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Special Collections & University Archives: Webber Family

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Webber Family Research Guide

Summary: Webber Family

This research guide for John Ferdinand Webber and Silvia Hector Webber shows a biracial family who endured the trials of a changing nation during the American Civil War Era. The purpose of this guide is to provide primary and secondary sources pertaining to the presence of biracial farming and ranching families and how their social and economic status contributed to the narrative of race relations in Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. The guide contains images of original census documents, digitized collections from university archives, and it may be used for genealogical research, farming and ranching research, and race relation research. See also the Biddy Family research guide.

Background: Webber Family

John Ferdinand (Juan Fernando) Webber and Silvia (Aunt Puss) Hector were a biracial ranching and farming family who migrated throughout Texas during the Civil War era. They helped establish two Texas townships, Webberville (1839) in Travis County, and Donna (1851) in Hidalgo County, and they traded on the banks of the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers. As a racially mixed family, they encountered many challenges to their livelihood and found acceptance and sanctuary within the Rio Grande Valley where they integrated within prolific Mexican American families.

Silvia Hector Webber was a former slave, born ca. 1807 in Spanish West Florida where her heritage and early childhood are obscured. In 1819, a bill of sale indicates that she was transferred to the Cryer family of Clark Co., Arkansas. It is believed that Silvia came to Texas as an enslaved person in the 1820s during which time she met John F. Webber, who was a business associate of John Cryer (or Crier). In 1834, John and Silvia purchase her and their three children's emancipation papers.

John Ferdinand Webber was born ca. 1795 in Danville, Vermont to John Webber and Hannah Morrill. He served in the War of 1812 as a private & medic in the 31st US Infantry under Capt. Silas Dickinson. In the 1850s, racial tensions over the interracial family in Webberville forces them to relocate to the Rio Grande Valley.

The Webber Family:

John Ferdinand Webber, father. (1795 – 1882)

Silvia Hector Webber, wife. (1807 – 1892, more information below)

Elise (or Elsie) Webber Jackson, daughter. (1829 – 1900)

Henry Webber, son. (1832 – Unknown)

John Webber, son. (1834 – Unknown)

Leonard Webber, son. (1836 – Unknown)

Sarah Jane Webber Biddy, daughter. (1838 – Unknown)

James Morrill Webber, son. (1839 – 1922)

Santiago James Webber (c. 1840 - 1920)

Nelson/Wilson Webber, son. (1842 – Unknown)

Sabrina Webber, daughter. (1848 – Unknown)

Andrew Webber, son. (1846 – Unknown)

Rachel Amanda Webber, daughter. (1851 – 1913)

Jeremiah Marcelino Webber, son. (1853 – 1903)

The following are also listed among the surviving relatives of Rachel Webber in a Hidalgo Co. Deed 1915-500517:

  • Leonardo Jackson, nephew and heir of Elsie Webber Jackson
  • Severa Webber Singleterry, sister
  • T.H. Webber de Bouey, sister
  • Marcela Webber de Bravo, sister
  • Juana (Juanita) Webber, niece
  • Sofia Webber, niece
  • Cristina Webber, niece
  • Marcelino Jeremiah Webber, nephew
Juanita Webber, c. 1915
Photo from slide 82-773 MA-7, Archives Alert, Hidalgo County Historical Collection.

Webber Family Gallery

James M Webber, Hidalgo Co. Marks and Brands

Hidalgo Co. Marks and Brands, Vol C, 164.

Line 6 -  Webber, James M.

Line 11 - Webber, Rachel A.

Line 12 - Webber, Sabrina

Line 15 - Webber, Micaela Aguilerade

Line 16 - Webber, Marcelino

James M. Webber , Hidalgo Co. Marks and Brands

Hidalgo Co. Marks and Brands, Vol. C, 165.

Line 26 - Webber, James M.

Line 27 - Webber, Augustina

Line 35 - Webber, Juana N.

Banco Map 89539 (1912) showing Weber [sic] Ranch

Topographical Map of the Rio Grande From Roma To The Gulf Of Mexico Sheet No. 15 [San Juan Hacienda, Texas]

Census 1850, Travis County

Members of the Webber family are accounted for as still living near Webberville, Travis Co., Texas in 1850. Silvia's race is marked "B" for black, while her children are marked "M" indicating "mulatto", an antiquated term for someone of mixed black and white race.

Archival Collections: Webber Family

Hidalgo County Historical Commission Collection

The collection consists of applications for historical markers and historical cemeteries, research, notes, correspondence, organizational files, and maps. Historical marker applications were submitted by the Hidalgo County Historical Commission to the Texas Historical Commission Research Department. Marker applications typically include research describing the importance of the location. Files may also include photographs and dedication pamphlets. Collection also contains organizational files from the Hidalgo County Historical Society, which was later re-named to the Hidalgo County Historical Commission.

Series IV, Historical Research, 1969-2013, consists of research for historical marker applications.
John F. Webber, 1988-2012, Container: 79, Box: 11, Folder: 17. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus.

Series V, General, 1929-2015, consists of organizational files, newsletters, notes, and publications.
Cemetery census, 1974-1980, Container: 79, Box: 14, Folder: 1. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus.

Hidalgo County Marks and Brands

Search the name index to the first three surviving Hidalgo County, Texas marks and brands books. Information contained in the first two volumes is also found in the third volume. It is probable that the first brand book for Hidalgo County does not exist because there is a gap from the founding of Hidalgo County in 1852 until 1866. Also, no retrospective registrations appear to be included prior to 1866.

There are multiple entries for the surname "Webber" (see image gallery above)

Research Compiled by Stephanie Montalvo

Stephanie V. Montalvo is a former student assistant, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (2019). Ms. Montalvo has volunteered at The International Museum of Art and Science where she assisted in cataloguing pre-Columbian artifacts and digitizing images for the 50 Years: History of IMAS exhibit. As a student intern at The Museum of South Texas History, she created Master Lists of Donors and Trustees for Development Officer, Lynne Beeching. Ms. Montalvo contributed towards the publication of the Fike Family Farm: A Porcion of Edinburg through the Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) department at UTRGV.


The research guides compiled by UTRGV staff and students are intended to assist patrons who are embarking upon new research endeavors. Our goal is to expand their knowledge of the types of resources available on a given topic, including books, archival materials, and websites. In so doing, our compilers have taken care to include collections, digital items, and resources that may be accessed not only through UTRGV but also via other institutions, repositories, and websites.

We wholeheartedly respect the research interests of others. Therefore, please contact us if you wish to submit a resource for consideration, or if you have a question about or an issue with a specific cited resource.

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External Resources: Webber Family