Elmwood Cemetery Memorial of the Month
Andrew Kenneth Webster, who preferred just Kenneth, was born in 1896 on his grandfather's farm on Bolton Road. He grew up in a farm family that valued the land taking pride their work. Kenneth served in France during World War I and returned to serve his community and state caring for our land throughout his life.
Thanks to the Webster family's stewardship Vernon today enjoys two iconic parks in the Tankerhoosen Valley.
Kenneth's grandfather, George Webster (1833-1905), was an immigrant farmer from Scotland bringing his family to Vernon in 1869 where they farmed for three generations. He first bought and farmed a 10 acre farm on West Road in Rockville just south of the railroad. He was a ‘market farmer' growing crops to sell and Rockville provided a nearby market.
George was successful as in 1886 at age 52 he bought the 87-acre Hammond farm at the corner of Bolton Road and Bamforth Road. The property extended from Valley Falls Road, up Bamforth Road beyond the cemetery and included the property behind the Thrall house.
The family's farming skills, passion and pride are evidenced by their entries in the annual Tolland County Fair and the awards the family won. For example, in 1895 George was awarded first prize for the best collection of vegetables having 90 varieties.
In 1901, at age 67 and probably in failing health, George, Sr. deeded his property to his only son George, Jr. in exchange for his son taking care of him for the remainder of his life.
|The Webster family at their Bolton Road home. |
Kenneth's father, George Webster, Jr. (1866-1943), inherited the original 87-acre parcel plus an additional 30 acres purchased for a wood lot on Box Mountain near Valley Falls. He had four children including two sons, Kenneth and George Paterson. The boys worked with their father on the farm until 1918. They likely attended the little school on Bolton Road above Valley Falls, but didn't go beyond an eighth grade education.
When America entered the war in 1918 Kenneth joined the army and was sent to France serving in the 82nd Division of the U.S. Army and attaining the rank of Corporal. The Rockville Journal published articles supporting our troops in service encouraging our soldiers to write home. A letter by Kenneth to his mother was published with a photo in June 1918.
In the fall of 1918 the Spanish Flu ravaged the country and Kenneth's only brother George Paterson was taken in December 1918. Kenneth returned home in June 1919 and he and his father continued working the farm, but must have missed George Paterson terribly.
In October 1920 Kenneth married Gladys Mae Hibbard from Ellington. Like has father and grandfather he was a lifetime member of the Vernon Grange serving four years as Master of the Grange. They had a son who died at birth and a daughter Anne.
After the war they continued farming until 1929 when George, Jr. sold the original 87-acre farm to wealthy Rockville industrialist Frederick Belding. The parcel became the core of today's Belding Wildlife Management Area. The land extended from Bamforth Road to Reservoir Road and included the Tankerhoosen River and what was then known as Webster Pond. Belding would add to his holdings during the depression and with Lebbeus Bissell accumulated over 750 acres, thus preserving it from development.
After the sale Kenneth remained in the farming business, but left Vernon to manage large farms for the state in Vernon, Woodbury and Norwich. He died in 1986 at age 90 and was returned to Vernon for burial with his family in Elmwood Cemetery. The property he owned above Valley Falls passed to his only daughter Anne Knapp and her husband Andrew.
The Andrew Kenneth Webster Preserve
Kenneth's daughter Anne married Andrew Knapp of Bethlehem, CT. They had a son, Andrew Webster Knapp. Through the years the 35-acre wood lot next to Valley Falls Park remained a favorite place to visit. The Knapps hiked the trails, visited vernal pools and picnicked on the cliff overlooking the valley.
When Anne grew older and the family decided to sell the property they wanted it preserved. In 2004 the Knapps sold the 35-acre Valley Falls parcel to the Northern CT Land Trust, naming it the Andrew Kenneth Webster Preserve.
The George Webster family's stewardship and love of the land led to both the Belding Wildlife Management Area and the Webster Preserve high above Valley Falls Park.
|Above Valley Falls Park on the Webster Preserve.
» Learn much more about Kenneth Webster & the Webster family.
» Visit Kenneth Webster's Find A Grave Memorial.
» Go to Elmwood Cemetery Memorials Home Page.
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