Noah Webster’s Connection to Almont

Noah Webster Jr. (was born October 16. 1758 to Noah Webster Sr. (1722- ) and Mercy Steele Webster (1727-1794) in Hartford, Connecticut.  His third great-grandfather, John Webster (1590-1661) brought the family to America in the early 1630s.  In 1656, John served as the Governor of Connecticut.

He entered Yale College in 1774 and graduated in 1778.  His studies were briefly interrupted by an uneventful brief stint in the militia for the Battle of Saratoga.

After graduation, he taught school and studied law.  He was admitted to the bar in 1781 but continued to teach.  He became active in politics and established and published several newspapers.

As an educator, he believed that American children should be taught spelling and grammar based on the way Americans spoke not using the rules used in England.  He developed spelling, grammar, and reading books which helped standardize spelling and pronunciation in the United States.  Millions of copies of these books were sold into the 1900s.

In 1803, he began work on his dictionary which was first published in two volumes in 1828.  It contained over 12,000 words and 40,000 definitions that had never before been included in a dictionary.  He published a revised edition in 1840.

After his death in 1843, his heirs sold the rights to the dictionary to George and Charles Merriam, who have continued to publish revised editions of the dictionary to this day.

Noah’s great grandfather was John Webster (1653-1695) [first generation American].  John and wife, Sarah Mygatt (1657-1728) had two sons; Daniel Webster (1693-1765) and Jacob John Webster (1680-1753).  Daniel Webster was Noah Webster Jr.’s grandfather.  Jacob John Webster was the great-grandfather of Elisha Webster (1807-1873) who came to Michigan in 1826 with his brothers; Noah and Milton and sister, Mariah.  Noah Webster Jr. was the second cousin of Osee Webster Sr. who was Elisha Webster’s grandfather.

Elisha Webster was born July 26, 1807 in Northumberland, Saratoga, New York to Osee Webster Jr. and Ruth King Webster.  Elisha was the eighth child and sixth son, out of a total of thirteen children – 8 boys and 5 girls.  Ruth King, was once a student of Noah Webster Jr.

On July 14, 1829, Elisha purchased property in Section 4 of Almont Township.  The property is on what is now Webster Road (named for Elisha), west of Van Dyke Road.  The purchase records show he was living in Macomb County at the time of the purchase.

Elisha did not start building on the property on Webster Road until 1831.  He would construct a home, a saw mill (1834) and grist mill (sometime shortly after 1834).  The mills were of particular importance to the growth and success of the community.  The saw mill provided the materials locally to construct buildings and roads.  The grist mill allowed the local production of flour for cooking.  Prior to Elisha’s construction of the saw mill and grist mill, township residents had to haul their lumber and grain to mills in Macomb County; possibly ones owned by Elisha’s brother, Noah.

Elisha was married to Julia Harriet Thompson on January 26, 1831 in Bruce Township, Macomb County, Michigan.  Elisha and Harriet remained living with or near Noah after their marriage.  Their first child, Martha was born in Bruce Township on June 9, 1832.  They may have been living in the log cabin on Webster Road at this time but gone to Noah’s before Harriet went into labor with Martha.  They would have eleven more children born in Almont Township.

At the township organizational meeting in 1834, Elisha was elected one of the township’s first Assessors and the township was named for his second daughter, Mya.  However, the spelling was done as Mia.

Elisha Webster died on February 12, 1873 in Almont.  Harriet lived almost another nine years.  She died on January 12, 1882 in Almont.  They are buried in the Webster Cemetery.

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