Webster, Bela C.

Born: 1808 New York

Flourished: 1830-1851 Springfield, Illinois

Webster was a merchant in Oneida County, New York, before he moved to Illinois in 1830, where he became one of Springfield's early merchants. He served in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War in 1831, being promoted to the rank of quartermaster sergeant. In 1837, the year he married Emily Huntington, Webster was running a mercantile store in partnership with Virgil Hickox. In March 1838, he was among the prominent Springfield residents who pledged money to secure the move of the Illinois state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. Prior to moving to Illinois, Webster had been a member of the Whitesboro, New York Masonic Lodge, and in 1839, he signed a petition to open and hold a Masonic lodge at Springfield. The petition was approved, and Webster and others organized the Number 4 Lodge of Springfield. In 1850, he was a merchant in Springfield, and he owned real estate worth $14,500. Webster left Springfield in 1851 and moved to Baltimore before settling in New York City, where he continued in business as a dry-goods merchant.

History of Sangamon County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-State, 1881), 621, 693; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 19 August 1837, 3:1, 4:5; Promissory Note of John Hay and Others to State Bank of Illinois; Ellen M. Whitney, comp., The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: Illinois Volunteers, vol. 35 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1970), 1:80; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Sangamon County, 23 November 1837, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Sangamon County, IL, 111-12; John C. Reynolds, History of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Illinois, Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons (Springfield, IL: H. G. Reynolds, Jr., 1869), 123-24, 140; Henry Hall, ed., America's Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography (New York: New York Tribune, 1896), 2:839; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), New York Ward 16 District 4, New York, NY, 161.