The Gentleman Vanishes: What Happened to Zalmon B. Seacord?

I have a hunch that these Seacords are cousins through our Secor line (on the McClintock side)…I haven’t proved the connection yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re getting there. Note: The name Secor is spelled as Secord, Seacord, Seacor, Sycard, and Sicard, which is said to be the original spelling.

zalmon seacord house
The Zalmon Seacord House – Westchester County Historical Society Zalman Seacord house, southeast corner of Huguenot and Anderson Street, New Rochelle, N.Y.

“Bet if you dug down, he wouldn’t be there.” – A Seacord descendent

Leave it to cousin Ben to send a lead that dropped me down a genealogy rabbit hole yesterday. 🙂 I’m trying to trace our Secor ancestry, but the trail gets murky after our Pennsylvania grandcestor John Secor.

Ben has a DNA match with a cousin whose family tree shows Louisa Seacord, born 1844. That’s a new-to-me name to explore with a possible DNA connection! A quick search around Ancestry for Seacords brought me to the Israel Seacord Cemetery in New Rochelle, N.Y. New Rochelle is a hotspot for Seacords/Secords, so that location isn’t a surprise.

But, Israel? I wondered if it’s a Jewish cemetery. Turns out the cemetery is named after a man, Israel Seacord, who sold that land to the Methodist church. Israel lived next door, where he had his own family burying ground, which eventually merged with the church’s.

israel seacord house
The Israel Seacord House is still standing! [Photo from Flickr]
Back to tracing Louisa Seacord’s family to find a connection to my Pennsylvania Secors– if there is one. On an 1880 census, I see Louisa Seacord living in New Rochelle with her husband, David F. Davids, and an older couple, Darius Seacor and his wife. The presumption would be that Darius is Louisa’s father, especially since that’s what the census says. But…

1880 census census louisa seacord davids
1880 Federal Census, New Rochelle, Westchester, New York; Roll: 946; Page: 19D; Enumeration District: 115

An obituary for Louisa A. Davids says that her father was Zalmon B. Seacord and her mother was Mary Ann Horton. Both of them died young, said the obituary, and Louisa went to live with her uncle Darius, who didn’t have  children of his own. So, Darius was Zalmon’s brother.

Louisa Seacord’s husband, David F. Davids, seems to have been well off; his family owned an ink manufacturing business in New York City. With David at age 40, and Louisa at age 32, there’s no obvious reason that they had to live with Louisa’s aunt and uncle/adoptive parents. They must have had a warm relationship that they all chose to live together in the same house at this stage in their lives.

Then I found this curious 1896 article:

Westchester County: Letters of administration were yesterday granted by Surrogate Silkman to Louisa A. Davids of New Rochelle, upon the estate of her father, Zalmon B. Seacord, who left New Rochelle in 1859 or 1860.

Caleb Horton, an uncle of the administratrix, was the last person she knows who saw her father. He saw him in Poughkeepsie, where Mr. Seacord worked for him as a mason on the Vassar College buildings in 1861. Mr. Horton says he went away from his work, leaving his clothing and tools just as though he intended to return. That was the last any of the family heard of him.

–From The New York Times, 21 Jan 1896, Tue, Page 8.

What on earth? If he really disappeared circa 1860, he would have been 52 years old. And he’d leave behind at least four motherless children, ranging in age from 12 to about 18. Louisa would have been 16 at the time of her father’s disappearance.

I ran some more newspaper searches for Zalmon and found just about nothing, besides a few brief mentions that repeated the basic facts: he disappeared from a work site without a word circa 1860 , and the family never saw or heard from him again.

A search for Darius Seacord turned up this 1907 article:

hugenots bones
Clipped from Buffalo Evening News, 06 Mar 1907, Wed, Page 5

HUGUENOT’S BONES FOUND IN IRON CASKET. Skeleton of Founder of New Rochelle Unearthed by Workmen– Casket Encased in Solid Stone.

While making some excavations in New Rochelle yesterday, workmen uncovered the skeleton of a man believed to have been Bartholomew Lispenard, one of the Huguenot founders of New Rochelle, who fled from La Rochelle in France after the revocation of the edict of Nantes.

The bones, which had been buried 160 years, were found in a mound known as Indian Hill and were encased In solid stone…The Lispenards formerly owned the entire site of New Rochelle lying between the sound and the section now traversed by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad tracks.

“OLDEST RESIDENT” TESTIFIES.

Darius Secor, a resident of New Rochelle, 86 years old, examined the bones after they had been removed to the New Rochelle police headquarters. Mr. Secor said he remembered his grandmother, who died at the age of 90, telling of Monsieur Lispenard, who, she said, often visited Indian Hill, which was on his estate, and sat there for hours, gazing out to sea. She said that the aged Huguenot refugee often expressed the wish to be buried between two huge boulders on the hill. Descendants of Lispenard in New York will be notified of the find.

If this were a mystery novel, the coroner would identify the bones as much younger than 160 years, the remains would show signs of foul play, they’d find masonry tools in the casket with “Z.B.S.” carved onto them, and Darius, the 86 year old sleuth, would set about solving the murder of Zalmon B. Seacord. But, nothing like that seems to have happened.

new rochelle
New Rochelle, above Manhattan, courtesy of Google Maps. There’s an Indian Hill Road where the marker is placed.

Anyone ever hear of Zalmon (or Zalamon) Bonnett Seacord of New Rochelle, NY. b. June 19, 1808 married to Mary A. Horton b. April 13, 1813? Word in my family is that he disappeared and went to South America. Curiously, his grave is in New Rochelle, but no dates are on the grave! Bet if you dug down, he wouldn’t be there. –Genealogy.com Forums

Zalmon’s gravestone is in the Israel Seacord Cemetery. From the same descendent:

My oral family history states that Zalmon disappeared shortly after his wife, Mary Ann Horton Seacord died. It seems as if Mary died shortly after the birth of their last child Nathaniel, who was born in December of 1850. There are no records of Nathaniel living beyond 1850, so it seems that he died as an infant or at childbirth.

The stories passed down about Zalmon say he disappeared about that time and went to South America. There is no more information about him. His headstone exists next to his wife, Mary’s grave in New Rochelle, New York. The headstone mysteriously has no dates at all for Zalmon. But Mary’s birth and date are listed on hers.

My personal theory about this is that a family plot was purchased and at the time of Mary’s death she was buried there, but Zalmon, surviving her, had a headstone next to hers for future use. Instead of actually being buried there, he disappeared, leaving the unused plot with an already existing and inscribed headstone. I am very curious to know if there is a way to check the plot for evidence of a coffin buried below the headstone. –  D. Cook

zalmon b seacord probate 1882
New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999 for Zalmon B Seacord, Probate date: 9 Jan 1882, Westchester, N.Y., Letters of Administration, accessed via Ancestry.com.

Regardless of what happened to Zalmon, it looks like his daughter, whose name inspired this search, did pretty well in life.

LOUISA A. DAVIDS
Special to The New York Times
New Rochelle, NY., March 30, 1915

Mrs. Louisa A. Davids, widow of David F. Davids, a manufacturer of inks in New York City, died suddenly today at her residence in East Main Street, aged seventy-one years. She gave away a fortune to the poor of New Rochelle.

During the civil war, she made clothing for the sick soldiers on Davids Island. She was a direct descendant of Ambrose Sicard, a Huguenot refugee, from La Rochelle, France, who was one of the founders of New Rochelle in 1688. Mrs. Davids was a member of the House Committee of the Huguenot Association and had a prominent part in the Huguenot celebration in New Rochelle in 1913.

From what I gather, Israel Seacord was the grandfather of Zalmon B. Seacord and the great grandfather of Louisa.

israel secord cemetery
A section of the Israel Seacord Cemetery in New Rochelle, New York. Photo from Findagrave.com

 

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6 thoughts on “The Gentleman Vanishes: What Happened to Zalmon B. Seacord?

  1. Israel Seacord was my great, great, great grandpa. His house still stands with a historic marker in New Rochelle. I was able to take a tour through the house by it’s current owner a number of years ago. We have photos of the interior, in case anyone is interested in seeing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Susan! I would love to see the photos! I haven’t proven my connection yet, but if my hunch is right I think Israel Seacord would be my 2nd cousin (many times removed!). My great grandmother was a Secor.

    Like

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