Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Webber, Charles Wilkins

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WEBBER, Charles Wilkins, author, b. in Russellville, Ky., 29 May, 1819; d. in Nicaragua, Central America, 11 April, 1856. He was the son of Dr. Augustine Webber, a well-known physician in Kentucky, and inherited from his mother, who was the daughter of Gen. John Tannehill, a fondness for out-door life. In 1838 he went to Texas, then struggling for independence, and was for several years connected with the famous Texas rangers, with whom he saw much wild and adventurous life. He then returned to Kentucky and studied medicine; but this, he soon relinquished, and in 1843 entered Princeton theological seminary with a view to the Presbyterian ministry. This he soon abandoned, and settled in New York city, where he devoted himself to a literary career and became connected with the “New World,” the “Democratic Review,” and the “Sunday Despatch.” Subsequently he was joint proprietor and associate editor of the “Whig Review” for two years. In 1849 he organized an expedition to the region of Colorado and Gila rivers; but, for various reasons, the principal of which was the seizure of the horses by Comanche Indians, it failed. The difficulty in crossing the western deserts led to his efforts to form a camel company, for which he obtained a charter from the New York legislature in 1854. In the winter of 1855-'6 he left New York to join William Walker, who was then endeavoring to maintain himself in Central America. He took part with Walker's forces in the battle of Rivas, and fell in some chance, rencontre or ambuscade in that engagement. In addition to many stories that he contributed to periodicals, he published “Old Hicks, the Guide, or Adventures in the Comanche Country in Search of a Gold-Mine” (New York, 1848); “Gold-Mines of the Gila” (1849); “The Hunter Naturalist, a Romance of Sporting” (Philadelphia, 1851); “Texan Virago, or the Tailor of Gotham” (1852); “Wild Girl of Nebraska” (1852); “Tales of the Southern Border” (part i., 1852; complete, 1853); “Spiritual Vampirism: the History of Ethered Softdown and her Friends of the New Light” (1853); “Shot in the Eye” (which was his most successful story) and “Adventures with Texas Rifle Rangers” (London, 1853); “Wild Scenes and Song Birds” (New York, 1854); and “History of Mystery” (Philadelphia, 1855).