Marshall County

Town of Webster


This, as also each place noticed below, is one of the defunct towns whose annals belong to the disastrous period of 1836-7. It occupied a fine position on the river bank nearly two miles above Henry, where there is a superior steamboat landing, accessible at all seasons of the year. A fractional quarter section was laid off here on the 20th of June, 1837, by Robert Latta [Col. Latta died in Webster Sept 23d, 1837, “much lamented by all who knew him,” as his obituary states.], Alvin Dascomb, Walton Plato, and Major P. McAllaster, Webster being thus “ushered into existence by the skilful hand of the County Surveyor and his co-workers." Many lots were sold at high prices, for that early day ; and improvement went forward rapidly. By the early part, of August a steam saw and grist-mill was in progress, with an engine already on the spot; several dwellings had been put up, and fifteen or twenty others were under contract In the autumn it contained about thirty houses and a population of more than a hundred. The place had grown into a flourishing village while its sister town, Henry, had scarce a house upon its site. No branches of business were carried on, however, except by a blacksmith and Josiah E. Hayes, who kept a small grocery store.

On the 22d of June, 1837, Webster was honored with a visit from its great namesake, the " godlike Daniel," who, accompanied by his wife and daughter, was then passing up the river on the steamboat Frontier, escorted by the Wave. He stepped ashore at this landing, and conversed freely with the few inhabitants who had thus soon settled upon the site. Upon being asked his opinion of the rising town, he stated that he thought it "a very handsome place for a farm," but was quite reserved in his commendations of it as a town. The steamers remained at this place an hour or two, during which time the distinguished statesman was the centre of attraction.

Webster was a short-lived town. The summer and autumn of 1838 proved sickly; it was alleged that the proprietors did not fulfil their engagements; and the inhabitants began to desert it rapidly. The last one left in 1842; the mill never got into operation; the houses were gradually removed or destroyed; and it ceased to be considered a town-site after 1843, when it was probably vacated. [* The readers of this work must not suppose that only those “paper towns” were vacated which are so mentioned. In 1841, a law was passed which enabled the proprietors of towns, parts of towns, or additions, to vacate them without the intervention of the Legislature. A number of town sites noticed in the text may have been vacated in this manner, which fact has thus escaped the knowledge of this author.] A few scattered foundations, and some shallow cavities in the soil, are all that remain to mark where it stood.

Transcribed 04 Feb 2012 from History of Putnam and Marshall Counties, by Henry Allen Ford, 1860

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