William Seward Webb

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William Seward Webb
WilliamSewardWebb.png
Born January 31, 1851
New York, New York
Died October 29, 1926(1926-10-29) (aged 75)
Shelburne, Vermont
Occupation Entrepreneur, financier, gentleman farmer
Signature WilliamSewardWebb.svg

William Seward Webb, M.D. (January 31, 1851 – October 29, 1926) was a 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.

Biography[edit]

He was born on January 31, 1851 to James Watson Webb. He studied medicine in Vienna, Paris and Berlin. Returning to America, he entered the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and was graduated from there in 1875. For several years he practiced medicine, and then forsook the profession for finance at the behest of his wife's family, establishing the Wall Street firm of W. S. Webb & Co. In 1883, he married Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb, daughter of William H. Vanderbilt. Eliza's brother George went on to create the Biltmore Estate, one of America's grandest country estates.

In 1883, Webster Wagner, the president of the Wagner Palace Car Company, was crushed between two of his own railroad cars. Vanderbilt owned a controlling interest in the company, and asked his new son-in-law to take over the firm. William Seward invited his brother H. Walter Webb to join him, which started them both on careers in the railroad business. 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.

680 Fifth Avenue mansion

Dr. Webb served as Inspector General of the Vermont militia with the rank of Colonel. He served a term in the Vermont Legislature in the 1890s.

He died on October 29, 1926 and was survived by his wife, Lila Vanderbilt Webb, three sons – J. Watson, William Seward, and Vanderbilt – and one daughter, Frederica.

Legacy[edit]

The Webbs for thirty years lived at 680 Fifth Avenue, New York. This house, a wedding gift from William H. Vanderbilt to his daughter, was sold in 1913 to John D. Rockefeller. The Webb property at Shelburne, Vermont was created from more than thirty separate farms on the shores of Lake Champlain and is known today as Shelburne Farms. The property is a National Historic Landmark, and one of the main concert sites of the Vermont Mozart Festival. The former Webb estate has stunning views and some of the grandest barns of any Gilded Age property. A great horseman, Dr. Webb had a large collection of carriages, many of which are on display today at the Shelburne Museum. The Vanderbilt Webb's other country estate was an Adirondack Great Camp named NeHaSane, a game preserve of some 200,000 acres (800 km²), most of which was later donated to the State of New York to become part of the Adirondack Park. The town of Webb, New York in the park is named after him.

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