Col. John and Mary Seward
Compiled By Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandson Edward K. Hine, Jr. ("Ted")
August 2005 (Updated March 2012)

     Colonel John Seward

     Born: June 10, 1765 in Hardyston, Sussex Co., NJ
     Died:  April 1845 or 1847 likely in or near Hillsboro, IL
     Cause of Death:   Unknown
Age at Death:  79 or 81
     Buried:  Oak Grove Cemetery, Hillsboro, Illinois
     (GPS N 39 09.384, W 089 30.036  8 feet - WGS84 Datum)

     Father:      Col. John Seward (1730-1797)
     Mother:     Mary Swazey (1733-1816)
     Siblings:   Samuel S. Seward and others

Mary Butler-Seward

Born:  September 10, 1767 likely in NJ
Died:  October 2, 1841 in or near Hillsboro, IL
Cause of Death:  Unknown
Age at Death:  74
Buried:  Oak Grove Cemetery, Hillsboro, Illinois
 (GPS N 39 09.384, W 089 30.036  8 feet - WGS84 Datum)

Father:      Unknown
Mother:     Unknown
Siblings:   Unknown

     Married:  June 12, 1785 probably in New Jersey


Children:  Israel Seward (1795-1869)
                  Francis (Fanny), Nancy,
                  John Butler, Jane, Martha Maria,
                  Obadiah, Emeline, Harriet

About Col. John and Mary Butler-Seward

John Seward was born in Hardyston, Sussex County, New Jersey in 1765.  He shared his name with his father, also John Seward (1730-1797), who had fought the British as a Colonel in the American Revolutionary War and descended from Obadiah Seward who shows up on Long Island (NY) in the 1600's.  John Seward (the younger) was an uncle of William Henry Seward who was President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State (of "Seward's Folly" fame) after being Governor of New York and a Senator from that state.

Undated photo from page 80 of "Obadiah Seward
of Long Island, New York and His Descendents" by
 Frederick W. Seward, Jr. (1948).  The location may
actually be Hardiston, NJ, (now Hardistonville in
Sussex County).

John grew up in northern New Jersey and apparently lived at least for a time in Hurdstown (perhaps actually Hardiston, now Hardistonville in Sussex County) and also perhaps for at time in Vernon (where his son Israel was born).   In 1785 he married Mary Butler (born in 1767).    In New Jersey, John is believed to have primarily been a farmer though one reference indicates that he was a Justice of the Pease for many years and a Commissioner of Deeds with some bearing his name going back to 1790.

All of John and Mary's 9 children were born in New Jersey between 1787 and 1807.   Two of the children, Obadiah and Emeline, died before the age of 10.

Records show that John was commissioned a Colonel on November 25, 1809 in his fathers regiment (the 2nd Sussex) and that he commanded this regiment during the War of 1812.  His son Israel served as a drummer boy in his regiment during this war.

Moves Westward

In 1815 Col. John Seward (age 50), his wife Mary, and most of their children (including Israel, Nancy, John Butler, Martha, Harriet, and probably Jane) left New Jersey and settled for a time near what is today Cincinnati, Ohio.  There is no specific record as to why the family moved to Ohio nor what Col. John Seward did for a living there but Seward histories suggest that a number of related Sewards moved to this area at about the same time.  John's son Israel would meet and marry his wife Margaret Slayback-Seward here.

In 1819 son Israel Seward along with his new wife and 15 month old son William left Ohio and settled farther west in what is now Butler Grove Township, Montgomery County, Illinois (about 2 miles north west of today's town of Hillsboro, IL).   Israel and his family are credited with being the second settlers in this part of Illinois.   It is not clear whether Col. John Seward and other members of his family traveled to what is now Butler with his son Israel or followed shortly thereafter but John, his wife Mary, son John Butler Seward, and daughter Harriet are documented as  living with Israel near Butler by 1821.  John and Mary would spend the rest of their lives there.   Not long after John and Mary Seward settled near Butler with son Israel, their daughter Martha Maria and her husband George Burnap would also relocate to the Butler area from near what is today Cincinnati.  John and Mary's daughter Nancy and her second husband Daniel Seward (a cousin and also a descendent of Obadiah Seward from a different branch of the family) moved to Hillsboro in the late 1830's.  There is also good circumstantial evidence that John's daughter Jane and her second husband James Glenn also lived in or near Hillsboro but when they would have come to the area is unknown.  Thus, at least 5 and perhaps 6 of John and Mary's children also would come to live in the Butler/Hillsboro area.

Life on the Illinois frontier in the Butler/Hillsboro area was challenging in the early years.   Click on the following link to learn more:

Pioneer Life in Hillsboro

Historical information records that in 1821 Col. John Seward served as one of the first 3 county commissioners of the newly formed Montgomery County, IL and that he also served on the first grand jury of the circuit court in the area.

Apparently Col. John and Mary Seward lived with son Israel and Margaret Seward for much if not all their years in Butler.  Several historical sources suggest this with one indicating that the two families were sharing a log cabin in the early pioneer days and another suggesting that they lived in the same home some years later when Israel built a much larger home for his family.  Israel's home was for many years a mail stop, stage stop, and inn on what became known as the Vandalia-Springfield Road.  Abraham Lincoln regularly stayed there long before entering national politics and becoming President.  It is likely that Col. John and Mary Seward helped Israel run the inn as well as helped Israel farm his land along with any land that John may have acquired.

John and Mary apparently stayed in contact with their east coast relatives and around 1831 made the long journey back to New Jersey from Illinois for a visit.   James P. Snell, in his History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey, published in 1881, says that "when an old man, nearly fifty years ago, [John Seward, b. 1765, s/o Col. John and Mary Swezey] came on a visit with his wife to their relatives in Sussex and Orange Counties."  The visit would have been around 1831 when John was about 66 years old and Mary about 64 and after they had lived in the Hillsboro area for perhaps 10 years.

Interesting Writings about the Sewards

In 1937 a tribute to the Seward's as early Butler, Illinois pioneers was presented to the Butler community at a school alumni gathering.   The text has survived and provides a fascinating look at the Seward's early days in the Butler/Hillsboro area.

Butler Pioneers

The book "A Woman's Story of Pioneer Illinois" by Christiana Holmes Tillson includes some passages with references to Israel and his father John Seward and their families in the early 1820's.

View Book Passages

An article in the Montgomery County News (February 5, 1873) by A.H.H. Rountree contains an interesting passage about the Sewards.

Rountree Passage

More About John Seward and His Father (also John Seward)

In 2007 Seward descendent and genealogist James R. Kuttler completed a detailed genealogical history of the Seward family in the United States which includes much research regarding John Seward, his father John and son Israel.  It contains more information than I've presented here and includes much about the elder Seward's service during the Revolutionary War.   Some of Mr. Kuttler's information has come from me and much of it from other sources. To view his sections on the two John Seward's (and Israel Seward):

About the 2 John Sewards and Israel

Final Resting Place

Col. John Seward passed away in April of either 1845 or 1847.   There are discrepancies as to his date of death in the historical records and the date on his gravestone had become unreadable by 2004 when I visited it.   Mary Butler-Seward died on October 2, 1841.  Both are buried in the old Seward family plot in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Hillsboro, Illinois along with their son Israel Seward, daughter-in-law Margaret Slayback Seward, and other descendents.

The Old Seward Plot, Oak Grove Cemetery, Hillsboro, Illinois.  From left to right:
Capt. James G. Seward (1834-1864, Israel's son),  Margaret-Slayback Seward (1798-1877, Israel's wife), Israel Seward (1795-1869), Margaret M. Seward (?-1848, wife of Israel's son Charles), Mary Butler-Seward (1767-1841, Israel's mother), Col. John Seward (1765-1847, Israel's father).
Photo by Ted Hine - December 2004
(GPS N 39 09.384, W 089 30.036  8 feet - WGS84 Datum)

More About The Oak Grove Cemetery

Source Material

Material for this biography has come from a number of different sources most of which are documented in the following:

  A 1948 book by Frederick W. Seward traces the history of the Seward family in the United States starting with Obadiah Seward.

Hillsboro Source Material (PDF)


Obadiah Seward Book (PDF)