Thursday, September 6, 2018

About Rachel's Beau

Now that the photograph of the older Rachel Lewis Webb is making its way back home to join the one of her younger self, I have the opportunity to share with you, by permission of Rachel's second great granddaughter, a photo of the man Rachel married.

It was in July of 1856 in the county seat of her home in Marshall County, Indiana, that Rachel married an Ohio man by the name of Francis Darius Webb. Son of Oliver and Louisa (Ellis) Webb, Francis had evidently moved as a child with his family from Ohio to LaPorte in the Indiana county by the same name just to the northwest of Marshall County. The move, according to a report by the Webb family, likely occurred sometime between 1847 and the time of the 1850 census.

Though all five of the daughters of Francis and Rachel Webb were born in Marshall County, there was a distinct division between the arrival of the first three daughters and that of the last two: the era of the Civil War.

Though the father of three children at the time, on August 5, 1862, Francis enlisted in Company D of the 73rd Regiment of the Indiana Infantry. Almost three years later in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 1, 1865, Francis Webb was discharged as the Company's Chief Musician.

Following the war, Francis had many health problems due to his time in the service. According to a note from his great-great granddaughter, from that time forward, Francis "suffered from ill health due to mercury treatment given to treat illness during the war."

Returning home to Indiana after the war, Francis and his family remained in Marshall County until after the 1880 census. By the time of the 1900 census, however, we find Francis, his wife Rachel, and their oldest daughter Clara in Chicago, just as we found them when first searching for Rachel's identity. All the other daughters were, by that time, already married. Clara, according to Cathleen (Rachel's second great granddaughter), had been stricken with both measles and spinal meningitis, on account of which she was blind from the age of eightsomething I noticed from an entry in the 1880 censusthus, remaining with her parents for the rest of their lives.

Though Rachel, Clara's mom, lived to be ninety two years of age, her father Francis did not live so long. Perhaps owing to the disabilities from his years in the Union army, Francis suffered from "muscular rheumatism" and "cardiac hypertrophy," dying in 1913 at the age of seventy seven.

A tall man (according to his military history, five foot nine inches), before his marriage to Rachel, Francis was, according to Cathleen, formerly Rachel's teacher. When I saw his photograph, which Cathleen had also provided to the volunteer at Find A Grave, I couldn't help but notice his eyes. Just as his wife Rachel's eyes had captivated me when I first found her photograph in that antique shop in northern California, her husband's eyes were quite expressive, as well.

Above: Undated Civil War photograph of Francis D. Webb, Chief Musician of Company D of the 73rd Indiana Infantry; photograph in the possession of his great-great granddaughter Cathleen, who granted permission for its use on this post.


  1. Fun to see her husbands photo, I see what you mean about the captivating look:) I bet they made a handsome couple:)


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