This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on the Seacord family was the 2nd of the series.
If Ambroise Sicord could return from the past and try to find his own people, that hard working and vital Huguenot farmer of New Rochelle would be a puzzled and amazed man.
For in the Westchester telephone book alone he'd find names of 43 families of direct descendants, scattered from New Rochelle through Yonkers, Mahopac, Shrub Oak,White Plains and Pound Ridge. How many more he would find in Connecticut, upstate New York, New Jersey, Canada and even west to Chicago--not even such a meticulous historian as his grandson to the seventh division, attorney Morgan H. Seacord of New Rochelle--will venture a guess.
The vitality of the stock of the county's founding fathers, who were by 1700 well settled on their farms, running mills and blacksmith shops and building ships, is not better illustrated than by the family founded by Ambroise Sicard, whose descendants today spell the name variously as Sicard, Seacord, Secor and Seacor.
Morgan H. Seacord, president of the New Rochelle Huguenot and Historical Association, is a member of the line descending from James, a son of Ambroise's oldest son Daniel. This line stayed always in or near New Rochelle but the descendants of the other children whom Ambroise named in his will--Ambroise, James, Marie and Silvie--have moved out and away from the old Huguenot town.
The line from which descended Chauncey Tompkins Secor of White Plains, who is with the Bowery Savings Bank in New York, and Howard Secor, a builder of Shrub Oak, stems fro Ambroise's son James. Historians have their headaches untangling the second generation James' descendants from those of a third generation James.
Morgan H. Seacord and those who spell their names this way and still live in New Rochelle are in the direct line of Daniel Sicard, second son of Ambroise Sicard who came to the new world sometime before 1690. In 1692 he bought two farms that ran from the Pelham line to Mamaroneck and lay north of today's New Haven tracks in New Rochelle.
It is thought the first Sicard or Seacord farmhouse may still exist within the much added-to dwelling occupied by N. K. Hubbell on Coligni Avenue, just west of North Avenue. This lot was the site of that 1692 farmhouse. The tradition of farming and carpentering had always been strong in each generation, but there are lawyers, teachers, bankers and merchants in the line.
Lord Pell sold only the poorest, rockiest, marshiest portion of Pelham Manor to the Huguenots, so by the second generation the movement was outward, upcounty, up-state and across the Hudson to find tillable soil that would support the growing populations. This search among Westchester's rocky hills, swamp-bordered lakes and creeks caused a rapid expansion northward from the seacoast of New Rochelle, Mamaroneck and Rye.
Name's Spelling Changed
The children of James Sicord, Ambroise's third son, pushed into Scarsdale. Here the spelling of the name changed to Secor. Caleb Secor of this line married Anna, the sister of Daniel D. Tompkins, who was Governor of New York in 1806. Their son Francis, born 1810, was a farmer, town supervisor and elder of the White Plains Presbyterian Church. His son, Chauncey Tompkins Secor, lived in the ancestral home bought in 1775 by his grandfather. This Chauncey Secor is the ancestor of Chauncey T. Secor and Miss Francis Secor of White Plains, Howard Secor of Shrub Oak, and others.
Rockland County lists many descendants of Ambroise, the Huguenot. The rich farm lands across the Hudson drew his daughter, who married a Coutillee, a member of original Huguenot colony in New Rochelle. The name is still common around Nyack.
Families such as that founded by Ambroise Sicard show an indestructibility. For generation after generation they have followed their family traditions, staying close to the land where possible, branching out as carpenters, ship builders, lawyers, doctors, teachers. Couillett of Rockland County was for many years a permanent fixture in the State Assembly. Several generations have been lawyers, such as Morgan H. Seacord, the late Frederick H. Seacord of New Rochelle and his son, Frederick H. Seacord, Jr., of Larchmont.
With the coming of the machine age in the 1800s some of Huguenot Ambroise's descendants turned to invention and a John A. Seacord perfected one of the first oil-burning engines. Another group of Seacords invented a sewing machine that was on the market for many years and also typewriters. During the Civil War Charles A. Seacord was an important ship builder in New York.
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