Died: October 29, 1926
Married: Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt
Children: J. Watson Webb, William Seward Webb, Frederica Webb
Dr. William Seward Webb was a physician, businessman, and Inspector General of the Vermont militia with the rank of Colonel. He was a founder and former President of the Sons of the American Revolution.
He studied medicine in Vienna, Paris and Berlin. Returning to America, he entered the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating 1875. He practiced medicine for several years, and then turned to finance at the urging of his wife's family, establishing the Wall Street firm of W. S. Webb & Co. In 1883, he married Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt, daughter of William H. Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt owned a controlling interest in the Wagner Palace Car Company. When the founder of the company was killed in an 1833 accident, Vanderbilt asked his new son-in-law to take over the firm. The Wagner Palace Car Company was subsequently merged with the Pullman Company.
Dr. Webb later became President of the Fulton Chain Railway Company, the Fulton Navigation Company, and the Raquette Lake Transportation Company. He was the builder and President of the Mohawk and Malone Railway. His railroads were instrumental in opening the Adirondacks to the tourism rush of the mid- to late 19th century.
Dr. Webb built a Great Camp named NeHaSane in a game preserve of some 200,000 acres southeast of Tupper Lake; much of it was later donated to the State of New York to become part of the Adirondack Park. Lake Lila is named for his wife. He also created Shelburne Farms from more than thirty separate farms on the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain; it is a National Historic Landmark. The town of Webb, New York, in the Adirondack Park is named after him.
He spent the summer of 1891 in Saranac Lake in order to be as close as possible to the work pushing the Mohawk and Malone through the region. 1
Source: Wikipedia: William Seward Webb
Essex County Republican, January 11, 1894
—Dr. Seward Webb, hearing of the loss of the Christmas remembrances of St. Luke's Sabbath School, when Dr. Trudeau's Sanitarium at Saranac was destroyed by fire, sent a check for one hundred dollars, saying that he wished the children a Merry Christmas.
Note: The sanitarium was not "destroyed by fire" in 1893. The news report undoubtedly referred to the loss of Dr. Trudeau's house, which did burn in 1893 while the Trudeaus were away in New York City. As Mrs. Trudeau was very involved with St. Luke's parish, just across the street from their house, it is very possible that Christmas gifts for St. Luke's Sunday School were being hidden at their home to surprise the children.
Essex County Republican, January 11, 1894
—It seems that Dr. Seward Webb has been reported recently as having declared a purpose to attempt with others to secure modifications of the game law by the Legislature this winter, which local Adirondack sentiment does not approve.
Dr. Webb and those in sympathy with him on this question—having private parks, some of which are inclosed— do not favor hounding, and perhaps desire other provisions of la w that the guides and landlords regard as inimical to their" Interests. Advices from Saranac Lake are to the effect that a convention will be held there sometime this month to commission delegates to go to Albany and strenuously protest against any amendment of the law pressed merely by park owners. The convention may, indeed, go even further than that , and pronounce utterly against the State permitting men or associations acquiring immense possessions in the wilderness, from which everybody is excluded except the owners and their immediate friends. A dispatch from Saranac Lake to the Tribune under date of Dec. 31 says : "The movement in opposition to private parks received new impetus today from a report that Dr. Webb and the Vanderbilts are negotiating for 60,000 acres in Hamilton county, and that the bargain will be closed as soon as the titles are made clear. This territory will be fenced in, it is said, as is now the case with Ne-Ha-Sa-Ne Park."—Mallone Palladium.
Ogdensburg Journal, April 10, 1894
SPRING IN THE WOODS.
The Adirondacks at the Present Season,
WHICH IS A MONTH EARLIER THAN USUAL.
An Afternoon at Dr. Webb's Lodge.
From the New York Times.
A trip through the Adirondacks in the early spring may be pleasant or not according to the circumstances under which it is made. It was the agreeable privilege of a congenial party of New York people to make this trip a few days ago under conditions that were peculiarly advantageous. Special Wagner cars, a special locomotive, and special invitations to visit certain famous localities in Nature's great sanitarium were elements that more than counteracted whatever unfavorable impressions an Adirondack thaw might have created.
The party, which numbered about twenty, embarked from the Grand Central station in a happy mood at 7:30 o'clock p. m. An elegant Wagner car, supplied with every comfort that a thoughtful hospitality could suggest was assigned to their exclusive use, and a special dining car, taken on at Herkimer, was theirs to command, as they rambled through the woods, over the Adirondack division of the Central road, on the following day. It was indeed a jolly outing, its central idea being to crowd as much pleasure as possible into one day and two nights.
As the guests of H. Walter Webb, Third Vice-President of the New York Central, the favored ramblers were enabled to realize to the fullest extent the possibilities of advanced railway management. There certainly could have been no nearer approach to luxury on. wheels than was enjoyed by this party. From New York a direct run was made to Loon Lake, which was reached at eight o'clock in the morning. There the special ears were detached from the regular train and side tracked, soon to be taken in tow by a special engine and whisked wherever the ramblers might choose to go. A. cordial invitation to visit Ne-ha-sa-ne Park, Dr. W. Seward Webb's magnificent woodland estate, was one of the pleasures in store.
The sun was shining bright and warm when the ladies and gentlemen comprising the party, having breakfasted in their private dining car, packed themselves into sleighs for a ride over the thawing snow to the Loon Lake House, three miles and a half away. Soft weather had prevailed for nearly a fortnight, and Adirondack scenery was not at its best. The glisten and crispness of winter had departed, and the color and music of spring had not yet arrived. But there was a charm about the locality nevertheless. The spirits of the city folk were buoyant, and they readily found picturesque features in the most commonplace views and objects. A wandering cow at the edge of the frozen lake was singled out by one enthusiastic young woman as “a pastoral poem,” and the hemlock greens along the roadway were noted as marking the advent of spring. The drive was wholly enjoyable, as also was the brief sojourn at the Loon Lake House, where Proprietor Ferdinand Chase proudly showed the party his handsome winter annex, which, by the way, is a more imposing looking building than the main hotel. It was observable at every place visited that the spirit of improvement is abroad in the Adirondacks.
Returning to their train with a sharply whetted appetite, the ramblers at once sat down to a dainty but by no means circumscribed luncheon, and the cars were set in motion toward Saranac Inn. Soon rain began to fall, and for half an hour the sun's rays were obscured and everything appeared to be saturated with water. But when Saranac Inn was reached, the clouds dried their eyes, the sun shone again, and within ten minutes there was nothing to remind one that it had rained. By invitation of Landlord Riddle of the Saranac Inn, an agreeable drive through the woods to that noted resort was taken. There are no guests in the inn at this time of the year, but Mr. Riddle and his small army of helpers keep each other from getting lonesome. Mr. Riddle remarked that the spring thaw was a month ahead of time this year, and he congratulated himself that he had just finished cutting his ice before the thaw began.
From Saranac Inn station the special train proceeded leisurely toward Dr. Webb's Ne-ha-sa-ne Park which is probably the largest estate of its kind in this country. It includes about 260,000 acres of woodland and contains several picturesque bodies of water, the largest of which Lake Lila, is a very choice fishing preserve. Dr. Webb gave this charming lake his wife's baptismal name, and upon its bank he has erected a sumptuous lodge—a broad and long structure with gable roof and inviting verandas. It is a building architecturally attractive without and luxuriously attractive within. It is furnished with rare taste, and everything bespeaks comfort and good cheer. Dr. Webb and his wife derive much pleasure from entertaining their friends here. The main room, or parlor, was seemingly designed to cultivate indolence. It contains innumerable cozy corners and a mammoth chimney constructed of great blocks of stone found on the place. The chimney is about 15 feet wide and more than 30 feet high. Its open fireplace, in which ponderous logs are kept constantly ablaze, would furnish standing room for half a score o£ men. The andirons are two short pieces of railroad iron. Stuffed animals and birds are placed here and there, and skins of various sizes are strewn about. A superb skin of an enormous grizzly bear lies in the center of the floor, and some remarkable deer heads ornament the walls. There are musical instruments, too, in this enticing room, and pictures without number.
It was here that the favored ramblers spent a merry afternoon and partook of a dinner such as Princes and “favored ramblers” only are supposed to eat. In appreciation of Dr. Webb's warm-hearted hospitality, all of the members of the party left a verse or two in his guest book and subscribed their names thereto. Most of the names belonged to newspaper writers in whom the public has no especial interest. Other members of the party, however, were John C. Yager, General Superintendent of the Wagner Palace Car Company, and Mrs. Yager, a lady who enjoys the distinction of having caught, last summer, two seven-pound trout in Lake Lila; Arthur G. Leonard, private secretary to H. Walter Webb and an enthusiastic believer in the Adirondacks; Dr. A. S. Hunter and wife, and Dr. N. D. Haskell of this city, and O. P. Bright of Philadelphia.
Nehasane Park is in charge of Fitz Greene Halleck, a native of the Adirondack region, and an athletic, earnest, good-natured, and whole-souled man. He knows all about the woodlands, and is a character in his way. His picture, which is presented herewith, represents him as he appeared in his boat on Lake Lila. The smile is a perennial one. The disproportionate size of his feet is due, no doubt, to the fact that they were nearer the camera than was the rest of his body. Mr. Halleck was named after the American poet, and he has men at work for him who bear such names as Shakespeare, Milton, Napoleon, St. Peter, St. Paul, &c. The natives of the Adirondacks are fond of wearing impressive names. Mr. Halleck is superintendent, forester and fire warden of Nehasane, and special State game and fish protector. Nehasane is an Indian name, meaning “Beaver crossing on a log.”
In approaching Nehasane from Loon Lake the ramblers passed Lake Kushaqua, which is destined to become one of the favorite mountain resorts in the summer seasons. It is owned by Arthur G. Leonard and Frank C. Smith, of this city, and important improvements are now in progress there. The modest hotel of last year has been doubled in capacity and greatly enhanced in attractiveness. A billiard room, bowling alleys, tennis court, and croquet grounds wilt be features this season that the guests last summer did not enjoy. The hotel will open about the first of June, with George F. Potter as manager. Besides owning, a hotel, the Messrs. Leonard and Smith own and operate a large sawmill in the vicinity.
The ramblers homeward trip from Ne-ha-sa-ne Park was a satisfactory combination of jollity and restfulness. The presence of General Superintendent Yager, to whose skill and tact is mainly due the perfection, of the Wagner car service, insured safety, comfort and pleasure. When the members of the party awoke in New York the next morning, each one felt refreshed and not fatigued by the one day's outing in the Adirondack forests.
1. Henry A. Harter, Fairy Tale Railroad, the Golden Chariot Route, Utica: North Country Books, 1979, p. 30