Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - My Webster Family: Coming Full Circle - From The U.S.A. to Brazil and Back Again - Part 2

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

Mr. Harper C. Pendry and my grandfather Debs Warren Webster apparently became friends following the amazing assistance Mr. Pendry provided to my grandfather in helping him connect with his Webster family here in the United States.  The following is a letter from Mr. Pendry to my grandfather written in January of 1952. 

Mr. Pendry's Letter to Debs Webster January 3, 1952
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I’ve included the envelope for this letter as well. I like how my grandfather wrote the word “valuable” on the outside of it. Yes, grandpa, you were right, this is very valuable!

Mr. Pendry's Letter to Debs Webster January 3, 1952 Envelope
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Transcription of Mr. Pendry’s letter:

Dear Dr. Webster:

The day I received your welcome Christmas card a reporter from the local paper dropped in and was fascinated by the story I told him about our correspondence.  From the file he wrote up a short story about the incident which was carried in the Athens Messenger on January 1, 1952.

I enclose the page on which your story appears.

My best wishes for a happy New Year.

Yours very truly

Harper C. Pendry

So, how cool is it that my grandpa’s story was written up in The Athens Messenger newspaper?  My grandfather saved the newspaper article and I am including it in this post, with the permission of The Athens Messenger.

Debs Webster Article in The Athens Messenger 1952
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Transcription of newspaper article:

Board of Trade Search Finds Brazil Man’s Kin
By Charles Woodruff

You may suppose that the Athens Board of Trade is only interested in affairs connected with commerce, that it is a completely impersonal thing.

But you’d be wrong.

Take the recent case of the South American dentist for an example.

Dr. Debs Warren Webster, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, wrote to the Athens board asking for information.  Dr. Webster said that he was hoping to locate relatives in Athens because his father had been born here.

The letter, written in an ornate script reminiscent of old world handwriting, said that his father’s name was Frederic Emory Webster; his grandfather, Abenezer Webster, and his grandmother, Cinthia Maria Webster.

Dr. Webster concluded that the reason he wanted to locate his relatives was because “I intend to go back to the states as soon as I get in touch with them.”

Harper C. Pendry, secretary-manager of the Athens Board of Trade, got hold of the letter last August, and things began to happen.

He acknowledged the letter to Dr. Webster and asked for more definite information, meanwhile conducting local inquiries and writing to the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D. C.

Pendry asked old-timers around Athens if they knew anything about a family of Websters.  He learned that the only Websters in the county lived in Canaanville, and that they were not related.

The next letter from Dr. Webster provided the clue that ended the search.  After relating that he was born in Santos, Brazil, in 1914, three years after his father went there, and that his mother, a native Brazilian, died in 1920, the dentist described a visit to the United States in 1921.

It was while he was in Chicago that he met an uncle, Rollin Waterman Webster, his father’s younger brother, who worked in a pumping station for the New York Central Railroad.

From there on it turned out to be easy for Pendry.  He merely swiveled around in his office chair, took the Chicago city directory off the shelf and looked up Rollin Waterman Webster.  A quick letter to the Chicago uncle followed, and Pendry soon learned he had the right party.

The board secretary wrote a letter to Dr. Webster giving him the good news on Sept. 29.  Dr. Webster wrote back on Oct. 15, an excited letter offering profuse thanks and sending a picture of himself.

No, sir, you never know what job might fall to a board of trade office.

(In the newspaper article it states that Debs' mother was a native Brazilian.  That was incorrect.  She was actually born in Mexico.)

Mr. Harper C. Pendry and my grandfather must have kept in contact over the years because I have a letter from Mrs. Alice E. Pendry to my grandfather dated July 10, 1961 informing my grandfather of  the death of Mr. Pendry.  Here is her sweet letter:

Mrs. Pendry Letter to Debs Webster_0001
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Transcription of Mrs. Pendry’s letter:

July 10, 1961

Dear Friends,

This note is to inform you of the passing of my beloved husband and your friend, Harper C. Pendry on June 16, 1961.

I wish to extend deep appreciation for the many kind notes and letters which brightened his days through his prolonged illness.


Alice C. Pendry

Thanks for reading!

Copyright © Jana Last 2012


  1. That was very interesting and it got me wondering about a lot of things- one of which is how your grandfather got the name Debs. It seems like a very unusual first name. I looked at some of your old posts and enjoyed further stories about your family
    and found some answers to my "wonderings"

    1. Hi Barbara, Thanks so much for reading my blog, and a special thanks for reading my somewhat long posts too! :)




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