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Horatio Seymour Jr.

Horatio Seymour Jr. was born in Utica, New York, on January 8, 1844. Educated as a youth at a local academy, he graduated from Yale College in 1867 and later earned a master's degree from the college's highly regarded Sheffield Scientific School. After his graduation, Seymour successively worked as a civil engineer and surveyor for the city of Utica, four railroads in the Northeastern United States, and two Pennsylvania coal companies. In 1874, he was appointed assistant engineer on the Erie Canal, and three years later, he was elected to serve as New York's first state engineer and surveyor in the state capital of Albany.

Shortly after his term of office concluded in New York, Seymour moved in April 1882 to Marquette, Michigan, where he was hired to serve as local agent for the Michigan Land & Iron Company. Although he was fully occupied managing his employer's 400,000 acres in Marquette and Baraga Counties, Seymour somehow found time to undertake a number of other activities beneficial to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

In 1883, Seymour created a special display for the National Railway Exposition in Chicago that featured the wood and mineral resources of the Upper Peninsula. In 1886, he joined Michigan Governor Russell A. Alger, Jay Hubbell, and Peter White to successfully lobby the U.S. Congress to build the expanded Poe Lock at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. The following year, Seymour served as chairman of the Marquette Sewer Commission, a body formed to improve the city's waste sanitation system. In 1888, he became superintendent of construction for the new federal building in Marquette, and in 1889, he proposed--and then helped found and organize--the famous Huron Mountain Club in Marquette County.

Seymour remained involved through the end of the nineteenth century. In 1892, the Canal Improvement Union adopted his plan for widening and deepening the Erie Canal, thus enabling two boats to pass at one time. The following year, he was placed on the advisory council of the World's Columbian Water Commerce Congress, and in 1894, he was responsible for planting the first brown trout in the Upper Peninsula by introducing 20,000 fish into the Dead and Chocolay Rivers. Finally, in 1896, he created the Marquette golf course, also known as the Seymour Club, which comprised the first links laid out in the Upper Peninsula.

While Seymour had been good for Michigan, life had been hard on him. By the turn of the century, he was nearly deaf and wheelchair-bound. By March 1903, he could no longer fulfill his duties to his employer, so he resigned his position with the land company and returned to his hometown of Utica, New York. It was there, on February 21, 1907, that he died of the flu at the age of 63. Though Seymour spent only part of his life in Michigan, his accomplishments in the Great Lakes State exceeded those of most people who were lifelong residents of the state.

by Le Roy G. Barnett

Le Roy G. Barnett has been a Michigan historian for 44 years.

(Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center.)

Caption: Horatio Seymour Jr., c. 1890s.

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Publishing Co.)

Caption: A postcard of the Poe Lock at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, for which Horatio Seymour Jr. successfully lobbied in 1886.

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.
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Title Annotation:PROFILES those who have left an impression upon the Great Lakes State
Author:Barnett, Le Roy G.
Publication:Michigan History Magazine
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2018
Words:564
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