Daniel Webster was a renaissance man. Beside an orator, he was a politician, lawyer, diplomat and statesman. He served both N.H. and MA, as a representative in Congress and as Senator from Massachusetts. He was part of the great triumvirate of Clay, Calhoun and Webster. Appointed Secretary of State by President Harrison, he remained with President Tyler and negotiated the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842). The treaty settled the Maine/New Brunswick border and much of the present day US/Canadian border. In the 1840 election Webster turned down Harrison’s offer as Vice President. He opposed slavery and was part of the activist antislavery movement in Boston. Webster’s Boston Law Office was at the corner of Court and Tremont Streets overlooking the Boston common. Not far away was the Union Oyster House, which he frequented enjoying raw, oysters and brandy at the famous semi-circular oyster bar.
Mr. Webster had usually vacationed in Sandwich on Cape Cod. On his return to Boston he would visit John Thomas at his large farmhouse in Marshfield. In 1832 Webster purchased the house and property (100 acres) for $3650. John Thomas continued to live in the house until he passed away in 1837. Meanwhile Webster began acquiring land and by the 1840’s he had 1,800 acres with nearly 400 acres under cultivation. He was fascinated with agriculture and horticulture and experimented with fertilizers and other new methods of cultivations.
His addition of a large Gothic-style library designed by his daughter Julia housed his collection of 3,00 books. He also built several other outer building on the property. He enlarged a small building with a fireplace and chimney and used it to keep records of the farm and as a law office. This building has been recently restored and is on the Estate today.
There is so much more and the subtle details of the Estate are endless.
As a member of Marshfield’s Town Historical Commission I invite you to come experience this American Historical treasure.
–Otis Carney, Marshfield Town Historical Commission
Worthy of notation: In June 1969 The Webster Law Office was moved to the Winslow property for safe keeping. With the Webster Estate now town-owned, the building was relocated to the Estate in 2015. Restoration was required and is in progress. Landscaping and preservation of the property’s well site will follow. Money for both projects will be handled through Community Preservation funding. Town Engineer, Rod Procaccino, has been exceedingly helpful with oversight of this important piece of the Daniel Webster story.
WEBSTER FAMILY CHRONOLOGY
1782 January 18, Daniel Webster born to Ezekiel and Abigail Webster in Salisbury, NH
Attended Phillips Academy at age 14. Taught school at age 15
1801 Graduated from Dartmouth College at age 19
1802 Taught at Fryeburg Academy in Maine
1802 Started Law study
1805 Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
1808 Married Grace Fletcher
1810 Daughter Grace was born
1813 July 23, son Daniel Fletcher was born
1818 January 16, daughter Julia was born
1817 Grace (age 7) died of consumption in January
September 19, the Dartmouth College case began
1818 March 10, after a speech lasting 3-5 hours, Dan’l won the case in the U.S. Supreme Court that saved Dartmouth College
1820 July 20, son Edward was born
1821 December 31, son Charles was born
1824 December 19, son Charles (age 3) died while Dan’l was visiting Thomas Jefferson
1828 January 21, wife Grace died of a lung tumor
1829 December 12, Dan’l (age 47) married Caroline LeRoy (age 31) of New York City
1832 Bought the 160 acre Nathanial Ray Thomas estate in Marshfield for $3650
1836 November 27, son Fletcher married Caroline Story White
1839 June 18, Dan’l left for England with wife Caroline and daughter Julia—among others, he met Charles Dickens, and dined with Queen Victoria
September 21, Julia married Samuel Appleton Appleton in London
1840—43 Dan’l is Secretary of State under Wm. Henry Harrison and John Tyler
1848 January 25 Edward while in the army, died in Mexico of typhoid fever
April 28, Julia died of TB—all Webster’s descendants are from her line
(Edward’s remains arrived the day of Julia’s funeral—May 1)
1852 May 8—carriage accident
October 24 –died at Marshfield and was buried in the Winslow Burying Ground
1854 Dan’ls widow, Caroline Moved to New Rochelle, NY
1862 August 29, son Fletcher killed in the 2nd Battle of Bull Run
1865 Fletcher’s son Daniel died of TB—July 23
1878 February 14, Webster mansion is destroyed by fire
1879 Fletcher’s son Ashburton died of TB
1880 Caroline (Fletcher’s widow) has Boston architect William Gibbons Preston design a large Queen Anne Style house using influences from and the foundation of the original house
1881 Caroline Webster Day (Mrs. James Geddes Day), daughter of Fletcher and Caroline died
1882 Carolyn LeRoy Webster (age 85) died in New York
1884 Caroline Webster sold the estate to Walton Hall of Marshfield—his descendants kept the property for about 70 years
GRACE FLETCHER WEBSTER, First Wife
DANIEL “FLETCHER” WEBSTER, SON
CAROLINE LEROY WEBSTER, Second Wife