George Seaton, a Free Black of Standing

When Julia Wilbur first came to Alexandria, she boarded at the home of George Seaton. According to her diary, he lived at 69 S. St. Asaph Street at the time, although an Alexandria Archeology report by Peter Bernstein lists 323, rather than 69, as one of his residences. According to the report (available from Alexandria Archaeology, Pub. 121, as hard copy only):

He was head trustee of the First Free School Society of Alexandria and founder and builder of schools for African American boys in the city; an outspoken Radical Republican in the party of Abraham Lincoln; the African American member of the Virginia General Assembly from north of the Rapahannock; member of the grand jury that indicted Jefferson Davis; prosperous entrepreneur and property owner; and a civic, church and business leader.

According to genealogist Char Bah, Seaton owned many properties in 1865, as shown in the city's tax records. At a presentation she gave at the Black History Museum on Feb. 7, she noted he and several other African Americans men were probably appointed to the grand jury because of their political activity--a few blacks being needed for a jury in this brief period of Reconstruction. (needless to say, Davis' indictment basically went nowhere).

Wilbur came to live with the Seatons after trying a number of other places in the city. Possibly, she did not feel comfortable in this early point (November 5, 1862) in Alexandria living with an African American family. She wanted to find a different arrangement almost as soon as she moved in--although, it should be pointed out that throughout her time in Alexandria and Washington, she was constantly moving in search of the perfect place to live.

On November 17, George and Maria Seaton's daughter Virginia died. As Wilbur wrote:

Virginia Seaton died this morning very suddenly after an illness of a few day wh. was not thought to be dangerous. The eldest child & in her 15th. year. They feel it very deeply, as they are an affectionate family.

Two days later:

Virginia Seaton’s funeral this P.M. I went with them to their burying ground. 

NOTE: Virginia does not show up in many records about Seaton, perhaps because she died so young. Wilbur and other white boarders were the only whites at the funeral, which she described as a solemn affair. Whether out of naivite or narrow-mindedness, she expressed some surprise at how moving it all was.

In 1865, the Seaton family moved to a home at 404 S. Royal, where he lived out his life. That house is now in the National Register of Historic Places.

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