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Our Family Traditions, by E.A.W.


The following text was copied from an original document typed by Earnest Albert Webbe. It is his tellings of the family history. It's been copied as accurately as possible. Some hand written notes have been included as italic type.

William Hamilton Webbe:  Second son of James and Elizabeth (Chitty) Webbe

        (Chitty) Born at Lambeth, England. July 1, 1831

                    Married to Ruth Brooks, third daughter of James

                    Brooks of Bedford, England. Died by accident

                    Cleveland, Ohio. 1898.

Ruth Brooks Webbe:  Born February 13. 1834 at Bedford, England, married at Bethal Green. March 7, 1852. Died April, 1904


Issue:  Nellie Ruth:  Born Jan. 31, 1853 Died Nov.6, 1896

          William Linton:  " Dec. 14, 1854

(Elizabeth)  Lizzie Brooks (DeLorme)  " Nov. 15, 1856

          Annie (Infant)  " Nov. 8, 1859 Died Nov. 23

          Edith Adelaid  " Nov. 30, 1858

          Rosa Bonhaur  " Nov. (July 14, 1860 died July 1934)

          Arthur Edward (Teddy)  " (Mar. 23)

          Frederic W. (Gilbert)  " 1869

          Charles Frank  " (Nov. 24) l872(1866)

(Died 1929)  John Gilbert (Jack)  Jan 20, 1869

Amy (Infant) (3 infants died at birth James Webbe, Stacy Mary, Emily Mary Matilda)

          Ernest Albert  " Apr. 3, 1876 died Jan 22, 1966

          Marie Christina  " Apr. 22, 1879 Died 1932

                                                            Oct 31, 1932


Webbe Family Traditions

William Hamilton Webbe's parental grandfather was a carver and gilder in the royal households of Lambeth, Windsor and Buckingham castles. His proclivity towards carving drew him to watch and study the occupation of an engraver in the neighborhood. This Whymper was a brother to the (late) Sir Frederick Whymper, Artic explorer and discoverer of the remains of the ill-fated Sir John Franklins search for a North-West Passage. Father brought me into this great explores company when I was a boy, thrilled to meet the hero Whymper (Whymper was also the first man to conquer Mount Blanc and thus was given the commision to search for Franklin. His conquest of Mount Blanc was described in Readers Digest, August 46 6r 4?, "Man & a Mountain"). W.H.W. had changed his middle name from his mother's (Chitty) as it appears on his firth registry- to Hamilton- after the American jurist. His mother was third daughter of Lord Chief Justice Chitty, compiler of the long-term standard research of speciman "cases" arguments and findings. An encyclopedia prominent in most law libraries. W.H.W. was a fellow art student with Keely Halwell, famed Royal academician. He was an authority on, and collector of many old books as well as current works. He treasured an original, editor of Vicr of Wakefield, underlined, "To my good friend W.H.W. Wm Makpeace Thackery". He sold this relic to a Dr. Woods, member of Clevelands famous literary Rohphant Club. He had prints of his own carvings for original Robinson Crusoe and also an original water color-fronts-piece of Bavi color for Sir W.S. Lady of the Lake. Father was apprentised to John Dicks, publisher of religious periodicals, jumped his arduous apprentiship and was confined to the apprentice prison until family and friends raised money for penalties, etc., later was associated with Charles Dickens, then a police court writer, George Augusta Sala the war correspondent, George DuMauier, stc., and was amoung those welcoming Washington Irving on his visit to the literary circles of London. W.H.W. rented the offices of Samuel Johnson. He was on the art staff of "Punch" as an engraver and also worked for years for the Illus. London News. By this time his son William was working by his side, when Fred Leslie, and Mrs. Leslie-Carter (NY publishers) were talent scouting in London. W.H.W. and son were almost persuaded to change to American publishing circles, Wm. Linton Webbe eventually did so and became a foreman engraver for the Harper interests and was later Tres. of the Photo-Engravers Union. His son William J. died in N.Y. 1950 after many years as top engraver for N.E.A. in (nationally operated comic strip syndicate) Nephew Fred Ovendan has sort of position with N.E.A. in Cleveland. W.H.W. was a skillful artist, as hand engravers had to be to interpret the illustrating artists shades and lining upon the fine grained boxwood medium used. His mother was a most devout woman and resided with us a number of years before her death at 84 yrs.

The Brooks-Webbe Family Traditions: (Mostly gathered by E.A.W. from Ruth Webbe's bedtime stories in early years and later authenticated much by the experiences, related and exchanged at the reunion of her sisters and self, in 189O.

James Brooks of Bedford, England Was a superintendent, or overseer of several toll-stations of the Bedford country side. He was a fine horseman and often invited to ride with the gentry and their hounds. He was also a lay-Baptist preacher, and both he and his wife, whose maiden family name was Covington, were of Puritan stock. With their family of five girls and one boy, the family resided at the principal toll-house. The daughters in order of age were Letitia, Matilda, Ruth, Mary and Drucilla, and the son's name being Obadiah. The son acquired the habit of smoking against his fathers wishes, and becomes obscured from the family history, altho my mother was urged by the common mother of both to search out his where-abouts, which commission mother did, as well as a mother with her own brood could do. But the next picture is of early American missionaries bringing the Restoration story to the family, sojouring at the tollhouse and using it as a nucleus to reach various other places. The father, James Brooks, flattered to have the visitors spend whole evenings on long biblical discussions with him.

But the girls seem to have been much of the attraction for their stay, and the outcome was marriage of the eldest daughter Letitia to one of the American missionaries and a hard parting when the couple left for Joseph's Land. By this time the older man James Brooks led the way to the "new light" and the family by two's and three's baptized, usually by moonlight to avoid the occassion being disrupted by the opposing neighbors and church-folks. Father Brooks realizing they were in social disfavor and much hurt about it, that those former neighbor friends could not condone his new view of life, closed his affairs and betook himself and family some hundred miles down to the northern reaches of London. Here he began to consider and arrange for overseas emigration, but meanwhile conducted and supported a mission hall to find company and to tell the story, at a regional Conference there-in he discovered his third daughter, Ruth, much interested in a young fellow delegate (identified by his white ribbon badge as of the priesthood) and the name was Webbe. Some months later and somewhat prior to the family departure for America, both Ruth and Mary took unto themselves, each a husband. Mary's, a mail carrier, named Wooding. This did not prevent the sailing of Father Brooks, his wife and two girls, but only under promise of the two young husbands that they would arrange their affairs to follow quickly. The Woodings eventually did so, but another phase of the story intervenes right here.

Father (W.H.W.) was quite disconcerted to find certain men of the Ministry in the habit of secret conferences and they ignored him and the others who had not favored some of the reports circulated as to objectives of the new works. Eliza Snow agid her brother Lorenzo had been guests of Father Brooks to and from their mission to Switzerland, some such men had the reputation of being a little too free and easy familiarity with the young ladies, who perhaps beceuse of their Puritan stock were different. Soon after the Brooks family had left for America, W.H.W. came down suddenly against the whole movement, against all religious movements and would go out of his way to Insult even the Orthodox ministers who called to invite the Webbe family into their fold. Mother, however, encouraged her boys and girls as they came along to take the benefits of Sunday School and chapel work, so we had an all balanced menu.

The Webbe brood was somewhat an unruly and tempestuous crowd on account of this liberality, often quarrelsome, to the extent Mother would say "if you youngsters don't get along and appreciate one another, the time will come when you will cry for the companionship you wasted." And it came to pass! Nellie was in America and Edith followed, Lizzie married a Frenchman and was living in Paris. Ted came out to his brother Will in New York, but hated the city and went to work on a Connecticut farm. Frank and Jack ran away to join the army, but could not make the same service, Jack became an artillery man and was sent to a Nova Scotia garrison, during British skirmish later he came down into Maine and hence to Pittsburg. (AWOL) Frank made two trips to Australia, Rosa was in the North of England, employed in a good home. Myself and younger sister at home, and with Mother who oft placed us kneeling on our beds at night pointing to pictures of her absent children around the room and teaching us to pray the prayers of her Mothers heart "God bring my scattered children together again as a family".  Ted returned home with glowing accounts of America, and while avowedly an agnostic, was wonderfully impressed with the Quaker-quiet people-philosophy. Edith and husband and two little boys came for a months long visit and all the talk was of America. We had long been known as an American family for the amount of mail we had from there. I nearly shipped as a cabin boy on an Atlantic Transport liner, but my chum took the job out of my hands. Before the boats next trip, I was on my way with my brother, Teddy, to Pittsburg to join up with Jack and Frank with Edith and her family near by. In a year or so our Father and Mother, Rosa and Marie were with us and the new life was started when Nellie and her children visited us. She was then an Art instructor in the Butte, Montana High Schools. But there were fatal days when she tried to establish herself with her children nearer her people.

Edith's husband had been chef at Cleveland's Famous Hollenden Hotel and he moved his family back. Jack and I worked together here awhile, but I got into the engraving job again and had charge of designs for a commercial firm. I had always been interested in the spiritual side of life and often went hunting around missions, and humble chaples, and honest revivals. In one of my rambles, I was intrigued by a sign which gave the full name of our present denomination, tho I promptly forgot it apparently at this time.  A cousin, Mary Wooding, was a school teacher in Burlington, Iowa. Some of the churchly people connected with the board of education had tried hard to put her off the faculty roster as an alleged "Morman". A resulting investigation revealed her true status as of the Reorganized L.D.S. and several of her associate teacher friends prevailed upon her to enter "Burlington Hawk-Eye" Popular Teacher Contest, and they worked loyally to undo the former wrong , to gain her the victory prize, a visit of, two weeks expenses sojourn at the World's Fair in Buffalo. That the young lady might have company, it was arranged that cousin Madge Craig ( a granddaughter of Drucilla Johnson):should accompany her. Knowing that Kirtland Temple was somewhere in route, stop-over privileges were availed of, and the Webbe family being known to be in that vicinity, we were "Looked up" also.  In knight arrent style, E.A.W. took a day off to assist the young ladies in their search for information in the city of Cleveland. While waiting the girls excursion into a drygoods dept-store, I loitered outside and a flash of memory recalled the sign I had noted years ago. We thus learned of a district Gospel Tent operating on our side of town and located it in due time, and became acquainted with W.H.Kelly, Alonzo Parsons and others. The tent came to be located in our own neighborhood. Rosa and Edith were baptized in the environment of a beautilul creek. Others of the family came in later. Mean while we had found the temple, it being out a few miles trolly ride from our door. Mother said "The Hand of God" leading her unknown to the very threshold ot the Temple she had learned of as a girl. As a result of the pilgrimage of two cousins there later resulted a reunion in our home Drucilla Johnson.

Mary Wooding and Ruth Webbe, three aged grandmothers who had parted as girls in their teens. Uncle Fred Johnson, former Master painter of the C.B. & Q and husband of Durcilla, also was a visitor and Paul Craig, their grandson and Madge, his sister, graced our home.

Aunt "Druey" got me writing to the younger set of the Smith family (Letitias) in Plattsmouth, Nebraska and also with the distant and unknown granddaughters of Mary Wooding in Jacksonville, Florida. But the more personal experience of mine was the meeting of Aunt Matilda of California, who came to visit my mother (her sister) some time after the other two aunt's visit. I was to meet her at the train , in the old dark and run-down Union Station in Cleveland, where you still could go out on the tracks and wait at the coach steps. I was to wear a white flower in just such a way, for identification and at the last moment it had vanished. However I made bold to step up to a charater of a certain nobility and inquire if this might be Mrs. Buchanan. "She was a person from another world, austere dignity and calm self-possion, distinct from any person about me.

After quite a spell of searching looks, she asked "Is this Ernest?" Almost before I had assured her that she was right she said "Yes, I can see your father in you". And that after such a lapse of time. Aunt Matilda had married a "Forty Niner" and gone west in the gold rush; her husband had quarreled with his partner and suffered death. She married again, a farm hand and they took up land afterwards in the famous Redlands of Calif. She was a wealthy woman, but under durance to her offspring. That's still a story it-self-------

Father Brooks and family were three weeks sailing from England, when their ship was forced to return to the home land, being unable to progress against storm and wild waters, but after some necessary refitting, set out again. After a nine weeks voyage, arrived at New Orleans, their destination port, from which they were to take a boat up river. Father Brooks sought to keep his children informed of conditions met with, and they learned of his horror and disgust of the toll work in the, southern ports, where slaves were herded and driven like cattle in his over seer work at home. As they journeyed up-river there were frequent fueling (wood) places and finally encampment to care for the great number of sick, ship-fever and cholera, raging so much that little progress was possible. Father Brooks operated a sort of supplies.and dispensary for the emigrants. Daughter Dru was often left in charge as Father Brooks went about comforting the sick. Evidently administering. One of Dru's visitors rather gruffly demanded something that sounded like blashmeny, and she screamed and ran out to find her parents, but the miscreant had vanished. Later Elder Brooks was brought to the bed-side of a very.sick Dane, who wanted something out before he died. He had unwittingly offended a young sister "He had only wanted to buy a "goot darms wirt" of apples, but the girl had screamed and ran away. With due reconciliation effected we are given to understand this was the beginning of the Johnson-Brooks alliance. Anyway that paticular emigrant party got no further than Burlington, Iowa on the way to "Zion" and the news that trickled overseas little encouraging to those under promise to follow. They were the groups parties that were halted and disruped in their objectives toward. the Golden West. A further word about Aunt Matilda: Her son James, who in later life married cousin Tillie Wooding- visited us in England while making a tour of the world in lieu or a missed education, using money left him from his father. Since he obtained this money while under age, he obtained his portion twice over, His sister married a local. courthouse official and this son-in-law exercised a power over Aunt Matilda's material effort very much to her detriment.  During her several weeks stay with us she gave Mother a large.package of documents to deposit in her (Mothers) own bank deposit box. She stressed upon Mother that whatever happened, not to deliver the papers over to anyone, not even on her own (Aunts) written order. (There must have been something radically wrong back home.)  She had not returned home over a couple of weeks, when along came her pleading request that it was all a mistake and please get the papers and express them back. Mother was deeply worried, of course, and asked me what to do. Knowing the distress and trouble my mother had suffered (Father and Wills deaths in the previous year), I said she should not get into the mix-up. She also counselled with an old family friend, an official who said it would pay for one of the family to go out there and set her right. Mother and Aunt Matilda had placed some of her affairs before him and he advised us now that she was a very wealthy woman and had need of an honest represent ative. Mother away only a short time before we received a court notice of Aunt's death. I am not sorry that she was saved a lot of executive and administrative worries. Aunt Matilda was a sweet and lovely old lady, but would not fraternize with our neighbors or church folks. She was active and capable but quiet and serene, chatted with me freely and trusted her time and comfort to us. She kept largely to her room, but came out on the landing or stairway, leaning over the banister to hear what was said in the frequent cottage meetings in our home and testimonies and prayers at other times. She would not come down, but had comments on such things as passed afterwards She would go out and harvest a handful of snow end eat it, saying she had not handled it for scores of years, altho visable on the distant mountains. We loved her, but perhaps she thought we did not urge her earnestly enough to stay in our home circle.

(Above accounts are based principally upon stories long held dear in my mother's (Ruth) memory and repeated to us children; also from my father's (W.H.W.) written memoirs. Then again from the lovely reunion of my mother with her long-parted sisters as they conversed in our home in Collinwood and the subsequent visit of the other sister Matilda from California and what she confided to us of her life and circumstances.)



Webbe's - Crossing the Atlantic - City of New York - Inman Line 1893


Kirtland, Ohio: a look of old.



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