Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Great Grand Aunt Miriam Agnes Thayer Seeley

Miriam and "Miltie"
My great grand aunt Miriam Agnes Thayer Seeley seems to me to be a tragic character. Her father (also my Great-Great-Grandfather, Frederick Albert Thayer) died when she was six. She married a bit later in life had no children and then died at 42 after an illness (of which I can find no details) and was childless. Her husband, Milton John Seeley, remarried a woman they both knew who had attended Wellesley same as she. Indeed, Milton and his new wife (Eva A "Short" Brunelle) went on to become famous for breeding Malamutes. Sad to say that I really knew nothing of her until I started researching the Thayer family and found her photos.

My aunt Dorothy Flint Schell was apparently quite fond of her. They corresponded right up until her death. However, to my recollection nobody in the family mentioned her. Not great-grandma Bertha, not Dorothy, not Grandpa Charles, not Mom (who never knew her but loved to talk about family), nobody. Now that I've found her letters it is quite interesting how accurate my other research of her has been. Still, she was nearly forgotten.

She must have been a hoot. She was apparently athletic being the a professor of physical education for women at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). Her husband, Milton, was a professor of chemistry there. She seems to have been tight with a buck and yet a risk taker as demonstrated in her 9000+ mile trip around the country via auto in 1916 (with her husband). The Maxwell auto people even touted her trip and the low cost of repairs (they drove a Maxwell) in their advertising. Her letters, even what appears to have been her last letter in November 1919 mentioning her illness (only very briefly) are up-beat and lively. Interestingly, one of those last letters mentions that "Miltie" wants to get a dog and that she's not sure it is worth the trouble. How ironic that he really makes a name for himself in creating the dog food and breed, Malamutes, used to make the historic explorations of the Arctic and Antarctic AFTER he remarries.

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