Saturday, July 30, 2011

Allentown Puzzle - Across

Across the country to be precise. As in "Go West, Young Man" across the country. My post last April titled "A Teasing Puzzle in Allentown" described my curiosity about some photos of my Uncle Rollin (Grand uncle officially since he was a brother of my grandmother) and some other people identified as having the same surname, Webber.  I'm posting the photos again here. The top one was noted

on the reverse as "3 Webbers, Sam, Rollin, and Gene"
The bottom one was noted on the back, "The Webber Girls, Electa, Lois, and Metella"

I recognized Rollin and I recognized his wife, Lois, both standing in the center of the two trios. And I made some assumptions about who they might be because I was aware of a Samuel Webber who was a brother of Rollin. Trouble is, Samuel Webber, brother of Rollin was born abut 1864.  Rollin was born in 1880. Neither guy pictured on either side of Rollin in the photo looks 16 years older. I know the photo was taken in 1939 from the developer's imprint so Sam, as pictured would have had to have been 75 years old. That's why I made the comment "I think the names are listed...right to left instead of the way they are standing..." If any one of the three was 75 I thought it had to be the guy on the right of the photo.

Long story short (sorry, too late for that, isn't it?) the guy on the right is indeed Samuel Webber and the guy on the left is Gene, or more accurately, Eugene Webber. But they are cousins of Rollin because they are sons of Rollin's half brother, John Lee Webber. John Lee Webber, born in 1850 to the same father but a different mother than Rollin was born in the same town of Oxford, Maine and moved to Virginia City, Nevada in 1870 when he was 20 years old. Ten years before Rollin was even born. In 1876 he moved to Yountville, California where he became a successful farmer and, in time was elected "road master" in his district, located within Solano and Napa counties. He married in 1880 and he and his wife had five children, including Eugene, born in 1881 and Samuel, born in 1882. Both sons built distinguished careers in and around Napa Valley California.  Gene worked as a superintendent in a Veterans hospital, held a position as a county coroner, and ultimately established a funeral home business. Sam became a county assessor along with his inherited involvement in farming.  So the three Webbers pictured together are Webber cousins and all born within a couple of years of each other. Gives me some peace of mind that the photo was accurately notated and I don't have to scratch my head trying to figure out who's who. And the "girls" fell into line with the same ease once I identified the guys because they are, Electa (Harris) Webber, wife of Eugene standing on the left, and Metella (maiden name unknown) Webber, wife of Sam.

Webber Funeral Parlor, Napa California

One thing I didn't know, and still don't know for sure is where the photos were taken. The photo of Gene's funeral parlor is not dated but is similar to the photos of the Webbers so that makes me think that they might have been taken in California.  And as much as I might like to give the impression that I dug out all the information on the true identities of the guys and girls in the pictures, I got a lot of help from's website that kept telling me that Sam and Gene and their father, John were out in California but I kept ignoring obvious clues because I was locked into the mind set that Rollin lived on the East Coast all his life so what did these West Coast clues have to do with anything!?!  Everything. And not only did I find source information in Census records, State and Federal Death Indexes, newspaper articles from, but one more source gave me a couple of items of info. In the early 1900's through the 1920's, the wonderful people of Solano and Napa Counties in California published histories of their counties, cities, towns, and biographical sketches of leading citizens. John Webber and his son, Eugene, in particular were described in detail.  A genealogist's dream.

So that's one part of the Allentown puzzle completed.  Well, not exactly completed because there are always new sources and items to be sorted through. But it's a start on the "across" part of the puzzle. Now I'm working on the "down" portion. Rollin's life as he moved down the East Coast from Maine to Washington, DC. I'll put that in a different post. And, as always, my search goes on.