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Viranus Webster

Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 17 Aug 1862 (aged 58–59)
Acton, Meeker County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Litchfield, Meeker County, Minnesota, USA
Memorial ID 45773641 · View Source
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Viranus, likely the son of Daniel Webster and Elizabeth Palmer, was b. at Manchester, NH in about 1803. He first appears on the tax list of Manchester in 1825, taxed at one voting "poll" with no taxable property, presumably then 21 years of age. His listing in the 1825 tax list is immediately after his father Daniel and older brother Franklin. He m. as his apparent first wife Betsey Ladd at Unity, NH on Feb. 21, 1833. She was the dau. of Rev. Moses Ladd and Lorinda Robinson, b. at Unity, NH on Oct. 28, 1809. Viranus was likely the slightly younger brother of William P. Webster, who m. Betsey Ladd's older sister Sarah.

Despite his unique name, Viranus has been difficult to trace, but his story ends in tragedy. Following his marriage to Betsey Ladd in 1833, he appears without children in the June 1840 census of the town of Middlesex, Vermont residing next to/or at the same place as his wife's brother and his wife, Lorenzo Dow and Laura (Bunnell) Ladd. At Middlesex he was engaged in agriculture. Whereas the family of brother-in-law Lorenzo D. Ladd next appears back at Unity, NH in the 1850 census, Viranus and wife Betsey cannot be found in the 1850 or 1860 census.

In 1857 the Lorenzo Dow Ladd family of Unity, NH, along with Lorenzo's brother Philander J. Ladd and his wife and family, arrived at Trempealeau County, Wisc. where they all lived out their lives. Unfortunately, on Aug. 17, 1862 at Acton in present-day Meeker County, Minnesota, Viranus Webster was one of five persons killed by four Indians on a spur of the moment dare.

Viranus and his new "young" wife had just arrived from Wisconsin seeking land to homestead. They came just days before in a covered wagon and had stopped at a local settler's residence. Viranus' wife was in the covered wagon while Viranus was at the doorway of the settler's house when he and the settler were shot, Viranus dying soon thereafter. His wife along with the settler's wife quickly hid in a celler and escaped unharmed.

In August 1862 it is unlikely that Betsey Ladd was Viranus' new "young" wife, since in 1862 Betsey would have been 52 years old. No trace of any children has been uncovered and what became of Viranus' wife following his death is not related in the accounts. Following is the text of the historical marker erected by the State of Minnesota commemorating the tragedy:

"On a bright Sunday afternoon, August 17, 1862, four young Sioux hunters, on a spur-of-the-moment dare. They decided to prove their bravery by shooting Robinson Jones, the postmaster and storekeeper at Acton in western Meeker County. Stopping at his cabin they requested liquor and were refused. Then Jones, followed by the seemingly friendly indians, went to the neighboring Howard Baker cabin, which stood on this site. Here the whites and the Indian engaged in a target-shooting contest. Suddenly, the Indians turned on the settlers and without warning shot Baker, Viranus Webster, another settler and Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Webster, and several children escaped by hiding. Then the Indians rode off shooting Jone's adopted daughter, Clara D. Wilson as they passed the Jones cabin. The indians fled south to their village forty miles away on the Minnesota River. There they reported what they had done, and the Sioux chiefs decided to wage an all-out war against the whites that triggered the bloody Sioux Uprising of 1862. The bodies of the settlers were buried in a single grave in the New Lutheran Cemetery, near present-day Litchfield. In 1878 the state of Minnesota erected a granite monument there. This site, where the Baker's cabin stood, was marked in 1909."

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  • Created by: Don Blauvelt
  • Added: 24 Dec 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 45773641
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Viranus Webster (1803–17 Aug 1862), Find A Grave Memorial no. 45773641, citing Ness Memorial Cemetery, Litchfield, Meeker County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Don Blauvelt (contributor 46932939) .