Webber, John Ferdinand (ca. 1786–1882)

By: Andrew F. Muir

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 28, 2021


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John Ferdinand Webber was born in Vermont around 1786. In the War of 1812 he served as a private in Capt. S. Dickinson's company, Thirty-first United States Infantry, from May 23, 1813, to May 31, 1814, during which time he fought in the battle of Shadage Woods. He was in Austin's colony as early as 1826 and received a headright on June 22, 1832. Sometime earlier he was married (before Michael Muldoon, according to an affidavit of his widow) to a slave, Silvia Hector. On June 11, 1834, John Cryer emancipated Silvia and her three children. The Webbers had at least eight additional children. Webber did not participate in the Texas Revolution. He was the first settler on Webber's Prairie in Travis County. Beginning in the 1840s newcomers from the Deep South resented Webber's racially mixed marriage, and ultimately he moved his household. In 1853 he bought several leagues of land on the Rio Grande downstream from Hidalgo. There he established Webber's Ranch, where his family farmed in poverty. A Unionist, he fled to Mexico during the Confederate occupation of the Rio Grande valley. He returned in May 1865 and received a pension from the United States in 1872. Webber died at his home on July 19, 1882, and was buried in the family cemetery on the levee road, a short distance above the Donna, Texas, pump. His widow, "Aunt Puss," died about 1892. The hamlet of Webberville in Travis County bears his name.

Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (MS, Frank Brown Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Edna Turley Carpenter, Tales from the Manchaca Hills: The Unvarnished Memoirs of a Texas Gentlewoman (New Orleans: Hauser Press, 1960). Worth Stickley Ray, Austin Colony Pioneers (Austin: Jenkins, 1949; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton, 1970). Noah Smithwick, The Evolution of a State, or Recollections of Old Texas Days (Austin: Gammel, 1900; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983). J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh, The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1954).

Categories:

  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Unionists
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers
  • Ranching and Cowboys

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

Places:

  • Central Texas
  • South Texas
  • Valley Area

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Andrew F. Muir, “Webber, John Ferdinand,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/webber-john-ferdinand.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

1976
January 28, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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