A Seaman's Journey

Adventures of a Lifetime

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My Grandfather

Albert

Albert Leroy Seaman was a righteous man.  Like many righteous men, he was proud and brutal.  And these traits left him devoid of compassion and affection. He knew that his ways were best and he was forceful in bringing order to those around him.  I've grown to despise those who desire to exert domination over others.

Albert was born in 1878, just 13 years after the Lincoln assassination.  He grew up around Union Town, Pennsylvania, which was the site of a major victory of the colonists over the British.  The area between West Virginia and Pittsburgh is dominated by coal mines.  Most of the resident living there are held in abject poverty by the mining companies.

Albert Leroy was the son of a 38 year old preacher named Albert Redfield  (born in 1841).  His grandfather, James was born in 1802, when Thomas Jefferson was president.  Old fathers seem to be the norm in this branch of the family:  Albert Leroy 52, Albert Redfield 38,  James 39.  My great-great-grandfather was born when Jefferson was president.

Albert had a very clear view of right and wrong and a deep desire to change the world.  My father can never recall him ever laughing or smiling.  He was a proud man, whose self-righteousness crowded out empathy. He never smoked, drank, gambled or chased women.  He was just the kind of man that would work his way to heaven.

Family Plan

I've grown to think of Albert as the Beast in the family tree.   This man would release devastation and catastrophe that would affect the lives of dozens of people for four generations. Albert seems to be the main source of the Seaman family curse.

At 25 Albert married his first wife and had a daughter. They divorced soon after, apparently over his wife refusal to  have many children. Albert was then single for 25 years.  At 50 he married Clara who was the exact age of his daughter.   Albert and Clara went on to have eleven children until his death eighteen years later.

When my dad was four years old, Clara had a nervous breakdown, and assaulted her infant baby.  The police came and removed Clara from the home. She was placed in a mental hospital. 

News Coverage

The following is a copy of a news clipping published December 20th, 1936 in the Uniontown Herald.


MOTHER, FOILED IN MURDER OF HER FIVE CHILDREN, LIES WEEPING IN FAYETTE PRISON

UNIONTOWN, Pennsylvania., Dec. 20, 1936. — Doomed to die at the hands of their mother, who held a missile over their heads as they slept, five children of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Seaman of Connellsville, were saved by the pitiful cries of William, 3, listed as the first victim.

Had the first blow of a heavy bottle, ap­plied to the baby's head, produced uncon­sciousness, the massacre would have been completed, according to the mother, Mrs. Clara Leichliter Seaman, 31. William had crawled into bed and cuddled up to his mother, who had been ill, physically and mentally.

The other children marked for death were: Clark, 7; Allan, 6; David, 4, and Ruth Ann, 15 months. In the Fayette county jail, waiting a mental examination, which may send her back to the Torrance Hospital for the feeble-minded, Mrs. Seaman, appearing normal, said:

“I had planned to use a heavy hammer, hitting all of them on the temples so hard that one blow would have been fatal. I fought against it and even locked myself in a bed­room, so that I wouldn't do it.

“Little William came after me and crawled into bed at my side. He was in his sleepers. I saw the bottle on the stand near the bed. I struck him violently behind the ear, and in­stead of dying he started to cry, I struck him again and again. he just kept on crying. It seemed as if God didn’t want him to die, when those blows didn't kill him.

“I felt sorry for him and called a doctor and later telephoned state police. Willie tumbled down stairs with blood flowing from the wounds. Oh God, how could I have ever done it?

“I was in Torrance last year and my hus­band was going to send me back for good. I thought about my children. I didn't want to leave them behind. They never were abused, but I knew they would be neglected if I left them behind. But it seemed to me that Willie needed me more than the rest.

“We kept going in debt—we’re in now about $3,000. Perhaps that doesn't seem like much, but my husband will be retired in a few years—he’s 58 now. My husband was always building crazy additions to the house. I didn't have blinds for all the rooms.

“They'll never trust me with the children again. Maybe I didn't kill them, but still I am a murderess in the sight of God, because I in­tended to kill them.

“I didn't want to cause William any pain. I thought one blow would be enough to kill him. I hit him three times and he looked up at me, crying as if I should help him. I saw then I couldn't kill him or any of them. William kept his eyes open and right on me while I was hitting him. That's what saved him and the others.”

On her cot in jail Mrs. Seaman sobbed piteously, fully believing that she will be re­turned to Torrance and be separated from her children. Over and over again she moaned, “They'll never let me have my babies now.”

Albert Seaman is a well-known Connellsville mail carrier.


Aftermath

The family effectively dissolved at that point and most of the kids were removed from the home.  Many of the children were put in foster homes where they were abused and neglected.

Clara was institutionalized intermittently after that time.  Each time she would return home she would get pregnant.  It is hard to overstate the misery that was released into so many lives for the callousness of one man.    Many of these eleven kids chose not to have families at all and the ones that did often struggled to lead a healthy family life.

A Genogram is a tool that therapists use to examine family relationships by looking at the relational dynamics of the last three to four generations.  I recently did this exercise of my tree from my grandparents to my kids.  What jumped out was how much pain was caused by Albert Leroy Seaman.  He truly is the Best in the family tree!

Actions have consequences, and the most intense forms of neglect and abuse can be felt for many generations sending massive ripples through the family tree.  These events took place 85 years ago but still have an impact on people today.

A large percentage of the entire Seaman family (descendants of Albert) suffer from a wide variety of mental health disorders.  But we are seeking to overcome the painful legacy of the Seaman family curse.

It is a comfort to know that even in the wake of tragedy that redemption and healing can be found.