Benjamin Franklin Webster (1824-1916) Benefactor
Richard Webster and his wife Mary 'Polly' Philbrick, left Rye and settled in Epsom, NH to raise their family. He was a shoemaker by trade. He later returned to Rye where he had previously taught school in addition to farming. The family appears in Epsom in the 1820, 1830 and 1840 US Census. His third son and sixth child was born in Epsom September 7, 1824, and was named Benjamin Franklin Webster. From the Stearns Genealogy:
"(he) received his primary education in the public schools of that town (Epsom). He was also a student at Pembroke and in Rye. At the age of seventeen years he went to Portsmouth and was employed by Benjamin Norton as an apprentice to the carpenter's trade. He was a ship joiner for several years and since then has been engaged in building operations in Portsmouth. His operations have included the erection of the following notable buildings: The Kearsarge House, the Cabot street school house, remodeled three churches, also built many residences. In politics he is an ardent and enthusiatic Republican. He is a valued member of the Masonic fraterity, in which he has attained the thirty-second degree. He was married, January 2, 1849, to Sarah A. Senter, and they have a son and daughter, Merit V, and Stella C. Webster."
Though as an adult, Benjamin Webster did not live in Epsom, he never forgot his roots there. In three transactions in 1902, he purchased land of Warren Tripp, Horace Fowler and Abby J. Holt, land in the amount of about 26 acres. This land was developed into a park for town use, not much different than it appears today. The original plans still exsist, showing even the current ball field as it is today. In his will, he writes "I give and bequeath to the Town of Epsom New Hampshire, or the Old Home week Society of that town, or in whatever way my executor may determine (if I have not previously disposed ofir) the land at Short Falls in Epsom that I purchased of Warren Tripp and Mr. Fowler to have and to hold as a Park, and if not wanted for that purpose to revert to my estate." The town accepted the gift that same year.
Photo from Stearns Genealogy of N.H.