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SEAGO, TILLMAN KIMSEY

SEAGO, TILLMAN KIMSEY (1836–1904). Tillman Kimsey Seago, founder and namesake of the Dallas County town of Seagoville, state legislator, farmer, merchant, and postmaster, was born on July 29, 1836, in Cherokee County, Georgia. He was the eldest son of Lucinda (Garrett) Seago and Isaac L. Seago. His father served in the Mexican War and died of the measles in Mexico when Tillman was only ten years old. Unable to sustain the family farm in Georgia following the death of Tillman’s father, Seago’s mother moved the family to a farm near the present-day town of Linden in Cass County, Texas, in 1851. Tillman was educated in “common schools” and continued to live with his mother until he married four years later.

On August 23, 1855, in Cass County, Seago married Matilda Elvira Davenport, daughter of a prominent Georgia planter. The couple had eight children: Sarah, Tighlman (or Tillman), Lillie, Polly, Benjamin, Lydia, Ada, and Cynthia. Seago dabbled in farming in Northeast Texas before turning to carpentry for his livelihood and continued in that trade until the outbreak of the Civil War. He and his wife both were the progeny of several generations of slaveowners (though owning none themselves). Seago enlisted as a private with the Confederate Army in 1861 initially for a one-year term in Company I in the Third Texas Cavalry and eventually joined up with the command of Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch, a former Republic of Texas congressman who was later killed at the battle of Pea Ridge. Seago saw action in the battle of Oak Hill and experienced “much hard service” throughout Arkansas and Missouri. He also participated in the battle of Iuka in September 1862, during which he was taken prisoner by Union forces but released a short time later. He returned to his regular regiment and remained with it until the end of the war.

Seago returned to his family in Texas following the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865. He tried his hand at farming in Cass County and McClennan County and running a mill near Jefferson in Marion County before settling on acreage in Dallas County where he finally achieved lasting success at agriculture. After a decade of farming, in 1876 Seago opened the first dry goods store in the area on his land—an act credited as the establishment of the town of Seago (later to be renamed Seagoville, as it is known today). He served as the town’s first postmaster with the opening of its post office in 1881 and remained a resident until 1883, around the time the first official plat of city land was recorded in Dallas County deed records. The city of Seagoville (with the “ville” added by the U.S. Post Office in 1910 to avoid confusion with the Texas town of Sego) was incorporated in 1926.

Seago quickly established himself as a community leader upon moving his family near Dingler in Comanche County about 1883. He cultivated a 400-acre farm and bought in as a partner of a general store. His political involvement dated back to his joining the Greenback Party in 1878, but the “mysterious, goateed political maverick” never entertained the notion of seeking public office until 1894, when he accepted the nomination of the Populist Party to run for Comanche County’s seat in the Texas House of Representatives. In the general election he defeated Democrat Newton R. Lindsey and took his seat in the Twenty-fourth Texas Legislature on January 8, 1895, joining twenty-three other Populist candidates elected in the November 1894 general election. Seago was appointed by Speaker Thomas Slater Smith to the House committees on Agricultural Affairs and Public Debt. Despite his seats on this tandem of influential committees, Seago’s record of activity in the House chamber was inauspicious during the Twenty-fourth Legislature. According to the House Journal of the biennium in which Seago represented Comanche County, he introduced not a single piece of legislation during the 113-day regular session and proposed only one amendment —an unsuccessful motion to clarify the language pertaining to the allocation of delegates at state party conventions. Seago never was listed as absent during any roll call of the session.

Declining to seek reelection to the Texas House in 1896, Seago’s political career ended at the expiration of his term in January 1897. Retiring to a quiet life as a gentleman farmer in Comanche County, where the home of Tillman and Matilda Seago was “noted for its hospitality and…a favorite resort with their many friends,” he died on September 17, 1904, at the age of sixty-eight. Seago, affectionately known as “Uncle Kimsey” to his close friends, is interred alongside his wife at Board Church Cemetery in Comanche County. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C. Dallas Times Herald, December 17, 1965. History of Texas, Supplemented with Biographical Mention of Many Families of the State (Chicago: Lewis, 1896). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Tillman K. Seago (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=3575&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=seago~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed December 19, 2013.

Jonathan Perry

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Jonathan Perry, "SEAGO, TILLMAN KIMSEY ," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fse40), accessed November 25, 2014. Uploaded on December 27, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.