A relative of William Seward is going to court. Today's Auburn Citizen reports Reverend Ray Messenger, the former secretary of state's great-great-grandson, wants to become an administrator of the estate on South Street, and he's taking his quest all the way to Cayuga County's Surrogate Court. The issue is the Emerson Foundation, which operates the Seward House, deciding to take down and sell a 19th century Thomas Cole painting.
That was a gift to Seward, and has an estimated value of about $20 million. William Seward III left the estate in his will to the foundation. A judge will decide whether the foundation can sell the painting. Messenger and other Seward family descendants are critical of the potential sale, but the foundation says it would ensure the long-term future of the museum.