For many years the Seawells were prominent people in Marion County. The founder of the family in America was a Scotchman who came over in colonial days. The first one known to be the ancestor of the family in this county was Jesse Q. Seawell, who was born in Virginia and was one of the pioneers of Georgia and Tennessee. He was a manufacturer connected with the tobacco industry. He died near Webb City, Missouri. His son, Francis E. Seawell, married Anna E. Bates. Both were born and reared in Tennessee and were married there. They came to Arkansas in 1856. He was a farmer and a minister, first in the Methodist Episcopal Church and later changing his affiliation. Although he was at first opposed to secession, he enlisted and was Chaplain of a Confederate Regiment. He lost his life at the age of 42 while in Prairie Grove. His wife, Anna, was the daughter of William Bates who, for many years, was a resident of Cannon County, Tennessee, and passed away there. He had come from Pennsylvania. As a contractor and builder he became a wealthy man.
The children of Francis and Anna Seawell were: William Q.; John; Thomas; Francis M.; Sarah Morris of White County, Arkansas; Elvira Stockman of West Plains, Missouri; Catherine, who married William Sowell of Yellville; Leonard of Yellville; Lavina, the wife of H. A. Young of Yellville; and Samuel. Older inhabitants of Yellville have known the families of William and Catherine Sowell, H. A. Young and children (his wife died many years ago), and Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Seawell and their son, John. Both the Leonard Seawells and the Sowells lived between Yellville and Summit. The Youngs lived in Yellville.
W. Q. Seawell spent his early life in Tennessee. He was ten years old when the family came to Arkansas. At the age of 17 he enlisted in Company E, 10th Regiment of Arkansas and served four years and three months. He spent some time in Memphis and after the war ended he began farming in White County, Arkansas. He came to Marion County and located at Buffalo City where he was a merchant. In 1875 he came to Yellville where he was in business. He was interested in mining and real estate and at one time owned 2,000 acres of land. He was a member of the Democratic Party, the A.F. and A.M. and the I.O.O.F.
After coming to Marion County, Mr. Seawell married Arkansas Wilson, daughter of Thomas Wilson. Their children were: George A., who married Bertie Jones; Thomas M., who graduated from an Eastern Law School at the age of 19 and was a successful attorney at Little Rock; Walter L.; and Augustus C. Thomas Marion married a Mrs. Wylie (or Wiley); Walter L. married Ola Davenport; and Augustus C. married Virgie Hurst. They were educated men, and successful in their profession -- law. Augustus C. was a prominent Marion County attorney for many years.
After the death of the wife and mother in 1887 at the age of 37, Francis Burden of Lockport, New York, became his second wife, and W. Q. and Francis Seawell were the parents of a daughter, Mabel.
During the 1940's a Sewell family came to Marion County from Texarkana, Texas. It is not known whether the two families have a common ancestry. Although spelled differently, the pronunciation of Seawell and Sewell is the same. It is thought that someone in the family disliked being called Sea-well and dropped the "a". The pronunciation is almost, but not quite, Sue-el. The "u" has the sound of the "u" in put.
This Sewell family consisted of Marion Ashley Sewell, his wife Clara, a daughter Marie, and two sons, Edward and David. Marie, who is a registered nurse, married John Dillard. David married Ruth Anne Dillard. Their children are: Marcus and Gina. Mr. Sewell was killed in 1965 while working at the Titan Missile Base at Searcy, Arkansas, when 53 men were trapped and lost their lives. In 1975 Mrs. Sewell married Jim Reed of Flippin.
Reprinted with permission from History of Marion County edited by Earl Berry, copyright 1977.