Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - My Webster Family: Coming Full Circle - From The U.S.A. to Brazil and Back Again - Part 1

This is part of a series of posts dedicated to the immigration story of Debs Webster and his family.

Debs Warren Webster
Debs Warren Webster
Rollin Waterman Webster
Rollin Waterman Webster

Who would have thought that a simple letter of inquiry to the Athens Board of Trade in Athens County, Ohio, would result in the reuniting of my grandfather with his uncle.  But it did!  It's even more amazing because my grandfather, Debs Warren Webster, was living in Brazil, and his uncle, Rollin Waterman Webster was living in Chicago, Illinois at the time.  Why was Debs living in Brazil?  Well, actually, he was born there!  He was the son of Watson Emory (Frederick) Webster, a.k.a "The Traveling Dentist."  I have written about Frederick in several blog posts.  So, if you have read these posts, you know why my grandfather Debs was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In September of 1951, my grandfather sent a letter to the Athens Board of Trade in hopes of finding information regarding his family there in Athens County, Ohio because his father, Frederick Webster, was born there.  A kindly gentleman named Mr. Harper C. Pendry replied to my grandfather.  Below is his letter of reply -

I can't imagine how excited my grandfather must have been to receive Mr. Pendry's letter!  And when my grandfather received this letter from Mr. Pendry, he found his Uncle Rollin's letter to Mr. Pendry included as well.  Here is Rollin's letter of reply to Mr. Pendry:

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Our sweet Uncle Rollin was 81 years old at the time he wrote this letter.  You can see a picture of a younger Rollin from a previous post HERE.  Just in case it's difficult to read Rollin's letter, I've included a transcript below - I have included some, but not all, corrections in brackets.  I used to work as a Proofreader for a major corporation many years ago, so it has taken a lot of will power to keep from correcting more.  But I wanted to keep it as close to the original as possible for historical value, thus, the brackets.

Chicago Ill 20
Mr. Harper C. Pendry
I received your letter the 26 Sept, yes you telling me about Debs Webster,  His father Fred and the 3 children from Sapaula [Sao Paulo], South Americ [South America], came here from there to 319 E. 41st St, Chicago after their visit, they went to Arkansa [Arkansas], doing Dental work, and to Louesana [Louisiana], and later went to Old Mexic [Old Mexico] where one of his daughters died her name was Edna.  Charlotte[Carlota] got married in Mexicoto a Mexican She stayed there and Debs and his father went back to Sapaul [Sao Paulo], So, America [South America].

Ebenezer Parry [Perry] Carlile Webster, my father, was born in Pomeroy Ohio, my mother’s name was Cinthia Maria Webster, her maiden name was Waterman, she was born in Athens.  My father mooved [moved] to Illinoisand then to Iowawhere I was born.  I was the youngest in the family.  My oldest sister Mary died in infantry [infancy].  Laura [Lura] Elizabeth died 1932, Watson Emory, Debs' father who changed his name to Fred in early days, you say “1946 died.”  Dr. Frank Summers died 1941, a Dentist.  Lillian died at the age of 46.  So you see I am the last Webster left,  I was born 1870.  I am retired from the Santa Fe R.R. since 1937.  I had 31 years R.R. service as Stationary Eng.  I worked 10 years for the I.C.? R.R., 21 years Santa Fe R.R.  I started with the Denver & Rio Grand Western, with Debs’ father 1890 he was a Coach Trimmer of R.R. coaches, for the Rio Gr R.R. in 1890.  Now you see Dr. Debs surley [surely] have found his relative for sure and tell him to write to me, and I thank you very much for your trouble.  Please write me soon.

Rollin Waterman Webster
8937 S. Paulina
Chicago 20

P.S.  If you want to you may send this letter to Debs

This letter from Uncle Rollin is just filled with genealogical treasures!  For one thing, it helped to prove (in addition to Frederick's death certificate and Frederick's father's pension file) that my great-grandfather Frederick truly did change his name from Watson Emory to Frederick Emory.  It also provided details about Debs' sister Edna's death and his sister Carlota's marriage in Mexico, plus other details about Rollin's siblings.  I wonder if Rollin was unaware of the death of his brother Frederick because he said in his letter, "Debs' father who changed his name to Fred in early days, you say '1946 died.'"  That makes it sound like he didn't know about that.  How very sad!

I am so grateful to Mr. Harper C. Pendry for going above and beyond his normal duties in his job at the Athens Board of Trade in helping my grandfather find his family here in the U.S.A.
I will continue the story of "My Webster Family:  Coming Full Circle–From The U.S.A. to Brazil and Back Again" in a future post. J

Thanks for reading!

Copyright © Jana Last 2012


  1. I wonder if people today are as accommodating as Mr. Pendry. His was a fine letter.

    1. Wendy, Thanks for reading my blog post today! Yes, Mr. Pendry's letter was certainly fine and I have a feeling he was a fine person as well. Apparently he and my grandfather became friends, as I have a letter from Mr. Pendry's wife informing my grandfather of his death and thanking my grandfather for some letters and notes sent to Mr. Pendry during his illness.

  2. What a wonderful story. Yes, it seems as though Mr. Pendry was a fine man. How fortunate that you have this treasure full of information. I have enjoyed reading about your traveling dentist. He was surely one of a kind.

    1. Hi Kathy! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Yes, I'm so very glad my grandpa kept these treasures! And I'm glad you've enjoyed reading about my "traveling dentist" great-grandpa. I never knew him, but it does seem like he was a very interesting person for sure.




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