William Lee Dudley
Phebe Ives
Walter Webb Dudley


Family Links

1. Mary Elizabeth Beecher

Walter Webb Dudley 1 2 3 4 5 6

  • Born: 23 Apr 1845, Guilford, New Haven, CT 3 4 6 7
  • Marriage (1): Mary Elizabeth Beecher on 3 Mar 1880 in Pottstown, Montgomery, PA 1
  • Died: 9 Jun 1909, Chicago, Cook, IL at age 64 3 4 7
  • Buried: 11 Jun 1909, West Salem: Hamilton Cemetery, La Crosse, WI, USA 3 4 7

   FamilySearch ID: K4XD-KQV.

  Noted events in his life were:

1. Census in 1850 in Guilford, New Haven, CT. 8 The 1850 census recorded Wm. L. Dudley, farmer, 33, living with wife Phebe A., 32; Caroline M., 7; Walter W., 5; and Wilbur J., 1. Everyone was born in Connecticut. On the same page are many other Dudley households.

2. Census in 1860 in Town of Barre, La Cross, WI, USA. 9 The 1860 census recorded owning a farm valued at $6000: William L. Dudley, farmer, 44, living with wife Phoebe, 42; Caroline, 18; Walter, laborer, 15; Wilbur, 11; and Jeanett, 7. Also in the home was richard Hughes, laborer, born in Wales. Everyone else was born in Connecticut.

3. Census in 1880 in Chicago, Cook, IL. 10 The 1880 census recorded at 2606 Prarie Avenue: W. W. Dudley, occupation fire insurance, 35, living with wife E. M., 23; and servant Julia Mulfall, 38. W. W. and his parents were born in Connecticut. E. M. and her mother was born in Missouri and her father in Maryland. Julia was born in Ireland.

4. Newspaper: Reading Times: Dudley-Beecher Wedding at Pottstown Yesterday, 4 Mar 1880, Pottstown, Montgomery, PA. 1 Our Pottstown correspondent, "A. M. S.," sends the following concerning a wedding that occurred there yesterday: "Late this afternoon at the residence of Mr. W. C. Beecher, East High street, the marriage of his sister, Miss Lizzie Beecher, to Mr. W. W. Dudley, of Chicago, was duly solemnized, the ceremony taking place in the presence of the immediate members of the family, and the officiating clergyman being Rev. J. C. Thompson, of Philadelphia, formerly of this place. The presents were costly and varied. An elegant supper followed the event. The bridal party left on the seven o'clock train. The many Pottstown friends of Mrs. Dudley wish her and her husband a happy and contented life."

5. Residence: on 4 Mar 1880 in Chicago, Cook, IL. 1

6. Census in 1900 in Chicago, Cook, IL. 2 The 1900 census recorded in Hyde Park Town owning a home at 4427 Lake Avenue: Walter W. Dudley, fire insurance, 50, born Feb 1856 in Connecticut where his parents were born, living with wife Elizabeth, 44, born Feb 1856 in Pennsylvania, where her parents were born. With them is daughter Grace M., 16, born Nov 1884 in North Dakota; and servant Sophie Anderson, 26, born Mar 1874 in Sweden. Walter and Elizabeth were married for 20 years and she had birthed only 1 child by 1900.

7. Newspaper: Chicago Daily Tribune: W. W. Dudley Ill At His Office, 26 Sep 1907, Chicago, Cook, IL. 11 Secretary of Western Union of Underwriters Stricken with Apoplexy and Taken to Hospital

Walter W. Dudley, 4427 Lake avenue, one of the foremost fire insurance men in the west, was stricken with apoplexy yesterday noon in his office in the American Trust building. He was taken to the Chicago Baptist hospital. He is secreatary of the governing committee of the Western Union of Underwriters, the organization that controls the rating machinery of the fire companies in the west. In his position he is manager of that body. Mr. Dudley was formerly United States manager of the Manchester Fire Insurance company of England. He had just returned from attending the annual meeting of the Western union at Frontenac in the Thousand islands.

8. Book: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Fire Underwriters' Association of the Northwest, 1909. 7

Mr. Dudley was born at Guilford, Connecticut, April 23, 1845, and died at Evanston, Ill., June 9, 1909.

In 1857 his father moved his family to West Salem Wisconsin and there his boyhood was spent, and it was "home" to him from that time though he went back to Guilford to attend school. Later he graduated at a commercial college in Chicago, and after graduation remained as an instructor, having special charge of the banking department of the college. A severe illness took him home, and on his recovery he became a farm solicitor for insurance and in 1867 a local agent at La Crosse, Wisconsin, of the firm of Remick & Dudley.

In 1869 he became connected with the St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company and removed to St. Paul. He was in the office for a time and then special agent for that company which position sent him over the entire West. In 1873 he went with the German American Insurance Company, then under management of the late Judge Cary, and removed to Chicago. Late in 1881 he left insurance for a time and went to Jamestown, North Dakota, in the banking and land business but insurance still had its fascination for him, and early in 1885 he came back to Chicago, first as assistant superintendent and later, on the death of W. B. Cornell, as superintendent of the Western Department of the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company. In 1890 he was made United States manager of the Manchester Fire Insurance Company of England. This position he resigned, and on the formation of the Governing Committee of the Western Union he was made their secretary and retained that position until his death.

Of his connection with the Northwestern Association the records show that he joined at the meeting in Chicago (supplementary to the third annual meeting) in September, 1872, as Special Agent of the St. Paul Fire & Marine. In 1874 he is noted as Special Agent of the German American, which continued till his removal to Dakota and for a time out of insurance. After his return to Chicago he joined again as Manager of the Manchester Fire Assurance Company, and until his death remained a member and a staunch friend of this body.

In September 1907, he was stricken down at his desk with a severe illness, which made it impossible to longer take an active part in his office. His sickness was a trying one, causing him a great deal of suffering, which he bore with a fortitude and cheerfulness that was the remark of all who saw him, but which was perfectly characteristic. During this time he was tenderly cared for by his wife and daughter, who reflected his own spirit, and with the same cheery presence that he possessed, made their influence like a benediction to him. Thinking that more opportunity to be in the open air would be beneficial he was taken to Evanston to spend the summer, but shortly after his removal he became worse and passed away at the last quite suddenly. As had been his often expressed wish, he was laid to rest in the cemetery at West Salem, Wisconsin, by the side of his father and mother.

The following lines by New England's heart poet, which were read at his funeral exercises, so appropriately apply to his life that we quote them here:

"He has done the work of a true man
Crown him honor him love him
Weep over him tears of woman
Stoop manliest brows above him

For the warmest of hearts is frozen
The freest of hands is still
And the gap in our picked and chosen
The long years may not fill

No duty could overtask him
No need his will outrun
Or ever our lips could ask him
His hands the work had done

He forgot his own soul for others
Himself to his neighbor lending
He found the Lord in his suffering brothers
And not in the clouds descending

Ah well the world is discreet
There are plenty to pause and wait
But here was a man who set his feet
Sometimes in advance of fate

Plucked off the old bark when the inner
Was slow to renew it
And put to the Lord's work the sinner
When saints failed to do it

Never rode to the wrongs redressing
A worthier paladin
Shall he not hear the blessing
Good and faithful enter in."

Your Committee who have known him for nearly or quite forty years, can testify that in this description there is only simple justice. We have known him in the detail of business life, in the amenities of social life, and in the family circle, and his uniform kindness to and consideration for all with whom he came in contact was so evident that it endeared him to them in a marked degree. Ever ready to help those claiming to need assistance, he did not hesitate to extend it even when it might have been against his better judgement, but governed by the spirit that led him to say in connection with a case that seemed from a purely business standpoint to demand stringent measures while declining to use them-- "After all there is more than business in this world." With him there was "more than business" and he exemplified in a large degree the truth as he felt it that "None of us liveth to himself."

Feeling as we do the keen sense of a personal loss and deep regret that we may nevermore hear his cheery greeting or receive his cordial handgrasp, and remembering his lovable, manly qualities which so impressed us with his true-heartedness, we are filled with a profound sorrow at his demise. And with this sense of sorrow and loss on our part what it must be to those nearer and dearer we can only in some measure appreciate, and we tender them the sympathy and regret we so strongly feel, with the hope that they may realize in fullest measure the fulfilment of the promise, "As thy days so shall thy strength be."

But with this we also congratulate them that in the golden memories left of a good life well spent, they have a legacy of which they can be proud, and which time cannot efface, but whose luster will shine brighter and brighter as the years roll on.

Though gone he is not forgotten and thinking of him now we may use the words of the English writer:

I see another picture now: the form
Once sowed in weakness hath been raised in power;
A pleasure palace for a prison of pain!
The beauty of his nature that we felt
Is featured in the shape he weareth now;
The same kind face but changed and glorified;
From life's unclouded summit it looks back,
And sweetly smiles at all the sorrows past,
With such a look as taketh away grief;
No longer pale, and there is no more pain,
His face is rosed with Heaven's immortal bloom,
For he hath found the land of health at last,
The one Physician who can cure all ills;
And he hath eaten of the tree of life,
And felt the eternal spring.


Walter married Mary Elizabeth Beecher, daughter of Samuel Beecher and Margaret Jane Smith, on 3 Mar 1880 in Pottstown, Montgomery, PA.1 (Mary Elizabeth Beecher was born on 22 Jan 1857 in Washington, Franklin, MO,2 12 13 14 died on 13 Jun 1950 in Chicago, Cook, IL 14 and was buried in West Salem: Hamilton Cemetery, La Crosse, WI, USA 14.)


1 Reading Times (Reading, PA) (Reading, Berks, Pernnsylvania.), 4 Mar 1880, page 1. Dudley-Beecher Wedding at Pottstown Yesterday.

2 1900 United States Census, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MS79-FSG Walter W Dudley, Precinct 12 Hyde Park Town Chicago city Ward 32, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing sheet 9A, family 140.

3 FamilySearch.org, Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1871-1998, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N79K-TPT Walter Webb Dudley, 1909.

4 Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=108564875.

5 Philadelphia Times (Philadelphia, PA), 1 Sep 1889, page 8. Death of Samuel Beecher.

6 Ancestry.com, U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 (Original data: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.), Application 18396 for Walter Webb Dudley, b. 23 Apr 1845 in Guilford, CT.

7 Fire Underwriters' Association of the Northwest, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Fire Underwriters' Association of the Northwest (Chicago, Ill., October 6-7, 1909. Online http://books.google.com/books?id=8UUMAQAAMAAJ), Page 205-207. Memorial Proceedings for Walter W. Dudley with his portrait drawing.

8 1850 United States Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: Guilford, New Haven, Connecticut; Roll: M432_45; Page: 121B; Image: 243.

9 1860 United States Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Barre, La Crosse, Wisconsin; Roll: M653_1417; Page: 9; Image: 13; Family History Library Film: 805417.

10 1880 United States Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 186; Family History Film: 1254186; Page: 52D; Enumeration District: 022; Image: 0106.

11 Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Cook, Illinois.), 26 Sep 1907, page 4.

12 1860 United States Census, Missouri, Franklin County, Bueoff Township, Series: M653 Roll: 619 Page: 3.

13 1870 United States Census, Missouri, Franklin County, Washington, Series: M593 Roll: 775 Page: 359.

14 Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=108564871.

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