June 1835 U.S. Dragoons

In early June 1835, three companies of United States Dragoons were the first white men to see the area now occupied by Webster City.  Commanded by Col. Stephen W. Kearney, the mounted soldiers first reached the Boone River two miles east of its mouth, naming it in honor of a Dragoon officer, Captain Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone

First Settlers

Wilson Brewer was the first settler within the current boundaries of Webster City.  The Brewer cabin built near Brewer Creek was reconstructed near its original site by Brewer’s grandson, Frank Bonebright, who established a museum and park as a memorial to Webster City’s first family. 

newcastle on the boone

Brewer often referred to the settlement as Newcastle-on-the Boone, naming it for his boyhood home in Virginia, Highcastle-on-the-James.  Newcastle grew into a small town with a few log stores selling supplies and yard goods.  Wilson Brewer influenced numerous people to settle in Newcastle and in two years there was such an influx of people that the future of Webster City was assured.

the newcastle purchase

Wilson Brewer and William Frakes plotted the town, first known as Newcastle, on October 27, 1854.  The plat was two blocks wide and four blocks long.  In 1855, Walter C. Willson purchased the Newcastle plat for $22,000.  Then on October 9, 1855, the Webster City Post Office was established.

newcastle to webster city

At that time, Newcastle was considered to be part of Webster County not Hamilton County.  There was a struggle over what town would be the county seat.  Willson was elected as a state representative and purposed to split Webster County into two separate counties.  While Willson was in Iowa City fulfilling his duties as a state representative, he enlisted the help of William W.  Hamilton to help him get the purposed act passed.  Then on January 1, 1857, the county was divided into two and Hamilton County was born.  Willson named the new county Hamilton, to recognize the assistance of William W. Hamilton in getting the new county established.  As part of the act, the town of Newcastle was renamed Webster City. 

what's in a name!

There are three theories as to why the name of the town was changed to Webster City.  The first theory is that the town was named after a popular stage coach driver that visited Willson’s hotel often.  The second theory is that the town was named after Daniel Webster for whom the original county was named after.  The last theory is that the town was named Webster City because it was customary to name the town after the county it resided in, which was originally, Webster County.

pulitzer prize winners

Webster City is the hometown of two Pulitzer Prize winning authors, MacKinlay Kantor  and Clark Mollenhoff.  Kantor was born in 1904.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for literature with Andersonville in 1956.  He wrote over forty novels throughout his career.
Mollenhoff graduated from Webster City High School and Webster City Junior College.  He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for National Reporting.  He wrote ten books throughout his career.  Both men were honored in 1976 with a dedication of the Kantor-Mollenhoff Plaza in West Twin Parks.  Webster City, Iowa, is the only community in the nation that has produced two Pulitzer Prize winners.