Webster Massachusetts, 1890
Webster lies in the southern part of Worcester County, 59 miles southwest of Boston, and 16 miles south of Worcester. French River washes its western border, and affords very important power. Along its valley runs the Norwich and Worcester Railroad, having stations at Webster and North Webster; while the New York and New England Railroad crosses the town in the other direction, having stations at East Webster and Webster. A branch of the Boston and Albany also has stations at Webster Mills and Webster. The post-office is Webster; and the villages not previously mentioned are known as Fenner Hill, Gore District and Webster Depot.
The bounding towns are Oxford on the north, Douglass on the east, Dudley on the west, and Thompson, Conn., on the south. The assessed area is 7,363, of which 3,780 are woodland, containing oak, chestnut, pine, maple and birch. The land is beautifully diversified by hill and stream, and pleasing prospects present themselves on every side. Bear Hill and Emerson Hill, in the easterly section, afford delightful views of the valley, French River, of neighboring towns, and of Webster Lake, - the most remarkable feature of the town. The Indian name of this beautiful sheet of water is Chaubunagungamaug. It is remarkably irregular in form, and covers an area of about 1,230 acres; its surface being 480 feet above sea-level. It has been well stocked with black bass. The rock is generally of a granitic character, and the soil is gravelly.
The 94 farms in 1885 yielded their products to the value of $71,385. The three chief manufactories are the Slater Woolen Company, the H. N. Slater Manufacturing Company, and the Cambric Works; employing in the aggregate about 1,700 persons. A dye-house and bleachery are included. The goods made consist chiefly of cambric, linen and broadcloths. The value of the textiles made in 1885 was $2,435,938. Seven shoe factories employed about 200 persons, and had a product in that year of $300,586. There were also the usual small manufactures of villages; the entire product being valued at $2,888,063. The national bank has a capital stock of $100,000; and the savings bank, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $733,442. The population was 6,220; of whom 991 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $2,371,100, with a tax-rate of $11.50 on $1,000. There were 764 taxed dwelling-houses.
There are 8 public school-houses, valued at nearly $50,000, and accommodating a high school and the lower grades. The St. Louis parochial school has good buildings and a small library; and there are two small circulating libraries. The churches consist of a Congregationalist, a Baptist, a Methodist, an Independent Methodist, an Episcopal and two Roman Catholic.
This town was formed from parts of Dudley and Oxford, and incorporated March 6, 1832; being named in honor of Daniel Webster The manufacture of textile goods was commenced in this place by Samuel Slater, the father of American cotton manufactures; and here his remains repose. He was born in Belpré, England, June 9, 1768; came to America in 1789; and started at Pawtucket, in December, 1790, the first successful cotton-mill in this country He died in Webster, April 20, 1835, and his sons and grandsons still carry on the principal manufactures of this place.
Pp. 668-669 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890