Biography of Ralph D. Webster
Northwestern Ohio Biographies


Mr. Webster, who is one of the publishers of "The Democrat" and "The Evening News," of Defiance, is a worthy representative of a family which has long been noted for mental ability, its members having won distinction f or the name in political, literary, and professional fields.

The first ancestor of whom we have record was John Webster, a native of England, who came to America between 1630 and 1633 with his wife and son Robert. In 1634 he was made a voter in the Massachusetts Bay colony, and in 1636 he removed to Hartford, Connecticut, with Rev. Mr. Hooker's colony, becoming. one of the earliest settlers of Connecticut. From 1639 to 1655 he held the office of magistrate, and in the latter year he was elected lieutenant governor of Connecticut. In 1656 he became governor of the colony, and after retiring from this office he removed, in 1659, to Hadley, Massachusetts, where his death occurred in 1661. He had several children, and Noah Webster, the distinguished lexicographer, was a grandson.

II. Robert Webster, the eldest son of John, was in military service with the rank of lieutenant. He was married in 1652 to Susanna Treat, and settled in Middletown, Connecticut, but in 1659 returned to Hartford. He had a family of children, of whom the eldest was a son, Jonathan.

III. Jonathan Webster was born in Middletown, Connecticut, January 9, 1657. By his second wife, Mary Judd, he had a son, also named Jonathan.

IV. Jonathan. Webster, son of Jonathan III., was born at Hartford, March 18, 1682, and was married December 14, 1704, to Esther Judd, by whom he had several children, his eldest son being named Jonathan.

V. Jonathan Webster, son of Jonathan IV., was born at East Hartford, Connecticut, December 25, 1709, and was married in February, 1730 to Mabel Risley.

VI. Ashbel Webster, eldest son of Jonathan V., was born March 12, 1733, at Glastonbury, Connecticut, and served as a soldier in the French and Indian war from April 15 to September 12, 1755. He held the rank of corporal in the Second Regiment of Connecticut troops, commanded by Captain Elizur Goodrich, of His Majesty's service, and was credited with twenty one weeks and three days, his pay being at the rate of one pound, eight shillings per month. He was doubtless with the troops at Lake George, New York, and probably took part in the principal battle of that campaign on September 5, 1755, at Fort Edward, afterward known as Fort William Henry, as he received his discharge seven days after that engagement. He died August 1, 1801, leaving several children, and his wife, whose maiden name was Rachel Price, died May 8, 1813.

VII. Ashbel Webster, the second son of Ashbel VI., was born at Glastonbury, Connecticut, August 3, 1756, and did notable service as a soldier in the Revolutionary army. In 1775 he took part in the siege of Boston under Captain Hanchett and Colonel Spencer, and later was at Boston Neck and "Bunker Hill." On August 27, 1776, he was in the battle on Long Island, near New York, under Captain Samuel Wells, and during the retreat of the patriot forces he participated in the fighting and skirmishing. During 1779 and 1780 he was on duty at the military posts along the Hudson. At the close of the war he returned to his home in Connecticut, and in 1793 he removed to Poultney, Vermont, where he remained about four years. In 1797 he settled near Cuyler, New York, and in 1831 he removed to Cuba, New York, where he died November 13, 1838. On September 7, 1777, he was married at Bolton, Connecticut, to Mercy Swetland, who survived him, her death occurring September 16, 1843. They had eleven children, whose names with dates of birth are as follows: Plumly, January 8, 1779; Jesse, September 19, 1780; Ashbel, February 15, 1783; George, April 12, 1786; Jason, January 12, 1789; Hannah, February 4, 1791; Daniel, December 2, 1793; Jared, February 17, 1795; Mercy, March 16, 1798; Israel Swetland, August 29, 1801, and Eliza, April Jo, 1804.

VIII. Jason Webster, the grandfather of our subject, married Ann Woolley, and spent the greater portion of his married life at Portland, Chautauqua county, New York, where he died very suddenly, about 1857. They had several children, of whom the second was a son, James Hervey, our subject's father.

IX. James Hervey Webster was born October 14, 1820, in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, and died at the age of fifty, in Portland township, Chautauqua county, New York. For many years he was engaged in farming in Portland township, Chautauqua county, New York. He married Mary Tucker, and had the following children: Jason, Herbert T., Henry H., Ella Ann, Ralph D., Israel J., Nelson R., all of whom are now living, and one son (Monroe) and one daughter (Sarah) who both died in infancy.

X. Ralph D. Webster, the subject proper of this sketch, was born March 9, 1855, at Portland, New York, and his boyhood was spent mainly upon his father's farm. He attended the local schools until he reached the age of fifteen, and then, after one year in the Westfield Union Schools, he entered Jamestown Collegiate Institute, where he completed the English course, passing the State Regents examination. At the age of seventeen he began to learn the printer's trade in the office of "The Sentinel," at Mayville, New York, occupying for a time the humble but eminently useful position of "devil." After two years he went to Jamestown, New York, and worked for a year as a journeyman on the "Jamestown Journal" and "Chautauqua Democrat." He then removed to Port Clinton, Ohio, where he was employed for some time on the "Ottawa County News" and other papers. In January, 1878, he engaged in the newspaper business on his own account at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, as one of the proprietors of the "Upper Sandusky Union;" but in January, 1879, he severed his connection with that enterprise and removed to Paulding, Ohio, where he purchased "The Democrat" and conducted it successfully for eleven years.

During this period he took an active and influential part in local affairs, serving as county auditor for two terms, and holding various minor offices. In 1891 he located at Defiance, and became one of the proprietors of "The Democrat," which was owned by a stock company. His youngest brother, Nelson R., is now associated with him in the publication of the "Defiance Democrat" and "Defiance Evening News." The "Democrat" is one of the oldest papers in Ohio, having been founded in 1844 by A. H. Palmer, and under its present management it has largely increased in circulation and influence. It is an eight page quarto, of eight columns, with a circulation of two thousand six hundred, and is a valuable medium for advertising as it reaches an excellent class of citizens, being bright, newsy, and progressive. The "Daily News" has one thousand subscribers, and is also conducted in a manner to commend it to the community. It was the first Democratic daily newspaper in the Sixth Congressional District. In politics Mr. Webster is a stanch Democrat.

On July 17, 1875, Mr. Webster was married to Miss Clara J. Snider, at Port Clinton, Ohio. She is a member of a well known family of that locality, her father, Philip R. Snider, being a prominent agriculturist there. Two children blessed this union: Harry L., who died at the age of three years, and Philip H., born in 1886. Socially, Mr. Webster and his wife are popular, and he is identified with the B. P. O. E., and also with the Masonic fraternity, being a member of Defiance Commandery, No. 30, Knights Templar.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Northwestern, Ohio
Including the counties of
Defiance, Henry, Williams and Fulton
Published by: J. H. Beers and Company
Chicago, Illinois

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