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“When I Die,
Let It Be With My Boots On”

Verna Seely Carter

It was Isaac Joseph Seely’s way of saying, “I have met the adversaries in my life, face to face, and conquered them while I stood upon my feet. When I meet death, my greatest challenge, let me not be a coward, but let me be standing in my boots.” So it was that one day at sixty-five years of age he complained of feeling a bit under the weather and as his son and daughter-in-law watched anxiously, he went to his bed, stretched himself full length upon it and died -- with his boots on.

Isaac Joseph Seely, [a Plantagenet descendant] was born August 25, 1837, in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were William and Lucy Ann Decker Seely. He had a younger sister, Harriet, and there was another baby who died in infancy. When he was four and one-half years old, his parents separated, and it was during this period of his life that his mother, Lucy Ann, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After the separation from her husband, she took her two children, Isaac and Harriet, and joined her parents and friends on their move westward. Lucy Ann Seely became the first plural wife of Brigham Young on June 15, 1842, in Nauvoo. Isaac lived in Nauvoo and he and his sister Harriet crossed the plains with their mother in 1848 and when they reached Great Salt Lake became part of the busy household of Brigham Young and Lucy Ann.

When Isaac was fifteen years old, he went to California, where he stayed for six years. We have no record of whom he went with or what he did while there, but when he returned to Salt Lake as a young man of twenty-one, it was to find that his beloved sister Harriet had died during his absence, at the age of eighteen. Brigham Young appointed Isaac to be one of his bodyguards and during the time he served as such, he had a number of dangerous experiences and “rough and tumble” contacts with would-be assailants from which he emerged a first rate wrestler. He was also an expert marksman.

He met lovely brown-eyed black-haired Elizabeth Jane Fisher and they were married May 17 1862. Records show they were later sealed in the Manti Temple. From this union eight children were born: Lucy Evaline, Helen Marr, Frank Clifford, Isaac Vance, William Henry, Arta McLain, Eugene, and Don Ralph. Elizabeth was a gentle and loving wife to Isaac and mother to their children. The children learned to pray at her knee. Isaac said there were two special women in his life, his mother and his wife.
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