Introducing Vermilion School Superintendent John Christian Seemann

By: Rich Tarrant

The following article appeared The Vermilion News on August 12, 1909: “The public will be greatly surprised to learn that superintendent J. C. Seemann (b. 1863) resigned at the regular meeting of the Board of Education Monday.

During vacation time Mr. Seemann made an agreement with the Waterbury–Waterman Co., for selling heaters in Huron, Lorain and Erie County for two months.

He has been so successful in his work that the company has made him an excellent offer as state agent for Ohio. They have also written to the board asking for his release in explaining the situation. Mr. Seemann resigned and his resignation was duly accepted.

Mr. Seemann after a short address presented the board with a bookcase, which was accepted with thanks.

Mr. Seemann has taught school for 24 years and it has been a question with him whether to continue or seek other employment after this year. This flattering offer has hastened his decision.

He has been very successful in his educational work. His record is 24 years as superintendent and teacher – 19 of which he has been superintendent. He has also been an instructor in summer schools and was examiner for Erie County for several years.

For ten years he has had charge of the Vermilion schools and during this time the school has increased greatly not only in educational facilities and standing among the schools but in number of pupils.

Ten years ago the high school numbered twenty-seven – and there was an enrollment of 215. The past year the high school had sixty-eight with a total of 292 in as the monthly enrollment.

At that time there were five teachers including the superintendent. This next year that will be nine and a music teacher.

And the school now stands a school of the first grade.

Mr. Seemann has proved his ability as an educator and has been backed by an efficient Board of Education.

He has also taken active part in Sunday school affairs, also in the Lecture Association and has been the means of securing a library in the public schools by his untiring energy. Every community has a number of willing workers but needs a leader; Mr. Seemann has been such a leader in the work above mentioned.

Superintendent Seemann’s many friends are sorry to lose him, not only as the head of our schools but also as a citizen. He will move to Oberlin in a short time. We wish him success in his new work.”

Evidently that job didn’t work out or he just didn’t like it because when he died on 10 March in 1922 he had given it up and was, again, a highly respected educator – the Principal of Oberlin High School. He was rather young – only 59 – when he died.

Going just a few steps further; it is virtually impossible to examine Mr. Seemann’s life without also taking a brief look at his immediate family. That’s because John’s wife, Libbie Eastman-Seemann (b.1886–d.1934) was, on her own, a very interesting person. She was a true Daughter of the American Revolution. Born in Seneca County, Ohio. She was a direct descendant of Capt. John Wisner, Capt. John Wisner, Jr., Sgt. Benjamin Spooner and Tilton Eastman, who all served in the American Revolution.

And then, there is their son Herman. He gained employment as a researcher for the Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. Whether some member of his mother’s family (Eastman) was related to George Eastman who founded the Kodak Company is not known, but in many respects it’s irrelevant. Herman, on his own became a serious researcher for the Kodak Company and contributed a great deal of the “development” (pun not intended) to the field of photography. And not to be bested by his dad, by 1934 he was also a part of the faculty at the University of Rochester in New York.

Although we can’t realistically claim Vermilion to be the hometown of any of these folks, it is clear that it certainly has served as a home base – a learning place – for more than a few gifted persons in the yesteryear. And thus it remains.

Vermilion resident Rich Tarrant has agreed to share many of the photos and stories he has acquired from the former Vermilion News and other local sources with the readers of the Photojournal. Rich is the youngest son and a grandson of the late proprietors of The Vermilion News (1897-1964). Readers may email him at: rnt@twc.com

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