H. Walter Webb

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Henry Walter Webb, Sr.
Born (1852-06-06)June 6, 1852
Tarrytown, New York
Died June 18, 1900(1900-06-18) (aged 48)
Scarborough, New York
Education Columbia College School of Mines
Spouse(s) Leila Howard Griswold (m. 1884)
Children Henry Walter Webb, Jr. (c.1885–1919)
J. Griswold Webb
Parent(s) James Watson Webb

Henry Walter Webb, Sr. (May 6, 1852 – June 18, 1900) was an American railway executive with the New York Central Railroad under Cornelius Vanderbilt and Chauncey Depew.


He was born on May 6, 1852 to James Watson Webb in Tarrytown, New York.[1]

Webb was head of his class in the Columbia College School of Mines (now incorporated into the School of Engineering and Applied Science). He was a member of the fraternity St. Anthony Hall and while still an undergraduate, he participated in the Orton expedition that ascended the Amazon River almost to its source, and crossing the Andes, he exited South America by way of Peru, returning to the USA by ship. He then studied law, also at Columbia, passed the bar in 1875, and briefly practiced the profession, which he found unsatisfying.

Thereafter he soon became active in Wall Street banking and brokerage. He drifted into the railway business almost by accident through his brother, Dr. William Seward Webb, married to a daughter of William H. Vanderbilt, became interested in the Wagner Palace Car Company which the Vanderbilts controlled. When Webster Wagner, the company's president was suddenly crushed between two of his own cars in 1882, Dr. Webb became president of the company and invited his brother to join it.

In 1884, Webb married Leila Howard Griswold, and they had two sons: Henry Walter Webb, Jr. (c.1885–1919) and State Senator J. Griswold Webb (1890–1934).[2][3]

Webb was an advocate of fast railway travel and ran what was then the fastest railway train in the world, averaging nearly 60 miles per hour over 450 miles. In 1893 he made a bold and ultimately true prediction for the next hundred years: By 1993, a traveler will be able to have his breakfast in New York City and his evening meal in Chicago.

Webb lived in Scarborough, New York, was Show Chairman of the Westminster Kennel Club (1880–1882), subscriber to the Blackstone Memorial (1891), and helped dedicate a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus in Central Park (1894).

H. Walter Webb retired due to tuberculosis around 1897. He died from heart trouble on June 18, 1900 at his country residence, Beechwood, in Scarborough, New York.[4]


Had he remained healthy he would likely have become president of his railroad.


  1. ^ Henry Walter Webb passport application from 21 May 1890
  2. ^ "Death of H. Walter Webb". New York Times. January 20, 1919. Retrieved 2013-11-24. Henry Walter Webb, son of the late Henry Walter Webb and Leila Howard Griswold Webb, is dead at his home, 840 Park Avenue, In his thirty-third year. Mr. Webb was graduated from Yale and was a member of the Yale Union and Racquet Clubs. He was married on Nov. 3, 1010 to Miss Constance Eastman, an actress. Mr. Webb was a kinsman of the Vanderbilt family. 
  3. ^ "J. Griswold Webb, Legislator, Dead. State Senator, 43, Succumbs at His Hyde Park Estate After a Long Illness.". New York Times. May 6, 1934. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Death Of H. Walter Webb. Succumbs Unexpectedly to Heart Disease at Country Home". New York Times. Jun 19, 1900. Retrieved 2013-11-24. H. Walter Webb, at one time actively connected with the management of the New York Central Railroad, died at Beechwood, his country place, at 12:45 this afternoon, of acute heart trouble. His death was entirely unexpected, for, although he had been reported as suffering from tuberculosis for some time, his health had recently improved. ...