Page: 1860 Census - ILLINOIS, IROQUOIS, ONARGA - Series#M653, Roll#186, Page#129
Source: 1860 Census - ILLINOIS, IROQUOIS, ONARGA
Note: Timothy 2 WEBSTER(54) was born on 12 Mar 1822 in Newhaven, Sussex, England.(54) (77)(97) He died on 29 Apr 1862 in Richmond, VA.. Timothy Webster - History's Obscure Hero His Body Lies Ignored and Unappreciated in Onarga Cemetery
by Patricia Dissmeyer Goff, October, 1999
A group of Onarga citizens, led by David Danforth, intend to erect a monument to Timothy Webster at his gravesite. Timothy Webster was instrumental in the shaping of our nation and should be remembered, recognized, and revered.
Timothy Webster has been recognized as Allan Pinkerton's most famous active agents in the Civil War. He is partially responsible for thwarting an assassination attempt on president-elect Abraham Lincoln. It is impossible to know exactly how eventswould have transpired at that time without Lincoln at the helm, but it is certainly true that the history of the United States would have been dramatically different if Pinkerton and Webster had failed in their mission and Lincoln had been killed before even entering the Presidency.
Timothy Webster was born March 12, 1822 in New Haven, Sussex County, England. He immigrated to America in August or September of 1830 with his parents who settled in Princeton, New Jersey. After he finished school he became a policeman in New YorkCity. He became very good at it and in 1856 was noticed by a friend of Allan Pinkerton's who recommended him for detective work. Webster's work for Pinkerton was excellent and he quickly became their best agent.
Timothy had married Charlotte Sprowles on October 23, 1841 in Princeton, New Jersey. They had four children. Their son,
Timothy Jr., born in 1843, joined the Union Army from Onarga, Illinois on July 30, 1862. He enlisted in Company D, 113th Infantry. Timothy Jr. married Ursula Treadway in March of 1864 in Olney, Illinois. He was wounded in a battle at Ripley, Mississippi on June 11, 1864 and his leg was amputated. He was taken to a confederate prison in Mobile, Alabama and died there on July 4, 1864. Timothy and Charlotte's daughter Sarah (Sally) was married to Thomas Robinson, a Civil War veteran.
At the beginning of the Civil War General George McClellan asked Pinkerton to enter federal service, which he readily agreed to. Timothy Webster went with him thereby changing from detective to Union Spy.
Webster was sent to pose as a Southern gentleman and managed to become a member of the rebel group "Knights of Liberty" in order to report on their plans and activities. In February of 1861 president-elect Lincoln was to travel from Harrisburg through Baltimore and on to Washington for his inauguration. While Webster was investigating rumors that secessionists were planning to blow up the steamers that ferried trains across the Susquehanna River, he uncovered a plan to assassinate Lincoln as he changed trains in Baltimore. Because Timothy Webster was able to send a warning, Pinkerton was able to foil the attempt on Lincoln's life. In 1862, Webster was continuing to gather information on the Confederacy in Richmond when he was stricken with inflammatory rheumatism which was a result of several previous crossings of the Potomac River in frigid weather. Because he was too ill to send reports back to Pinkerton, two men were sent to locate him. They were captured by the Confederacy and forced to reveal secret information incriminating Timothy Webster.
Confederate officers had trusted Webster many times with valuable documents and information and the Confederacy was extremely embarrassed by Webster's betrayal. Webster was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death by hanging.
When Pinkerton heard the news of the sentence, he and President Lincoln sent a message to the Confederacy threatening that if Webster was put to death, the Union would reciprocate by hanging a Confederate spy. Previously, Union policy had been to keep spies in jail and eventually exchange them for Union prisoners.
The Confederacy ignored the threat and on April 29, 1862, Timothy Webster climbed the gallows in Richmond, Virginia. The noose was put around his neck and a black hood was fitted over his face. The trap was sprung but the knot slipped and Webster fell to the ground. After being helped back up the steps and re-fitted with the noose and hood he said, "I suffer a double death!"
Timothy's widow, Charlotte, went to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Thomas Robinson in Onarga. In August or September of 1874, this family moved to California where Charlotte received a pension and lived with her daughter until she died on December 1, 1907. She is buried in the Old City Cemetery in Sacramento. Sarah Webster Robinson is buried in the Masonic Cemetery on Riverside Boulevard in Sacramento. Sarah's children never married. Patricia's theory: Why was Timothy Webster buried in Onarga, Illinois?
Timothy Webster and his parents came to the United States in 1830 and settled in Princeton, New Jersey. Timothy finished school, went to New York City and became a policeman. He entered Pinkerton's Detective Agency in 1856. Because of the nature of his work, Pinkerton suggested that Webster move his family to a safer place and work out of the Chicago office. Pinkerton suggested Onarga which was located right on the railroad line so Webster could commute easily and his family would be safe. Pinkerton was familiar with the area and had said that he would like to have a farm and house there someday - an ambition that was carried out later. Timothy had a wife, Charlotte, whom he had married in New Jersey, a son, Timothy, and a daughter, Sally.
Timothy's father, also named Timothy, lived in New Jersey during this time, his wife having died previously. In 1860 Timothy Sr. was elderly and ill and traveled to Onarga to be with his son's family. He was only in Onarga two weeks before he diedand was buried in the Onarga Cemetery.
Timothy's son, Timothy Jr., was killed in action in 1864 in Mobile, Alabama and was also buried in the Onarga Cemetery.
Timothy was a personal favorite of Pinkerton's. After Timothy's hanging, he was buried in Virginia. After the war, Pinkerton went to Virginia and brought Timothy's body back to Onarga to be buried with his father and son. He was buried in Onarga Cemetery, Onarga, Iroquois, IL. Parents: Timothy 1 WEBSTER and Frances JENNET.
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