonge, wit. Peet Selee, John Kincaid.
Aug. 2nd. Benjamin Thompson and Polly Selee, banns, both of Yonge, wit. Peet Selee, John Kincaid.

1828, Dec. 18th. Peet Selee and Lydia Graves, both of Elizabeth Town, lie. wit. Tho's. C. Thorne, Benj'n Thompson.

1833 Jan. 22nd. Peet Selee and Hannah Whooley, both of Elizabeth Town, lie. wit. Trueman Selee, E. Clow

Peet died in 1844 in Elizabethtown.




from Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Selee (Seeley), Peet (Peer, Peter), artisan, businessman, and militiaman; b. 4 June 1766 in the American colonies, probably in Connecticut; m. first Rebecca Peet, and they had at least nine children; m. secondly 22 Jan. 1833 Hannah Whooley (Woolley), a widow, and they had no children; d. 25 Nov. 1844 in Elizabethtown Township, Upper Canada.

A trained blacksmith, Peet Selee reputedly emigrated from Connecticut "with a company bound for the Bay of Quinte."All that is certain about his movements, however, is that he settled in Yonge Township in 1789. Possibly he had been attracted there by a number of Connecticut Selees in the Johnstown District. He farmed and, as one of the area’s earliest blacksmiths, he utilized the surrounding woods for charcoal, probably producing the simple iron implements needed by settlers. He apparently prospered and, according to an 1879 account, he participated in at least two partnerships: one with Caleb Seaman, another blacksmith; the other with Daniel Jones, an early Brockville mill proprietor. About 1805 Selee and others erected a sawmill on a creek near by in Elizabethtown Township. He then moved to the site, where he resumed forging and engaged apprentices.

During the War of 1812 Selee was in various local militia detachments. In 1821, however, his wartime loyalty – he had taken the oath of allegiance in 1801 – was questioned; it was alleged that he had conducted a clandestine ferry operation across the St Lawrence River and speculated in American land. One magistrate claimed in his defence that Selee had served during the war "without suspicion of aiding or assisting the enemy." The issue, however, did not die and four years later a legal suit was brought against him, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for the utterance of "seditious words."

Following the war Selee had expanded his enterprises, adding by 1818 a tavern, inn, and mercantile store to his milling and forging operations. To a limited extent he also speculated in unsettled lands in nearby townships. Although Selee worked as a blacksmith and miller until his death, after 1819 he gradually reduced his local landholdings. In 1825 he sold a major portion of them to his son Truman. By 1832 the tavern and store were closed but Selee continued to operate the sawmill, the site of which became the hamlet of Selee’s Corners. Following his death his wife Hannah inherited most of his estate, including his prized blacksmith’s tools.

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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