John Webb

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 586-587, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  John Webb, who was for many years prominently identified with the manufacturing interests of Beardstown, Illinois, is now a resident of Bainbridge township, Schuyler county.  He was born in Lancaster, England, December 9, 1813, a son of Samuel Webb, who was a native of the same shire; the paternal grandfather, John Webb, was a manufacturer of cotton goods, and operated in Lancashire, where he spent his entire life.  Samuel Webb learned the trade in his father's factory, and became a skilled workman.  In 1817 he determined to come to America, and, as it was at that time against the law for expert mechanics to leave Great Britain, he sailed under an assumed name.  He located in Baltimore, and there secured a situation as foreman in a cotton factory three miles from the city; after a few years he took the same psoition in another mill, where he continued until 1827.  He then went to Mercer county, Pennsylvania, and leased a mill, engaging in the manufacture of cloth.  He afterward returned to Baltimore, and in 1842 he came to Illinois; he was foreman of a woolen factory at Petersburg, Menard county, several years, and then purchased a farm near Mason City, on which he resided until death.  He married Ellen Fletcher, a native of Manchester, England and a daughter of James Fletcher, a soldier in the British army and a participant in the battle of Waterloo; she died at Petersburg about 1848.  The family consisted of ten children: Mary, Ellen, Olive, Sarah, John, James, Samuel, Nathaniel, Thomas and William.  John Webb was a child of five years when he was brought to America; he attended school in Baltimore, and when he had finished his studies began to learn the machanist's trade; he served an apprenticeship of three years, and at the end of that time took charge of a shop for his employer; he held this position three years, and then entered the service of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at Mt. Clare; after a year he went to work in a marine foundry in Baltimore; twelve months later he entered the employment of the Savage Manufacturing Company, and remained with this firm until 1817.  In that year he came to Illinois, via stage to Pittsburg, and thence by the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers.  He was in poor health, and did not at once engage in business.  September 12, of the same year, he started back to Baltimore with a horse and carriage making the entire journey overland, and arriving at his destination October 22.  December 2, he started on the return trip, accompanied by his family; this journey was also made with a horse and carriage.
  Mr. Webb remained in Springfield until 1839, and in the fall of that year went to Petersburg, where he had purchased a flour mill; in 1844 he went to Cass county, and there built the first circular-saw mill west of the Alleghany mountains; this he operated until 1848, and then went to Beardstown where he opened a machine shop and foundry.  December 5, 1856, the building and entire plant were destroyed by fire, and the following year he rebuilt, and continued there until 1866, when he sold out.  Later he built a carriage-shop which he operated a number of years.  For the past nineteen years he has been interested in agriculture; he owns 500 acres of land, and is on of the directors of the First State Bank of Beardstown.  He was married in the city of Baltimore in 1834 to Miss Eliza Callaley, a native of Virginia; she died November 20, 1888.  His second marriage was in November, 1890, when he was united to Maria Serrat, a native of Scioto county, Ohio, and a daughter of Peter and Mary Serrat.  Five children were born of this union: John, Joseph, Samuel, William and Mary; the children are all married, and there are twenty-eight grandchildren in the family.

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