THOMAS H. WEBSTER

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 118-119

THOMAS HOLMES WEBSTER.  Among the many fire-insurance agents with which La Salle Street abounds, there is, perhaps, no other man whose reputation for safe and conservative business methods has been more consistently sustained than he whose name heads this notice.  His entire business training and experience have been acquired in this city, and, while the opportunities for speculation have been abundant, and the chances for unusual profit have seemed quite as alluring to him as to others, he has conscientiously avoided all participation in that hazardous and demoralizing field, confining his attention to the regular channels of business, and thereby maintaining his business credit and securing the confidence and good-will of his associates.

Mr. Webster was born in Leeds, England, on the 29th of October, 1846.  His parents, John and Mary (Holmes) Webster, were natives of Yorkshire.  John Webster was employed for some years in the cloth-mills at Leeds, but being desirous of procuring better opportunities for his growing family, in 1853 he came to America.  He located in Chicago and secured employment with the Chicago Gas Light and Coke Company, whose interests he continued to serve until his death, which occurred in 1866, at the age of forty-two years.  He began as a laborer, but with such faithfulness and ability did he serve the interests of the company that he was soon promoted to a more remunerative occupation, and at the time of his demise was the assistant Secretary of the company.  His wife survived him but two years, passing away at the age of forty-four.  They were members of the Second Baptist Church of Chicago, and had formerly been connected with the Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Thomas H. Webster, with his mother and the balance of the family, joined his father in Chicago in 1855.  He is one of a family of thirteen children, of whom but two others now survive.  Their names are Sarah H., Mrs. W. C. Corlies; and Louisa L., Mrs. R. M. Johnson, all of Chicago.  Thomas was educated in the public schools of this city, and upon the death of his father assumed the care of the family, supplying to its members, as far as possible, the place of the deceased parent.  His first employment was in the capacity of a clerk in a dry-goods store, where he continued for about one year.  Since the 1st of August, 1863, he has been consecutively connected with the business of fire underwriting.  He began as office boy for the Chicago Firemen's Insurance Company, but was soon appointed to a clerkship, and about 1865 became the cashier of the company.  This position he filled until the concern was annihilated by the great fire of 1871.  After that disaster, the affairs of the corporation were placed in the hands of Hon. O. H. Horton, as assignee, and this gentleman secured the services of Mr. Webster as his assistant, his familiarity with the affairs of the concern being of great value in closing up its business.

Mr. Webster was afterwards successively connected with the firms of Walker & Lowell, and the Globe Insurance Company, continuing with the latter concern until it went out of business in 1876.  He then became a clerk for S. M. Moore, with whom he soon after entered into partnership, under the firm name of S. M. Moore & Company.  Upon the retirement of the senior member in 1886, this firm was succeeded by that of Webster & Wiley, Mr. E. N. Wiley becoming the junior partner.  In 1889 the latter firm was consolidated with that of H. de Roode & Company, under the name of Webster, Wiley & de Roode.  On the first of November, 1894, Mr. de Roode retired from the firm, since which time the business has been conducted under the name of Webster, Wiley & Company, Mr. C. P. Jennings having become a third partner on January 1, 1895.

Mr. Webster was married, September 13, 1881, to Miss Anna Martindale, a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Rev. Theodore D. Martindale, a Methodist clergyman of that state.  Mr. And Mrs. Webster are the parents of two sons, Frank M. and Ralph N.  Mr. Webster is identified with the Union League, Sunset and Metropolitan Clubs, and Lexington Council of the National Union.  He is not an active participant in political strife, but has all his life been a supporter of Republican principles.

Having been the head of a family from the age of twenty years, he has had few opportunities for recreation, and finds his greatest pleasure in the midst of the home circle.  His business operations have been confined to the realm of fire underwriting, and while others have in some instances accumulated more wealth than he, the substantial friendship and esteem of his colleagues are his, and his record is one which causes no regrets.

                                -- Submitted on April 16, 2000 by Sherri Hessick ( shessick@flash.net )