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 Little Home Histories, Part 89 -- John Webster, Jr., 1791-.

by Hall, Cyrus.

See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 88 -- Thomas Webster, Sr., 1782-1858.

John Webster, son of John and Hannah Webster, was born the 19th of Second Month 1791. He came to Ohio with his father's family in 1806. After the building of his father's mill on Leatherwood Creek, his time and attention was mostly devoted to tending and having the care of the mill. John Webster was married three times, first to Albina Gregg of Belmont County. They had three children, namely Charles P., Abner, and a daughter named Albina that died in early youth.

They first lived in a cabin that stood near the mill and about thirty rods south of the railroad bridge above Quaker City.

During this period and for some years following the War of 1812, the Friends (Quakers) of Jefferson, Belmont, and Guernsey Counties, Ohio, were almost constantly harassed by military officers and those in their employ for non-performance of "Military Duty" as they termed it -- that is, for refusing to join the army, non-compliance in attending the company, and not attending the General Muster, for the purpose of learning the arts of war. This service included all the able bodied man, and for the non-performance of such service, they were all subjected to fines and penalties. The Friends were willing to abide and suffer the legal penalties of the law under the powers that then existed, with the hope that the people at large might become more enlightened in regard to the magnitude of the evils of war. With the opportunity presented here, a class of petty military officers were created or made up of reckless and unprincipled men of the country, the purpose of which was the collection of muster-fines. This became an organized persecution of the Society of Friends.

Under this misguided rule, men were to be found in every Friends' neighborhood ready to collect fines, seizing every kind of property known to a farming community without showing any written or legal authority of warrant of law.

Assuming arbitrary and discretionary authority in what kind of property they would choose or best suit their purpose, even bedding clothes and wearing apparel -- in numerous instances -- were seized upon and carried away. In some instances it led to the opening of locks, chests and drawers in search of money and seizing upon it and carrying it away when found. The property thus taken was frequently disposed of at a sham sale in a distant part of the county which was contrary to law. These pretended sales were generally conducted by men who only served their own party and selfish interest. With sales thus conducted, the property would seldom fetch more than would pay the officers for collection, the fines still remaining unpaid. It is believed and has been confidently asserted that all of the fines thus collected and property thus confiscated from the peaceable citizens of the community, not one dollar was returned to the treasury, or turned into the proper channel by which it was to reach the State Department.

Of this state of misrule, John Webster was probably one of the most severe sufferers. After having been harassed at different times by having his personal property seized and carried away, they finally proceeded to sell his land and mill.

Elijah Dyson, the first sheriff of Guernsey County, was a man possessed of a good deal of refined manners, and always made a liberal display of friendliness among the people. He had filled his first term of office creditably as far as was publicly known, but during his second term -- which he was now serving -- he had become perfectly reckless, both in his private affairs and in what related to the duties of his office. He had now become a party to the military swindle and from superior knowledge, combined with treachery and cunning, he became one of their most active and able instruments in devising their plans and in aiding their cause, The dignity of his office was prostituted to partisan purposes, as far as the office of sheriff could be applied to misrule, until his course was finally run.

Sheriff Dyson -- with some others that had become professional fine collectors -- now colluded. They filed a bill in chancery under the plea that there were muster fines standing against John Webster as a member of the 5th Battalion 3rd Brigade and 3rd Division of the Ohio Militia and upon this plea thus filed they procured an order of Court to sell Webster's land and mill. The tract of land contained eighty acres, being the west half of the northeast quarter of Section nineteen, of Range No. 7, Township No. 9, on which tract the mill and residence of John Webster was situated. The proceeds of this sale were to be applied to satisfy this fine. Under this order of Court they made sale of the land and mill which was bid off by one of their own partisans, and they proceeded to take forcible possession according to the order of sale. Thereupon they sent twelve chosen men to take forcible possession, some of whom had been fine collectors in seizing on property and carrying it away to satisfy muster fines from the neighboring inhabitants.

During this procedure, John Webster was kept ignorant of what was going on. His wife Albina was dangerously ill when a posse of men came to dispossess them. Three of the most prominent of these were Samuel Scroggins, Samuel Wilson and L.T. Henderson. I name them as I shall have occasion to refer to them hereafter. They held a parley in and about the house where the sick woman lay, in regard to the ways and means by which they were to be governed and what was to be their immediate action. All, except one man, were in favor of showing no leniency or mercy, but planned to carry the sick woman out of doors, as she lay in bed with her infant child. They would possess the household goods and take full and complete possession by locking up the house and forcing the family to leave.

One of the company who had been pressed into the service against his will -- a man by the name of James Garrett -- said that he came there much against his will, but that he would not act any further in this case contrary to his better judgement, in violation of his better feelings, and that he would not dare to see a women thus misused, nor be instrumental on so flagrant an outrage. From the bold and determined stand he took on behalf of the then terribly distressed woman, they desisted at the present from this undertaking. They left the house and retired to the mill of which they took immediate possession. They took the fastenings off the doors, and put on other fastenings and another lock with bolts.

John Webster, at this time, had become much disheartened from the great pressure that seemed to bear upon him. The idea of having his sick wife liable to be turned out of house and home at any time, and of losing all his estate, prompted him to request his brother-in-law John Hall, to go to St. Clairsville to consult Charles Hammond in regard to the twelve men taking possession of his mill. When John Hall proceeded to make his statement in regard to the matter and what means the men had employed to get possession of the land and appurtenances thereto, Hammond said in reply, "Tell Webster to take twelve other men and throw them out neck and heels."

When Hammond heard the whole statement he wrote out a Writ of Ejectment, a species of mixed action which lies for the recovery of possession of real property, and damages and cost for the unlawful detention of it. He gave John Hall instructions in regard to the writ and to serve it himself without any delay, on whom-so-ever had the mill in possession when he should arrive there. On his return home he took one or two neighbors with him, and when they arrived at the mill it was in possession of Samuel Wilson, who ground for such customers as came.

When Wilson was told the object of their coming he took up a large butcher knife that lay near as if to assume a threatening posture in holding his possession. But as the paper was being read to him not-with-standing all his former assumed bravery, he trembled and it seemed with difficulty he could hold his weapon, and left the mill as soon as he could do so.

After the men first took possession of Websters' Mill, they left it under the care of Samuel Wilson and one or two others that attended to it. L.T. Henderson, in his exaltations over the success they had in John Websters' case, said "that he would glory in seeing the Quakers despoiled of their goods, and their real property confiscated so as they would be forced to leave the country" -- as there were only a few Quakers in Guernsey County. He promised that when he returned from Duck Creek, he would give them no rest or peace until that end was accomplished. These threats were made in an outspoken manner, in the presence of some of those he had, or intended to, persecute. But this was a boast that was not realized. He and Samuel Scroggins set out for the Duck Creek Saltworks, to procure some salt and upon their arrival at the works, Henderson was taken suddenly ill and died within four days and thus rested from his further labors.

In course of time, the trial came on at Cambridge Court. Charles Hammond of St. Clairsville and Alexander Harper of Zanesville managed and plead the suit on behalf of John Webster, and Samuel Herrick of Zanesville, on the part of the Military officers. The trial lasted several days and was warmly contested. Lawyer Herrick made a plea in Chancery which he supported at great length and endeavored to maintain the legality of the sale of Websters land by way of Parole evidence to prove that Webster's was the land they meant to sell, that is, the tract of land in Section Nineteen instead of a tract similarly situated, in Section Twenty-four.

It was shown and made manifest throughout the trial that the Military had acted illegally in numerous instances on their part, with an intentional fraud and swindle throughout. Webster's property was remanded and legally restored to his possession, and he established in his inherent rights.

John Webster was married the second time to Elizabeth Marshall. They had two children, Susan and Warner Webster. They both lived to mature age but died young. Susan, the oldest, married Dr. T.J. Romans then of Londonderry Township, and died soon afterwards. Warner died in the spring of 1848, unmarried.

John Webster was married the third time to Debora Chambers; They had three children:

Mary Webster
d. 8-16-1835
m. 12-27-1855
Henry Hartley

Samuel Webster
Jane Homes

John Webster
b. 12-31-1838
d. 5-8-1906

Source: From Cyrus Hall's History of Leatherwood Valley, and the writings of his son Edward Hall. Contributed by: Mary L. Webster, Columbus, Ohio. John Webster Jr. was a brother of my great grandfather Thomas Webster.

See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 90 -- Homes of Thomas Webster, Sr., 1782-1858.

For the table of contents and first entry in this series, please see: Little Home Histories, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Introduction.

This entry is adapted from Little Home Histories in Our Early Homes, Belmont County, Ohio, which was published in 1942. Its publication was coordinated by Robert D. and Beulah Patten McDonald. This entry has been reedited for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Website by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Website. It may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Website. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

CO-AUTHOR: Webster, Mary L.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2002 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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