Rathbun house

1114 Broadway


This home was built by Samuel Grigsby in 1910. This 1910 “polite” house features a one storey balustrade porch and a Palladian dormer window.  This home was inherited by Mrs. Cornelius Hutton and passed down again in 1957 to Juliet Hutton Rathbun.  The home is exactly like it was the day it was built in fact it still has the original wall paper and many of the original furnishings.  The home remains in the Rathbun family .


The Sam Webbs,

Contributed by John Agan,

(Photo to left: Samuel Grigsby Webb)

Friday, 23 March 2007
How two men of the same name contributed to Minden Last week’s Echo of Our Past discussed the confusions caused by the presence of two different families that spelled their last name, Murrell, in 19th century Minden. Another similar situation of the; problem took place in 19th and early 20th century Minden. This situation is more complicated because of shared first names and because the two families involved were related. Both shared a common Webb ancestor and were descended from the General Stephen Moore of the Revolutionary War era. The confused identities in this case came from two cousins named Sam. Today’s column looks at the story of the two; Sam Webb’s; and the contributions of their families to Minden. Both Sam Webbs played major roles in the business and economic life of Minden’s past. First, we will look at the family of Samuel J. Webb, inventor and businessman, and his brother Robert Dickens Webb, physician and businessman. Samuel J. Webb  and Robert D. Webb were the sons of Dr. Stephen Moore Dickens Webb, born on May 5, 1826, in North Carolina. Stephen M. D. Webb married Martha Carrie Jackson. To this union were born six children. In addition to the two sons mentioned above, the other children were: Anna M. Webb, who married William P. Miller in 1888; Mary L. Webb who married Frank Mills in 1891; Carrie A. Webb, who married Dr. Luther Longino in 1898; and Rosa W. Webb, who married Clarence M. Grigsby in 1894. The marriage into the Grigsby family is part of the confusion between the two families, as we will see later in this column. An Inventor Samuel J. Webb was born on September 3, 1862, in Homer, where his father practiced medicine. He was educated in the local schools and always showed a creative mind and a knack for applying this creativity to practical inventions. The most famous of his inventions was the Webb Cotton Compress, but he also invented more than 200 other devices and at the time of his death was working on improved methods to drill for oil and gas. The compress was invented in the 1880s and was advertised as; the largest and most powerful compress in the world; The device used steam power to compress bales of cotton into a smaller size for more convenient shipping and handling. Samuel J. Webb spent much of his time after the invention of this machine in the east, overseeing the manufacture of the machines. The machines were first built in York, Pennsylvania, and later constructed by the Scott Foundry in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Dorcheat Historical Society Museum has a nameplate from one of the machines manufactured in Reading. By the middle 1890s, the business was a booming concern and Samuel J. Webb brought other family members into the business to help in its operation, including his brother Robert. The Webb Press Company was chartered by the State of Louisiana on March 7, 1902, and sold its devices to cotton growers in all parts of the United States and even in other countries. Samuel J. Webb had turned his interests to the new field of oil and gas production when he died suddenly on Sunday, April 6, 1909. He was in Minden and was visiting at the home of Connell Fort on that Sunday evening when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He died within 40 minutes without ever regaining consciousness. Samuel J. Webb never married and left his business enterprises to his brother and partner, Robert. He was buried in the Minden Cemetery. The top portion of his gravestone was broken off during the tornado of May 1, 1933. The Webb marker was replaced and the broken section was used to make the marker for the unknown Confederate graves buried in the southwestern corner of the graveyard. A Family Business Robert Dickens Webb was born on June 1, 1867, also in Homer, Louisiana. After finishing the local schools, he went on to attend Tulane University, where he earned his M.D. degree in 1892. Robert Webb returned to North Louisiana and set up his practice in Minden, but by 1895, he had been drafted by Samuel J. Webb to help in the ever- growing cotton compress business. Robert Webb was more outgoing than Sam Webb, so Robert was assigned the task of overseeing the local operations of the company and also handling the more public relations oriented tasks of maintaining the business. This left Sam free to be involved with the; nuts and bolts; of the firm, the type of work he loved. After Sam died, Robert became the head of the Webb Press Company, but like his brother he was intrigued by the possibilities of the oil and gas industry. In 1922, Robert Webb worked out the structure and personally financed the discovery Well #1 in the Cotton Valley Oil Field. The well was completed on August 25, 1922, and sparked the oil boom in Northern Webster Parish. From that point on, Robert Webb was primarily involved in the oil and gas industry. The planting of cotton was suffering during the farm depression of the 1920s and the situation would only get worse during the Great Depression that followed. The Webb Press Company was reorganized in 1926 and the management of the company was placed in the hands of other Webb relatives, (including a brother of that other Sam Webb we are about to discuss.) Robert D. Webb was an active member of the First Methodist Church of Minden for more than 50 years; he served on the Board of Stewards and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Methodist Children’s Home. He died on December 21, 1950, like his brother, without ever marrying. The massive fortune accumulated by these two brothers was left to siblings, nieces and nephews, friends and the Methodist Children’s Home. Samuel Grigsby Webb While Samuel J. Webb and Robert D. Webb were operating their business operation that dealt mostly with out of town connections, there was another Sam Webb here in Minden whose business interests kept him in almost daily contact with local residents. Samuel Grigsby Webb was born on October 7, 1856, on a farm about 15 miles north of Minden, the son of Junius Y. Webb and Ann M. Grigsby. (The fact that Samuel G. Webb’s mother was a Grigsby and that a sister of Robert and Samuel J. Webb later married a Grigsby has added to the local confusion of the two Sam Webbs.) His father later built a home; for his family in Minden in about 1859. That home still stands on East and West Street and is today the residence of Carolyn and Jim McDaniel. Samuel G. Webb finished the Minden Male Academy and went to work in his father’s store at age 16, in 1872. He continued to work in J. Y. Webb’s store until 1888, when he went into business for himself, and opened Webb Hardware and Furniture Company. A Businessman This firm would remain become a mainstay of downtown Minden for generations, located in the heart of the town at Main and Union. Sam G. Webb actually ran this business for 42 years, until 1930. However, he was involved in many other areas of the local community. He was the founder and first President of the Minden Cotton, Oil and Ice Company in 1901, and remained President until 1927. He was an original stockholder of the Minden Cotton Compress Company, whose building still stands on the southwest corner of Sibley Road and Sheppard Street. Another factor adding to the confusion between the families is that the Minden Cotton Compress Company owned and used a Webb Compress, invented and sold by the; Sam Webb. Samuel Grigsby Webb was also one of the original stockholders in the railway company that was eventually absorbed to become part of the L & A Railroad. A Legacy Unlike the other Webb brothers, Samuel Grigsby Webb did marry. His wife was Sallie Drake, daughter of Hervey Drake, another prominent Minden merchant. The couple had two children, one died in infancy, while the other, Juliet Webb, married Cornelius M. Hutton. Cornelius and Juliet Hutton had two daughters. Juliet Hutton married Charles Alden Rathbun, and today, their son, Charles Rathbun lives in the home built by Samuel G. Webb on Broadway. Sallie Hutton married Dr. C. S. Sentell, prominent local physician. Sallie Sentell’s son and grandson, Sherburne Sentell, Jr. and Sherburne Sentell, III today practice law in Minden and Sherburne III also serves as an Assistant District Attorney and has served our nation as an officer in the United States Army. So to sum up this Echo of Our Past, if someone ever asks if you’ve ever heard of that outstanding business leader from Minden, Sam Webb, you now know the correct reply is, which one, Sam J. or Sam G.? John Agan is a local historian, an Instructor at Bossier Parish Community College, and a published author. His column appears Fridays in the Minden Press-Herald. 25 March, 2007, 12:45

*Photo above: Sallie Drake Webb


Mrs. S.G. Webb & Juliet Hutton



C.M. Hutton