Reverend Seneca Primley (1871-1966)

Reverend Seneca Primley (1871-1966)

Rev. Seneca Primley (1871-1966) died at age 94 in Winona Lake, Indiana.

He was a retired Church of God minister, member of the Warsaw Church of God and American Legion, and Spanish-American War veteran. He was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on October 29, 1871, and lived at 708 Chestnut St., Winona Lake, Indiana. at the time of his death. He died of a heart attack after a year of failing health.

On August 2, 1903 he married Mabel Funk, who died in 1961. They had one surviving daughter, Mrs. Shelby (Gladys) Thomas, of Knox.

But what do we really know about Seneca Primley?

Seneca Primley and wife, Mabel, in Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin. Circa 1920

Seneca Primley and wife, Mabel, in Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin. Circa 1920. Seneca was the minister for the logging community for many years.

According to the writings of Robert F. Knapp and Wayne Knapp, “Cousin Sink” and his wife, Mabel, served as the minister for the local church in Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin, for many years serving the local logging family population in this far northern Wisconsin logging camp community.

Seneca and Mabel lived in a solid log house near the church and the one room school house, though Wayne and Robert describe Seneca having church services in the school house many times. Nothing remains in the area, though where their home was is a bare area where the foundation used to be.

The Knapp family moved into the Primley home after Seneca and Mabel left, presumably to return to Indiana, in middle of the 1920s.

There is some confusion over Seneca’s connection to the family. He is mentioned numerous times as both the brother of Emma Primley Knapp, mother of Wayne and Robert Knapp and their brothers and sister, and wife of James Asa Knapp, as well as the Knapp boys’ cousins. In Historical Data of the Knapp Family (as of 1984) by Wayne Knapp, Seneca is not listed among the siblings of his mother, Emma.

Descendant, Charles K Connon, comments on this site that Seneca and Mabel Primley were cousins, saying “my great grandfather and Seneca’s mother were brother and sister.” He tells of the Primley family story of how Seneca and Mable “fed the fire in Wisconsin,” though details aren’t clear as the Knapp family doesn’t mention any fires in Taylor Rapids at the time of their residence. He also mentioned he has photographs of Seneca and Mable homesteading near Pembine, Wisconsin, which could have been before or after their time in Taylor Rapids.

According to Connon, the Primley family includes many Native Americans, which is news to us and fascinating.

In 1966, Seneca Primley died immediately after participating in the annual parade and memorial in Indiana for Memorial Day, as one of the two last surviving members in the area from the Spanish-American War. His death made headline news in the local newspaper.

According to the Tippecanoe County Military Pensions for John Elder’s request for pension, a Seneca Primley is mentioned:

Seneca Primley, jr., comrade, testified that at Tampa, Fla., about July, 1898, soldier became sick and complained of his back paining him, and he was treated for said disease by the regimental surgeon; that he became so badly afflicted with said disease that he was at different times excused from duty; that he complained of said disability from that date until his discharge.

The records note that John Elder served as a private in Company M, One hundred and fifty-seventh Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, in the War with Spain; he was enlisted June 27, 1898, and honorably discharged November 1, 1898, which coincides with the records for our Seneca Primley. As of 1917, the army granted Mr. Elder $17 a month in pension payments.

I’m eager to learn more about the Primley family that comes in through my mother’s mother’s side.

Other Seneca Primleys

There are, surprisingly, a lot of Seneca Primleys born about the same time period as ours. I’ve included these to be helpful to those who are researching a Seneca Primley that isn’t mine. Mine was married to Mabel. Like other Seneca Primleys, ours was nicknamed “Sink.”

Please do not contact me about these Seneca Primleys as I cannot help your research. These are noted here to guide you towards your possible family member.

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Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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