C.C. STILLMAN, BREEDER OF SEALECT
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28 September 2013
T he story of the stallion Sealect is a rich and fascinating one, steeped in the early roots of the Morgan breed, and intertwined with the historic Townshend Farm breeding program which has produced more than 340 Morgans with the Townshend prefix to date, most of which carry Sealect blood. Townshend has also played a significant role in spreading the Sealect influence throughout the breed. Descendants of Sealect have excelled in virtually all disciplines, as sport and Western working horses, and in all areas of the show ring, across the U.S. as well as other countries. The prepotency of Sealect has continued to dominate and produce champions, decade after decade with an unbroken line of national and world champions every year for more than 60 years. It is impossible, within the scope of this article, to mention all the worthy horses and breeding programs that have played an important role, but here we will offer some of the history, including rare pictures, which have never been published before, provided by Nancy Ela Caisse of Townshend Farm. And, we will attempt to introduce just a few examples
from some of the various disciplines to illustrate the tremendous versatility of this powerful bloodline.
C.C. STILLMAN, BREEDER OF SEALECT
C. C. Stillman, the breeder of Sealect, was born in 1877 in New York, a descendant of Colonial New England ancestors. He attended Harvard University, graduating cum laude in 1898, and went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad in 1902, retiring as the companys vice president in 1918. His first exposure to Morgans came when he accompanied Col. Spencer Borden to the Vermont State Fair, held in White River Junction, in 1908. Deeply impressed with the breed and its unique history, he determined to begin breeding himself, and was among the founding members of The Morgan Horse Club that was established at the next years fair in White River Junction in 1909. Stillman was chosen as secretary-treasurer. When Joseph Battell, founder of the Morgan Register, died in 1915, it was Stillman who came to the rescue. He purchased the
TMH thanks Nancy Caisse for many of the historic pictures appearing with this article.
The Morgan Horse 29
Register from Middlebury College, which had received it as part of Battells estate, and he took on the responsibility of sponsoring it as Battell had done. Stillman had the foresight to form a corporation, and also provided space for The Morgan Horse Club in his New York offices where the work of the Register was carried on. Several members of The Morgan Horse Club were concerned with the Government Farms use of some Saddlebred and Thoroughbred strains to try to increase size and improve the Morgan as a saddle horse type. They believed this could be done without the outcrosses, and wrote the U.S. Government Farm a letter which expressed their disappointment, and encouraged them to weed these horses out and focus on the original type with a high percentage of pure Morgan blood. Stillman, feeling a diplomatic approach was best, commissioned the life-sized bronze statue of Justin Morgan on a pedestal of Vermont granite to be made by Frederick H. Roth, Englewood, New Jersey, one of the foremost animal sculptors of the world. He bore the entire $18,000 cost himself, and had it presented by the Morgan Horse Club to the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm on the centennial of Justin Morgans death, October 1, 1921. Stillman believed the statue would serve as a silent
but persistent reminder of the original Morgan horse type and character. The statue was accepted by Dr. John R. Mohler, Chief of Bureau of Animal Industry, and still stands on the grounds of the farm today, now owned by the University of Vermont.
BIRTH OF SEALECT
During this same period, Stillman was diligently working on his own breeding program to illustrate what could be done with the pure old Morgan bloodlines, and resolved to produce the best and most versatile Morgans from these lines that could be bred. He chose the mare Bell Marea (Knox Morgan x Underwood Mare by Ned Norton) then owned by H. R. C. Watson, another of the original founders of the Morgan Horse Club known for his adherence to type, and inbred early Morgan bloodlines. Stillman sent Bell Marea to the popular stallion Sir Ethan Allen (Ethan Allen 3d x Walter Russell mare by Corbett), then standing at the Mountain View Farm of Elmer Darling, president of The Morgan Horse Club. The result was Sealect. Foaled April 6, 1921, at Stillmans farm on his inherited Kenridge estate at Cornwall-On-Hudson, New York, Sealect 7266 is recorded
SealectLeft page: Sealect and
Anna Ela attend a parade; and under saddle.
This page, clockwise from top: Sealect and Anna Ela, The Morgan Horse Show,
Upwey Oval, 1939; Sealect, headshot; Sealect, again in 1939, pulling a stone boat.
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SealectLeft to right: As a yearling; and in his twenties in the early 1940s.
in Volume V of the Morgan Register as a solid dark chestnut with a tiny white spot in his forehead. He stood about 15 hands and was of excellent old type Morgan conformation with good bone and substance, well-muscled with powerful hindquarters, round barrel, deep laid back shoulder, with good length of neck perfectly positioned for a fine upheaded appearance. He had an abundance of flowing mane and tail, with expressive head and large intelligent eye. Like his ancestor, the original Justin Morgan, his abundance of energy and bright attitude always showed off his beauty, yet with a tractable pleasant disposition and strong willingness to work. To his foals he passed on his beauty, up-headedness and correct conformation, style and action, stamping his image on descendants through both his sons and daughters for generations. At the time of Sealects birth, the country was still struggling to recover from the effects of World War I which had ended in 1918. The U.S. sent over a million horses in support of the Allied Forces and American troops, including many from the U.S. Remount program which carried Morgan blood. Few returned. Additionally, the number of automobiles in the U.S. increased from 8,000 in 1900 to more than eight million by 1920, wiping out the need for Morgans as family driving horses. Sealect was one of barely over a hundred Morgan foals registered in 1921, and one of four that year bred by Stillman. Stillman was pleased with him and kept the colt, hoping to cross him with daughters of his favorite stallion Donald (Bob Morgan x Fanny by Ethan Allen 3d). Sealects first foal was the chestnut filly Seadon, bred by Stillman, and out of the mare Donola (Donald x Lady Roberts by Billy Roberts), foaled March 26, 1926. Stillman liked this filly enough to repeat the cross and bred Donola back to Sealect for the following year. Sealina, a chestnut filly marked with a star, was foaled March 29, 1927. Stillman would have had two valuable mares for his breeding program but never lived to see the second foal. When The Morgan Horse Club met
for their annual meeting at White River Junction on August 25, 1926, Stillman was not present. They were dismayed to learn he had unexpectedly suffered a fatal heart attack just a few days earlier on August 16th while aboard the S.S. Aquitana, traveling back to the U.S. from England in order to return in time for the meeting. The future of The Morgan Horse Club was, for a time, uncertain. His brother, Dr. Ernest Stillman, agreed to carry on the Registry for a time until other arrangements could be made, but he had no particular interest in the Morgan breed.
SEALECT: EARLY LIFE CHARLES STONE
Most of Stillmans horses were purchased from his estate by Charles Stone, who was not a charter member of The Morgan Horse Club, but an early and influential one, having served as vice president since 1913. He was the one assigned to make plans for carrying on the Register, and he also took on the responsibility of providing offices for the club as had Stillman before him. Among the horses transferred to Stone after Stillmans death were Sealect, the mare Donola with her weanling foal, Sealina, and her yearling filly, Seadon. During the Stone years, Sealect was shown extensively by Charless son, Whitney Stone. The first Sealect foal to be used for breeding was Sea-Lass, a chestnut filly with a strip foaled in May 1928, out of Cornwall Lass. This filly was a full sister of the well-known stallion Cornwallis. Stone sold her as a two-year-old and she changed hands, but went on to produce several foals. There are a few descendants from this line, among them the bay mare Chipewa Milady (Casland Grand Knight x Chippewa Belle) who won several Pleasure Driving Championships at the Morgan Gold Cup and Buckeye Morgan Challenge shows from 1994-99. One foal from Sealects 1928 crop would prove to be particularly influential, the mare Lady Sealect out of My Lady Knox who, like
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Sealects dam, was a daughter of the outstanding Knox Morgan (Mountainer Morgan x Augustus Dunlap mare by Sagadhoc, 2d dam by Ethan Allen 50). Stone sold Lady Sealect as a two-year-old filly to the U.S. Government Farm. She stood up to their rigid culling standards, and the Government not only retained her, but went on to breed ten foals from her, three from Bennington, four from Mansfield, and three from Goldfield. Several of her lines bred on and have appeared repeatedly through decades of national and world champions and top stars among performance Morgans. Most commonly seen are lines through the mare Ceres by Bennington; Glady and Hermina, full sisters by Mansfield, and the stallion Knickerbocker by Goldfield. Ceres produced a total of 14 foals, including three bred by the U.S. Government Farm before she was sold to Merle D. Evans for his Devan breeding program. Gaylad by Mansfield produced sever