Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Building of a Webb

To continue the story of the Webb family who was featured in my May 10, 2009 story about the Oregon Trail, they are an old Colonial family. Zachariah Lewis Webb descends from Richard Webb who was born in England and appeared at Stamford, CT in 1651 when he purchased a house near the mill that he would later operate.

There continues to be controversy over the origins of Richard Webb of Stamford. The 1916 Genealogical Record of the Saint Nicholas Society suggests that Richard was the son of Richard Webb of Norwalk, CT, making him a possible brother of Christopher of Braintree, MA. This connection would link the Stamford Webb's to the Royal descent of Sir Henry Webb. However, George Creighton Webb was a member of this society and he listed that Richard Webb of Stamford was the son of Thomas Webb and Margaret Howard (page 58). There is currently a DNA Test group trying to prove if this connection is true or false.

The earliest land deeds in Upstate New York are found about 1799, making the Webbs early settlers of what is today known as Cayuga County, NY. They would reside in the townships of Locke and Genoa. The deeds clearly show that when Stephen Webb purchased his land here in NY, he was a resident of Stamford, CT.

Zachariah was born at Scipio, NY per census analysis as his parents are recorded at Scipio in 1800 as well as 1810. He was baptized at Genoa in 1805 at the church where his maternal grandfather, Caleb Lyon Jr., served as one of the first elders.

In the 1830’s Zachariah was for a short time an Agent at the Auburn Prison. He also had a business venture with George Curtis Williams, who married his wife’s sister. George was a son of Ezekiel Williams who was a trustee and inspector at Auburn Prison. Zachariah and George held a contract at Auburn Prison for Shoe Making, with 41 men employed. Their contract expired May 1, 1835. The same year he married Polly Hoffman, a daughter of Matthias & Eve Huffman. Matthias was likely born in the State of Pennsylvania and lived many years at Aurelius before the family settled at Auburn. The Huffman descendants would marry into Auburn’s most prominent families, such as the Nye, Stewart, Williams and Metcalf families.

The Webb’s then moved to Moravia where Zachariah was a merchant. His store Z.L. Webb & Co. was a recognized Agent for the sale of Vegetable Healing Balsam. By 1850 the family was living at Marshall, Michigan where Zachariah was elected as Grand Scribe for Michigan’s Royal Arch Masons. He was back in New York by 1854 where he was elected King of Royal Arch Masons at Addison, NY. In 1860 he was listed at Corning, NY as a Justice of the Peace. He was also a founding member of the Church of the Redeemer at Addison, NY where he was the first Junior Warden of that church.

Zachariah would father only a single son, who gave his life defending our Country. Lewis Hoffman Webb was in the Civil War, serving NY’s 3rd Light Artillery, Company Batty I. He died of yellow fever at Newburn, NC.

His remaining children would be girls and following them was a journey. To my knowledge, his daughter Catherine, who is my ancestor, is the only one of his children buried at Port Byron. Catherine married John Dunham who served the 3rd Reg. Co. H, NY Cavalry and shot while on picket duty at Newburn, NC. He survived a horrendous surgery to remove the conical ball, resulting in his left arm being shortened by 3 inches. Another daughter Ellen married Dr. Frederick Nash Dick, a Confederate Officer with North Carolina’s 44th Infantry, Co. G. I often thought how awkward it would have been if the families ever came back to visit Auburn, with having son in-laws one defending the Union and another defending the Confederacy.

Another daughter married William Star Pensiton as mentioned in the Citizen article. Both Anna and Ellen would make their way to North Platte, NE. Dr. Dick was North Platte’s first Doctor. He was appointed surgeon for the Union Pacific Railway in 1870, for the division from North Platte to Ogden, Utah, and east to Omaha. He was also a County Physician and Coroner and owned the Drugstore F. N. Dick Company.
Mr. Peniston was appointed United States Commissioner and afterwards was a representative in the territorial legislature of Nebraska. He also served as County Judge, County Treasurer, and Justice of the Peace. His ranch along the Oregon Trail was part of the Pony Express Service for that territory. Both families are among the notables buried at North Platte City Cemetery. An interesting tidbit involves the cemetery association, where they purchased land from Mrs. William F. Cody, wife of Wild Buffalo Bill.

Zachariah’s wife Polly died in 1865 and is buried at Soule Cemetery. He later married Mrs. Caroline, widow of Stephen Snook. They would have two more daughters named Nettie and Mattie Webb. Their last known residence was Troy, NY, so if there are any descendants of Nettie & Mattie out there, I would love to hear from you.

Zachariah died in 1878 at Auburn. He must have been prominent enough in the City of Auburn as the Historical Society announced his passing at their annual meeting. Zachariah was buried at North Street Cemetery with Masonic Honors, being one of the oldest Knights Templar connected with Salem Town Commandery. To date, I have been unable to confirm his exact burial location from the caretakers of North Street Cemetery. It appears he now rests in an unmarked grave.

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