Editor, historian (1814-1897)
Webb, BENJAMIN JOSEPH, editor, historian, b. at Bardstown, Kentucky, February 25, 1814; d. at Louisville, Kentucky, August 2, 1897. His father, a convert, was one of the pioneers of Kentucky in 1774. Benjamin was educated at St. Joseph's College, Bardstown, which he left at an early age to learn the printer's trade. He was foreman of the office of the "Journal", a newspaper in Louisville, when, in 1836, the Rev. Dr. Reynolds (later Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina), who had been one of his teachers at St. Joseph's, persuaded him to undertake the publication at Bardstown of the "Catholic Advocate". This paper, with the assistance of Bishops Spalding, David, and Flaget, he successfully conducted; he removed its office to Louisville in 1841, and in 1847 retired from its management. He continued, however, to defend Catholic interests, notably in connection with George D. Prentice, editor of the Louisville "Courier-Journal" in 1855, in a series of letters on the intolerance of Knownothingism, which had disgraced the city by the atrocities of "Bloody Monday". These letters were printed subsequently in book form with the title, "Letters of a Kentucky Catholic". On May 1, 1858, at the instance of Bishop Spalding and in connection with other members of the Particular Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Louisville, he issued the "Catholic Guardian", which the Civil War troubles ended in July, 1862. He was also a contributor to the "Catholic Advocate" on its revival in 1869. His long association with Catholic interests in Kentucky prompted him to compile "The Centen of Catholicity in Kentucky" (Louisville, 1884), a volume invaluable in its records of the men and times of the pioneer era. He served as a member of the state senate from Louisville during the years 1867-75, and in 1868 wrote, at the request of the Legislature, "Memoirs of Gov. Lazarus W. Powell and Gov. John L. Helm" (published by the State). During his life he was justly regarded as the foremost Catholic layman of Kentucky.
THOMAS F. MEEHAN