Happy Birthday (maybe), Seymour Studley!

“Studley, the favorite, took the bat, and sent a ball to third, on which he made his first.”

“Local News.”, Washington Evening Star, 04 September 1867, Page 3.

Seymour (Sy) Studley was a member of Washington DC’s pioneer professional baseball clubs, briefly getting time with the Washington Nationals of the National Association in 1872 – which is how he lands in your baseball encyclopedia.

Seymour L. Studley was the first of four children born to Luther and Lucy Ann (Main or Maine) Studley in May, 1841.  The “L” may, in fact, be Luther but that hasn’t been identified either…  Luther was a land trader while Lucy Ann, ten years his junior, took care of a growing family.  Seymour arrived in Byron, New York but soon after his family moved to the Rochester area where they would stay for the next several years.  While there, Studley played on many of the amateur baseball clubs of his city, developing friendships with other local athletes.

Like many young adults of his age, the teamster registered with the U. S. Army for the Civil War, serving in Company C of the 54th New York Infantry; His time served would cover part of 1864.  Afterward, he moved to Washington D.C. where he took up a position as a clerk in the U.S. Treasury.  In fact, his moving there may have been connected to that of his friend, Harry Berthrong, who came from Rochester, served in the Army during the Civil War, and would become a baseball player in the District when the war ended.

In the years immediately following the war, Washington’s National baseball club played all of the great eastern amateur and semi-professional teams.  Studley was a popular outfielder – I’m guessing with the ladies (more on that later) – and he hung around with the top club of the city from 1866 through at least 1872.  Along the way, he picked up the nickname “Warhorse” and occasionally was called “Seems” – which was short for Seymour. It was in 1872 that the National club joined the National Association – and for about three weeks, Seymour was an outfielder in what we now call the major leagues.  He only got two hits in his 21 at bats, and his professional days ended.

At some point, he migrated west landing as a collector and then salesman for a local newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Mentioned earlier was Studley’s interactions with the ladies…  In the 1865 New York Census, he is married to an Anna Studley while living with his Rochester family.  By the 1870 US Census, he’s living with two women who are also clerks for the U.S. Treasury in Washington D.C.  One of them, Ernestine Becker, would become his wife.  He’s also listed as the father to a child born to a Jene Studley about this time.  FindAGrave.com suggests that he fathered two children in the 1870s, Francis and Josephine, neither of whom saw a second birthday.

At this point, you have to wonder if his westward migration is tied to his problem with women – and possibly alcoholism.  In 1883, he marries a Katie Clark in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Three years later you’ll find the first note of a Mr. Studley getting arrested and fined for disorderly behavior.  Around 1890, Studley began living with and eventually married Mary E. Brennan, an Irish immigrant with a history of toxic behavior.  In the years before they married, Brennan had been the housekeeper of a local bondsman and had a child by him.  A few years later, she had been removed from the home, a restraining order was put in place, and her child was left in the care of the father.  Brennan, according to the 1900 US Census, had nine children, seven that were still alive, and none of them were living with her in any capacity.

Anyway – two people with severe drinking problems and now a penchant for violent behavior were living with each other.  Over the next decade, Seymour and Mary would drink themselves to oblivion – and then get in the wildest of violent fights, with many of them landing on the pages of the local Lincoln newspapers.  In fact, by July 1890, the Nebraska State Journal noted that they “…have been arrested divers times for drunkeness and quarrelling.”  (Spelling left alone here.)

They were just getting started.

In 1892, they pulled each other’s hair and scratched each other – and Seymour tried to bite Mary’s nose off.  Four months later, after another fight:

“…(T)he court informed them that in its opinion they were well-developed, corpulent nuisances, and as there was no reason shown why they should be allowed to exist on earth, he gave them fifteen days in the city jail.”

“A Great Scheme”, Lincoln Evening News, 30 August 1892, Page 5.

In 1893, she tried to slit his throat while he was sleeping; he suggested a different blade and used the time she spent sharpening her knife to find a board.  When Mary returned, Seymour clobbered her about the head several times until neighbors and police intervened.  “When told that he had possibly killed the woman Studley sniffed contemptuously and said that it couldn’t be done.”

“Love One Another.”, Lincoln Evening News, 07 July 1893, Page 1.

In 1899, Mary allegedly threw kerosene on him and set him on fire.

And if Mary wasn’t bludgeoning him, Mother Nature helped out.  He was severely injured when a tornado ripped through Lincoln in 1896 and shattered windows of the hotel where Studley worked as a porter.  Flying glass cut Studley in several places, requiring a lengthy hospital stay.

The CRAZY part is that with all of this drunken behavior and violent outbursts (and what had to be WEEKS of jail time), he was regularly hired to serve on voter registration boards.

On 09 July 1901, having somehow passed his 60th birthday and survived the previous century, death called Studley away from this earth.  He died in Grand Island, NE and is buried in a soldier’s cemetery with a Civil War headstone there.

Mary, now in need of Studley’s Civil War pension, traveled to Omaha to register for his pension as Studley’s widow.  Soon after collecting $30, she went on a bender and when she returned in a drunken stupor to the “old ladies’ home” she used as a hotel, she was arrested for disorderly conduct.  So she spent the night in jail.  The next day she faced a judge and paid a fine.  Told to go home, she found a local bar – and got arrested for drunken behavior again.

Nearly 13 years later, Seymour Studley’s luck finally changed.

Silas J. Brown, of Rochester, N. Y., has written Police Chief Copelan a letter asking him to try to find Seymour L. Studley, last heard of in Cincinnati 23 years ago. Some news of great advantage awaits the man, the letter says.

“Seek Seymour L. Studley.”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 24 April 1914, Page 16.

Except, of course, Studley was a corpse.



1850, 1870, 1900 US Census
1855, 1865 New York Census

Nebraska and Washington DC Marriage Records
Washington DC Birth Records

Civil War Draft Registrations
Civil War Pension Applications
Civil War Headstone Applications

“Sports and Pastimes.”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 06 July 1866, Page 2.

“Base Ball – National vs. Union, Alias Haymakers” National Republican, 05 September 1867, Page 3.

“Base Ball.” National Republican, 26 June 1869, Page 4.

“Base Ball.” National Republican, 25 June 1870, Page 4.

“Police Court.”, Nebraska State Journal, 29 October 1886, Page 8.

“He Was Jealous Of Mary.”, Nebraska State Journal, 26 July 1890, Page 3.

“He Chastised His Mistress.” Lincoln Evening News, 26 July 1890, Page 4.

“The Police Court Record.”, Nebraska State Journal, 14 May 1891, Page 2.

“Pensions Granted.”, Lincoln Journal Star, 13 October 1891, Page 4.

Nebraska State Journal, 29 October 1891, Page 7.

“Run Him To Earth”, Lincoln Evening News, 16 April 1892, Page 5.

“A Great Scheme”, Lincoln Evening News, 30 August 1892, Page 5.

“Love One Another.”, Lincoln Evening News, 07 July 1893, Page 1.

“City In Brief.”, Lincoln Evening News, 11 June 1894, Page 5.

“Gets His Homestead”, Lincoln Evening News, 09 May 1896, Page 1.

“Touched By A Tornado”, Lincoln Evening News, 13 May 1896, Page 1.

“City In Brief.”, Lincoln Evening News, 12 July 1899, Page 6.

“Registration Of Voters.”, Nebraska State Journal, 14 October 1900, Page 7.

“Death of Seymour L. Studley.”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 13 July 1901, Page 14.

“King Alcohol’s Cruel Trick”, Omaha Daily Bee, 02 October 1901, Page 4.

“Seek Seymour L. Studley.”, Cincinnati Equirer, 24 April 1914, Page 16.

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