William Seward Webb, c. 1902

Born: January 31, 1851

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.



1. Henry A. Harter, Fairy Tale Railroad, the Golden Chariot Route, Utica: North Country Books, 1979, p. 30