153 – John Webb

John Webb – c 1889

Ralph Jarvis married Chleo Webb. Chleo was born in 1900 on a farm south of Larned, Kansas.

Chleo’s father was John Webb.

John Wesley Webb (2G) was born Monday, August 3, 1863 in Rockbridge Baths, Virginia. His parents were James Miller Webb and Margaret West Webb.

He was named after his two uncles, John C. Webb and Jeremiah Wesley Webb.

John Webb and his mother Margaret – c 1865
John Webb – c 1867

These precious tintype photographs have survived all these years. Enjoy.

Rockbridge Baths, Virginia

Rockbridge Baths is a tiny hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s nine miles north of the small town of Lexington and fifty miles west of Charlottesville.

The waters

Rockbridge Baths was named after the healing powers of the local alum springs.

This water I consider is the water of waters. This place is more crowded than any other in the mountains, and I have not heard of a single person who is dissatisfied.   

General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson

1870 Census

Census – James and Margaret Webb – Rockbridge Baths, Virginia – 1870

Here’s the family of James and Margaret Webb in the 1870 census. Their two daughters are Mary, 22, and Virginia, 12. Another daughter, Elizabeth, died in 1863 at age 4. John is the youngest, age 6.

James is listed as a tailor, as he was in the 1860 census ten years earlier. Look again at the clothes young John is wearing in the photo above. I’ll bet his dad made it.

But I don’t know who or where he would find customers in Rockbridge Baths. Maybe he was contracting. He continued his trade, but was also appointed postmaster at Rockbridge Baths in 1875.

Postmaster – James M Webb – Rockbridge Baths, Virginia – 1875

Here’s James Webb’s old post office building, alongside the current Rockbridge Baths post office.

Growing up

John Webb must have spent lots of time in the hills and valleys around Rockridge Baths. Here are a couple great photos of John and his dog and his rifle.

John Webb – “Pappa” – c 1879
John Webb – “Papa & his Dog” – c 1876
Census – James and Margaret Webb – Rockbridge County, Virginia – 1880

In 1880, James and Margaret Webb were 62 and 57. James’ occupation was tailor.

John was 16 (incorrectly listed in census as 15). John had attended school in the past year. His sister Virginia was age 22 and living at home. Burton Broadus was a 12-year-old girl living in the household. She was a servant, likely an orphaned neighbor.

John’s autograph book

We’re lucky to have John’s autograph book. It gives us an insight that we can’t get from census or land records. Here are a few examples:

Kate is John’s sister, Mary Catherine Webb. She’s fifteen years older than John, born in 1848. Kate married Jacob Shoulder and stayed around Rockbridge County. She died in 1891, just a few years after she wished John well.

On this page, it looks like John and Fannie had something going. We don’t know Fannie’s last name, but one possibility is Fannie Miller, a neighbor about the same age.

In the pages above, Nettie McCurdy and Jennie Foutz were neighbors. The Foutz family operated the mill in Rockbridge Baths.

John left home

John Webb family Bible

In 1885, at age 22, John left home and Rockbridge Baths.

His parents and sisters lived out their lives in Rockbridge County. James Miller Webb died in July 1881, at age 64. Margaret lived to age 86 in 1909.

His friend M.J. Parker gave him a Bible and a parting wish. This would be the Webb family Bible and record of births and deaths for the next two generations.

To Abilene, Kansas

John first went to Texas, and then to Abilene, Kansas around 1887. We’ll catch up with him there in an upcoming story.

Abilene, Kansas – c 1880


One thought on “153 – John Webb

  1. Brenda Teply April 3, 2021 / 6:02 pm

    Love the autograph book. It speaks of a gentler side.

    Liked by 1 person

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