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Just outside the direct line of ancestors for Olive Ann Webb are a group of Webbs who played significant roles in the history and development of our country. The chart below shows the relationship to Olive Ann Webb. Profiles of those highlighted in the yellow box appear lower on this page.

 

The life of Joseph Webb, son of Lieutenant Joseph Webb III and wife Sarah Blatchley represents a turning point in this branch of the Webb family. This Joseph married Mehitable (also spelled Mehetebel) Nott, daughter of Wethersfield, CT sea captain Gershom Nott. Joseph's brothers Ezra and Ebenezer married Nott daughters Hannah and Patience. The Nott family home still exists and is very close to the eventual home of Joseph and Mehitable. Sometime soon after their marriage on February 2, 1749, Joseph moved to Wethersfield. Joseph was a very successful local merchant and in 1752 he built a large house (shown below) which stands today as a museum. After 12 short years of marriage and at the age of 34, Joseph Webb died, leaving behind four sons and three daughters.



 


The gravestone of Joseph Webb reads:

To the memory of Mr. Joseph Webb
Late an eminent merch't in Weathersfield
Whose applycation and Industry
were equal'd only by his Abillity and Integrity in business.
He departed this Life April 5th AD 1761 Etats 34
Mrs. Mehitable, formerly Relict of Mr. Joseph Webb
late wife of Mr. Silas Deane. She departed this life
Octo'br 13th AD 1767, Etats 35.

On November 8, 1763, Joseph's wife Mehitable remarried.  This marriage would have profound implications not only for the family, but for Wethersfield and colonial America.

Mehitable Remarries Silas Deane
  About 2 years after Joseph Webb's death, Mehitable married Silas Deane, who lived in Wethersfield. Silas 'inherited' six children from the marriage of Mehitable and Joseph Webb. Silas and Mehitable also had a son of their own, Jesse, who was educated in France along with John Quincy Adams, son of John and Abigail Adams. Deane was in France representing the Continental Congress. John Adams was also an American representative in France and other European countries.

Silas Deane built this house next to the Joseph Webb house in Wethersfield in the late 1760s. His first wife, the remarried widow of Joseph Webb, Mehitable, likely never lived in the house because she died in 1767. The Webb children, though, were raised in this house. After Mehitable's death, Silas married Elizabeth Saltonstall, a wealthy widower.


Above, Silas Deane and Mehitable Nott Webb Deane.

Silas Deane--American Patriot
 

Silas Deane was an important figure in the birth of the United States:

  • Graduated from Yale, studied law and was admitted to the bar
  • Educated the future British spy, Edward Bancroft
  • Did not practice law--he became a merchant in Whethersfield, CT.
  • Was a delegate to the Continental Congress representing Connecticut
  • Was America's first diplomat--he was sent to France to arrange their support of the Revolutionary War effort
  • Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee later became additional representatives to France
  • Negotiate arms and munition supplies from France
  • Arranged financing for the Battle of Ticonderoga
  • Recruited European mercenaries including Lafayette and Baron von Stueben
  • Was involved in a lengthly dispute over handling of finances--John Adams and John Jay defended Deane in congress during this dispute
  • Was eventually exonerated of the above charges, but lived out the remainder of his life in Holland and England
  • It is said that his marriage to two wealthy widows, Mehetebel Webb and Elizabeth Saltonstall allowed Deane to pursue a life in politics


The Webb/Deane Blended Family
  The marriage of Mehitable Webb to Silas Deane resulted in a blended household. The diagram below illustrates the combined family. Unfortunately, about 4 years after their marriage, on October 13, 1767 Mehitable died. Silas reared the children of the blended family until he becomes deeply involved in the affairs of the emerging nation in the mid-1770s. Over time, the relationship between Deane and stepson Joseph Webb soured due to disagreements over money and finances. Historical records contain a lengthly series of legal actions between the two. On the other hand, Deane developed a very special relationship with his stepson Samuel Blachley Webb. Deane's close association with revolutionaries of the time, bodes well for Samuel Blachley Webb.

Joseph  Webb Jr. Joseph Webb Jr.


After the death of his father when Joseph was 12, Joseph (portrait at the right) was raised by his mother. Silas Deane entered Joseph's life when his mother married Deane in 1763. Joseph would have been 14 at the time of the second marriage. Four years later, when Joseph was 18, his mother Mehetebel died. As first born, Joseph took over his deceased father's business. Disagreements over finances soured the relationship between stepfather Silas Deane and Joseph. In 1774, as the revolution in the colonies was brewing, Joseph married Abigail Chester. In 1775, Abigail's father, Colonel John Chester, commanded the Wethersfield militia at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Joseph Webb also fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill with his brother, Samuel Blachley Webb. It is unclear if Col. John Chester, Joseph and Samuel Blachley Webb were in the same militia or served in different companies. Details of Samuel's participation in the Revolutionary War are profiled separately below. Joseph Webb, as a prosperous merchant in Wethersfield, was a generous supplier for Henry Knox's successful expedition to steal the guns at British Fort Ticonderoga. Silas Deane, Joseph's stepfather, had arranged financing for the Ticonderoga expedition while serving as diplomat in France. Joseph also owned a schooner named the Fox, commanded by James Mitchell that traded in the West Indies. In 1778, Joseph was appointed to a committee in Wethersfield to look after the families of fallen Revolutionary War soldiers. Joseph and wife Abigail, as mentioned elsewhere, hosted many Revolutionary War era guests at the Webb house in Wethersfield--so much so their house became known during the Revolutionary War as 'Hospitality House' or "Hospitality Hall".  A very interesting history of the house and its role in the Revolutionary War can be found here.

At the left is a painting of Wethersfield townsfolk greeting George Washington as he arrives at the Joseph Webb Jr. house ("Hospitality Hall") to meet with Rochambeau to plan the Battle of Yorktown.

Sarah Webb
Sarah Webb married Boston merchant John Simpson in Wethersfield in 1774. Simpson was a British loyalist. Records indicate Sarah and John fled to Nova Scotia after finding the shutters on their house in Rhode Island tarred and feathered. At some point, they returned and he died in New York City around 1781. Sarah remarried another very wealthy Boston merchant and landowner, Joseph Barrell and due to three previous marriages between the two of them, raised 20 children in a large mansion not far from Boston Commons.

Joseph Barrell (pictured at the right), along with several other investors including well known architect Charles Bulfinch, purchased the ships Columbia and Lady Washington and financed the first American circumnavigation of the globe. The Columbia also explored the waters off the coast of Oregon.  The Columbia River is named after the ship and later American claims on large amounts of land in the Pacific Northwest were the result of these voyages.  The voyages of the Columbia and Lady Washington are very well documented and many details of the trips are available on line. 

Samuel Blatchley Webb

As mentioned earlier, Silas Deane was very close to stepson Samuel Blatchley Webb and the influence Deane had on Samuel is clear.  Samuel's middle name came from his maternal grandmother, Sarah Blatchley.  Samuel Blatchley's letters, military orders and other documents survive in a three volume collection covering the time period 1752-1809 and in additional volumes. Much has been written about Samuel Blatchley Webb, but here are a few highlights of this Revolutionary War hero:

  • Wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill and was commended for gallantry.
  • Appointed Aide-de-Camp for General Israel Putnam.
  • On June 21, 1776, was appointed Aide-de-Camp for General George Washington.
  • Wrote the order for the reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York on July 9, 1776.
  • A few days later, refused a letter from British Lord Howe to George Washington because it improperly addressed Washington, not as General, but as "Esquire".
  • Crossed the Delaware with Washington on Christmas evening, 1776.
  • Wounded again in the Battles of Trenton and White Plains.  In the Battle of White Plains, a musketball passed through his leg and killed his horse.
  • Raised and organized at his own expense the 9th Connecticut Regiment, known as 'Webb's Additional Regiment' which he assumed command of on January 11, 1777.
  • Participated in General Samuel H. Parson's expedition to Long Island where he and many others were taken prisoner by the British.
  • Released from British captivity as part of a prisoner exchanged at which time he assumed command of the light infantry as Brevet Brigadier General.
  • Arranged the meeting between General George Washington and Rochambeau on May 19, 1781 at his brother Joseph's Hospitality House in Whethersfield.
  • The above meeting resulted in French assistance in and the planning of the Siege of Yorktown, which resulted in Cornwallis' defeat, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.
  • Founder of the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783.
  • He was buried at the Dutch Reform Church in Claverack, NY.

Samuel was afforded many privileges while prisoner of the British.  He apparently was able to travel somewhat.  While technically in captivity, he married Elizabeth Bancker on October 20, 1779.  At one point during his status as prisoner, due to the ill health of his new wife, he was able to return to Whethersfield for a visit in hope the visit would improve her health.  The trip from Long Island to Whethersfield took a month, and toward the end of the trip, just a short distance from Whethersfield, Elizabeth died in February of 1781.  An account of this trip by a son of Samuel Blatchley, says that Elizabeth died from complications from childbirth and that the child died a few days later. 

The full text of an interesting book written by a son of Samuel Blatchley Webb, The Reminiscences of General Samuel B. Webb, is available online at google books.

On September 5, 1790, Samuel married his second wife, Catherine Hogeboom daughter of Judge Stephen Hogeboom.  The couple had 9 children, some of whom are notable.  The diagram below explains this family.


  Jerry Francis, a Tour Guide at Shelburne Farms, provided this description of Samuel's role in the inauguration of George Washington: Samuel Blatchley was chosen by Congress to be one of the 13 Assistants for the inauguration of George Washington as the first President of our country on April 30, 1789 in New York City . General Webb accompanied his old commander’s carriage, on horseback wearing his General’s uniform, from his lodgings to the Senate room and then on to St. Paul's.

James Watson Webb
So much has been written about the life of James Watson Webb, it's hard to know where to start. James L. Crouthamel wrote a biography titled "James Watson Webb" in 1969. James Watson was raised as an orphan--his mother died in 1807 and his father died in 1805. He was raised by an aunt, Mary Hogeboom and her husband David Thomas, who was a member of Congress from 1801 to 1808. David Thomas was also the executor of James Watson's father's estate. At age 11, James Watson was sent to live with his older sister Maria, who had married an attorney, George Morrell. Morrell eventually became Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. In early adulthood, James Watson entered the military and served 8 years in a variety of roles. In the middle of his military service, he married Helen Lisendard Stewart daughter of a wealthy Manhattan merchant. Their first child was born on the then frontier garrison army outpost called Detroit, in Michigan Territory. Wife Helen died in 1848 and in 1849, he married the daughter of a wealthy brewer, Laura Virginia Cram. James Watson Webb's accomplishments as an adult are numerous and they are highlighted below.

 
  • Became editor of the New York Courier in 1827.
  • Purchase the Enquirer in 1829 and merged the two into the Morning Courier and New York Enquirer.
  • At a cost of $7,500 per month, established a daily horse express between Washington and New York so he could get Washington news 24 hour before any other newspaper.
  • Began what was called the 'political press'--newspaper reporting that took a political position.
  • In 1842, fought a duel with Thomas F. Marshall, a member of congress from Kentucky.  Duels were illegal, he was convicted and served two months of his sentence and was pardoned by NY Governor William Seward.
  • Later named one of his sons, William Seward Webb, after the NY Governor.
  • Was a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln.  He and his wife attended Lincoln's inaugural.
  • Supported William Seward's failed bid for the presidency in 1860.
  • On at least two occasions, physically beat his newspaper competitors on the street.
  • Was a founder of the Whig party and his newspapers were the chief advocates of the whigs.
  • Sold his newspapers to The World in 1861 and left the newspaper business.
  • Was appointed Engineer in Chief of New York State with a rank of Major General, but refused the appointment.
  • In 1849, was appointed Minister to Austria, but the appointment was rejected in the Senate.
  • At the outset of the Civil War, applied for appointment as Major General for volunteers, but was refused.
  • Was instead offered the position of Brigadier General, which he refused.
  • Was offered the Ambassadorship to Turkey, which he refused.
  • Instead, he was appointed Ambassador to Brazil.
  • His personal friendship with Napolean III aided in the withdrawal of the French from Mexico.
  • Published a two volume book in 1846 and another single volume on slavery in 1856.
A google search on 'James Watson Webb' will return many references.  This one is of particular interest and is very informative:  Mr. Lincoln & James Watson Webb

The Prolific Mr. James Watson Webb
  Mr. James Watson Webb had 14 children, 10 of whom survived to adulthood. The graphics below list his children by two wives. Some of these progeny are profiled individually below the following graphics.

A Few of James Watson Webb's Sons
 

 
  • Henry Walter Webb--lawyer in New York:  Entered the railroad business with his brother William Seward Webb.
  • George Creighton Webb--lawyer in New York:  Diplomat--Head of the U.S. Legation in St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Francis Egerton Webb (not pictured above):  Attended Yale.  Was a banker and broker in New York.
  • Jacob Lewis Webb (not pictured above):  Artist and painter, studied in Paris and Europe.  Lived in Washington, DC.
  • William Seward Webb:  Profiled below.


William Seward Webb & Lila Vanderbilt
  

 

William Seward Webb, son of James Watson Webb, studied medicine in Vienna, Paris and Berlin and graduated as an M.D. from Columbia in 1875. He practiced medicine for only a few years. In 1883, he married Eliza (Lila) Vanderbilt, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. At the encouragement of his inlaws, he began a Wall Street finance firm, W.S. Webb Company, prior to his marriage. In 1883, as a result of the sudden death of the president of the Wagner Palace Car (as in railcar) Company, the Vanderbilts, owners of the company, asked his son in law to take over the reigns of the company. He quickly involved his brother Henry Walter Webb in the company and the experience for both of them launched them into the railway business. During his career, William Seward built railroads throughout the Adirondacks, opening the area to tourism. Over a period of years, he bought over 30 farms along the shore of Lake Champlain and assembled what is now Shelburne Farms. He also bought over 20,000 acres of land in upstate New York as a private hunting ground, estate and 'Great Camp'. He later donated the land to the State of New York and it is now part of Adirondack Park. The town of Webb, NY, located in the park, was named after William Seward Webb. In addition to the properties and Shelburne Farms, and the Adirondack preserve, the Webbs lived in New York City in a house given to them as a wedding present by Eliza Vanderbilt's parents. The house was at 680 Fifth Avenue and was sold in 1913 to John D. Rockefeller.

Information about the railroad and game preserve William Seward built can be found here.  Shelburne Farms is still in the Webb family and is open to the public.  Interesting information about Shelburne Farms can be found at Shelburne Farms and here.



 

Children of William Seward Webb and Lila Vanderbilt:

  • James Watson Webb:  Electra Havermeyer was the daughter of Henry Osborne Havermeyer who owned American Sugar Refining, a monopoly larger than Standard Oil.  Electra had a deep interest in American craft art and became an avid collector.  She is known as the grandmother of American craft art and her collections are housed in the museums at Shelburne Farms.

  • Electra Webb:  Electra married Dunbar Bostwick grandson of Jabez Abel Bostwick, a founder and treasurer of Standard Oil and a partner of John D. Rockefeller.  Dunbar was captain of the 1932 Yale hockey team and was selected for the 1932 Olympics but declined due to his impending marriage to Electra.  Dunbar served in the Army Air Force during WWII and participated in the planning of D-Day.

  • Frederica Vanderbilt Webb:  Married Ralph Pulitzer, son of Joseph Pulitzer namesake of the Pulitzer Prize.  The Pulitzers were in the news and publishing business.

  • General Alexander Stewart Webb, Civil War General profiled below.


General Alexander Stewart Webb
Left picture, Alexander S. Webb in the military, right picture, later in life, likely while serving as President of The City College of New York. Alexander Webb was educated at West Point, graduating in 1855. He served in the Seminole War and then returned to West Point to teach mathematics. His military career accelerated when the Civil War broke out. He married Anna Elizabeth Remsen about the time of his graduation from West Point and they had three sons and five daughters. His accomplishments both in the military and in civilian life are well documented and lengthly. An overview of his life appears below.

 
  • Graduated West Point in 1855.
  • Served in the Seminole War.
  • Returned to teach mathematics at West Point.
  • Was in the First Battle of Bull Run and the battles of Seven Days and Malvern Hill.
  • Served as Chief of Staff to General George Meade.
  • Was rushed into 'emergency service' leading troops in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
  • Led the Phildelphia Brigade in defending Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.  Despite a very serious leg wound, led his troops to Pickett's defeat and retreat.
  • Was awarded the Medal of Honor for 'distinguished personal gallantry' at Gettysburg.
  • Commanded the Second Brigade during the Rapidan Campaign.
  • At the Battle of Spotsylvania, was wounded by a bullet that entered the corner of his eye and exited his ear.
  • Left active military duty in 1866 and returned to West Point to teach geography.
  • Was denied military retirement when the retirement board informed him he had to 'prove' his military injuries.
  • Resigned military service due to the retirement issue and was appointed the first President of the City College of New York.
  • Led City College for 33 years.
  • Buried at West Point.


Alexander Stewart Webb Statue Alexander Stewart Webb Statue

The statue at the left of General Alexander Stewart Webb is located at Gettysburg. Another similar statue exists at City College of NY near the college arch and Convent Ave.




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(c) Jerry Gottsacker, 2008