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Jesse Webster, who was an esteemed resident of Henniker, and had been actively engaged as a tailor in this town for upward of threescore years, was born June 7, 1811, in Newport, Sullivan County, son of John and Deborah (Dow) Webster. He is a lineal descendant of John Webster, who was born in Wales, August 9, 1714. This John America in company with his brother Ebenezer, the paternal grandfather of the eminent statesman, Daniel Webster. John was one of the settlers of Chester, N.H., in 1735. In 1750 he opened the first store in that locality. He was very active in the war of the Revolution, serving as Colonel of a regiment in the army. Colonel Webster’s son Samuel, the next in line of descent, being the paternal grandfather of Jesse, was born February 15, 1757, in Chester. Early in life he began to study for the ministry, which he subsequently entered. After his marriage with Hannah Robie he was settled for several years in Goffstown, N.H. Afterward he removed to Newport, N.H., where he reared his family. His son John, who was born in Goffstown, at the age of fourteen removed with his parents to Newport, where he afterward resided until his death in 1839. John’s wife, Deborah, died six years before his death.
Jesse Webster grew to manhood in Chester, where his strong influence in matters of reform, more especially in the cause of temperance, was early shown. Rum at that time was in general use; and he, though but a boy of sixteen, seeing its evil effects upon the men in his father’s employ, took a decided stand against it, and decided thereafter to take no share in supplying it to the laborers. In the fall of that year his father went to Boston, leaving to Jesse the task of making cider from the apples stored in the cellar before his return. On finding that but two barrels of cider had been made in place of the customary forty, the father made no comment; and at the close of the haying season next summer he acknowledged that the two barrels had been sufficient, the work having been done more quickly and acceptably and with less friction than ever before.
In early manhood Mr. Webster learned the tailor’s trade of Samuel Winkley at Meriden, N.H. After spending some time in Hillsborough, he came to Henniker, August 12, 1836, opening a tailor’s shop, and beginning on a modest scale. With the exception of two years, from 1864 till 1866, when he had a general clothing store, with merchant-tailoring features, in Concord, he has since continued in the same occupation. For nearly twenty years he has manufactured custom clothing, at times employing as many as three hundred girls. During his entire business career more than seven hundred girls have worked for him, turning out vast numbers of ordered suits. In two families, those of Silas and Isaac Colby, he has clothed four generations. In the sixty-second year of his business career he made a suit for a child of the fifth generation. He did all the cutting for the establishment, each morning finding him at work; and he manufactured clothing that went as far westward as Arizona and Montana. He was a man of fine physique, tall and erect, in all things being temperate, well preserved in mind and body. Having a deep sense of religion, he made a public profession of faith when a young man of nineteen years, uniting with the Baptist church; and he was a close and daily student of the Bible. Yet his disposition was social and genial, and he had a host of friends.
Mr. Webster married Susan C. Newell, of Newport, who died January 4, 1839. She left one son, Newell H. Webster, now of Helena, Mont. Besides the strong and resolute character which she inherited from the Newells, she possessed much personal beauty, as testified by her portrait, painted when she was twenty-two. On May 7, 1840, Mr. Webster married Jeannette W., daughter of William S. and Betsey D. Woods, of Henniker. After seven years of married life she also died. A year later her sister, Lovilla Woods, Mr. Webster. She died May 4, 1893, leaving a daughter, Susan L., who married Jacobs S. Whitney, January 23, 1872. Mr. and Mrs. Whitney now reside at the old homestead. The death of Mr. Webster occurred March 22, 1897, in his eighty-sixth year.