Thomson Rhodes Webber (1807-1881) was one of the most prominent early settlers of Champaign County. Upon arriving in Illinois in 1833, Webber settled in Urbana and became the town's first postmaster. When Champaign County was organized, Webber became the first Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts. He served for twenty-five years as county court clerk and twenty-eight years as clerk of the circuit court. Webber was also Master in Chancery of the Circuit Court and a delegate to the state constitutional conventions of 1847 and 1862.
The vast majority of the papers in the collection pertain to Webber's duties as an attorney and court clerk, but there are some revealing letters written to him by members of his family. Of special note are the letters of his second wife, Anna, which offer a glimpse of the relationship between husband and wife in the mid-nineteenth century. There is also a letter from Webber's cousin, Lucy Ayres, who writes a detailed description of the 1862 Sioux uprising in Minnesota. Additional family correspondence pertains to civilian opinions of Lincoln, the preservation of the Union, and the effects of the Civil War. The collection also contains considerable business correspondence, dealing mainly with everyday legal and financial matters, but also including extensive correspondence to Webber from Merrit and William Canby of Wilmington, Del., for whom Webber served as a land agent. Among the business correspondence is one letter from David Davis, regarding a divorce case. The remainder of the collection mainly documents legal and financial affairs, mostly real estate, estate administration, the collection of debts, estate partitions, and foreclosures.
Elizabeth N. Sadtler, of Rockford, Ill., donated the collection to the Library in 1998.